Arguably the greatest rock band of all time, Led Zeppelin's legacy and influence are visible all over the musical landscape. With nine massive albums, legendary live performances, and an estimated 300 million records sold worldwide, their impact cannot be overstated.
Musical accomplishments aside, however, Zeppelin also has a reputation for taking the rock and roll lifestyle to previously unseen levels of excess. From trashed hotel rooms to mind-boggling drug consumption to unspeakable acts performed on aquatic life, Zep is in a league of its own when it comes to debauched rock star extracurricular activities. This list takes a look at some of the craziest stories from Led Zeppelin's heyday - the bad backstage behavior, insane tour antics, and straight-up wildest tales of one of the biggest bands in history.
Jimmy Page is a weird guy. To some extent, he has the right to be - he's one of the best guitarists of all time. So when you read a story about him dressing up in full Nazi SS gear, you kind of shrug your shoulders for a second before doing a double-take on the words "full Nazi SS gear."
According to Pamela Des Barres, the band's favorite groupie, in each city the band visited in the mid-'70s, Jimmy Page allegedly donned full SS regalia and found the nearest drag club, where he did heroin with the performers in the bathroom.
In 1973, iconoclastic filmmaker and alleged magus, Kenneth Anger met Jimmy Page at a Sotheby's auction. They were both bidding on an Aleister Crowley manuscript, and immediately bonded over their love of the writer's work.
At the time of their meeting, Anger had been working on the short film Lucifer Rising since 1966 and was in need of music. He asked Page to compose some, and Page agreed. Anger then moved into Page's Boleskine House in Scotland (formerly owned by Crowley), and by some accounts, Page lent Anger editing equipment for use on the film.
Page wrote 20 or so minutes of (extremely far out, kind of mind-blowing) music for the film, but Anger wanted 40 minutes worth. Before Page could deliver more, the two had a major falling out over the score and because, according to Anger, Page's girlfriend, Charlotte Martin, kicked him out of the basement of Page's house after an argument.
Years later, Anger recalled:
So Jimmy Page did some music instead. He's a miser, which is a horrible thing. He wouldn't even pay for lunch. So I said: "Isn't it preposterous that you're so cheap?" And that of course insulted him. He was on heroin all the time – I hate all those druggies because their eyes get glazed and what they say is meaningless because they don't follow through. I said: 'OK, Jimmy, I need exactly 40 minutes.' But he only gave me 20. I said: "What am I supposed to do, play it twice? I need 40 minutes! I need a climax! Like, [the film] is the end and the beginning of the world – you've gotta give me that big music!"
After the falling out, Anger publicly cursed Page and Martin. Some attribute the string of bad luck that befell Robert Plant in the mid-1970s to this curse. According to Anger:
He’s a multi-millionaire miser. He and Charlotte, that horrible vampire girl... They had so many servants, yet they would never offer me a cup of tea or a sandwich. Which is such a mistake on their part because I put the curse of king Midas on them. If you’re greedy and just amass gold you’ll get an illness. So I did turn her and Jimmy Page into statues of gold because they’ve both lost their minds. He can’t write songs anymore.
Jimmy Page's fascination with British mystic and occult legend Aleister Crowley, once called "the wickedest man in the world," is apparent in the symbols used on Zeppelin's album artwork, and manifests itself in Page's spending habits. He collected countless books and manuscripts by Crowley, including unpublished works and those inscribed by Crowley himself.
In 1970, Page bought Boleskine House, a remote manor in the Scottish highlands once owned by Crowley, which was at one point dubbed “the most notorious home in the Highlands.” Crowley is said to have performed all kinds of black magic and occult rituals at the home, which he bought specifically for that purpose. One of these rites was disrupted, which supposedly caused serious unrest in the area.
...the spirits he summoned got out of hand, causing one housemaid to leave, and a workman to go mad. He also insinuates he was indirectly responsible for a local butcher accidentally severing an artery and bleeding to death. Crowley had written the names of some demons on a bill from the butcher’s shop.
After a few trips to Boleskine in the early '70s, Page stopped going to the house. He spoke of "bad vibes," and claimed to have heard the severed head of a ghost - perhaps Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat - rolling around the floors at night. Page asked childhood friend Malcolm Dent to look after the house for him; Dent did, living there with his wife, raising his children in the home until Page sold it in the 1990s.
Dent claimed to have experienced strange goings on, as well:
Doors would be slamming all night, you’d go into a room and carpets and rugs would be piled up. We just used to say that was Aleister doing his thing.
In 2015, most of the manor was destroyed by a massive fire.
One of the most infamous tales of depravity in the annals of rock and roll involves Led Zeppelin, a shark, and a groupie. As legend has it, after a performance at the Seattle Pop Festival in July 1969, the band retired to the Edgewater Inn - a hotel that sits above Seattle's Puget Sound. The Inn's scenic placement allows guests to fish right off their rooms' balconies, which the band did, reeling in a mud shark.
Later that same evening, the room was besieged with groupies (as was usually the case), and the band thought they'd try something... adventurous. Allegedly, one young woman was tied down while pieces of shark were put inside of her in an unusual sexual act.
The story has never been outright denied, and it's sometimes attributed to the band Vanilla Fudge. The form of the fish occasionally changes to a swordfish or red snapper, meanwhile, and whether the groupie consented has never been clear.