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“Understand this – the band will read what is written about them”: The rules Led Zeppelin gave to journalists who joined them on the road

The first rule of Led Zeppelin Club isn’t that you should not talk about Led Zeppelin Club, but it’s not far off



OK, so it’s 1977 and you’re a music journalist, a huge Led Zeppelin fan, and you’ve been granted access to their inner-sanctum. Here’s your ticket onto Caesar’s Chariot, the band’s customised Boeing 707 jet. We ask that you please fasten your seatbelts, secure all baggage underneath your seat and pay heed to the following instructions lest John Bonham punch you in the face.

Classic Rock’s Steven Rosen had been badgering Led Zeppelin’s label Swan Song Records for an interview for almost a year when he was finally given the green-light as their ’77 tour of the US kicked into gear. A limo was sent to fetch Rosen from the airport as he touched down in Chicago to join the jamboree, and inside was Led Zeppelin’s publicist Janine Safer. Allow Rosen to take up the tale:

“Along the way she laid down five rules that had to be strictly adhered to while caught up in this travelling circus,” Rosen wrote in Classic Rock. “Rule 1: Never talk to anyone in the band unless they first talk to you. Rule 2: Do not talk to Peter Grant or Richard Cole – for any reason. Rule 3: Keep your cassette recorder turned off at all times unless conducting an interview. Rule 4: Never ask questions about anything other than music. Rule 5: Most importantly, understand this – the band will read what is written about them. The band do not like the press.”

Well, that all seems fairly reasonable-ish, with some of it languishing in the realm of reason but perhaps deep into the outback. Rule 1 seems straightforward, stay schtum, enjoy the flight, have a drink. Rule 2 is a little more confusing – it seems to suggest you shouldn’t talk to them even if they talk to you, which might be fighting talk for a pair of fellas who like fighting. It might be an ambush. Rule 3 – yep, totally fine, especially as this is before the days where you could hide an iPhone in your inside pocket, not that I would ever do that. Rule 4 – there are ways round that as usually when a band’s entourage make this request, the first thing the band starts talking about is all things non-music. And rule 5 – well good, they’re supporters of the music press! They just don’t like the music press.

So now you know. If you ever find yourself back in good old 1977 about to go on tour with Led Zeppelin, don’t say we didn’t warn you.