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When Giants Walked the Earth

A Biography of Led Zeppelin
Written by: Mick Wall
Narrated by: Simon Vance
Length: 18 hrs and 11 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Led Zeppelin rose to become one of the biggest-selling rock bands of all time. Mick Wall, respected rock writer and former confidant of band members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, unflinchingly tells the story of the band that wrote the rulebook for on-the-road excess and eventually paid the price for it, with disaster, drug addiction, and death.

Wall also recounts, in a series of flashbacks, the life stories of the five individuals that made the dream a reality: Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham, and their infamous manager, Peter Grant.

Finally, the full, shocking story is told from the inside.

©2009 Mick Wall (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the critics say

"So this is the big one: a fat, juicy biography of the biggest band ever....Mick Wall, the veteran rock journalist, lays it all bare in a book that can only be described as definitive." ( Daily Telegraph)
"That Wall can add so much fresh detail to the Led Zep story is in itself an extraordinary achievement. That he manages to humanize these planet-striding giants while doing so puts this book into the 'definitive' category." ( Classic Rock magazine)
"Wall painstakingly traces Zeppelin's development and musical pedigree. His access and attention to detail make this a definitive work….an essential source for anyone eager to learn about the era when rock stars ruled the world." ( Publishers Weekly)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great details but hard work to listen to

This is a detailed book with tons of interesting stories about how the band got together and how they regularly crossed paths with other legends like Steve Winwood,Ron Wood, Bev Bevan - all these great names working the session and touring circuits in the mid 1960s. But the presentation and narration for me were really hard to take. I could do without the second-person flashbacks. They are jarring and obtuse. If Mick Wall had actually had these conversations, then they would have served as a great central thread. But when the introduction says "I made this stuff up," well, it takes away some of the credibility of the piece, just like learning your favorite singer used a voice double to record a tune. Added to this is the distracting cockney narration. Simon Vance does a fine job for most of the book - the third-person narrative - but blimey, mate! Just because Led Zeppelin is a British band doesn't mean the audience needs to be reminded of this in every sentence. It's like a bio of Tim McGraw or Garth Brooks narrated by Foghorn Leghorn or Gomer Pyle. If Jimmy or Robert had said it, then, fine, that's character. But as second person narration, I personally found it a bloody bit over the bloody top, eh, major? Overall a great history of the band for those looking for the intricacies of their collective genius, but I would love to read Version 2, in third person only. Alright, guv?

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • 2011-09-14

Must read for Led Zeppelin Fans

I love Led Zeppelin, so when I saw this book on Audible, I had to get it. The stories in this book at just delicious--these guys were the quintessential out of control British rock stars, and they relished their roles to the hilt. The stories of their sexual escapades, while not for the faint of heart, are really funny and crazy.
I wasn't wild about the fake first person flashback sequences, and I wish the author had just written the information in a more conventional fashion, but the book has so much interesting material that I would highly recommend it. Be sure to have you Led Zeppelin library available on iTunes so you can listen to the tracks as they are discussed.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Rich
  • 2011-02-08

Led Zeppelin Bio

I have always been a huge Led Zeppelin fan and this is the most in-depth biography of the band. Gives details of all the key-players who influenced Page, Bonham, Jones and Plant as well as in-depth insight into the lives of all who contributed to their success, mystery, and to their demise. A real behind-the-scenes story. A must-listen for any Zeppelin fan!!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • ifthenwhy
  • 2015-02-17

Second Person Narrative Is "Almost" A Deal Breaker

Who was your favorite character and why?

Zep begins and ends with Page.

What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

Vance perfectly captures the working class Northern British attitude in his voice, which is essential for telling this story.

AND he pronounced "Bron-Y-Aur" correctly!

Any additional comments?

"Giants" is a wonderfully researched book, on a topic that is pretty well tread and Wall manages to unearth enough information and insights into the Zep story to make this book a must read for Zeppelin fans.

It's a compelling read that captures the essential elements of the bands rise and subsequent troubles when coping with their own fame. But Walls decision to add second person narratives throughout this Bio not only damages the credibility of the author, but also pulls the reader from his nicely paced and constructed narrative.

Yes, I get that bios are often stylistically lazy in their execution, but this dramatic second person device came close to ruining this book for me. I found it totally unnecessary and rather irritating. Wall even warns the reader at the start of the book, basically saying, "While I tried hard to research and take educated guesses as to what the band might say in these instances, I MADE IT UP!"

Yuck.

And while I appreciate an author trying to add color to a story, I would argue that a well executed biography ( Mark Lewisohn's "Tune In: The Beatles, All These Years", a fine example of a rock Bio at the top of its form) really should be about nothing more than comprehensive research and artistic/editorial flare.

Having said that, it is a testament to Walls research and writing that I held on. Without these irritants, the rating would have been 5.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • B
  • 2015-08-07

Depressing

The story was written well, it will be hard to enjoy the music like I once did. They were dreadful people. Now Robert is an artist, he was once a Rock Star. The old saying "you reap what you sow" is proved out in these folks lives.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2013-06-06

One great book, great naration.

I had had this book in my wish list for about a year before I decided that it was time to listen to it. I grew up in the era of Led Zeppelin, and one of my life's biggest regrets is that I never saw them live, but that being said, I was never a hug fan. I recognized that they were the biggest band of that era, and that they had something that no other band had, that certain mystique, that certain quality that held them up as rock gods, thus the title of the book is appropriate. My rock god was Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio, but that is nether here nor there.

This was one of my favorite audio books, and I listen to a lot of them, I knew a little of the story, but this gave a very in depth portrait of the players in the story, the band and back players. By the end of the book I was feeling a bit sorry for Jimmy Page, who seemed to never be able to let Led Zeppelin go, and Page who was just sick of it. They had climbed the mountain, unlike anyone else, they had reached the very top, and then, for several of them, life was no longer fun. Life at the top is not all that it is cracked up to be. Drugs, booze, death all took their tole.

Simon Vances narration is perfect for this book. I do agree that if you do not like off color language, as one reviewer said, this is not the book for you, but in the context used her, it is just as I would think the players would talk, and the use of first person narration, Vance changes his voice, ever so slightly and for me it was brilliantly used to brake up the normal flow of the book. all in all, a great read,. I was sorry to come to the end of it and will listen to it again sometime.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • JOHN H. RUSSELL III
  • 2010-06-27

Great listen

I'm listening for the second time. I liked it that much. Informative rock and roll stuff. Zeppelin fans can really appreciate this one.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ladysensei
  • 2013-09-12

A Whole Lotta Overloaded LOVE!!!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

If You wanna know every fact about Zeppelin then this is the book to listen to.This author did so much research down to every date, time and crazy antics of what the coming of life in rock history this band is even today.
I grew up and own almost every Led Zeppelin album as they were released so it was fun to listen in and revisit those times back in the late 60's and early 70's. Some of the book became a bit cumbersome with facts but I feel this author wanted to give his perspective as best he could on what he believes really happened.
Some of the material I am not too sure about and he did seem to give a sort of negative spin on Jimmy Page but all in all it is a good book.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Bonzo

What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

He did a great job and this book needed a British accent to help out with the full vision of this band

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No there is no way you can listen to this in one sitting, Too many facts and information, details.

Any additional comments?

Led Zeppelin will go down in history as one of the greatest bands of all time 100 years from now.
This was a time where there were no computers mixing the sound and what they endured to get the music to the level they did is almost amazing today (with all the technology that is used now in the recording industry).
It is also becoming more rare to find bands that write their own songs, play their own instruments, and sing and perform it and stay together as long as they did.
If you want to know what music of the real rock and roll era then this is the audio for you. After you listen to this you will have to go listen to their music because you will even further appreciate what they went thru to get it to the level they did from such a meager beginning.
Peace~and A Whole Lotta Love~

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Elliot
  • 2011-04-25

There was alot I didn't know about Led Zep

I enjoyed this book from start to finish. They are truly one of the greatest rock and roll bands onstage and off. Crazy stories, check. Early life of each artist, check. Rise to power and back down again, check.

Highly recommend.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • John Bridges
  • 2018-09-30

There were indeed giants in those days

An eye-opening account of the rise and fade out of one of the best rock bands of all time, this one had me thoroughly entertained. The book brings to life the oversized personalities and talent of the band members, and their crazy touring life, as well as the oversized personality and aggression of their manager. A window into an era of excess, probably never to be repeated, of rock gods who built a stairway to the heavens before falling back to earth. Chapters in the bands life, like their idyllic songwriting stay in rural Wales are contrasted with the hedonistic escapades of their American tours. The author also explores Jimmy Page's interest in the occult and Aleister Crowley, and how that may have influenced the music and mind of the band's lead songwriter and producer. It certainly became part of the mythology surrounding the band, however much Robert Plant wants to downplay it now. Simon Vance is a fine narrator who capably kept my interest, even in the chapters with the questionable choice of being written in the second person.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Rick A. Bissonnette
  • 2011-12-23

Great listen for any classic rock/Led Zeppelin fan

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would recommend to any classic rock fan.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The most interesting aspect of the story is how much of a role Jimmy Page played in Led Zeppelin. I found Jimmy Page's interest in occult very interesting.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Simon Vance?

The guy who does the Geiko Gecko....oh wait they sound the same.

Was When Giants Walked the Earth worth the listening time?

Yes

Any additional comments?

Freest listen

2 of 3 people found this review helpful