This Day in 2012: Led Zeppelin & Obama

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Friday, December 2, 2016
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This Day in 2012: Led Zeppelin & Obama

As we sit on the precipice of Donald Trump’s presidency, now would seem to be a very good time to reminisce about how Led Zeppelin and Barack Obama were hanging out together exactly four years ago today.

Yes, it was in 2012 that Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones received the Kennedy Center Honors for their “lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts,” an accomplishment which Buddy Guy, Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, and Natalie Makarova received as well that year.

Now, to be completely honest, they were formally honored at the State Department four years ago yesterday, with President Obama offering the following remarks:

“It’s been said that a generation of people survived teenage angst with a pair of headphones and a Zeppelin album, and a generation of parents wondered what all that noise was about. Even now, 32 years after John Bonham’s passing, we all, I think, appreciate the fact that the Led Zeppelin legacy lives on. Tonight, we honor Led Zeppelin for making us all feel young, and showing us that some guys who are not completely youthful can still rock.”

But just so you know that we weren’t fudging things by offering this piece today, it was four years ago this very night that they had a far louder tribute, on featuring performances by some of the musicians whose music was influenced by them: Foo Fighters (“Rock and Roll”), Kid Rock (“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” and “Ramble On”), Lenny Kravitz (“Whole Lotta Love”), and Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, with a little help from Jason Bonham and the Joyce Garrett Youth Choir (“Stairway to Heaven””). Plant, Page, and Jones watched with what appeared to be a mixture of enjoyment, amusement, and possibly even a bit of awe, but those are just guesses. At the very least, though, it was clear that they were honored…and, really, isn’t that what the evening was all about?