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18 Rock and Rolling Facts About Led Zeppelin

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Jimmy Page initially rounded up Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham (Bonham off of Plant’s suggestion) in part to fulfill a contractual obligation to play The Yardbirds tour dates in Scandinavia. Page had also wanted to form a supergroup for years, and he got it with the band that would become Led Zeppelin. Their first album, Led Zeppelin, was released on January 12, 1969, and marked the beginning of the band that would come to dominate the 1970s. Combining precision riffage and drumming with whimsical, sexually-charged vocals and the occasional literary allusion earned Led Zeppelin many, many fans. Here are some facts about the band you’ll find interesting whether you give them a whole lotta love or not.

1. TERRY REID PASSED ON JOINING THE GROUP.

The then-19-year-old singer of Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers had just been signed by a producer who was looking to make Reid a solo artist. So he told Jimmy Page no, and suggested that he offer the gig to Robert Plant, who he said looked "like a Greek god."

2. THEY FIRST PERFORMED AS THE NEW YARDBIRDS.

Page, Plant, Jones, and Bonham’s first show together took place after just 15 hours of practicing together at the Gladsaxe Teen Club in Gladsaxe, Denmark, at 5:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, September 7, 1968. The set list included “You Shook Me,” “Dazed and Confused,” and “Train Kept-A-Rollin.”

3. THEY GOT THE BAND'S NAME FROM THE WHO'S KEITH MOON AND JOHN ENTWISTLE. (MAYBE.)

Page, then fellow Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck, John Paul Jones, Entwistle and Moon joined forces in May of 1966 to record the instrumental tune “Beck’s Bolero” and enjoyed the results so much that there was chatter about forming a supergroup. Moon, allegedly, said the band would go over like a lead balloon. Entwistle followed, supposedly, with, “a lead zeppelin!”

4. FOR ONE NIGHT, THEY WERE KNOWN AS "THE NOBS."

Frau Eva von Zeppelin, a direct descendant of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, was upset over what she believed to be a dishonoring of the family name by the band. She demanded the group change their name, and got her wish on February 28, 1970, when the band performed as The Nobs in Copenhagen. Both popular and critical opinion favored the band's preferred name, and they were Led Zeppelin once more for their next show—and every show thereafter.

5. JOHN PAUL JONES’ REAL NAME IS JOHN BALDWIN.

Yes, another Baldwin. The Rolling Stones' manager Andrew Loog Oldham hired session musician Baldwin to work on a single by another group he was managing at the time. He liked Baldwin’s playing, btu wanted a more artistic surname. Not knowing what it was about, Oldham was intrigued by the name of a Robert Stack movie titled John Paul Jones (1959). Oldham called Baldwin and informed him of his new name.

6. JIMMY PAGE PAID FOR THE RECORDING OF THEIR FIRST ALBUM.

He wanted artistic control “in a vise grip.” Recording and mixing lasted 30 hours and cost Page £1782 (or about $4300). The debut album ended up making over £3.5 million. While it only took 30 hours the first time, Led Zeppelin II was recorded over eight months, thanks to a lot of touring.

7. THEY HAVE BEEN SUED FOR PLAGIARISM A COUPLE OF TIMES.

Folk singer Jake Holmes claimed he wrote “Dazed and Confused” in a 2010 lawsuit. Holmes opened for The Yardbirds in August 1967. The next day, Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty and bassist Chris Dreja both bought Holmes’ debut album with his song “Dazed and Confused” on it for the band—which included Page—to practice and play their own version of it. Page was credited as the sole writer of the song when Zeppelin recorded it for their first record.

“Whole Lotta Love” was accused of being based off of Willie Dixon’s “You Need Love” (performed by Muddy Waters) and the Small Faces’ “You Need Loving” only because, as Page once explained, Plant referenced the “You Need Love” lyrics in “Whole Lotta Love.” Dixon was given a co-songwriter credit after a 1985 lawsuit. Plant admitted in a 1990 interview that his lyrics weren’t original. “I just thought, 'Well, what am I going to sing?' That was it, a nick. Now happily paid for.”

The iconic “Stairway to Heaven” is also a part of an ongoing lawsuit. The band Spirit has claimed the arpeggio opening is too similar to their 1968 instrumental “Taurus.”

8. INNOVATIVE TACTICS WERE USED FOR "WHOLE LOTTA LOVE."

Plant’s ghostly vocals of "Way down inside… wo-man… you need… love” was a making lemonade out of lemons situation: Page and engineer Eddie Kramer heard Plant’s voice singing the lyric on one track before Plant did on the master vocal track. When Kramer tried to turn the volume all the way down on that track, Plant’s voice could still be heard bleeding through to the master. Realizing they couldn’t get rid of the non-master, Page and Kramer added a ton of reverb so that it sounded like it wasn’t an accident.

9. YOU CAN HEAR A PHONE RINGING DURING "THE OCEAN."

At 1:37-1:38 and again at 1:41. When asked if it was a real phone, Kramer pleaded ignorance, admitting it was possible because the song was recorded in a house, but that he did not hear it at the time of the recording.

10. THE FOURTH ALBUM IS TECHNICALLY UNTITLED.

Tired of negative reviews on their music, Page convinced the band to try to make the album cover of their fourth record as anonymous looking as possible. They agreed just on four symbols, one representing each band member. Fans believed Page’s spelled out “Zoso,” which is what some fans call the album. Page has insisted the symbols aren’t letters. Jones’ symbol of a circle with three interlocking ovals was found in a book of runes and is supposed to represent a confident and competent person. Bonham’s symbol of three interlocking circles was also from that book of runes, which later, the band claims, they realized resembled the Ballantine beer logo. Plant’s symbol of a circle around a feather includes the feather of Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of truth and justice. The origin or meaning of Page’s symbol remains unknown.

11. PAGE LIVED IN ALEISTER CROWLEY’S FORMER HOME.

In 1971, Page bought the former Loch Ness, Scotland home of the British philosopher and occultist Crowley. Page claimed it was haunted, not necessarily because of Crowley, but because of its previous owners. "t was also a church that was burned to the ground with the congregation in it,” Page told Rolling Stone in 1975. “Strange things have happened in that house that had nothing to do with Crowley. The bad vibes were already there. A man was beheaded there, and sometimes you can hear his head rolling down." The guitarist was a fan of Crowley’s, having Crowley’s “Do what thou wilt” inscribed in the run-off groove of the original Led Zeppelin III vinyl records. Page was believed by some to worship Satan because of these connections; Page never confirmed.

12. THEIR MANAGER WAS AGAINST RELEASING SINGLES.

In the case of “Whole Lotta Love,” the original 5:33 running time was cut to a 3:12 single for radio play by Atlantic Records. Page listened to the single version once and hated it so much that he never listened to that version again. In the United Kingdom, where the band and their manager Peter Grant had the most authority over their releases, their first single was in fact “Whole Lotta Love.” In 1997. The run time on the 1997 UK single was 4:50.

13. THEY WERE J.R.R. TOLKIEN FANS.

“Ramble On” paraphrased a Tolkien poem in its opening lines, and of course referenced Mordor and Gollum in its second verse. “Misty Mountain Hop” was named after a place in The Hobbit, and most fans agree that “The Battle of Evermore” is filled with references to The Lord of the Rings and The Return of the King.

14. PLANT WROTE "GOING TO CALIFORNIA" ABOUT JONI MITCHELL.

Plant was “in love” with the Canadian songwriter. He also wrote of his worry about working in the state that goes through earthquakes. There was a minor earthquake while mixing the untitled fourth Zeppelin album, which featured the song in question.

15. THEY HAD THEIR OWN AIRPLANE.

The band purchased “The Starship” for $30,000 for a portion of their 1973 U.S. Tour. It was the first Boeing 720-022 ever built. It included a main cabin with seats and tables, revolving arm chairs, a 30-foot long couch, a bar with an electronic organ built into it, a TV set, a video cassette player, a den with a low couch and floor pillows, and a bedroom with a white fur bedspread and a shower room. The band also used “The Starship” for their entire 1975 tour across America, which cost them $2500 per hour, or $5 per mile. Bonham once flew the plane from New York to Los Angeles, according to Peter Grant. Bonham did not have a license to do such a thing.

16. PAGE HAD TROUBLE NAILING THE "STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN" GUITAR SOLO.

Just like every aspiring guitarist when they first learn the song, Page had some trouble. John Paul Jones tried to help Page when he noticed that his bandmate began to look concerned when he kept not getting it right at the studio by telling him, “You’re making me paranoid!” “You’re making *me* paranoid!,” Page retorted. The two then laughed, and the solo was nailed a few takes later.

The song became legendary, and Plant wasn’t comfortable with that. In 1988 the singer said, “I'd break out in hives if I had to sing that song in every show. I wrote those lyrics and found that song to be of some importance and consequence in 1971, but 17 years later, I don't know. It's just not for me.”

17. PLANT RECORDED AN ALBUM IN A WHEELCHAIR.

Presence was recorded in 18 days in Munich, Germany. Plant had been in a car crash in Greece previously. Page explained to The Guardian, “Robert was really keen to do the recording, and we all were, because there wasn’t anything else that we could do.” Plant recalled a failed attempt to move on crutches at the studio where he took a fall. Page ran from the control room to pick him up. “He was like an Olympic athlete!,” Plant exclaimed. “ I’d never seen him move so fast in my life!”

18. JOHN BONHAM DIED AFTER DRINKING THE EQUIVALENT OF 40 VODKA SHOTS.

On September 24, 1980, the band rehearsed for their upcoming tour. Bonham drank there before drinking double vodkas at Page’s house (not Crowley’s former home) then passing out. He was placed in a spare bedroom. The next afternoon, Jones and Robert Plant’s assistant Benji LeFevre found Bonham dead. The coroner's report stated that he had the equivalent of 40 shots of vodka in his system.

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6 Times There Were Ties at the Oscars
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getty images (March and Beery)/ istock (oscar)

Only six ties have ever occurred during the Academy Awards' near-90-year history. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) members vote for nominees in their corresponding categories; here are the six times they have come to a split decision.

1. BEST ACTOR // 1932

Back in 1932, at the fifth annual Oscars ceremony, the voting rules were different than they are today. If a nominee received an achievement that came within three votes of the winner, then that achievement (or person) would also receive an award. Actor Fredric March had one more vote than competitor Wallace Beery, but because the votes were so close, the Academy honored both of them. (They beat the category’s only other nominee, Alfred Lunt.) March won for his performance in horror film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (female writer Frances Marion won Best Screenplay for the film), and Beery won for The Champ, which was remade in 1979 with Ricky Schroder and Jon Voight. Both Beery and March were previous nominees: Beery was nominated for The Big House and March for The Royal Family of Broadway. March won another Oscar in 1947 for The Best Years of Our Lives, also a Best Picture winner. Fun fact: March was the first actor to win an Oscar for a horror film.

2. BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT // 1950

By 1950, the above rule had been changed, but there was still a tie at that year's Oscars. A Chance to Live, an 18-minute movie directed by James L. Shute, tied with animated film So Much for So Little. Shute’s film was a part of Time Inc.’s "The March of Time" newsreel series and chronicles Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing putting together a Boys’ Home in Italy. Directed by Bugs Bunny’s Chuck Jones, So Much for So Little was a 10-minute animated film about America’s troubling healthcare situation. The films were up against two other movies: a French film named 1848—about the French Revolution of 1848—and a Canadian film entitled The Rising Tide.

3. BEST ACTRESS // 1969

Probably the best-known Oscars tie, this was the second and last time an acting award was split. When presenter Ingrid Bergman opened up the envelope, she discovered a tie between newcomer Barbra Streisand and two-time Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn—both received 3030 votes. Streisand, who was 26 years old, tied with the 61-year-old The Lion in Winter star, who had already been nominated 10 times in her lengthy career, and won the Best Actress Oscar the previous year for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Hepburn was not in attendance, so all eyes fell on Funny Girl winner Streisand, who wore a revealing, sequined bell-bottomed-pantsuit and gave an inspired speech. “Hello, gorgeous,” she famously said to the statuette, echoing her first line in Funny Girl.

A few years earlier, Babs had received a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Fanny Brice in the Broadway musical Funny Girl, but didn’t win. At this point in her career, she was a Grammy-winning singer, but Funny Girl was her movie debut (and what a debut it was). In 1974, Streisand was nominated again for The Way We Were, and won again in 1977 for her and Paul Williams’s song “Evergreen,” from A Star is Born. Four-time Oscar winner Hepburn won her final Oscar in 1982 for On Golden Pond.

4. BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE // 1987

The March 30, 1987 telecast made history with yet another documentary tie, this time for Documentary Feature. Oprah presented the awards to Brigitte Berman’s film about clarinetist Artie Shaw, Artie Shaw: Time is All You’ve Got, and to Down and Out in America, a film about widespread American poverty in the ‘80s. Former Oscar winner Lee Grant (who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1976 for Shampoo) directed Down and Out and won the award for producers Joseph Feury and Milton Justice. “This is for the people who are still down and out in America,” Grant said in her acceptance speech.

5. BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION) // 1995

More than 20 years ago—the same year Tom Hanks won for Forrest Gump—the Short Film (Live Action) category saw a tie between two disparate films: the 23-minute British comedy Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, and the LGBTQ youth film Trevor. Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi wrote and directed the former, which stars Richard E. Grant (Girls, Withnail & I) as Kafka. The BBC Scotland film envisions Kafka stumbling through writing The Metamorphosis.

Trevor is a dramatic film about a gay 13-year-old boy who attempts suicide. Written by James Lecesne and directed by Peggy Rajski, the film inspired the creation of The Trevor Project to help gay youths in crisis. “We made our film for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider,” Rajski said in her acceptance speech, which came after Capaldi's. “It celebrates all those who make it through difficult times and mourns those who didn’t.” It was yet another short film ahead of its time.

6. BEST SOUND EDITING // 2013

The latest Oscar tie happened only three years ago, when Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall beat Argo, Django Unchained, and Life of Pi in sound editing. Mark Wahlberg and his animated co-star Ted presented the award to Zero Dark Thirty’s Paul N.J. Ottosson and Skyfall’s Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers. “No B.S., we have a tie,” Wahlberg said to the crowd, assuring them he wasn’t kidding. Ottosson was announced first and gave his speech before Hallberg and Baker Landers found out that they were the other victors.

It wasn’t any of the winners' first trip to the rodeo: Ottosson won two in 2010 for his previous collaboration with Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Sound Mixing); Hallberg previously won an Oscar for Best Sound Effects Editing for Braveheart in 1996, and in 2008 both Hallberg and Baker Landers won Best Achievement in Sound Editing for The Bourne Ultimatum.

Ottosson told The Hollywood Reporter he possibly predicted his win: “Just before our category came up another fellow nominee sat next to me and I said, ‘What if there’s a tie, what would they do?’ and then we got a tie,” Ottosson said. Hallberg also commented to the Reporter on his win. “Any time that you get involved in some kind of history making, that would be good.”

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11 Haunting Facts About Beloved

Toni Morrison—who was born on February 18, 1931—made a name for herself with The Bluest Eye, Sula and Song of Solomon, but it wasn’t until 1987’s Beloved, about a runaway slave haunted by the death of her infant daughter, that her legacy was secured. The book won the Pulitzer Prize and was a key factor in the decision to award Morrison the Nobel Prize in 1993. All the awards aside, Beloved is a testament to the horrors of slavery, with its narrative of suffering and repressed memory and its dedication to the more than 60 million who died in bondage. Here are some notable facts about Morrison’s process and the novel’s legacy.

1. IT’S BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

While compiling research for 1974's The Black Book, Morrison came across the story of Margaret Garner, a runaway slave from Kentucky who escaped with her husband and four children to Ohio in 1856. A posse caught up with Garner, who killed her youngest daughter and attempted to do the same to her other children rather than let them return to bondage. Once apprehended, her trial transfixed the nation. "She was very calm; she said, 'I’d do it again,'" Morrison told The Paris Review. "That was more than enough to fire my imagination."

2. MORRISON CAME UP WITH THE CHARACTER BELOVED AFTER SHE STARTED WRITING.

The book was originally going to be about the haunting of Sethe by her infant daughter, who she killed (just as Garner did) rather than allow her to return to slavery. A third of the way through writing, though, Morrison realized she needed a flesh-and-blood character who could judge Sethe’s decision. She needed the daughter to come back to life in another form (some interpret it as a grief-driven case of mistaken identity). As she told the National Endowment for the Arts’ NEA Magazine: "I thought the only person who was legitimate, who could decide whether [the killing] was a good thing or not, was the dead girl."

3. SHE WROTE THE ENDING EARLY IN THE WRITING PROCESS.

Morrison has said she likes to know the ending of her books early on, and to write them down once she does. With Beloved, she wrote the ending about a quarter of the way in. "You are forced into having a certain kind of language that will keep the reader asking questions," she told author Carolyn Denard in Toni Morrison: Conversations.

4. MORRISON BECAME FASCINATED WITH SMALL HISTORICAL DETAILS.

To help readers understand the particulars of slavery, Morrison carefully researched historical documents and artifacts. One particular item she became fascinated with: the "bit" that masters would put in slaves' mouths as punishment. She couldn’t find much in the way of pictures or descriptions, but she found enough to imagine the shame slaves would feel. In Beloved, Paul D. tells Sethe that a rooster smiled at him while he wore the bit, indicating that he felt lower than a barnyard animal.

5. SHE ONLY RECENTLY READ THE BOOK HERSELF.

In an appearance on The Colbert Report last year, Morrison said she finally got around to reading Beloved after almost 30 years. Her verdict: "It’s really good!"

6. THE BOOK INSPIRED READERS TO BUILD BENCHES.

When accepting an award from the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1988, Morrison observed that there is no suitable memorial to slavery, "no small bench by the road." Inspired by this line, the Toni Morrison Society started the Bench by the Road Project to remedy the issue. Since 2006, the project has placed 15 benches in locations significant to the history of slavery and the Civil Rights movement, including Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, which served as the point of entry for 40% of slaves brought to America.

7. WHEN BELOVED DIDN’T WIN THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN 1987, FELLOW WRITERS PROTESTED.

After the snub, 48 African-American writers, including Maya Angelou, John Edgar Wideman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., signed a letter that appeared in the New York Times Book Review. "For all of America, for all of American letters," the letter addressing Morrison read, "you have advanced the moral and artistic standards by which we must measure the daring and the love of our national imagination and our collective intelligence as a people."

8. IT’S ONE OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY CHALLENGED BOOKS.

Between 2000 and 2009, Beloved ranked 26th on the American Library Association’s list of most banned/challenged books. A recent challenge in Fairfax County, Virginia, cited the novel as too intense for teenage readers, while another challenge in Michigan said the book was, incredibly, overly simplistic and pornographic. Thankfully, both challenges were denied.

9. MORRISON ALSO WROTE AN OPERA BASED ON GARNER’S LIFE.

Ten years ago, Morrison collaborated with Grammy-winning composer Richard Danielpour on Margaret Garner, an opera about the real-life inspiration behind Beloved. It opened in Detroit in 2005, and played in Charlotte, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York before closing in 2008.

10. MORRISON DID NOT WANT IT MADE INTO A MOVIE.

Although she publicly claims otherwise, according to a New York magazine story, Morrison told friends she didn’t want Beloved made into a movie. And she didn’t want Oprah Winfrey (who bought the film rights in 1988) to be in it. Nevertheless, the film came out in 1998 and was a total flop.

11. THERE'S AN ILLUSTRATED VERSION.

The Folio Society, a London-based company that creates fancy special editions of classic books, released the first-ever illustrated Beloved in 2015. Artist Joe Morse had to be personally approved by Morrison for the project. Check out a few of his hauntingly beautiful illustrations here.

This article originally appeared in 2015.

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