Cameron Crowe: I Love Led Zeppelin
It’s hard to believe that they were ever in the same room, but in 1972 the two diametrically opposed corners of the music world came together. Led Zeppelin met Elvis Presley.
The matchmaker was their mutual promoter, Jerry Weintraub (later to produce the Ocean’s 11 series with George Clooney and Brad Pitt), who took Jimmy Page and Robert Plant up to Presley’s Las Vegas hotel suite.
Zeppelin’s music then permeated the airwaves. They were enormously popular, an enigmatic force of hard rock. Presley had already reinvented himself as the jump-suited King of Vegas, and an “honorary drug-enforcement” pal of Richard Nixon’s.
For the first few minutes of the summit meeting, Elvis ignored Led Zeppelin. The room was filled with an awkward silence. Bodyguards monitored the temperature. Jimmy Page – who had first picked up a guitar after hearing Elvis singing Baby Let’s Play House on overseas American radio – began to fidget. What was going on? Did Elvis really want to meet them? Was this a big misunderstanding?
Finally Elvis turned to his guests. His first question had nothing to do with Zeppelin’s music. It was their roguish reputation that interested him. “Tell me,” asked Elvis, “is it true, these stories about you boys on the road?”
For a surreal moment, they found themselves staring at the three-dimensional embodiment of their own youthful rebellion. Plant spoke first, without cracking a smile. “Of course not,” he said. “We’re family men. In fact, I get the most pleasure out of walking the hotel corridors, singing your songs.” Plant leaned forward, and offered his own best Elvis Presley impersonation. “Treat me like a foooool, treat me mean and cruuuel, but loooooove me…”
Presley eyed Plant very carefully. Presley’s “Memphis Mafia” studied the moment with growing intensity. And then Presley burst out laughing. The bodyguards burst out laughing. Suddenly, the atmosphere was dorm-room friendly.
For the next two hours, Presley entertained them with his own road stories, and tales from his movie-making days. He confessed that he had never heard Led Zeppelin’s music, except for the one song his stepbrother played him – Stairway to Heaven. “I liked it,” said Presley.
Later, walking down the hallway from the hotel room, Page and Plant congratulated themselves on their meeting with the King. Had it really gone as well as it seemed? The answer arrived a moment later.
“Hey,” came a voice from down the hall. Elvis had poked his head out the door. They would never meet again, but this last image was one for the memoirs. It was Presley, serenading his new hard-rock friends with a perfect imitation of Robert Plant doing him. “Treat me like foooool…”
Courtesy of The Telegraph – Cameron Crowe – December 3, 2007