(This post was edited on 27 October to include additional chart data)
On 5 March 2005, I made the obvious and ludicrously titled post “Why Led Zeppelin Sucks” which has generated tens of thousands of hits on this blog. Two-and-a-half years later, it’s still generating traffic every single day as well as random hate-mail to go along with it. I have finally decided to say more on this matter because there’s obviously still massive interest in this.
I am amused because at no point did I ever actually say Led Zeppelin sucks, because quite frankly they don’t. However, the people “reading” the post — who quite clearly haven’t read it — reply with such vehemence and often vitriol, it’s amazing.
First, if you think Led sucks, I will not argue with you one way or another. You certainly can have your opinion. You won’t be alone, but I will surmise you will be in small company. Led is talented and there’s no question about it. You can dislike them, certainly, because that is a matter of personal taste. I dislike Luciano Pavarotti, but I don’t like most opera. That doesn’t mean he sucks or lacks amazing talent. It just means I’m not a fan. Pretty simple concept many people miss.
Then, I made a most tragic mistake of comparing them to Pink Floyd. I say tragic because of all the fighting it caused. Do I think Pink Floyd is better than Led Zeppelin? You betcha! Go read the original post and comment away if you’d like. However, it’s still a matter of personal opinion. Dark Side of the Moon is, perhaps, one of the very best albums ever made. Every single song on it’s very good, stands on its own, and evokes emotions. The album IV (Zoso/Runes/etc) on which Stairway to Heaven appears is a very average album overall. It happens to have one of the best songs ever created on it: only a philistine would dare say Stairway isn’t one of the best rock songs ever written and I love that song. But it’s one song. The album has seven other songs, and some of ’em, they ain’t great: just average.
If you want to compare songs, Stairway will probably dust anything Floyd wrote — and I am a huge Floyd fan. But if you want to compare albums and oeuvres, then Floyd will win. Their overall output was of far better quality overall. And there aren’t hundreds of accusations of plagiarism over Floyd’s heads, either. For the record, Led has settled several of these suits out of court, so there is merit to the accusations.
If you want a true measure, here are the top 10 entries for the most weeks on the Billboard Top 100 charts. Note that totals are for the main albums chart only, catalog chart totals are not factored in.
Please note who is in SOLE POSSESSION of first place — remaining on the top 200 chart for 14.25 years. YEARS!
- (741 weeks) The Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
- (490 weeks) Johnny’s Greatest Hits – Johnny Mathis
- (480 weeks) My Fair Lady – Original Cast
- (331 weeks) Highlights from the Phantom of the Opera – Original Cast
- (302 weeks) Tapestry – Carole King
- (295 weeks) Heavenly – Johnny Mathis
- (283 weeks) Oklahoma! – Soundtrack
- (282 weeks) MCMXC a.D. – Enigma
- (281 weeks) Metallica – Metallica
- (277 weeks) The King and I – Soundtrack
- (277 weeks) Hymns – Tennessee Ernie Ford
There are many theories as to the hold of Pink Floyd on the charts. Most center around the fact that people bought their copies on vinyl and wore them out. It wasn’t until it came out on CD that it finally drifted off the charts. Led is conspicuously absent.
If you go for best-selling album of all-time in the USA, then Led and Pink are tied in third place behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller and The Eagles Greatest Hits (which I refuse to count, as it’s a compilation album and not an original work). If you go worldwide, then The Eagles drop down and Led drops even further.
I just had to say this because the debate will not die. But it bothers me when people say I hate Led Zeppelin. I don’t. I am not a fan, but I respect them, what they’ve done, and can assure you both Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin will both be remembered long after rock dies.
(Rock will never die, dammit.)