Guide to British Music of the 1960s

April 2019

Book Review

Bring It On Home: Peter Grant, Led Zeppelin & Beyond by Mark Blake

Peter Grant is a legend amongst music managers. He was a larger than life character who is best-known as the powerful manager of Led Zeppelin. This biography is an excellent and detailed overview of his career and is full of surprises for those who do not know his story. As such it is a fascinating read, not just about Grant but also the 1960 and 1970s music scene in general.

Grant came from a theatrical background before moving into the music business. He worked with the legend that is Don Arden from whom he learned a great deal. Arden was a respected, if not feared manager, who launched the careers of the Small Faces, the Move, Black Sabbath and ELO. However, he was alleged to be unscrupulous in his dealings not only with promoters and record companies but also with the artists. The Small Faces did have Arden to thank for their initial success. However, it came at a price as the band never saw the monies due to them. A famous incident occurred in Arden's office. Robert Stigwood, later the Bee Gees manager, was accused of trying to steal the Small Faces from Arden. Less than impressed, Arden's assistants were alleged to have hung Stigwood by his feet out of an upper storey window until he agreed to leave the Small Faces alone. Grant apparently claimed that he was one of the "heavies" involved.

Grant was at the forefront of a seismic change in the relationship between artists, managers, record companies and promoters. In short, he put the artists first to prevent them being "ripped off", always received advance payment in cash to stop promoters disappearing with the gig's takings and retaining (with the artist) total control over their output. Artists would cease to be pawns in the game. His approach to stopping bootleg recordings was also very interesting.

Although he is primarily associated with Led Zeppelin whom he helped guide to global success, Grant was involved with many other acts. His early days included working with Gene Vincent and this throws up some fascinating stories. He later worked with Mickie Most and shared an office with Most. In the 1960s, Mickie Most was developing a reputation as a producer including the Animals which Grant managed. The two shared an office and there would be connection throughout their careers. Most later took over production duties for the Yardbirds although many see Little Games as not the Yardbirds' greatest moment as Most was looking to make the innovative R&B band into a pop act. Grant then took over he management of the Yardbirds from Simon Napier-Bell with the band metamophing into the New Yardbirds and then Led Zeppelin. At the same time he started to mastermind the career of another former Yardbird by managing the Jeff Beck Group. He also became manger of Stone the Crows with Maggie Bell and Bad Company.

Peter Grant the manager and Peter Grant the husband and father were very different people. However, his extended periods away on the road did contribute to the break-up of his marriage. It does appear that the end of Led Zeppelin following Bonham's death and his wife leaving him fuelled his drug problems and his life seemed to go into a downward spiral from then.

This is a fascinating book that fuels some myths and dispels others about probably the greatest rock manager. A wonderful read and addition to the bookshelf.

Published 25 October 2018


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