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They were legends based on myths—myths of fantasy, power, and black magic. The tales of their tours were the most outrageous in the already excess-laden annals of modern music. The era of Led Zeppelin personified sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Based on interviews with the band's musicians, friends, employees, and lovers, Hammer of the Gods tells the shocking story of Led Z They were legends based on myths—myths of fantasy, power, and black magic. The tales of their tours were the most outrageous in the already excess-laden annals of modern music. The era of Led Zeppelin personified sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Based on interviews with the band's musicians, friends, employees, and lovers, Hammer of the Gods tells the shocking story of Led Zeppelin's successes and excesses in the 70s—when Zeppelin reigned as the industry's biggest act. Exclusive sources. Documents. Interviews. Photos. Revelations about a band—and an industry—at its shameless peak. Read it all, and see why Hammer of the Gods is a classic of rock journalism in its own right.


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They were legends based on myths—myths of fantasy, power, and black magic. The tales of their tours were the most outrageous in the already excess-laden annals of modern music. The era of Led Zeppelin personified sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Based on interviews with the band's musicians, friends, employees, and lovers, Hammer of the Gods tells the shocking story of Led Z They were legends based on myths—myths of fantasy, power, and black magic. The tales of their tours were the most outrageous in the already excess-laden annals of modern music. The era of Led Zeppelin personified sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Based on interviews with the band's musicians, friends, employees, and lovers, Hammer of the Gods tells the shocking story of Led Zeppelin's successes and excesses in the 70s—when Zeppelin reigned as the industry's biggest act. Exclusive sources. Documents. Interviews. Photos. Revelations about a band—and an industry—at its shameless peak. Read it all, and see why Hammer of the Gods is a classic of rock journalism in its own right.

30 review for Hammer of the Gods

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Ah-a-aaaahhhhHAAAA!!! Ah-a-aaaahhhhHAAAAAA!!! It's been a long time since I read this book It's been a long time, but let's have a look What a whole lotta love Davis has for Zeppelin! What a whole lotta love! Here's a fanboy who's sure all that glitters is gold And he's written the band into heaven And if you said you were a Led-head Oh what fun this book would be Me, I'm gonna ramble on I'm gonna find a new read to quench my greed Ramble on!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    I've heard it said that "rock'n'roll ain't pretty". I never it expected it to be quite so repugnant, however. Read this book if you want more information than anybody needs about what goes on when young adults are allowed to have no limits absolutely. I'd have to blame most of the raucous behavior on the road manager, Richard Cole, and the band's manager, Peter Grant. I'd only been a casual fan of Led Zeppelin (collected all their cds but preferred my 70's hard rock a bit more Purple or Black), so I've heard it said that "rock'n'roll ain't pretty". I never it expected it to be quite so repugnant, however. Read this book if you want more information than anybody needs about what goes on when young adults are allowed to have no limits absolutely. I'd have to blame most of the raucous behavior on the road manager, Richard Cole, and the band's manager, Peter Grant. I'd only been a casual fan of Led Zeppelin (collected all their cds but preferred my 70's hard rock a bit more Purple or Black), so I had not previously heard of either of these guys. Between the two of them, they basically set the musicians of Zeppelin as idiot kings, able to satisfy every whim and never worry about consequences. Not a good recipe. I'd read a similar account in the Alice Cooper book (Billion Dollar Baby). Their manager, Shep Gordon, used this tactic to vault the band to stardom. If you act like stars, and are treated like stars, then the confidence you gain might actually make it true. In Alice Cooper's case, it was also to the eventual detriment to the band. Only Alice himself (a true sheep-in-wolves-clothing) was able to get past these excesses, although his battles with alcoholism were not minor. What price, fame? And in Led Zeppelin's case, you can read in this book how things fell apart. Jimmy Page starts out as quite a nice young man, wise with session experience and seemingly smart enough not to get spaced out like the elder Yardbirds he had joined. In fact, it's his vision that helped allow Zeppelin to craft such superior-quality music. But you'll find out too many disappointing things about Jimmy as you read the book to its end. Robert Plant comes across as a pretty nice guy. He goes wild at first but does seem to rein things in a bit as time goes on. John Paul Jones may be the only one to retain his good sense throughout the band's tenure. Not coincidentally, the book speaks at length about the distance he kept from the band. He was not one to spend his time with the carousing crew like Bonzo. And Bonham... what can be said? Described as a nice guy with a heart of gold when he's sober, he's probably the kind of guy who would have troubles fitting in (due to his temper and love of drink) in an ordinary life. But with Richard Cole and Peter Grant around to keep encouraging the worst sort of behavior, and also to help him avoid any serious consequences, it's no surprise that he eventually met with tragedy. But enough with the excesses of rock'n'roll. Being only a casual fan, I did learn quite a bit about the band. - in the early days of recording rock groups, the producer would bring in the group of choice. Often he'd have a song picked out for them. If some of the musicians couldn't play their parts quickly enough, a session musician would immediately step in to finish the track. That's how Jimmy Page (pre-Led Zeppelin) got such great experience. (It's also the way that Ritchie Blackmore got his start before Deep Purple, but that's another story.) - Jimmy's first "real" group was the Yardbirds, but he joined at their zenith. They fell apart, leaving him the name. In fact, the first set of shows that Led Zeppelin did was under the name "The New Yardbirds". [image error] - Led Zeppelin really did steal a lot of musical ideas. They crafted their songs well, but it would have been appropriate to share some credit. - Led Zeppelin's double album "Physical Grafitti" was not all recorded at the same time. Nearly half of it were tracks unused from previous sessions. It's probably not that much of a secret to diehard fans, but it was news to me. - Led Zeppelin was unlike other landmark 70's hard rock bands (Deep Purple and Black Sabbath) because they were highly famous almost at the start. Jimmy Page was able to take his session experience and his Yardbirds experience and use that to orchestrate a band with a lot of appeal and drive right from the start. What's my proof? I do have a quite a few early bootlegs that I've collected over the internet in the past 10 years, and I've always wondered why Led Zeppelin had more available than other notable bands. Right from the start, fans were appreciating Zeppelin enough to archive their every performance. Other bands have far fewer such recordings available in their early years. It's all due to Jimmy Page, his previous experience, and his uncanny musical vision of the new supergroup Led Zeppelin. ** Deep Purple had a similar story in that Ritchie Blackmore also had a lot of session experience, but without strong group experience (like Jimmy in the Yardbirds), the first incarnation of Deep Purple (with singer Rod Evans) was basically the training ground for when the vision would be clarified with new singer Ian Gillan (who brought with him experience with Episode Six, to add to organist Jon Lord's experience with the Artwoods). ** Black Sabbath had no such session experience to draw on, nor any previous group experience. They benefited from a strong vision of their musical style from their first recorded output. But it takes time for a following to build up, and hard rock had no radio airplay at that time. One Final Word -------------- Many reviewers here have critized the author's "poor writing skills". I'd have to argue, but I'll pick my spots carefully. If you dwell on the list of hedonistic excesses, the book gets monotonous. However, if you go back and reread only those sections that deal with the songs (or the performances themselves), you'll see that the author really has a way of describing the music in ways to make it come alive. Nearly every time the author was describing a song, I felt the urge to pull up that track from the album (or from the bootleg of the show he was describing) and listen to it. The author truly does have a skill in describing the music. It's by the far the best parts of the book, and worthy of your attention. Like writing numerous love scenes, it cannot be easy to write about numerous songs and make them come alive.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Detroit

    Cigarettes with batteries in them? Beer with no alcohol in it? Backstage passes to spiritual gurus, therapists, personal trainers, and dietary consultants instead of groupies and dope peddlers? Trading Jack Daniels and Southern Comfort for super-grande-venti machiatto double-skim, light-foam, extra-hot soy latte frappes? Come back, Keith Moon. Wake up, Johnny Thunders. Save us, Chuck Berry. The man-bun, coffee swilling, smart-phone worshipping, skinny jeansification of rock and roll is in full s Cigarettes with batteries in them? Beer with no alcohol in it? Backstage passes to spiritual gurus, therapists, personal trainers, and dietary consultants instead of groupies and dope peddlers? Trading Jack Daniels and Southern Comfort for super-grande-venti machiatto double-skim, light-foam, extra-hot soy latte frappes? Come back, Keith Moon. Wake up, Johnny Thunders. Save us, Chuck Berry. The man-bun, coffee swilling, smart-phone worshipping, skinny jeansification of rock and roll is in full swing. I'll be the first to admit that Led Zeppelin found stardom through a rough combination of dues paying and genuine talent, not custody battles, smoke, mirrors, and wardrobe malfunctions, but I could never muster up the gusto (read: spray painting “Led Zep” all over the walls of our high school, scouring the library shelves for anything by J.R.R. Tolkien, and performing stoned satanic rituals out in the woods) most of my pot-addled classmates had for them as I could for say, The Who, in their prime perhaps the greatest band to ever draw air. I always considered Zep’s back catalog sort of patchy. There, I’ve said it. For every unrelenting Godzilla-stomp, guitar ramalama, hobbit-squashing funk riff Jimmy Page came up with (“Misty Mountain Hop,” "Black Dog,” or “Trampled Underfoot,” anyone?), there was a Christ-my-hair-just-turned-white slogfest like “No Quarter,” “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” or “The Rain Song” waiting just around the corner to darken your doorway like a Biblical curse. Based on the show I caught at Olympia Stadium in Detroit when the band touched down on their “Houses of the Holy” tour in 1973, they weren’t much to write home about live either. Maybe they just had an off night. Everything seemed just a hair out of sync and Page was paler than the half-eaten guy from “Jaws” who floats out of the boat and scares Richard Dreyfuss in the scuba diving scene. “Houses of the Holy” was never my favorite album anyway but the band went down in flames pretty spectacularly trying to recreate some of their studio trickery out on the boards. Let’s just forget “D’yer Mak’er” ever happened, deal? Despite my constant petty grousing, there is no arguing they conquered the world several times over during the 70’s and beyond, in no small part to “Stairway to Heaven” being played what seemed like once every hour on local FM crotch-rock motherships from Boise to Boston. I’d rather hunker down in front of a PBS special about the potato famine than hear it again but that’s just me. Your results may vary. Don’t even get me started on “The Song Remains the Same.” Although it’s hard to separate much of what passes for fact here from myth – even with a crowbar - it’s nearly untouchable when it comes to tawdry, lurid, cheap thrills, everything from rumored Faustian bargains with Lucifer to groupie, baked bean, marine life, cocaine, and heroin abuse to manager Peter Grant and tour manager Richard Cole stopping just short of doling out the same helping of bullets parmigiana that Michael Corleone gave Solazzo and McCluskey in “The Godfather” to protect the band’s best (and sometimes worst) interests. Along the way, the timid, effeminate Page uses Cole as his wingman to procure trysts with obscenely-underage girls, John Bonham punches his own ticket with 40 shots of vodka, Robert Plant harbors a fetish for women’s clothing, and invisible man John Paul Jones somehow manages to stay above the fray and below the radar, sleepwalking through it all. In Detroit, the band steps around a homicide unit still swabbing the carpet in their hotel lobby for blood evidence and in London a loud-mouthed, bleach-spiked Billy Idol, speaking on behalf of the Year Zero brigade, heckles the dinosaurs with obscenities, taunts, and general verbal abuse, prompting Bonham to ask, “Who was that guy?” The theft of a few hundred grand in cash from a New York hotel safe, Plant’s automobile crack-up, and the deaths of his son and Bonham start rumors swirling about a dark cloud of negative energy (read: curse) hanging over the band but it was all moot by the time Bonham checked into the Wooden Waldorf, Led Zeppelin realizing that soldiering on without him was pointless. Although had they considered it, Bonham’s son Jason might have been a good fit on the drum stool but there was just one problem: the kid was only 14 at the time. Thirty-seven years on at the time of this writing, as we’re still adjusting to a kinder, gentler, fuzzier, and warmer music biz – but infinitely more fucked up in most other regards – “Hammer of the Gods” will still leave you feeling unclean for having read it. Worth tracking down.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ben Loory

    this was really a crappy book; i give it two stars because of the interesting but lifeless information it gave me. facts. they had a lot of groupies. they fucked some girl with a shark they caught fishing out the hotel window. they did cocaine, then heroin. bonham bought a lot of cars but couldn't drive. jimmy had a 14-year old girlfriend he kept locked in his hotel room. robert plant's dog's name was strider. john paul jones... played bass. some other shit. most of it interesting. some not. but this was really a crappy book; i give it two stars because of the interesting but lifeless information it gave me. facts. they had a lot of groupies. they fucked some girl with a shark they caught fishing out the hotel window. they did cocaine, then heroin. bonham bought a lot of cars but couldn't drive. jimmy had a 14-year old girlfriend he kept locked in his hotel room. robert plant's dog's name was strider. john paul jones... played bass. some other shit. most of it interesting. some not. but no insight into any of the guys in the band. at all. i don't even think the guy who wrote the book ever even talked to them. most of it seemed to be info from the manager and tour manager. this happened, then this, then we went here, there were girls, we fucked them with fishes, etc. and john bonham was a DICK. and i was glad when he died. true fact. of course then the band broke up, because you need the insane violent drunk asshole to hold the band together by making everybody else bond with each other to deal with him while he's assaulting people and trying to rape female reporters and stewardesses. he's gone, suddenly there's no shared sense of purpose and everyone wanders off to do heroin and make shitty albums with david coverdale.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This book is disappointing, which is odd because the story it tells should be so interesting. Unfortunately, the author simply doesn't write very well. The story reads more like a list of events than a narrative, and to provide interest and emphasis his primary tool seems to be the use of italics. The redeeming quality of the book is that the author takes each studio album and breaks it down song-by-song, citing influences and inspirations behind the music. Otherwise, apart from the infamous 'shark This book is disappointing, which is odd because the story it tells should be so interesting. Unfortunately, the author simply doesn't write very well. The story reads more like a list of events than a narrative, and to provide interest and emphasis his primary tool seems to be the use of italics. The redeeming quality of the book is that the author takes each studio album and breaks it down song-by-song, citing influences and inspirations behind the music. Otherwise, apart from the infamous 'shark incident' (which through his insipid writing he even manages to make sound dull) this book doesn't have much to offer. I have to believe there are better Led Zeppelin books out there--if anyone knows of any, please let me know! [Update: Now there does exist a better Led Zeppelin book. See my review of When Giants Walked the Earth.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Great band. Actually THE greatest ever, in my opinion. Not a great book. I've read it twice. Just not written very well. I'd like to find a better bio on Zeppelin and read it, if I could actually part from romance/erotica long enough!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bex

    started: 5/26/08 finished: 5/29/08 First of all, no rock and roll book could possibly be any more shocking then Motley Crue's The Dirt. lol. Hammer of the Gods is a must read for any Zep fan, really. A classic book about a classic band. It is completely up to date, until 2007 - that's only last year people! :P I really enjoyed it, I always wanted to know what was coming next and I just about cried when it reached 1980 and it was time to say goodbye to Bonzo. Maybe because I love the band so I'm em started: 5/26/08 finished: 5/29/08 First of all, no rock and roll book could possibly be any more shocking then Motley Crue's The Dirt. lol. Hammer of the Gods is a must read for any Zep fan, really. A classic book about a classic band. It is completely up to date, until 2007 - that's only last year people! :P I really enjoyed it, I always wanted to know what was coming next and I just about cried when it reached 1980 and it was time to say goodbye to Bonzo. Maybe because I love the band so I'm emotionally attached anyway. I loved getting to know Jimmy and Robert and co. more, insight into their personalities and lives. Highly recommended for Zep fans and rock and roll fans in general. A must read! Also, I'd like to note, that I read this book exactly forty years after the inception of the band: 1968-2008. Sweet.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. These guys invented it. Yeah, baby.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dave Hill

    Probably not very true, but still totally awesome.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I read this book because it's one of the only books that my husband has ever read more than once. I wanted to see what was so great about it, so off I went. First off, this book is not for me. In my view, this is a zero star book. (Smack-headed pedophiles, angry violent drunks, and dudes who marry a women, have kids with her, divorce her, then marry her sister and have kids with her also, don't really do it for me. Seriously -- those kids are siblings AND cousins. WTF?) Not only did my husband lov I read this book because it's one of the only books that my husband has ever read more than once. I wanted to see what was so great about it, so off I went. First off, this book is not for me. In my view, this is a zero star book. (Smack-headed pedophiles, angry violent drunks, and dudes who marry a women, have kids with her, divorce her, then marry her sister and have kids with her also, don't really do it for me. Seriously -- those kids are siblings AND cousins. WTF?) Not only did my husband love this book and read it multiple times, he wrote an entertaining book report about it way back in 1990, when he was a wee lad of 13. He rated the book "excellent", so I've gone ahead and given it three stars --that's a nice balance between his five-star rating and my zero-star rating. Because it is highly entertaining, here is my husband's book report, verbatim and [sic]: Hammer of the Gods, the Led Zeppelin Saga. Rating: Excellent. March 12, 1990. "Led Zeppelin was a rock group of the late '60s, all of the '70s and the early 80s. the band consisted of four members, Robert Plant, who was the lead vocals, Jimmy Page, electric guitar, John Bonham, drums and John Baldwin, alias John Paul Jones, bass and keyboard. The group started in 1968 when they recorded their first album called "Led Zeppelin." It only cost 1,750 pounds to produce, but grossed over $7 million by 1975. Their second Album named "Led Zeppelin II" was recorded the following year. It was Attacked by critics, but the kids loved it. It sold 800,000 copies in forty weeks. Led Zeppelin's Third album...you guessed it "Led Zeppelin III" was also critisized heavily but the common people thought it was great. When they put their fourth album out "Led Zeppelin IV" in 1971 the assault from the critics was quite slight. In 1972 and 1973 they went on a world tour while writing the lyrics to and recording the next album "Houses of the Holy." They put the album out after the tour and it went platinum. They took some time off after that. Their next album, made in 1975 called "Physical Graphitti" was also a smash hit album. By 1976 they started to loose some of the sparks they had in the last 7 years. They put out an album named "Prescence" which not many people liked and neither did the critics. They were also drug addicts or Alcoholics by then. Led Zeppelin had split up for a little less than two years and Roberts son, Karac Plant had died from a respirritory disease. Elvis Presley had died too who was a good friend of the bands. In 1979 the band got back together to make another album called "In through the Out Door." It did fair on the charts and the critics didn't like it that much. They released it in 1980. One night in 1981, John Bonham got really drunk and passed out. They laided him down at the Hotel he was staying at and the next morning he was dead. The group put out one last album named "Coda" from songs never put on the other albums. It was put out in 1982 and the group split up. Each member going solo Robert was the most successful. Hedonistic - Devotion to pleasure. Gendarme - A French National Policeman. Truncheon - A short stick carried by Policemen. Troth - good faith Therme - A unit of heat equal to Umbrage - Offense Fracas - noisy quarrel Wrangle - to dispute Angrily Spiel - to say at length Tumescent - swollen Robert Plant - Was a tall, slender, young man with blonde hair, blue eyes and had quite light skin. He wasn't emotional or shy, he was quite strong and had an average endurance. How many children did each group member have? Robert Plant had three kids, one girl, two boys. One of the boys died. John Baldwin had three girls. John Bonham had one son who has his own band now.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Troy

    Hammer of the Gods is missing historical context. I realize Davis was writing about four people and could not cover them all as profoundly as he could have, but despite the actual writing, I think in 1985 he was lacking both the historical perspective and the maturity to be able to give Zeppelin its full due. Despite the selling one's soul to the devil bit, which is merely a catchy framing device, he starts out well, chronicling Jimmy Page's early musical growth and subsequent session work, under Hammer of the Gods is missing historical context. I realize Davis was writing about four people and could not cover them all as profoundly as he could have, but despite the actual writing, I think in 1985 he was lacking both the historical perspective and the maturity to be able to give Zeppelin its full due. Despite the selling one's soul to the devil bit, which is merely a catchy framing device, he starts out well, chronicling Jimmy Page's early musical growth and subsequent session work, understanding that it was a laboratory for his development and his output with the Yardbirds. This portion was fascinating and gave real insight into Page's vision --as well as documenting the intelligent business decisions and transactions he and his manager made, which transformed Rock and the way performers were remunerated. However, the other three members of the band and their early development are merely glossed over. Jones is given credit as a solid supporting player; Bonham and Plant are depicted as yokels who had the extreme good fortune to be picked up by Page. 1985 was perhaps too soon to understand the social impact of the 1970's -- and so Davis makes the band seem particularly narcissistic as the story moves away from their creative process and musicianship and devolves into a series of debaucheries. Though he is careful to document the antics of the roadies and managers and separate those incidents from the bands actual transgressions, he fails to put those events into context. In fact, the seventies were a time of great excess all around: the sexual revolution was gaining momentum, women's liberation was in its early days, the the social movements of the '60s had gone underground and morphed into all sorts of self exploration including those featuring the occult and transcendence. Again, though Davis details the recording sessions from a technical perspective, there is no insight into the band's creative process, aside from that of Stairway to Heaven -and this is where the lack of first person interview really comes into play. Some pages are spent on the marketing of the band to a mass audience, but there is little analysis why the band was despised by rock journalists who adored the Stones, and older fans who worshiped Hendrix and Cream, for example. Poor lyrics are suggested as the reason, but listening to Zeppelin's powerful sound forty years later, I think a deeper analysis of the social and historical zeitgeist is merited. Though Zeppelin didn't reach a mass audience until 1973-4, they did arrive in L.A in 1969--so it is inconceivable that the more mature audience had already moved on. As an afterthought, although Plant, Page and Jones were exceptionally good looking, they never exploited that fact in their marketing like the Beatles, Stones, Morrison and others did- which might account for their lack of social prestige and lack of interest from the art crowd --and that their appeal remained predominately limited to a younger male audience, which was concentrated on the sound and the intensity of the performances. Personally I was impressed with the professionalism and integrity of the band in relation to performing for its fans. There is no gross self indulgence on stage [aside from long solos] - members made it a point of showing up under the most adverse conditions and giving it their all. I don't know about you, but I have to take a nap after working out or doing a bunch of errands--so I can't imagine the kind of stamina it would take to not only tour but to perform night after night raising the kind of energy necessary to whip up the audience to a certain level. Maybe I am overthinking this and should just uncork the champagne and turn up the volume, but I would like to see a do-over by the author and a serious analysis of Zeppelin with less concentration on bedroom antics and more on the music.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Steve Mcgrath

    I grew up thinking Led Zeppelin was a bit over-rated and kinda bloated with their "Everyone gets a 20 minute solo" concert structure. I also thought that Robert Plant wanted to try to be "majestic-lion-man". I was wrong on one of 2 of those. This book was great insight to not only how Zep operated, but how the whole music industry operated back in the 70s. I have a whole new respect for Zep as musicians, but the stories of debauchery is what makes this book. Everyone has heard of the fish incide I grew up thinking Led Zeppelin was a bit over-rated and kinda bloated with their "Everyone gets a 20 minute solo" concert structure. I also thought that Robert Plant wanted to try to be "majestic-lion-man". I was wrong on one of 2 of those. This book was great insight to not only how Zep operated, but how the whole music industry operated back in the 70s. I have a whole new respect for Zep as musicians, but the stories of debauchery is what makes this book. Everyone has heard of the fish incident, but the things that you hear about that are somehow glossed over in music history are how Jimmy Page dated a 15 year old, how Bonzo would order 20 drinks at a time(crush TEN of them immediately and tear though the other ten in the next hour), how Jonsey was the true creative force in the band, how they lived double lives between England and LA. In England, they were all family men, in LA....things were different. In their prime, Zep would play 3 hours shows, no opener with minimal stage setup. As time grew on, they still did 3 hours, but the stage setups got more and more elaborate(and if you ask me, exposed them to be attacked as bloated, over-spending rock stars) which made them an easy target for punk bands who all went after Zeppelin as an "establishment" band. I also now see that Moby Dick wasn't a waste of time with a 20 minute drum solo. Bonzo was such a savage that the rest of the band had to get fake hotel rooms so he wouldnt crash on them all drunk and aggresive. I see now that that 20 minutes what Bonzo was banging away on drums was probibaly the only time the rest of the band could have a beer together in peace. This is a great book if you love stories of debauchery. This book is allegedly also the first ever book that covers a band like this

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael Cunningham

    'Hammer of the Gods' is the cult classic Led Zeppelin biography, famous for its unflinching portrayal of the band's legendary exploits with groupies, orgies, violence, hotel destruction, black magic, and drugs. With this book, Stephen Davis captures the true spirit of the "sex, drugs and rock and roll" philosophy of the 70s and vomits it up on the curb for all to see. If you have an aversion to seeing the word 'fuck' in print, or to reading descriptions of groupies getting fucked by dead sharks 'Hammer of the Gods' is the cult classic Led Zeppelin biography, famous for its unflinching portrayal of the band's legendary exploits with groupies, orgies, violence, hotel destruction, black magic, and drugs. With this book, Stephen Davis captures the true spirit of the "sex, drugs and rock and roll" philosophy of the 70s and vomits it up on the curb for all to see. If you have an aversion to seeing the word 'fuck' in print, or to reading descriptions of groupies getting fucked by dead sharks and whipped by live octopi, then definitely do not read Hammer of the Gods. Wild offstage behaviour aside, Stephen Davis expertly documents the bands musical career from their Yardbirds beginnings right through to their tragic breakup after John Bonham's death in 1980 and Page's descent into a daily heroin addiction that lasted seven years. Stephen Davis covers the musical side of the Led Zeppelin saga very well and dissects each of the albums they put out song by song, and also details the set lists of some of their key live performances out of the 600+ they performed during 1968-1971 and their tours in 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1979. The author has updated the book since its original publication to include extra chapters detailing the post-Zeppelin days, up to and including their 2007 reunion concert; however, most of this material is boring and unnecessary (it mainly focuses on Robert Plant's solo career because Page was too strung out on heroin and John Paul Jones was too much of a recluse for either of them to have done anything interesting) and I found myself speed reading the rest of it till I hit the finish line. Besides the boring new material (Part 3: Hammer of Robert Plant) the rock biography lives up to all its hype and made for a very entertaining travel read (I read it in Japan). I'll close by recommending a couple of Led Zeppelin live albums to buy or download should your ears be unfortunate enough to not have met with their music. The Song Remains the Same How the West Was Won

  14. 5 out of 5

    gabrielle

    Zep is one of my favorite bands, but in all honesty, I just started reading this because I needed something to do while I waited for NK Jemisin's Stone Sky to come out. -- This book feels like it was written by multiple people, like a college class had an assignment where each student wrote a chapter, then they just threw them together into a book. The author has a really inconsistent writing style and I never could figure out if he liked the band or not. In one sentence he would refer to Plant's Zep is one of my favorite bands, but in all honesty, I just started reading this because I needed something to do while I waited for NK Jemisin's Stone Sky to come out. -- This book feels like it was written by multiple people, like a college class had an assignment where each student wrote a chapter, then they just threw them together into a book. The author has a really inconsistent writing style and I never could figure out if he liked the band or not. In one sentence he would refer to Plant's lyrics as "banal" or "insipid" and in the next talk about how amazing his singing was and the effect it had on the crowd. Also, he uses the N word in here which just ... I mean, even though the first printing was way back in the 80s, that was *the 80s* and COME ON you should know better. Sheesh. Bonus: learning how much music LZ outright stole from other musicians, like Whole Lotta Love (Willie Dixon) and Dazed and Confused (Jake Holmes). Dixon sued them and won. (Seriously: check out Whole Lotta Love, recorded by Muddy Waters.) ("The Above Ground Sound of Jake Holmes" is ... interesting... but Dazed and Confused is immediately recognizable.) This has given me a whole bunch of new-to-me music to check out.

  15. 4 out of 5

    cara

    generally a good overview of zeppelin’s history, but the writing is atrocious, offensive and impossible to see past. myriad slurs are used to describe fans, colleagues and friends of the band. the tone is that of a younger brother wishing he could join in on horrific acts like the infamous shark episode. the mind boggles at how this edition was okayed by editors in 2008.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alex Worrell

    Very enjoyable book about my favorite band of all time. Reading this really puts it into perspective that these rock and roll legends were really just four friends with their own fears and insecurities like everyone else. This book incredibly illustrates the perfect synergy that was Led Zeppelin.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    Hammer Of the Gods Led Zeppelin Unauthorised by Stephen Davis. Well with Led Zeppelin about to play there first gig in eons it seemed the time was right to read this book that tells the tale in all it's gory details of one of the biggest rock bands ever, and one that I don't own any albums by. But am certainly more than familiar with, how could you not be!! It is incredible to think of how many hit records both Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones had played on before they decided to put together a new Hammer Of the Gods Led Zeppelin Unauthorised by Stephen Davis. Well with Led Zeppelin about to play there first gig in eons it seemed the time was right to read this book that tells the tale in all it's gory details of one of the biggest rock bands ever, and one that I don't own any albums by. But am certainly more than familiar with, how could you not be!! It is incredible to think of how many hit records both Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones had played on before they decided to put together a new band together as the Yardbirds were falling apart. They then found two unknown Midlands yokels in Robert Plant and John Bonham and with Jimmy and John Pauls exstensive inside knowledge and the great management of Peter Grant they cut themselves a truely ground breaking record deal and concert ticket deals as they conquered the world and had some very strange sex and drugs and rock and roll stories that includes the shark incident and Jimmy shacking up with a 14 year old girl back when a girls parents wouldn't mind such things happening such was the lure of LA La Land and the Riot House hotel on Sunset strip. Jimmy Page even had Iggy pop as his personal Heroin dealer at the hotel!! The book deals the dirt and chronicles the highs and lows of this band very well and makes me want to actually buy an album or two by them. The book is a great read for anyone who likes rock and roll mythology as these guys lived the Myth to the full and saw the down side as well as the ups as John Bonham's and Karac Plants death's certainly showed the downside as did the death threats and riots at gigs. This book is available for dirt cheap as part of a five book box with books on Black Sabbath Aerosmith ACDC and Status Quo making up the box for the price of a single book!!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dierregi

    After having read Keith Richard's autobiography I decided to dig deeper in the disreputable life of 70's rock bands. As a source of controversy and outrage, Led Zeppelin was the obvious choice. Turns out, this "unauthorised" biography contains very little scandalous material. In fact, it is even a bit boring, going into excruciatingly tedious details about obscure musicians who worked with LZ for a project or another. The biggest source of scandal was the notorious behaviour of Led Zeppelin while After having read Keith Richard's autobiography I decided to dig deeper in the disreputable life of 70's rock bands. As a source of controversy and outrage, Led Zeppelin was the obvious choice. Turns out, this "unauthorised" biography contains very little scandalous material. In fact, it is even a bit boring, going into excruciatingly tedious details about obscure musicians who worked with LZ for a project or another. The biggest source of scandal was the notorious behaviour of Led Zeppelin while touring the States. But even those excesses sound dated. Destroying hotel rooms has been for years the pastime of rich and spoiled stars. However, throwing TVs from a balcony is criminally dangerous, more than eccentric behaviour. As far as sex is concerned, I am sure it is not a secret that Led Zeppelin was the apple of groupies `eyes. They were all more or less married, but the wives usually did not follow the US tours and the band members enjoyed the company of groupies while abroad. I guess nobody is shocked or surprised by learning that rock musicians sleep around. Needless to add, the use of drugs (denied or admitted) does not come as a surprise either. Finally, the rumours of black magic and pacts with the devil are - of course - idiotic and the death of Bonham was caused by booze rather than by a satanic curse. Regardless of what Jimmy Page might have been doing. On a side note, I found it bizarre that John Bonham was constantly described as "A nice guy except when he drank, because the booze made him obnoxious", with the added line "He was almost always drunk" . Sounds like the moments when he was nice were rare... or at least, rare enough to disqualify him as a "nice person". Would not recommend, unless you are a die-hard Led Zeppelin fan.

  19. 4 out of 5

    William Harris

    Before I read this I was on what some might call a "Zeppelin kick", listening to only their music for about two months straight. This is what brought me to the book. Hammer of the Gods was recommended by a good friend of mine who is solely responsible for my delayed interest in the band. Initially wanting to read more about the music and lyrics Led Zeppelin is noted for, Stephen Davis offers a more complete appraisal of arguably one of the commercially successful and influential rock bands in hi Before I read this I was on what some might call a "Zeppelin kick", listening to only their music for about two months straight. This is what brought me to the book. Hammer of the Gods was recommended by a good friend of mine who is solely responsible for my delayed interest in the band. Initially wanting to read more about the music and lyrics Led Zeppelin is noted for, Stephen Davis offers a more complete appraisal of arguably one of the commercially successful and influential rock bands in history. Apart from the anecdotes about the early formations of the band and each members' musical journeys, I found Davis' discussion of the musical roots of the band most fascinating. Tracing the bands's sound back to the Blues styling of black musicians in the Mississippi Delta, Davis offers a comprehensive survey of some of Zeppplin's early influences. Hammer of the Gods covers everything from the band's infamous road antics to guitarists Jimmy Page's interest in Aleister Crowley and the occult. Well researched and informative, Hammer of the Gods is a must read for Zeppelin fans and those interested in music history.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    I must say that the Led Zeppelin 'family', mainly the manager, Peter Grant, Richard Cole and their road crew behaved more like a violent mob at times than a rock and roll entourage. The fact is they were bullies. They bullied their way on and off of stages, beat onlookers up for little or no reason, etc. Luckily, this author does focus on the music somewhat and does offer some balance between the mayhem and the artistry of the band. It was a rather quick read. I enjoyed most of it. My favorite p I must say that the Led Zeppelin 'family', mainly the manager, Peter Grant, Richard Cole and their road crew behaved more like a violent mob at times than a rock and roll entourage. The fact is they were bullies. They bullied their way on and off of stages, beat onlookers up for little or no reason, etc. Luckily, this author does focus on the music somewhat and does offer some balance between the mayhem and the artistry of the band. It was a rather quick read. I enjoyed most of it. My favorite parts: tyring to picture Jimmy Page working his 'black magic'; Page and Plant's admiration for Joni Mitchell; realizing that Bonham was much a bully and a 'beast' as he was an unbelievable drummer; John Paul Jones passed out with a drag queen in New Orleans; his less-known inclination to subvert others. Despite enjoying the read and learning more about them, I still think of Robert Plant sounds like a blues muppet most of the time. 'Hammer of the Gods' may be a good place to start before moving on to a denser book on the band. - Read Sept 14th 07

  21. 5 out of 5

    Greta

    Book is not well written, but informative nonetheless. Despite claims by many people,this book did make clear that Zepplin is far from approaching any type of godhood status. While I was expecting some best/worst of bachanaal/ Dionysian debauchery... I didn't really get a sense of this band approaching either. Their antics fell more into a general malaise of just plain dumb, low class human debauchery that is related to people acting out that can't handle excess. I found many interesting contras Book is not well written, but informative nonetheless. Despite claims by many people,this book did make clear that Zepplin is far from approaching any type of godhood status. While I was expecting some best/worst of bachanaal/ Dionysian debauchery... I didn't really get a sense of this band approaching either. Their antics fell more into a general malaise of just plain dumb, low class human debauchery that is related to people acting out that can't handle excess. I found many interesting contrasts between band's and people's perceptions of Led Zepplin and what they actually were in real life. For example Jimmy Page's persona as "shy and sensitive" and his adoration of Joni Mitchell, just don't mesh when he makes statements related to women being inferior. Fun read, but not very in-depth. However there is enough information that readers can read in between lines and make their own connections and judgements to the material and what they believe it means or says.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    It turns out, at least for me, reading about the rowdiest rock band ever wasn't that exciting. I enjoyed reading about how songs came together, bandmember roots/influences and how the band and it's management shaped music industry standards in regards to touring and promotion. But I really didn't enjoy reading about all the drugs and groupies; it's not that I was uaware of it before, I just didn't care about reading about it...it's just a sad reality of fame, fortune and being adored by millions It turns out, at least for me, reading about the rowdiest rock band ever wasn't that exciting. I enjoyed reading about how songs came together, bandmember roots/influences and how the band and it's management shaped music industry standards in regards to touring and promotion. But I really didn't enjoy reading about all the drugs and groupies; it's not that I was uaware of it before, I just didn't care about reading about it...it's just a sad reality of fame, fortune and being adored by millions and nothing to brag about in my book. Regardless, the music Led Zeppelin put out into the world is the best legacy and I will continue to enjoy it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Meen

    The book I have is from 1985, but I won't bother adding it to the database since it's just a mass-market paperback with the same cover shown here. OH MY GAWD, I read this book literally to PIECES in high school!!!! And I have carried it around with me all these years b/c it was just such an obsession for me then, along with my first soulmate, Laura Puffer. (In fact, it was "Led Zepplin #1" written on my shoe that first brought her to my desk in our 10th grade study hall!) I even made notes of all The book I have is from 1985, but I won't bother adding it to the database since it's just a mass-market paperback with the same cover shown here. OH MY GAWD, I read this book literally to PIECES in high school!!!! And I have carried it around with me all these years b/c it was just such an obsession for me then, along with my first soulmate, Laura Puffer. (In fact, it was "Led Zepplin #1" written on my shoe that first brought her to my desk in our 10th grade study hall!) I even made notes of all the band member's biographical information and listed their birthdays on my freaking calendar! (I STILL remember Jimmy Page's: January 9, 1944!) :)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Charles Jr.

    An absolute must read if you're a Led Zeppelin fan, and yes this was written for their fans--not the general public! The story of the red snapper hotel room incident as a for instance. This is the greatest band that has ever walked on this earth and that's a fact, not an opinion--just like McDonald's has the best fries. Again, a common-knowledge fact. When you read this you get a real gritty feel for the ins and outs of the rock industry and how these guys absolutely obliterated it, creating the An absolute must read if you're a Led Zeppelin fan, and yes this was written for their fans--not the general public! The story of the red snapper hotel room incident as a for instance. This is the greatest band that has ever walked on this earth and that's a fact, not an opinion--just like McDonald's has the best fries. Again, a common-knowledge fact. When you read this you get a real gritty feel for the ins and outs of the rock industry and how these guys absolutely obliterated it, creating the new hard rock era we see today. Great (anything) don't do it the way everyone else does. They re-shape the world into the way they want it! That's what Led Zeppelin did!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Fredlear

    This is the first of the "tell all" books on the greatest rock band ever. Stephen Davis uses most of the hangers on as well as their road manager, Richard Cole, to recreate the feel of Zeppelin in the 70's. There are more technical as well as fan driven books on Zeppelin. However, for your average Zeppelin fan, this is a good entry level book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    VILE. Poorly written tales of assault, debauchery and excess to the extreme. Was not a fan of the band prior, but had heard this was a "good read" and I anticipated Spinal Tap-esque tales of tomfoolery- but this is an awful chronicle.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rustam

    Led fucking Zeppelin.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brian Foley

    Kind of a let down. Mostly about banging groupies & drinking fizzy tide. I wanted to hear about mysticism and black majik. Why does no one every talk about Led Zepplin 3? Its the best one! Kind of a let down. Mostly about banging groupies & drinking fizzy tide. I wanted to hear about mysticism and black majik. Why does no one every talk about Led Zepplin 3? Its the best one!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    I love Led Zeppelin, but this is so poorly written that I could not make it all the way through it. I would love to read a better Zeppelin biography, if anyone has any recommendations...

  30. 5 out of 5

    George

    An absolutely trashy account of Led Zeppelin thats worth a read if you're into the sleazy rumors that plagued the band as they toured the States during the 70s.

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