Why I love Led Zeppelin by Corrosion Of Conformity's Pepper Keenan

Corrosion Of Conformity's Pepper Keenan on Led Zeppelin
(Image credit: Getty)

The first time I heard Led Zeppelin I’d just won a contest: we had to fight for a greased watermelon in a swimming pool at summer camp. I was nine. I got a gift certificate for a record store in New Orleans, so I purchased Houses Of The Holy on cassette… and that was the end of that! I became a massive Zeppelin freak from there. A friend of mine played drums and he was the big Zeppelin dude in the street. I hung out at his house a lot.

But you want a short answer to why I love Zep? Bang for the buck, I’d start with John Bonham. He’s probably the main reason I fell in love with Zeppelin. Without Bonham it would have been a very different ball game. I think he was absolutely the driving force that made Jimmy Page’s visions come true.

I can’t say Led Zeppelin were an influential band on me because they seemed so far away, but they definitely did things that made my brain absorb patterns that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. Now I’m older I can envision it a lot clearer, but when I was young it was just, ‘They’re Led Zeppelin, for Christ’s sake! Don’t even try to go there!’

You really could just go on and on and on about their songs, it’s crazy! Tangerine, When The Levee Breaks, In My Time Of Dying… and Achilles Last Stand is absolutely insane! I did get to meet Jimmy Page and talk to him for a few minutes at High Voltage Festival one time. It was quite a special little moment. We were standing around a garbage can outside a dressing room, jibber-jabberin’, and I asked him, ‘How did you feel when you finished mixing Achilles Last Stand? You had to know you were badass, right?’ He said, ‘Yup, pretty much!’

I’d have to mention their extreme knowledge of world music, and how they adapted it and made it their own. There’s a whole lot of Zeppelin songs where you can point your finger to a lot of Clarksdale, Mississippi guys and the traditional folk tunes where some of those songs directly came from, but y’know… rock’n’roll is an evolutionary thing.

I’m kind of OK with them not being around, because one of the main ingredients is not there. I saw bootleg footage of the O2 show they did and it was fucking great, but I understand… they’ve been there and done that and it’s kinda too bad and too sad if you didn’t see it! They’re not doing it for a paycheque – I admire that… although I’d love to see it! It probably wouldn’t be as strong as they’d like it to be. Sometimes you can’t replicate these things. They’re one of my favourite bands of all time, but should they continue? No, the catalogue is monumental; you can’t punch a hole through any of it. It’s just a wonderful thing that we have to enjoy. I still look at it in amazement at how they did all that.

Corrosion Of Conformity are currently working on a brand new album.

The Led Zeppelin Quiz

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.