Long before Motley Crue, Led Zeppelin was the granddaddy of debauchery with naked groupies, underage sex, and THAT shark incident

Long before Motley Crue, Led Zeppelin was the granddaddy of debauchery with naked groupies, underage sex, and THAT shark incident

World famous British rock band Led Zeppelin was able to cement its status as the band that had the "sleaziest moment" in a poll by Spin magazine that was conducted in 2000. The incident, in particular, involved the members of the band, pieces of a mud shark, and the genitalia of a groupie who was naked and bound. Almost 50 years after the alleged incident occurred at Seattle’s Edgewater Inn in July 1969, the incident is just one of the many such "legends" from the iconic band.

The band set the high standard for debauchery when it came to rock 'n' roll parties but was it really a "party" for everyone who was involved? The tours that Zeppelin did of America, back in the day, involved incidents that were way worse than sexually degrading their groupies. There was brutal violence, accusations of attempted rape, and child abuse. The band members have also delved into the shadowy world of the occult, and of course, drugs.

British rock band Led Zeppelin, (left-right): John Paul Jones, John Bonham (1948 - 1980), Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, pose in front of their private airliner The Starship, 1973. (Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The shark incident took place on the band's second tour of the US in 1969, specifically in the room of their tour manager Richard Cole. Stephen Davis explained in his biography of the band, 'Hammer of the Gods', that guests at the Edgewater Inn could catch fish right out of the window in Cole's room. He quoted Cole as saying: "These birds were coming up to my suite wanting to f*ck, and me and Bonzo [the drummer, John Bonham] were quite serious about catching these fish."

Cole then proceeded to describe the "victim" saying: "She might have been hit by the shark a few times for disobeying orders, but she didn't get hurt." These were the early days of the band where the members were practically like kids thrust into a loaded candy shop with tons of money to spend.

Rock group Led Zeppelin performing on stage. From left to right: Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Bonham (Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Plant had been quoted as saying: "I was young when I first went to America. I was 19 years old, and I went crazy. I met The GTOs and my mind just snapped. I'm from a nowhere town in the Midlands and here were these girls with bare breasts blatantly coming on, and of course we went crazy."

There are many stories of the young and wealthy rock stars having strange sex, buying over-the-top motorcycles to ride inside hotel corridors, having more sex, throwing television sets out hotel windows, attacking The Beatles member George Harrison with a cake, more sex, and then getting drunk on British keg bitter Watney's Red Barrel and then once again, having more sex.

Guitarist Jimmy Page of the rock band 'Led Zeppelin' at Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco with groupie Lori Maddox and Rodney in June 1972 in Los Angeles, California (Source: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Jimmy Page had a relationship, at one time, with 14-year-old Lori Maddox, who said in the book that Page had ordered Cole to kidnap her and take her to the Hyatt House hotel, which came to be known as the Riot House. The teen claimed that she fell in love with the rockstar almost immediately. She also says in the book that she had to be locked up most of the time just so that any word of their illegal statutory rape relationship could not get out.


The most notorious, and possibly unsettling, member of the band was drummer John Bonham, who was also known as The Beast. Ellen Sander, an American journalist, described how on the last night of the band's second US tour, the members, led by Bonham, ripped all her clothes off, "shrieking and grabbing". She says: "They were in a frenzy. I was absolutely terrified that I was going to be raped." Peter Grant, the band's former-nightclub-bouncer manager, had to physically pull Bonham off her.

Two bartenders prepare drinks for guests at the bar aboard the British rock band Led Zeppelin's private jet, July 30, 1973 (Source: Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

Another incident involving the drummer happened on board The Starship, which is the Boeing 720 passenger aircraft that the band converted with bedrooms for their tours in 1973 and 1975. One stewardess on the flight had a terrifying encounter which Davis described in his book. Bonham had reportedly had an entire bottle of whisky, appeared in a robe, grabbed the stewardess and bent her over in an armlock. He then announced that he was going to "have her from the rear" and then threw open his robe. Cole and Grant had to drag him off the woman.


The band's later years involved a lot of hard drugs, with Page and Grant loving cocaine. Bonham became more of an alcoholic, if that's even possible, and Plant started realizing that the youthful enthusiasm had faded. The successful band career came to a screeching halt in 1980 when Bonham choked on his own vomit after an alcohol binge and died. 

(L-R) Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones attend the UK Premiere of 'Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day' at Hammersmith Apollo on October 12, 2012, in London, England (Source: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

Many bands like Aerosmith and Motley Crue talk about their crazy antics and all the debauchery they used to get up to when they were young but the legendary stories from rock legends Led Zeppelin are still spoken about with utter fascination. Will they ever answer for their more serious crimes? One can only imagine.

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