The Ridiculous Joke Led Zeppelin Played on George Harrison and Stevie Wonder

Should you went on tour with Led Zeppelin within the 1970s, you needed to put together your self to be shocked. In the middle of a number of days, the band might wow 55,000 followers at a stadium, destroy a ground of a luxurious lodge, and take care of flocks of teenage groupies. Or the band would possibly do all that on the identical night time.

On the way in which to the Zep’s subsequent live performance, you would possibly be a part of a singalong aboard the band’s open-layout Starship jet or watch the touring supervisor pull a gun on a reporter. As Robert Plant as soon as mentioned, “After we do one thing, we simply do it larger and higher than anyone else.”

That held for the sensible jokes members of Zeppelin (particularly John Bonham) love to tug. If Bonham wasn’t leaving a sleeping John Paul Jones in some lodge hallway, he is perhaps flooding a bandmate’s room with the constructing fireplace hose.

However generally the jokes fell flat. In 1974, the band wished to shock George Harrison by displaying up for a dinner engagement in drag. When Harrison turned up with Stevie Wonder in tow, Zep felt extremely embarrassed.

Zep apprehensive Stevie Wonder thought the drag joke was on him

John Bonham Jimmy Web page – Led Zeppelin, March 1, 1973 in Copenhagen, Denmark | Jorgen Angel/Redferns

Whereas in Los Angeles to advertise their new Swan Tune label, Led Zeppelin wearing drag for images they may use on the subsequent album. After a choose few of the band’s groupies did their make-up and hair, they took a number of photos and prepped for dinner with Harrison.

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However as a substitute of fixing, Zep thought they’d shock the previous Beatles by staying in drag. Lori Maddox, a younger girlfriend of Jimmy Web page, recalled how the joke went improper in Stephen Davis’s Hammer of the Gods. For starters, Wonder was in attendance — unbeknownst to any members of Zep.

“All the fellows got here traipsing into the suite in make-up and clothes and there’s Stevie Wonder sitting there!” Maddox advised Davis. “Are you able to think about? There’s Led Zeppelin all in drag and Stevie Wonder thinks the fellows are doing it as a joke on him as a result of he’s blind.”

It didn’t take lengthy for Zep to realized they’d blown this one. “They nearly died from embarrassment,” Maddox recalled.

Harrison had already come to anticipate something from Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin at a welcome occasion for the band at Tokyo Hilton Resort, September 1971 | Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Pictures

Whereas Wonder might have simply been getting acquainted with rock’s unruly new rulers, Harrison had identified the group for a while by ’74. The earlier yr, he noticed Zep play stay and was amazed on the band’s stamina on stage (and the actual fact they’d no opening act).

Elsewhere in Hammer of the Gods, readers encounter Harrison getting a firsthand take a look at the band’s antics. As soon as, at a birthday celebration for Bonham in Laurel Canyon, Zep’s drummer tossed a completely clothed Harrison and his spouse Pattie into the house’s swimming pool.

That occasion trick labored effectively sufficient, it appears. (Harrison continued accepting Zep dinner invites, in any case.) However the time the band met Stevie Wonder in drag needs to be filed among the many band’s flops.

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Additionally see: How Pete Townshend Stated Led Zeppelin ‘Copied’ The Who