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Fact checking the President

“And when the Brits initially kept their distance, Led Zeppelin grabbed America from the opening chord.”

Barack Obama.

So, is it true that the people responsible for launching the careers of The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks, The Small Faces, Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix kept their distance from Led Zeppelin? The only test I can think of is to see how well their records performed in the charts. In this, Wikipedia is your friend. And it shows that all of Led Zeppelin’s studio albums did at least as well in the UK as in the US and that Led Zep I (the one with that opening chord) did better.

35 comments to Fact checking the President

  • Alisa

    I bet he wishes he had another Churchill bust he could return.

  • Except that the Wikipedia article doesn’t give dates. As another example, I remember when Madonna had her first hits in 1982. (Lord, I’m getting old). Her first album was a hit in the US, and had a number of hit singles in the US, but was not a hit in Britain at the time. Her second album was a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic. After this happened, people started buying and playing her first album in the UK, and her record company re-released all the singles, which then became hits. A listing of her chart positions would be similar to the one given for Led Zeppelin, showing both albums as big in the UK as the US. However, the fact is that she did not make it in the UK until a year or two later than she did in the US.

  • Hmm, fair point. Led Zep II got to #1 in the UK on 7/2/70 while it got to #1 in the US on 27/12/69 (non-US date formats). Not a big difference and perhaps affected by Abbey Road being in the charts at the same time.

  • RAB

    Barry is intent on proving that he knows less and less about more and more, doesn’t he?

    Before the Beatles toured the States in 1964, no British act had had a top 20 hit in America, EVER. The Beatles held the top six positions in the US singles charts at one time. I anyone grabbed the place with both hands and a foot on the neck, it was them.

    Closely followed by the Stones, the Yardbirds, the Who and Hendrix, we Brits reintroduced Rock n Roll and the Blues back to the USA. The like of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis were forgotten men until the Beatles turned up singing Roll over Beethoven. John Lee Hooker said that he owes his entire career to the Stones for them having a hit with Little Red Rooster.

    Oh everybody saw Zepplin coming alright ( I saw them 8 times) they were a direct progression from the British Blues boom. Barry has obviously never heard the little ditty ” I’ve got the Chicken Shack, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall can’t fail Blues” has he?

    Talking out of his arse again, or more likely words written by others for him.

  • RAB

    Bugger! I forgot Cream, how the hell could I do that? If anyone was the template for Zeppelin, and huge in the States, it was them.

  • CaptDMO

    In this, Wikipedia is your friend.

    “Is” might be replaced with “might be” or some such.
    ONLY because of the appropriate “In this…” disclaimer, I’ll let it slide. 😉

  • CaptDMO

    Barry is intent on proving that he knows less and less about more and more, doesn’t he?

    Ever wonder why he’s known as The Telepromptor In Chief? Ever wonder who’s the ventriliquest actually writing copy for the puppet show?

  • Paul Marks

    For once I do not care whether Comrade Barack is lying.

  • RAB rather foolishly wrote:

    Before the Beatles toured the States in 1964, no British act had had a top 20 hit in America, EVER.

    Acker Bilk’s “Stranger on the Shore” was the first #1 by a British artist on the Billboard Hot 100 (the main US singles chart), back in May 1962. “Telstar” by the Tornadoes followed, at the end of 1962.

    There were Top 10 hits in the US by British acts even before this; Lonnie Donegan and his skiffle group had a pair. Even Mr. Cliff Richard had a Top 40 hit in the US as early as 1959.

  • RAB

    Ooops! and my bad for not fact checking myself Ted. That’s what I read somewhere in the distant past. But it doesn’t alter substantially what I wrote, the odd novelty record did not a British Invasion make. After the Beatles broke the ground, even Herman’s Hermits and Freddie and the Dreamers had hits in the States

    I maintain… Without the Beatles and the Stones, Yardbirds etc, There would never have been a Springsteen, Lofgren, MC5, New York Dolls etc etc etc.

  • Laird

    Wait, Acker Bilk was British? From the name I always assumed he was German. Live and learn.

  • Bruce

    Closely followed by the Stones, the Yardbirds, the Who and Hendrix, we Brits reintroduced Rock n Roll and the Blues back to the USA.

    Jimi Hendrix was a Brit?

  • MakajazMonkee

    John Lee Hooker said that he owes his entire career to the Stones

    Howlin Wolf surely? 🙂

    They can keep Led Zep! They where crap

  • The Jannie

    “They can keep Led Zep! They where crap”

    Aagh! Sacrilege!Light a fire! Polish the tumbrils!

  • Alisa

    Indeed, Jannie – them’s fightin’ words!

  • Alisa

    …although it would’ve been better for all concerned if Bobby kept his shirt on…

  • RAB

    No of course Hendrix wasn’t a Brit, but to all intents and purposes he was. Nobody had ever heard of him before Chas Chandler of the Animals found him playing in a poxy little club in New York along with Randy California (later of Spirit) and brought him to London. He was an instant sensation. The Cream allowed him to jam with them the first week he arrived. Clapton was so blown away he stopped playing and walked off muttering that he was going home to practice.

    His talent was nurtured in Britain by Brits, and then exported back to the States. I was fortunate enough to see him live twice.

  • TDK

    Before the Beatles toured the States in 1964, no British act had had a top 20 hit in America, EVER.

    Telstar by the Tornadoes hit number 1 in the US in 1962

    “Telstar” was the first U.S. number one by a British group. Up to that point, and since World War II, there had only been three British names that topped the U.S. chart: in May 1962 “Stranger on the Shore” by clarinetist Mr. Acker Bilk; the second was “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” by Laurie London (1958), whilst the first was “Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart” by Vera Lynn (1952).

    from wikipedia

  • RAB

    TDK, do you actually read everyone elses comments on a thread? If not, why bother to comment? We’ve been there, done that, written the apology and moved on. Sheesh!

    Here’s the Billboard top 100 for 1963, the year before the Beatles arrived. See many British artists or bands there? Or even anything that can be considered Rock?…


    Now you can navigate that back into the 50s and forward to 64… 65… etc Have a look at 1964 and see that after the Beatles arrived, the chart is full of British bands and acts. QED my thesis.

    The Beatles may even have been as responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union as Ronnie’s Star Wars was, by robbing the rulers of their idealogical replacements. But that’s a theme I might just expand on, on CCIZ sometime.

  • Laird

    “The Beatles may even have been as responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union . . .”

    Now that’s an interesting thesis, RAB. I’d be interested in reading it.

    BTW, 1963 was a pretty good year, wasn’t it?

  • RAB

    Howlin Wolf surely? 🙂

    Nah Monkee, his was the best version, but he was too feckless to capitalise on blue men singing the whites.

    I saw him once too. I happened to be waiting to go in to the Students Union in Cardiff to see him, when he drew up in a taxi, with what was obviously a hooker in the back with him. He got out and paid off both the taxi and the hooker in cash, and waddled towards the front door. He was a mountain of a man, and I couldn’t help noticing his Cor Blimey Trousers. What the hell is that huge bulge in his back pocket?

    Turned out later to be half a dozen Harmonicas stuffed in there. Bloody good night, almost ruined by the Secretary of the Blues Club who booked him, standing up and urging the crowd to applaud at the end of every number. We could have punched the bastard!

    Good year 1963 Laird? Well I know you have more conservative taste than mine. Not bad at all if you are Andy Williams, Trini Lopez, Peter Paul and Mary and the Beach Boys, but Rock as I know it, it wasn’t. Tamla Motown was coming through strong though. The black audience has long given up on the Blues and Jazz as poor oppressed people’s music, and wanted to do something different and more affluent and glittzy. Soul.

    The Beatles bringing down the Soviet Union? I’m working on it. Saw a documentary saying the same thing not so long ago. Very persuasive. Because that which is banned is then sought after, produces a counter culture and then that culture becomes THE culture. But this is very hard to perceive when you are inside the floating bubble bobbing along in the stream of time, or Meta Context, as Perry calls it.

  • RAB

    Smited again! I’m gonna record llamas version of Samizdata Smite Bot Blues and put it on YouTube, I swear, unless you get it sorted out. 🙂

  • Surellin

    The One doesn’t really like presidenting, does he? I could have sworn that there was some economic situation or other than was keeping Washington busy these days. But, hey, unlike the Kennedy Center there’s no spotlight in the Oval Office.

  • Alisa

    On the Beatles bringing down the SU, having been a bit of an insider I can’t rule it out at all. Not all on their own, obviously, but certainly having played a part.

  • Laird

    RAB, how can you not like “Blue Velvet” or “Deep Purple”? And a couple of Ray Charles classics? Even Sam Cooke made the list. Some good stuff. You’re right, it’s not the Stones, but frankly I like that era better. I guess it’s because I’m older than you!

  • RAB

    By about 2 months my friend, and I’m not denigrating the music you mentioned at all. They really are classics, as are the Classical classics of Beethoven and Bach which we both love, but were long before our time. That’s not what we’re talking about here.

    What we were originally talking about here is Barry O’Barmy giving an award to a band he knows little of and could really care less about, on others recommendation (unless they were one of his favorites when spliffing up as a teenager) A head banging Head of State? What a thought eh? Ozzy for Prez!

    He said that we Brits did not get Led Zeppelin like the Americans did. Which is patent bullshit. I saw them first here aged 17…


    Have a look at the bill, and there are loads missing (so much for Wiki) like Taste (Rory Gallagher) Free (All Right Now) and the Liverpool Scene, and The Edgar Braughton band, who I couldn’t clap in time with to “Out Demons out” So that makes me the Anti Anti Christ I suppose? 😉

    But what I was saying, was that ultimately the Beatles changed everything, not just the music, or the way of doing it, but the way people saw and thought about themselves.

    The Beatles themselves had no idea that they were doing that, and no conscious wish to do it either. They thought they’d have a few hits, make a bit of money and open a few hairdressing salons or a pub or two on the proceeds; such were the expectations of the “Acts” of the time.

    But I witnessed Beatlemania live aged 11, and it changed my life forever. Nothing before or since has been that powerful a POWER, and I have since been in crowds of half a million strong, at the Isle of Wight and Watkins Glen. That incredible phenomena that they were, separated an entire generation from their parents forever, for better or worse. And it was on a Global scale, hence my reference to USSR.

    Politicians like to think that they are our leaders and rule by Legislation and regulation, but there are wild and unshaped, but incredibly powerful forces, that push our world forward entirely without them. It’s called “Us”.

  • RAB

    I do not fuckin believe it!!!

    My complaint about getting smited has got me smited!!

    I want a medal and a certificate presented to me personally at the Perry Mansions Christmas party; It’s got to be a first! 🙂

  • Kim du Toit

    Obama even got that wrong.

    When it comes to Brit rock (or any rock, really), there is only ONE opening chord: The Beatles’ “Hard Day’s Night”, surely one of the most recognizable pieces of music anywhere. Nothing else comes even close. (Okay, Beethoven’s Fifth, but strictly speaking, that’s not a single chord.)

    As a long-time Zep fan, I’d say that opening chords were never their strong suit. Their riffs, however, were another thing altogether (Whole Lotta Love, Trampled Underfoot, Black Dog, Moby Dick etc).

  • Laird

    No disagreement from me, RAB; I simply said that 1963 was a good year for popular music. No implication intended that it was the only one.

    (“Ozzy for Prez”? Interesting thought. It would certainly be an improvement. Sort of like Zaphod Beeblebrox.)

    I also agree with Kim on opening chords. “Hard Day’s Night” is unmistakable. To that short list I would add the opening chord (after the short trumpet fanfare) of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. Also unmistakable.

  • RAB

    That’s alright then Laird.

    The thing that most people missed about Zep was how much folk music was in there as well as the killer riffs. They were far more subtle than just a heavy rock band.

    Jimmy Page was a great friend and collaborator of Roy Harper and John Martyn, two of Britain’s Folk finest, teaching them both how to handle an electric guitar, which is a different discipline to accustic, as anyone who plays guitar knows.


    And I am currently reading this…


    I’m about 100 pages in out of 600 odd now, but is very well written, all encompassing and a damn good read.

  • RAB

    Oh come on, this has got to be a record surely? Smited a bleedin gain!!!

  • Laird

    RAB, I think the smitebot just has it in for you! Maybe you didn’t tip it enough.

    (BTW, when will we get to see your screed on why the Beatles brought down the Soviet Union?)

  • RAB

    Tip it? I’ll bloody tip it, right into the Bristol Channel! I will have my revenge on the damn thing if it’s the last thing I do, and I can summon professional help. The Samizdata Smite Bot blues will happen, my imitation of Johnny Cash isn’t bad either.

    As to the screed, well procrastination has always been my worst enemy. The longer I’ve got to do something, the less likely I am to ever do it. I have lived my life by tight deadlines for 35 years, so give me one, and it shall be done and posted on CCIZ.

  • RAB

    Heh Heh heh! You just arn’t going to believe this! Can you see the steam coming out of my ears?

    Smited a fuckin gen!!!

  • RAB

    Perry, when you set up this site, you didn’t by any chance pick up a box of old computer parts from Stanley Kubrick’s Garage Sale with Hal stencilled on it did you? 😉