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We Interviewed Our Dads About 'Led Zeppelin IV'

The most dad record of all time deserves to be talked about with dads.
June 19, 2015, 2:15pm

Led Zeppelin IV has sold 37 million units worldwide, which means it has been certified platinum 23 times. Half of the songs are songs that pretty much anybody who's walked outside know: "Black Dog," "Going to California," "Rock and Roll," and, of course, "Stairway to Heaven." It is quite literally one of the most popular collections of music that's ever been released.

It's also the most dad album of all time (we know this because we scientifically determined every album every dad owns). Seriously. Every dad knows every song on this record, and every millennial knows this because their dad played this record on vacations in the car while growing up. They also like to talk about how music sucks now and one of the main reasons is because nothing compares to Led Zeppelin. Jimmy Page shreds! Robert Plant is an amazing vocalist! The drummer guy is also sweet!

These facts are not a slight against the work—we think Led Zeppelin rocks our faces off and, in fact, we interviewed Robert Plant this past fall—but, c'mon, it's pretty funny how universally loved this album is by dads. So in honor of Father's Day, we interviewed all of our dads about Led Zeppelin IV.


Eric: What your relationship with Led Zeppelin IV?
Eric's Dad: That’s the one that’s got Stairway and Black Dog, I believe? I think I was probably about a junior in high school. Early 70s, right? I was a fan of Led Zeppelin. But Led Zeppelin II, that’s one of my favorite albums.

Why do you think Led Zeppelin IV is so iconic?
It might be because of “Stairway to Heaven.” Anyone who’s alive thought it was the greatest thing. It’s not that we had sat around and had great discussions. A lot of the people I hung out with in school weren’t interesting in music. They played golf or baseball or whatever. There are a couple people outside of high school that I knew and they were more into music and they were like, “Hey, did you hear this new album?” And so when they told me about IV, they were like you gotta listen tot his.

Do you have a favorite song?
"Stairway to Heaven" was for a long time one of my favorites. It’s just played over and over and I think anybody who’s picked up a guitar has learned how to play it. I think the first couple songs on it pretty good. Actually all of them were pretty good.

Do you still listen to it?
It’s been awhile. But you told me about this last week, so I gave it a listen. It’s still good. Thinking about this music as a whole, though, I think growing up when I did I just have that narrow channel of this year to that year, and so because of, I don’t know, my perspective at that time or just because of the age I was, that to me was the best music ever. And you talk to someone who is 16 to 21 now so then they say now is the greatest music ever. It’s a generational thing. The music I grew up with—Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones—that’s the stuff I gear towards more. Not like Mr. Pusha T.


Kim: Hi Dad. So we’ve decided Led Zeppelin IV is the record every dad has.
Kim's Dad: Yeah I mean “Stairway to Heaven” was out of control. I like “Whole Lotta Love” too. [Ed note: That’s actually on LZ II.] When was the last time I listened to the album? I have it on my iTunes, so I think it was when I was skiing last year.

Didn’t you see Led Zeppelin in the 70s?
Your uncle Leo and I saw Led Zeppelin on June 2, 1973 at Kezar Stadium, which used to be the 49ers stadium. I was 16 and it was my first ever rock concert. Probably every other person in the stadium was smoking pot and it was full of smoke. It was so great. It was colorful—everyone was dressed in their tie-dye, which was the fashion of the day. I had a favorite pair of pants I remember wearing to the concert. They were white jeans that I dyed the top third blue and the bottom third red. My version of a flag. Oh to be 16! We drove and parked at our cousin’s house which was walking distance from concert. We got in an accident as we pulled out—we were driving mom’s 1967 Chevy Impala—someone clipped the front of the car.

Were you high?

Come on! You didn’t get high during the show? You did!
We probably did actually. We probably did get high. Probably. We had a baggie I think, which is what we called it back then.

A baggie of pot? Or were you on LSD?

Less exciting.
I know. It was probably right in the middle of my LSD times though so I don’t know why I wasn’t on LSD.


Bryn: Hi Daddy. I'm supposed to ask you about Led Zeppelin for work.
Bryn's Dad: Hi Darling. What's a Led Zeppelin?


Annalise: Do you listen to Led Zeppelin?
Annalise's Dad: What kind of crap did you come across for a Father's Day gift?

Hahaha the music vertical for vice is doing a post about Led Zeppelin so I thought I'd ask.
Only if it was on the radio. I can't remember any specific songs of theirs. Let me know when they ask about Huey Lewis and the News.


John: Alright. Led Zeppelin IV.
John's Dad: Led Zeppelin IV. I couldn’t wait for the album to come out, cause it was going to have all new songs which they were saying. I believe I had seen them in concert play some of the songs that were gonna be on the album. Which was always amazing. Saw them do "Stairway to Heaven," and "Stairway to Heaven" was on it. I just dug it.

Do you remember when you first found out about Led Zeppelin?
Oh yeah! Shit, it just went around school, and I was working at the Family Dog and a lot of the people there were talking about this new sound. It’s interesting, with all English musicians it seems like they take American songs and they just refine them. Or American style of music and refine it. When Zepp came out, they were so different and they were rock and roll. It was like a version of metal at that point, it was so advanced and it was unreal. Especially their style, and granted I was just hearing the albums but it was so refined, all the licks. Sure there were good licks in the city but they made them even better. Same with Clapton. My first introduction to British music was The Beatles and I wasn’t very impressed by them. They weren’t rock and roll. But to me, Led Zeppelin was like the blues upside down and backwards, but perfected. I would just trip on it, could just listen to it, listen to it, listen to it. Had to buy the album, just went and bought it. I remember we’d buy records at, shit, either Tower Records or this little record store between 15th and Funston. It was an old time record store, but they had all the newest records. They had booths so you could get a record, and listen to it before you bought it.

Do you remember the first time playing Led Zeppelin IV?
Oh absolutely. You bet, we bought the record and I had my stereo set up and went home to my mom’s house and we’d play it constantly. Then I’d go down to brother Chris’s house because his buddy Craig Mercer had an even bigger stereo, so I could really crank it.

Where’d you see them?
I saw them at Kezar, and that was just an incredible concert. I also saw them over in Oakland at the Colosseum. I was amazed at watching Plant work the audience. His voice was outrageous, he would sing with the guitar, and that was always just trippy. I was amazed that it was just three musicians and a singer. And yet they made all this music. And of course, being totally jealous of him because the girls would just go nuts over him. They’d throw their goddamn underwear up on stage, it was unreal. Unreal. Saw that at Kezar and we got really close to the stage, got there early and got a good spot, just stayed there.

**Being in San Francisco in the 70ss being a young man, did you feel like you were at the center of something?**Absolutely. Coming from San Francisco there was definitely a way music was being played and shown. This was the place. We had so many bands from here, and so many that wanted to come here and play. I got to see so many great bands, especially working at the Family Dog. There’d be free concerts at Speedway Meadows and we’d see everyone there. We got big concerts in the polo fields, and I’d see The Grateful Dead play on a flatbed truck in the Panhandle.

Since this is Noisey, I guess I have to ask. At Kezar, was everyone just high as shit?
Yes. [laughs] You bet, it was a big party. It was really a big party. And that’s what was nice about all the Bill Graham concerts, you could be yourself and not have to worry about other stuff or people messing with you. I mean sure, there were people from all over the place and everyone was different, once you were inside you knew his guards would protect you cause he always handpicked his guys. It was always together, same thing at The Family Dog, we had our own guards and made sure everyone was safe. That way you could just enjoy the music and not worry about anyone fucking with you.


Kyle: What do you think of Led Zeppelin IV?
Kyle's Dad: I don't really know that much about the album, but I do remember "Stairway to Heaven" from a long way back. I never bought the album. I used to hear the song "Stairway" in a lot of places I went.

What is your favorite song?
"Stairway," because it's the only song I know without listening to the whole album.

I know you were more into the Doors than Zeppelin. Why?
I thought Jim Morrison had more interesting lyrics and a better voice than anyone in Led Zeppelin. Morrison was a strange poet, but for some reason his descriptions of life and death and love spoke to me on a more emotional level--interesting issue to explore, I guess. Also, Morrison liked Rimbaud and some of the French poetry; and he died way too young in Paris. The organ and drum beats on the songs of the Doors spoke to me much more than

Zeppelin. So I always preferred the Doors. They introduced me to a kind of surrealistic perspective on the world: break on through to the other side. Take risks and explore the unknown as well as what you think you know (but maybe don't). That intrigued me, especially when I was young. And it still seems like a description of creativity.

This is why I was drawn to the Doors more than to Zeppelin, though I did like the way that Stairway begins slowly and gradually ascends to a kind of rock intensity that is rarely matched, with great guitar work.


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