Thursday, May 22, 2003

Pocket-size 'Celebration' by Dave Lewis appears

This news originally appeared in an edition of the newsletter "On This Day In Led Zeppelin History."

Led Zeppelin: A Celebration. By Dave Lewis. London: Omnibus Press. Originally published in 1991. A new 2003 pressing of the book in CD size is now available. Signed copies available from

This new version of the book can really be described using the words of one of the chapter names: "The Same Picture With A Different Frame." Paging through the book, I don't really see much of anything that's been revised or added. The first exception is a new two-page introduction with the author's opinions on reaction to his book and the legacy of Led Zeppelin to this day. Another exception is a brief update in the two-page biography of manager Peter Grant.

Possibly the only other exception is the six-page "What Happened Next," an addendum to the possibility of a Page-Plant-Jones reunion covering the careers of Page, Plant and Jones since the book's original publication. In this section, Dave Lewis makes use of some of the best quotes from the boys available, describing such emotions as why Plant wanted to include Page for the MTV appearance that led to their reunion, how Jones felt about not being included, and why Plant eventually wanted out.

Here, Dave Lewis mentions specific rumors of a Led Zeppelin reunion and even the name of another drummer other than Jason Bonham. (No, not Dave Grohl either! You'll have to read the book to find out who it was!) It's just about right that in the final paragraph of this section, Lewis says "the 'will they or won't they' saga drags on and on" today just as much as in 1991.

Plant's post-Zep biography also ends with another nod to "the 'will he or won't he' saga." Even though here Lewis was referring to this saga going on in 1991, it's as pertinent then as it is now. (Note to self: You can't go wrong ending any story on Led Zeppelin with an allusion to a possible reunion...)

That being said, the sections detailing the post-Zep careers of Page and Jones feel jarringly incomplete when they leave off at 1991. Dave Lewis's conclusion that Page is "sure to make new music in the future" turned out to be correct; some of his best recorded work was only a few years away on a Coverdale/Page album. The bio of Jones ends with Lewis' recommendation: "Should [Page and Plant] decide to play together at any point in the future, when it comes to the role of keyboards and bass ... [Jones'] contribution, as it was during the years 1968 to 1980, would be irreplaceable." Of course, it didn't exactly turn out this way.

Since the book hasn't changed much since 1991, it remains the ultimate Led Zeppelin resource, including information on Zep's studio output, including not just the official releases but some very great descriptions of some unreleased studio reels, a chronology, and lots of exhaustive info like the serial number of Jimmy's Gibson ES 1275 6/12-string double-neck (You'll have to buy the book to look up the serial number!).

This is in fact the first book I ever bought on Led Zeppelin. It's the one book on which I relied most heavily during the first few years of publishing my daily newsletter, "On This Day In Led Zeppelin History." I loved it then, and I love it now in its newer, more convenient size and shape. I'm sure the pages will soon be just as bent on this copy as they are on the old one.

Sadly, a few things in the book accepted as fact in 1991 have proven to be incorrect over the years, such as the date of Zep's April 1, 1971, Paris Theatre performance for the BBC (thought to have been March 25) and the dates of the subsequent shows in Copenhagen (actually May 3, not in June) and Milan (July 5, not July 3). Lewis' concert itinerary in an appendix has apparently not been touched since it appeared in 1991, which is why the first concert date listed as Sept. 14, 1968; research in recent years has turned up evidence that the opening night of the Scandinavian tour was actually Sept. 7. Be forewarned that not every detail in the book is actually true.

Dave Lewis concludes his introduction on a promising note, stating that everything that has happened since the original publication of A Celebration constitutes "more than enough for me to begin work collating a second volume." Elsewhere, Dave Lewis has announced he is compiling a followup, tentatively called A Celebration II. Hopefully, he will collaborate with some of his peers in the Led Zeppelin community to present the most accurate information available when the sequel is written.

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