Today in 1995, Peter Grant, the man who Led Zeppelin, died. Many considered band manager Peter Grant to be the fifth member of Led Zeppelin. Mighty in stature (6-foot-3, 320 pounds), the ex-professional wrestler was the kind of manager every artist wants – immensely loyal, undaunted in his efforts on behalf of his clients, and fully prepared to eradicate problems by whatever means necessary. He was known as being one of the shrewdest and most ruthless managers in rock history. This attitude ensured that Led Zeppelin earned and retained more money than any band before them. By promoting his own Led Zeppelin concerts, Grant ensured that a far greater proportion of the receipts from those concerts wound up in the hands of the band; he secured 90% of the concert gate revenue for the band itself (traditionally gate revenues had been split 50-50 between band and promoter). Thanks to Grant, nobody ever messed with the Zep…
It’s unlikely that Led Zeppelin would have attained their phenomenal success without Grant’s guidance; his understanding of the American touring scene, picked up first-hand with The Animals and The Yardbirds in the mid-sixties, was a key ingredient in the almost instant success Zeppelin enjoyed from their first tour onwards. That there were almost no TV appearances or singles, that he would keep them off the road for months on end, that he never pushed them to deliver an endless stream of product, were all carefully measured management decisions that ensured Zeppelin sustained their popularity throughout their 12-year reign.
Unpopular as his strategies may have been with booking agents and promoters, Grant was the principal architect of the shift in power from businessmen to artists during the 70s. His tactics are widely credited today with improving pay and conditions for musicians in dealings with concert promoters.
Following Led Zeppelin’s demise, the eighties were a very quiet period for Grant. Although he did negotiate Robert Plant’s initial solo album deal, after the winding down of Swan Song Records in 1983 Grant relinquished his management ties and went into retirement. “How on earth do you follow Led Zeppelin?” he said in one of his last interviews.