As March Mountain Bandness continues, today brings some really tough choices for you, the voter. For me, also a voter, it's an especially hard decision because I've been lucky enough to see both of these legendary British bands back in the day, and they were both a huge part of why I fell in love with rock & roll in the first place.
First, there's Led Zeppelin. When I first heard Zeppelin's early records they almost scared me -- they were so intense and raucous. But I knew they really scared my parents, which of course made me love Zeppelin even more. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I saw them in the spring of 1977 at the Pontiac Silverdome outside of my hometown of Detroit. The place was a giant cavern (the home of the Detroit Lions at the time) and even though the weather was wintery, they didn't seem to be bothering with heat, because it was freaking cold in there. We waited in line outside in the frigid Michigan weather for a couple of hours, only to find that it was nearly as cold inside the place. Anyway, at least I can say I saw Zeppelin. It was their last U.S. tour, and of course they called it quits after John Bonham died in 1980.
Here's Zeppelin in action at Seattle's Kingdome in 1977. (As always, great acoustics in there!)
And speaking of bands who lost their drummers, there's The Who. I LOVED The Who as a kid, and I still think Who's Next is one of the greatest albums ever. The only time I saw The Who live was on a grimly historical night: December 3, 1979 at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati. I was working for a radio station in Columbus, Ohio, and we'd taken a busload of lucky listeners down to Cincinnati for the Who concert. Unfortunately, this was the night that 11 kids died in the crush of fans when they opened the doors of the mostly general-admission venue. We didn't know this at the time, nor did the band, until after the show. Obviously this was way before cellphones, so when I called the radio station on a pay phone to do a post-concert report before getting back on the bus for the drive home, the people at the station were in a panic. They'd gotten frantic calls from the parents of all these kids that were with us, and they were understandably freaking out after seeing TV news reports about what had happened. Luckily, everybody in our group was okay and we made it out of there safe and sound.
Here's The Who at the top of their game from Who's Next in 1971:
Who will you vote for? I don't know who I'M going to vote for yet. If you look at your brackets, I kind of think Zeppelin would be in the best position to take the whole thing if they win this round, so I think that's who I'm going with. But to tell you the truth, I'm still in the "undecided" column.
The Who seems better to me simply because they show more variety. Led Zeppelin is more about the music than content. So really they seem to different to compare, but if I had to choose I would go with the Who.