Most music fan has a handful of artists that they can hang their hat on. Even if nothing in the current music scene is offering them anything, most can count on a select number of acts to bring something new to the table every time they revisit one of their songs. For Dave Grohl, though, calling Led Zeppelin his go-to band would be underselling it.
When speaking to Rolling Stone, Grohl mentioned worshipping Led Zeppelin when he was a kid, explaining: “To me, Zeppelin were spiritually inspirational. I was going to Catholic school and questioning God, but I believed in Led Zeppelin. I wasn’t really buying into this Christianity thing, but I had faith in Led Zeppelin as a spiritual entity. They showed me that human beings could channel this music somehow and that it was coming from somewhere”.
Zeppelin has provided that kind of escape for countless artists over the years, giving birth to the idea of heavy music and becoming the progenitors for what would become metal. Although Grohl mentions songs like ‘Black Dog’ as iconic for him, ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ holds a special place in his heart because of Jimmy Page, going on to say: “When I listen to Zeppelin bootlegs, his solos can make me laugh or they can make me tear up. Any live version of ‘Since I Been Loving You’ will bring you to tears and fill you with joy all at once. Page doesn’t just use his guitar as an instrument. For him, it’s like some sort of emotional translator”.
Coming off Zeppelin’s third album, their take on the traditional blues tune remained a favourite amongst the band throughout their career. Although the song stays within the blues structure, Page uses the song to showcase his guitar playing, never overplaying but serving the song at every turn.
Grohl saw this kind of emotional translation as exorcisms the band underwent onstage, remarking that “Hendrix was a genius on fire, whereas Page was a genius possessed. Zeppelin concerts and albums were like exorcisms for them. He plays the guitar like an old bluesman on acid”.
Although each of Zeppelin’s albums is heralded as a classic, Grohl had a certain fondness for their third self-titled album, claiming that it was “full of gentle beauty. That was the soundtrack to me dropping out of high school. I listened to it every single day in my VW bug, while I contemplated my direction in life. That album, for whatever reason, saved some light in me that I still have”.
Grohl would go on to heap praise on every single member of the band, from Robert Plant’s throaty wails to the caveman-style drumming of John Bonham. Although Zeppelin gave Grohl some relief back in the day, they were eternally silenced once Bonham was found dead of alcohol poisoning in Page’s home.
While Grohl eventually went in a different musical direction, but he always held Zeppelin in high regard, playing with the same ferocity as Bonham and eventually jamming with Page and John Paul Jones during the Foo Fighters’ stints at Wembley Stadium. From Grohl’s perspective, Zeppelin could always come back, saying: “I believe Zeppelin will come back and prove themselves to once again be the greatest rock band of all time. They’ll find someone to play the drums and I’ll be right there, front row at every goddamn show”.