Barney Hoskyns Led Zeppelin: The Oral History of the World's Greatest Rock Band tells the story of Led Zeppelin via the voices of those that were there. Using hundreds of interviews and a massive amount of research, the story is told from quotes mostly by people around the band (although he uses historical interviews with band members throughout). Considering the use of hundreds of voices, Hoskyns tells the tale of Led Zeppelin coherently and interestingly.
When reading a new bio of Zeppelin, as I've read far too many really, I have a simple metric to determine what kind of bio is it: does it tell the Seattle mud-shark story. If it does, I know it's a book interested in the salacious over the music. I prefer, having heard that story too many times, books that either ignore it acknowledge it without much detail. Led Zeppelin: The Oral History of the World's Greatest Rock Band passes this test.
The book focuses on the band, their music and their unique managerial style, treating the band largely as a five-some, with Peter Grant the fifth Zeppelin member. If something affected the music, or the selling of the music, Hoskyns covers it. And while it provides possibly the most comprehensive look at the bands drug use, particularly Page, Bonham and Grant's descent into heroin or, in the latter case, cocaine, it is always in relation to how it affected the band itself.
Led Zeppelin: The Oral History... is an interesting and reasonably quick read, giving the reader some new insight into what made Led Zeppelin tick, while creating a balance between being salacious and telling the full story. It is a must read for Led Zeppelin fans.
Buy the hardcover