Sunday, December 27, 2009

Top stories of 2009 from

In a year that saw Jimmy Page hobnobbing on red carpet, Robert Plant cashing in at the Grammys, and John Paul Jones plotting and trotting with a so-called supergroup, there was no shortage of Led Zeppelin-related news to write about.

But what were the most popular news stories on the site this year as decided by readers? You might be surprised to learn that three of the top 10 attention-getters weren't even written this year!

With apologies to David Letterman, I present the top 10 most viewed articles on in 2009. Here we go:

10. "Jimmy Page's manager claims singer auditions failed, 'no plans' for tour," Jan. 7.
Two days short of Jimmy Page's 65th birthday, known in some parts of the world as retirement age, the guitarist's manager made his name known in two separate interviews saying two completely different things about his client. It was confusing at the time as to why these two statements contrasted so vastly, but it was later explained. In an interview with the BBC that was finally published several weeks after it was recorded, manager Peter Mensch said auditions for a singer in Page's new band were underway -- but not to bog him down with requests to audition. After this interview finally aired, MusicRadar called Mensch for comment, and he had a crucial update to the story: All plans were off, and he had no idea what Page was going to do instead. Especially for those who'd just finish taking in the previous comment about auditions being underway, this new interview was a jarring revelation. To worsen things, Mensch even said the following about his client, who was two days away from retirement age, when MusicRadar asked what plans the guitarist had for the future: "F--- if I know. I'm waiting to hear." So soon in 2009, this story did not mark such a great beginning to the year, but it definitely shaped things to come.

9. "Denials begin to surface on reports of Led Zeppelin tour without Robert Plant," Oct. 14, 2008.
Filed toward the end of last year, this piece has remained one of the most popular in the current year. While Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham were considering going on the road with a new singer, it took an astute observer to notice that they never intended to go out as Led Zeppelin. While the mainstream press portrayed Led Zeppelin as wanting to replace Robert Plant with someone who could never be hailed as an equal, that never was their intention. As people like Harvey Goldsmith and Jeff Beck weighed in with their opinions that Led Zeppelin shouldn't replace Robert Plant with another singer, it was a foreign idea for much of the mainstream press to note that -- as John Paul Jones has recently stated -- Page, Jones and Bonham were actually talking about forming a new band, not reforming Led Zeppelin without Plant. A single feeble attempt by the Page camp to correct the statement at the time couldn't stand up against the endless stream of misreporting, and the project evidently collapsed without there being any possible way forward.

8. "In interview, Robert Plant explains motivation guiding current studio work, and his acceptance of awards," Jan. 30.
Led Zeppelin fans may not always find Robert Plant to be one of the most straightforward conversationalists in the world, and he often pulls stunts that make you question his judgment. That being said, there are also instances of absolute clarity such as when he and Alison Krauss phoned in an interview this January to Ben Jones for Absolute Radio's "Wednesday Night Live." The singing duo was receiving awards left and right, and there was certainly an expectation for a second album from them. However, both made it clear in this interview that if things weren't working out and the magic of the history they made in the studio in 2007 wasn't repeating themselves, they wouldn't kid themselves and force it. They'd just pack it in. It's been a long year, and both Plant and Krauss now seem set on separate projects, at least for the time being. Say no more.

7. "White, clean and neat: Jimmy Page's head of hair," Oct. 4, 2007.
This is an old favorite at that still gets plenty of hits all the time. I made the point that no matter what color Jimmy Page's hair is, he can still rock. Just recently, somebody on Twitter remarked, "Who is this white haired old guy playing Jimmy Page's licks and doing Jimmy Page's stage moves?" It's Jimmy, of course, and thankfully, it does appear we will be seeing more of his white hair and stage moves in 2010. Stay tuned!

6. "Bob Lefsetz thrilled with Jimmy Page's rendition of 'Ramble On' in new movie," June 22.
That this piece became one of the top 10 stories of 2009, I don't know if it says more about the drawing power of the Lefsetz name or the positive vibe coming from the silver screen as Page picks away at the Led Zeppelin II classic. Regardless, Lefsetz says he was blown away by the musical moments in the film where Page makes the hair on your arms stand straight up, and those of you seeing it for the first time in 2010 might feel the same way.

5. "Earliest Led Zeppelin footage, previously unseen, emerges online," Feb. 9.

Fan-shot from the third row at the Fillmore East with hundreds of scenesters behind him and four musicians in their early 20s onstage in front of him, this minute's worth of 8mm footage from Dennis DiMatteo finally came to light on the Internet within two weeks of the 40th anniversary of the Led Zeppelin and Iron Butterfly performance on Jan. 31, 1969. As rough and shaky as the silent footage is, it was nonetheless stunning to watch more of the band performing only a few months after its formation. A synchronized version using the performance of "Dazed and Confused" made it all the more enjoyable.

4. "'Quite a buzz' as Them Crooked Vultures debut completely original set in Chicago; online forum and store unveiled night of show," Aug. 10.
Sometimes word of mouth is just what is needed to promote a band, and when your band has booked a concert using a name like "8436276653388588737," it's certainly the type of thing people want to know more about. Many of those who Googled the number arrived at, where it was explained that this was the way to spell the name of a new band featuring Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and John Paul Jones, "Them Crooked Vultures," using a telephone. They also got my summary of firsthand accounts from those who were at that group's live debut in Chicago (special thanks to Wyatt for calling me that night just after the show ended) and, as they became available, some of the most gloriously unwatchable YouTube clips ever to gain viral status.

3. "Exclusive interview: Myles Kennedy thrilled to have written with Zeppelin members," Dec. 16.
A year ago, I first heard of Myles Kennedy when his name was mentioned as being considered for a spot in a new band featuring Page, Jones and Bonham. Kennedy's lips were sealed about his involvement at the time, and only after the possibilities ended did he as much as confirm having been considered, and even then he cautiously resisted divulging details. It took him a full year to explain in great detail what happened inside that rehearsal room, and it was to that he dished the dirt. Thanks so much to Myles for this long-awaited scoop in which the singer reveals that he didn't even know if his potential bandmates even knew, when Jason Bonham recruited him, that he could also play guitar.

2. "Sad News: Drummer Michael Lee has died," Nov. 25, 2008.
The news of the Page/Plant drummer's unexpected passing toward the end of last year was one of the hardest stories to announce. It's hard to believe the man with such vigor behind the kit during the duo's two albums and world tours between 1994 and 1998 could die so young, less than a week after reaching the age of 39. Fans of his work with the Cult, Echo & the Bunnymen, Thin Lizzy, Jeff Martin, Little Angels, and Page and Plant are all still paying their respects and accessing the profile of Michael Lee on This year-old story has continued to draw more visits in 2009 than any other -- except one.

And the No. 1 most viewed article on in 2009:

1. "Them Crooked Vultures logo; is the vulture a relative of the Thunderthief?," Aug. 2.

As certain details about the new band with John Paul Jones made themselves known and the band's logo emerged, the first impression for those of us who've been familiar with Jones's solo career over the past 10 years was something like: "Where have I seen that guy before?" For the answer, look no further than the cover of the 2001 album by Jones, The Thunderthief. Wannabe ornithologists everywhere knew that it was much more than a hunch that these birds must somehow form a family. Yet it turns out it was, in Jones's own words, "a pure coincidence." Kudos to Dave Lewis for bringing up this burning question during his interview with John Paul Jones on Dec. 1, now published in Issue 25 of his fanzine Tight But Loose (ordering information at TBL/Web).
DL: The vulture image looks very like the image on your solo album The Thunderthief sleeve. Was that intentional?
JPJ: That was a pure coincidence. In fact the Thunderthief designer Peter Blegvad sent me a tongue in cheek drawing of the two respective vultures looking at each other!

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