TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT: THE POWER AND EXCESS OF LED ZEPPELIN BY BARNEY HOSKYNS – TBL 33 INTERVIEW PREVIEW AND LONDON BOOK LAUNCH DETAILS
Trampled Underfoot: The Power And Excess of Led Zeppelin is published in the UK on September 6th by Faber and Faber with a US edition via Wiley & Sons to follow in October.
Written by renowned rock journalist Barney Hoskyns, the book has been some four years in the making, during which time Barney has interviewed nearly 200 associates of the band to piece together a unique oral dialogue, which unravels the Zeppelin story from their early days through to their demise and aftermath.
The forthcoming issue of the Tight But Loose magazine features an extensive interview with Barney, conducted recently with Dave Lewis, in which he explains the concept and construction of the book and his thoughts on the story in general.
Here are a some excerpts from the interview:
DL: The Zep bookcase is already creaking under the weight of so many books- what made you undertake writing this one?
BH: It’s difficult to answer that without suggesting that the other books aren’t that great which of course isn’t the case. I thought there was room for a book closer to the work of say Peter Guralnick, the author of two exhaustive Elvis books rather than say something Mick Wall would do, as they are two very different writers.
In my mind that’s how I set out – to write a serious book. Mat Snow a fellow journalist and dear friend who I dedicate the book to, said at some point that this is a book for people who love Led Zeppelin III and you’ll know what that means. It’s designed for people who take Led Zeppelin seriously. I also wanted to preach to the unconverted, with a book that made a case for Zep as great artists but at the same time as human beings. I wanted to demystify the Zep story. In other words let’s not do another Hammer Of The Gods but let’s get a little bit closer to the truth. So instead of glorifying the stories of the debauchery and mud sharks and the groupies, let’s try and get a lot closer to the way it was and what really went on. I wanted it to be as close to the reality of what happened as I could get. The way to do that was to interview as many people associated with them and the story as possible.
DL: How did you come up with the oral history idea which effectively relays the story in quotes form?
BH: Initially I didn’t set out to write an oral history. What happened is that I ended up doing many more interviews that I had planned to do. I probably set out to do 75 to 80 but I ended up doing nearly 200. There came a day when I saw how much stuff I had accumulated and I thought with a few plugging of gaps, I can almost tell the whole story with the interview quotes I had got. It became a little obsessive as I really didn’t want to leave any stone unturned.
DL: How did you go about deciding on the people you wanted to interview?
BH: The idea was to get to everyone and anyone really that had been there and as I started making a list and It just grew and grew. Within the time restraints, I focused on who was close and who had something important and interesting to say. There were key people I wanted to get to who had never spoken before – the roadies, the sound men, security guys, the groupies, and a lot of the Swan Song and Atlantic Records people who as far as I was aware, had not been interviewed before.
I tend to find that the first two or three people you get to then provides the momentum –you get the ball rolling and eventually people interviewed would tell someone else on my list and they do not want to be left out. Richard Cole has been fantastic all the way through as has Phil Carlo, Benji Lefevre , Janine Safer and Unity Maclean from Swan Song, John Crutchley from Plant’s early days –just so many people who really wanted to tell their version and how it was for them to be involved in the Zeppelin story.
DL: How would you like the book to be perceived?
BH: I hope the book explains what it was like to be in the Zeppelin fold – to be in the middle of it, to be working with them and to be observing them. I’ve tried to capture a real flavour of what it was like to be around them in a way that isn’t either over glorifying them or over melodramatising them. It’s saying this is what happened in the words of the people of who were there. This is what it looked like, this is what it felt like and this is what they were like as people. It’s like watching a documentary with a lot of people interviewed, rather than a bio pic. I would really like to feel that people come away from it with a sense of absorbing the Led Zeppelin story with a microscope and getting really deep into the human side of it and what it really felt like to be in the middle of that world and to be swimming in their river.
It’s an extraordinary story as told by many extraordinary characters.
You can read the complete Barney Hoskyns interview in the forthcoming issue of the Tight But Loose magazine – It’s another highlight of a packed issue due early October. You can pre order the individual issue now at this link.
or subscribe to the TBL 2012 magazines which includes TBL 32, 33 and 34 at this link:
TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT – THE POWER AND EXCESS OF LED ZEPPELIN BOOK LONDON LAUNCH EVENT:
The book is being launched at a special instore event at Rough Trade East at 7pm on Thursday September 13th, 2012.
Barney Hoskyns will be in conversation about the book alongside legendary Zep tour manager Richard Cole and long time Zep soundman Benji Lefevre.
Admission is via a wristband which can be obtained when you purchase the book at the Rough Trade East store –remaining wristbands for admission will be available one hour prior to the event.
The TBL crew aim to be in attendance and we look forward to seeing all that can make it along.
For further Book Launch details visit:
Barney Hoskyns’ Led Zep oral history artfully weaves together then candid reminiscences of a multitude of voices – group members, former roadies, employees, battle-scarred eyewitnesses, friends and foes alike – in order to tell the illustrious quartet’s epic saga in a way that shines a penetrating new light on the personalities and circumstances that shaped its tumultuous history.’ – Nick Kent, journalist and author of The Dark Stuff.
‘The saga of Led Zeppelin told by those who knew them when, the oral history goes beyond scandal to reveal the all-too-humans behind this more Promethean of rock bands, illuminating their expansive body of work and the times in which they exemplified the very essence of rock stardom’ – Lenny Kaye , journalist and Patti Smith group member.
An oral history of Led Zeppelin (what other kind could there be hey!) which provides not only the most evocative but the most accurate and reliable account of the fast life and high-and-low times of the definitive Monsters Of Rock. Charles Shaar Murray, journalist.
DL - August 26th, 2012.