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When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin
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When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin

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3.92  ·  Rating details ·  2,334 Ratings  ·  191 Reviews
They were the last great band of the sixties; the first great band of the seventies; they rose, somewhat unpromisingly, from the ashes of the Yardbirds to become one of the biggest-selling rock bands of all time and eventually paid the price for it, with disaster, drug addiction and death.
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Published October 1st 2009 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 2008)
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Michael Finocchiaro
I did not read the more famous Hammer of the Gods biography because I heard it took too much vicarious pleasure in the revelling and partying of the Zep boys and did not talk enough about the music they produced. The Mick Wall biography on the other hand, does mention some of the shameless and shameful behaviour of the band but also talks at length about the backgrounds and stories of the individual musicians that made the group and the unwinding of the binds that ended in the tragic death of Bo ...more
Elaine
May 03, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a big improvement on Hammer of the Gods, and I dithered over whether to give it three or four stars. I agree with the reviews here there and everywhere that are calling it the "definitive biography". It boasts thorough research, in depth knowledge both personal and research-based, good writing, and a fantastic book jacket. I would have given it four stars if it were not for the following two problems.

Issue One is the italicized second-person detours that are meant to take you "into the head
...more
Bill
Feb 13, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed

You are Mick Wall, and boy, do you have a story to tell! Nothing less than the fable of Led Zeppelin, arguably the greatest rock band ever and, unarguably, the biggest band in the world throughout the 1970s. It’s not a tale as popularly told as that of the Beatles or the Stones, outside of the gossipy tabloid focus of Stephen Davis’ Hammer of the Gods. What sets you apart from that dreck is that you can bring to the table an in-depth knowledge of the band’s music. You are Mick Wall and you have

...more
Tosh
Jul 08, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mick Wall has the annoying habit of writing first-person narratives in a biography. But beyond that, this is an interesting biography on one of my NOT favorite bands. If the mood hits me correctly, I usually hate Led Zeppelin. But nevertheless a fascinating band as a subject matter.

Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones were great session players during the British Invasion years. We're talking Herman's Hermits, Lulu, and lots of Mickie Most productions. And right away I have to tell you I love that ty
...more
DJ Yossarian
To be honest I couldn't get past about page 30 of this thing -- the writing style grated on me that much. The actual factual historical stuff was insightful enough, but I just can't abide by the particular conceit employed here by the author, of having these multi-page italicized interludes that are supposed to be some kind of interior monologue by the protagonists (but in second person), e.g.

You are Peter Grant. It is the summer of 1968, you are thirty-three and sick and tired of earning mone
...more
Arf Ortiyef
This is easily some of the worst writing I've ever read in my life. Presumably Mick Wall had to either dictate this book or write it with one hand because he was obviously using his other hand to masturbate furiously the entire time.

I hated this book the second I started reading it but I admit I was also hooked. I had to find out the whole story. Unfortunately for all the details about forming the band and who they ripped off and what sex acts were done to whom, there are scant details about the
...more
Mike Sumner
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written by Mick Wall, "When Giants Walked The Earth: A Biography Of Led Zeppelin" is the culmination of several years of research, and is written by someone who has known guitarist Jimmy Page for over two decades. Its material is based on interviews the journalist has conducted with every member of the band over the years, as well as those who knew and worked alongside them. I have been a fan of Led Zeppelin for 45 years and I thoroughly enjoyed this momentous opus, running to 534 pages. It is t ...more
Matt
Nov 18, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Also posted here: AGITREADER

I’m not a big Led Zeppelin fan. In fact, I knew relatively little about the band that I didn’t learn from listening to classic rock stations while making pizzas at the Bogey Inn back in the day. That fact, along with an abnormal lust for books with more than 450 pages, is what led me to pick-up Mick Wall’s When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin in the first place. Also, the cover art is really sweet.

What I really wanted was a definitive chronicle of
...more
Josh Lovvorn
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like probably most readers of this book, I fell into this book thanks to my love of the band Led Zeppelin. As a teenager, I discovered classic rock thanks to my father and my interest in impressing a girl who I was trying to date at the time. Though I spent a long time on the punk rock and ska vibe, I always came back to classics like Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, and of course, Led Zeppelin. I was then quite interested in learning more about he band than the random quips I learned from internet ba ...more
Jim Goodrich
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember when I learned of the existence of Led Zeppelin. I was about 13 or so, and my older sister had a boyfriend that would sometimes take my brother and I to the arcade to play video games. I guess he wanted to get in good with us. Anyhow, one time it was just me and him, and on the ride back to my house he played Led Zeppelin IV (the album is actually untitled, but commonly referred to as Led Zeppelin IV, this is also discussed in the book). I thought it was amazing and the artwork on the ...more
Jason
Mar 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
not a whole lot different than Hammer of the Gods, more details maybe, but most interesting to me was the realtionships of the band, especially after Plant's son died, and Page's heroin addiction.
Alexander
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Nate
Dec 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this book after being completely immersed in Mark Blake's "Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd". I love the music of the 70's, and was eager to learn more about the era as well as the stories of the people who shaped it. Naturally, I felt that taking on an account of another one of the greatest rock bands of that time was the next step. This led me to pick up "When Giants Walked the Earth", an exhaustive biography of Led Zeppelin by Mick Wall. Soon after starting i ...more
Ru
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tremendous biography of arguably the most acclaimed rock band in history. Having read "Hammer of the Gods" by Stephen Davis many years ago, and being absolutely in awe of just how brilliant a rock bio that is, "When Giants Walked the Earth" had its work cut out for itself, in my view. Mick Wall definitely earned his stripes with me with "Enter Night", the Metallica biography, so I knew at minimum this would be a decent offering. This is much, much more than that. I will likely never get over my ...more
Mark Desrosiers
Apr 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
A balanced, energetic bio by a writer who clearly has some kind of love/hate relationship with the Zep mythos (not to mention the principals themselves). Sidestepping most of the nasty gossip (though obviously he had to include a detailed consideration of the "mud snapper incident"), this volume is largely of interest to music geeks -- Wall has an almost Tosches-style obsession with locating the origin of some of Zep's most famous tunes. Also, for the first time ever (as far as I can tell), Wall ...more
Carl Martinez
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
I never was really crazy about Led Zeppelin. One of the greatest rock bands ever I agree, but they are so over-played on classic rock stations that I am just so sick of them...I haven't listened to Led Zeppelin II in a quarter century. I love vanilla ice cream but if I had to eat it everyday I'd eventually want something else. So I got this book free and didn't plan on reading it, but I picked it up and just read little bit of the introduction not intending to read the book...and I finished the ...more
Mankey
Mar 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised by this book. Having read everything "Led Zeppelin" under the sun I didn't think there was anything new to dig up on the band, but I was wrong. Wall does a surprisingly good job of detailing the problems and tensions that plagued Led Zeppelin the last five or so years of their original run together. He actually writes about John Paul Jones!!! What a concept!

Wall also comes across as someone who knows at least a little bit about the occult. After countless references to Aleister C
...more
Tim
Apr 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Just to get it out on the table, I love all sorts of music, and I think that Zeppelin is top-tier. In a word, this bio make me appreciate the music of the band all the more and loathe the band members similarly. The author's use of the SECOND person, vocative case (self address, in this instance) is interesting and provides a good cut away to provide the back story of the members of the band. The technique could get old, but I think it was used well in this book.

I was born in '77 and didn't pay
...more
Barbara Hynes
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I downloaded this audio book from my library, and listened to it while driving and also while working in my studio. The audio book is unabridged, so at over 500 pages, it was a long book, and it went on for many hours. However, it was fascinating in places, and I learned new things I didn't know about Led Zeppelin and its individual members. I agree with other reviewers that the author's literary device of speaking for the characters *as* themselves, as if he had insight into their thoughts, was ...more
David Bales
This is a long one, and rather too detailed about the history of Led Zeppelin. Mick Wall has a slightly annoying style where he adopts the "thoughts" of main subject characters and tries to recreate their dialogue. I hate that technique. Still, this book was interesting about the birth and career of Led Zeppelin, and how the group came out of the Yardbirds, where Jimmy Page was playing half-heartedly in 1968 and decided to put together a super-group of mostly largely unknown musicians, including ...more
Gary
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I might be a lone voice, but I thought the imagined reminiscences of the band members (and Peter Grant) were very effective. Although written in the second-person, these passages sought to portray the thoughts and feelings of the subject, and I found them quite convincing and enlightening.

There were two bigger problems for me. First, although the book is generally well written, there's a slight tendency to overdo the literary flourishes and not quite do them well enough; as if the author was try
...more
Philippa
Jun 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In many ways this was an absolutely brilliant book to read, even if when one considers the material and author combined it may have been inevitable that the outcome would work as well as it did. That being said the final two chapters and epilogue were absolutely grueling to get through. Once Mick Wall reached the tragically premature death of drummer John Bonham the book itself lost its footing. All material afterwards seemed to be a blur of the public and media demanding a painfully nostalgic r ...more
Patti
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was just waking up to music when Zep split up. My older siblings introduced me to this noise, but being a teenybopper, I didn't quite appreciate them. Until I got older. The intricacies of the music and the vocals, the weaving of the dark and the light...it was stellar.

I've read every book on Zep that I could get my hands on - From the original "Hammer of the Gods" to Richard Cole's "Stairway to Heaven" to "LZ '75." This book was better than them all.

Intricately researched, sometimes a little
...more
Sarah
Feb 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting read about the band with great attention to detail and covering all of the legendary tales but almost encyclopedic in nature at times. Definitely a read for the most ardent of fans.
Paul Lyons
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rob
The Led Zeppelin story seems to write itself - the fatal arc of their career, the occult influence, the lurid tales of excess, the untimely deaths, the gangster-style management style, the glorious moments of musical alchemy and the barefaced theft of other musicians' tunes and lyrics - so that each Led Zeppelin book essentially tells the same story in much the same way, oohing here and ahhing there.

Credit to Mick Wall that he tries out a couple of slightly riskier gambits. One is the decidedly
...more
Ruy de Oliveira
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I don't care that there are several pages written in second person, employing distracting and unnecessary italics. In fact, I do get what Wall is trying to accomplish, and no, it's not purely fiction, as he has had extensive contact with the band members and knows first hand how they felt and what they thought about an abundance of subjects —certainly including the ones in second person.

I don't care that the author dedicates way too many pages to Aleister Crowley and occultism. In fact that is a
...more
Nathan
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Growing up in a time when the name Led Zeppelin was spoken with reverence and most if not all of their work was considered beyond reproach; I found some of this book surprising.
Chronicling zeppelin from the beginning to the present it heaps some harsh criticism upon the originality of their music and even the quality of many of their songs and albums.
The book also delves heavily into the band's legendary antics off stage as well as a behind the scenes look at their time writing and recording
...more
Bruce Kirby
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As rock band bios go, this is one of the better ones. It's not a waste of your money. Mick Wall is a great writer and he adds life and colour, and tells some of the dirty little secrets of the Led Zep legend. It's amazing how high they flew and how sudden they crashed. Or shall I say they let life's events get in the way as well as personal ambitions and animosities. I guess all good things have to come to an end.
Cindy J.
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gave a more personal view of the band. Not that I was looking to read all of the dirt, but this gave a glimpse into the behind the scenes of Led Zeppelin and some of the shenanigans giving the members a little more "they're just people" than the misnomer that they were cold, money hungry musicians; which, they most courtly were not.
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Mick Wall is an author, journalist, film, television and radio writer-producer, who’s worked inside the music industry for over 35 years. He began his career contributing to the music weekly Sounds in 1977, where he wrote about punk and the new wave, and then rockabilly, funk, New Romantic pop and, eventually, hard rock and heavy metal. By 1983, Wall become one of the main journalists in the early ...more
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