When Frank Zappa mocked Led Zeppelin

Frank Zappa

Undoubtedly, the history of rock music holds Frank Zappa as one of its most esteemed figures. As a true visionary, he skillfully blends rock, jazz, classical, and avant-garde elements in his extensive and diverse body of work. Whether leading The Mothers of Invention or pursuing a solo career, Zappa’s creative endeavors are marked by numerous extraordinary achievements. It established his status as a true modernist.

While some artists only made slight modifications to the standard four-chord progression of the blues, Frank Zappa explored the realm of complex and thought-provoking music that required the listener’s full focus. It is impossible to overestimate the significance of his musical innovations. He also gained widespread recognition for his potent political satire and social commentary.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Zappa’s personality isn’t merely his opinion of admired musicians. But rather his perspective on globally recognized legends. Despite Led Zeppelin’s widely acknowledged musical excellence, Zappa expressed many negative opinions about them.

Zappa’s dislike of big rock bands and the urge to question conventions led to his strong feelings about Led Zeppelin. To be more precise, the creative guitarist used Led Zeppelin’s allegedly mud shark incident as a running theme during The Mothers of Invention’s two New York City performances. Which subsequently resulted in the well-known Fillmore East – June 1971 recordings. They also made mention of Robert “Planet” and Robert “Plant-it” in their previous album, 200 Motels.

Zappa’s strong dislike led to a satirical reggae-style rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” during his 1988 tour. Zappa had intentionally avoided Zeppelin’s music for so long. The band leader asked them to play the song through during the tour, there was general disbelief among the group. Although he had never heard it in its entirety, Mike Keneally, the guitarist for the tour, recalled in Record Collector that he was aware of its immense popularity. He was eager to learn more.

Zappa had his criticisms of the song, of course, after hearing it. According to Keneally, “He said he really didn’t like the guitar solo’s chord progression.  But he still wanted to perform the song live because he knew audiences would be shocked by it”. The end result was a memorable jab at the elegant side of Led Zeppelin’s music history and one of Zappa’s most brilliant satirical performances.

Zappa didn’t particularly admire The Beatles. He perceived them as a widely glorified, commercial band, rather than the divine presence many saw them as. It’s somewhat puzzling, however, that he favored The Monkees, who epitomized commercialism and also beloved by teenagers.


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