Wildest rock man: no, not Led Zepplins Robert Plant, but the manager of the band

Groupies chained naked on beds, televisions slung out of hotel balconies and bags of cash from overnight stays exchanged for mountains of cocaine. Few who encountered Led Zeppelin during the tour were not speechless from the extreme depravity of everything.

Known as the biggest rock band of the seventies, the British foursome clearly felt that they could get away with a surplus.

The head of this carnival of debauchery was the manager of the group, Peter Grant, a terrifying bear of a man whose displeasure visibly shook the receivers.

Portrait of Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant (1935-1995) raising his middle finger at home in Eastbourne, United Kingdom, 1993

Portrait of Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant (1935-1995) raising his middle finger at home in Eastbourne, United Kingdom, 1993

If he could still play when he was in a wheelchair, Grant once asked the volatile drummer John Bonham of Led Zep when he misbehaved in a recording studio.

Grant, all 28 and 3 meters from him, might sound like he was making a joke, but anyone who knew him would have discovered the underlying threat. By giving their record company bulls and the band an extremely lucrative deal and developing their mystique by refusing to let them play on TV or sing singles, he was the maker of Led Zeppelin.

While their success broke through the stratosphere of show business, Grant became one of the most powerful people in the music industry, who hated and feared as much as he was admired.

But when Grant also succumbed to drugs and the violent chaos around his uncontrollable bond, he lost his iron grip on the act. Falling spectacularly from grace, he ended up locked up for years in paranoid seclusion in his moated castle.

The rise and fall of a manager who is even more colorful than his musicians, is excitingly exposed in a new biography of Grant, who also the equally impetuous rock & # 39; n & # 39; rollers Gene Vincent, Little Richard and Chuck Berry managed.

In Bring It On Home, author Mark Blake Grant portrays a flawed but fearless guardian of the acts he represented – a former wrestler and bouncer whose aggressive way concealed a surprisingly friendly and sensitive side.

No one knew very well if he was wearing a gun, but East End gangster friends – a legacy of his time working as a heavyweight for the notorious brutal entertainment magnate Don Arden and for slum boss Peter Rachman – combined with Grant's troubling gaze a supremely create intimidating presence.

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page during a Led Zeppelin concert in 1975

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page during a Led Zeppelin concert in 1975

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page during a Led Zeppelin concert in 1975

However, he was dedicated to the members of Led Zeppelin and treated them like his children, Blake says. That is not to say that he did not indulge them excessively, by encouraging their worst vices as he fought to keep the warring band members happy.

His connection with the iconic band started because he led The Yardbirds and came close to their guitarist Jimmy Page. Page's insistence that Grant would manage his next band, who became Led Zeppelin in 1968, turned out to be an inspired decision.

Agents, promoters and record companies hated Grant for his hard negotiating position, but his bands loved the way he had always fought hard for the best deal for them.

He received Atlantic Records to pay an unprecedented $ 200,000 advance for Led Zeppelin's five-year recording contract. At a time when bands had to distribute tours with promoters 60-40, Grant got a 90-10 deal from his band.

During negotiations, he became notorious because his agencies broke so hard that they broke, and his temper worsened by chronic back pain caused by his obesity. He was generous to friends but merciless for enemies.

& # 39; You were sitting in the bus or under the bus & # 39 ;, said a former employee.

Grant used "subtle and not so subtle bullying tactics", says Blake, and had a zero-tolerance policy towards anyone who, according to him, pulled the band.

During a concert in Bath, he saw illegal writers recording the show under the stage. He took the nearest thing by the hand and accused them of a fire ax and plundered their equipment. During a concert in Canada he saw an environmental expert, who monitored the decibel levels for another bootlegger. The unfortunate officer said his equipment had been destroyed and that four heavyweights had beaten him up.

Grant's efforts to maximize the band's revenues were not entirely altruistic because he took a standard manager fee of 20 percent of their earnings. By 1970, the working class boys from Battersea had a fleet of vehicles and a smart home opposite Ronnie Corbett in Surrey.

He and his wife Gloria, a small ex-dancer, could exchange it for an even bigger house with their children, Helen and Warren. Horselunges Manor, a 15th-century house in East Sussex, was complete with a moat and drawbridge.

The physical bulk of Grant was useful when he had to physically separate Page, Bonham and band members Robert Plant and John Paul Jones from each other when they regularly exploded.

He once met Bob Dylan at a seventies party and blurted out: "Hello, I'm Peter Grant and I manage Led Zeppelin."

& # 39; I do not bother with my problems, & # 39; Dylan replied. Dylan had a point because the band had an unrivaled reputation for crass behavior. As they struggled to cope with the scale of their sudden fame and fortune, Led Zeppelin was pampered like no other in the rock-and-roll clichés of drugs, booze, groupies and senseless destruction of hotel rooms.

Led Zeppelin, circa mid-1970s Shown from left: John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant, John Bonham

Led Zeppelin, circa mid-1970s Shown from left: John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant, John Bonham

Led Zeppelin, circa mid-1970s Shown from left: John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant, John Bonham

They could even do it in the air after Grant, a nervous pilot, insisted they rent a Boeing 720 jet with 40 seats, which cost them $ 10,000 a week. The interior, with the nickname the Starship, consisted of revolving armchairs, double bedrooms and a bar with a built-in electric organ.

Under immense stress, Grant began to use cocaine intensively and called it Peruvian march powder & # 39 ;. Page became a heroin addict while Bonham became a violent drunk.

Drug suppliers would descend after their concerts at the Led Zep entourage. Grant exchanged the band's income for hard drugs.

Their 1973 tour in the United States was a low point. & # 39; Hotel suites would be decimated and TV sets of balconies would be thrown & # 39 ;, Blake writes. When the band destroyed a hotel room in Seattle, Grant immediately paid the damage in cash.

The manager of the hotel said he would like to ruin a hotel room and get away with it, after which Grant led him to his suite and told him: "You have this room on Led Zeppelin."

The delighted manager took over his offer and ran amok.

John Bonham, the hell-raiser of the band, celebrated his 25th birthday with a riotous party in the Hollywood Hills, where everyone ended up in the pool.

Grant also tried to drive his car into it, but complained that he was stuck between two palm trees & # 39 ;.

Groupies swarmed about the band, some of them so hard-bitten that they attacked each other when they felt the competition.

Lori Mattix, who allegedly said she was 15 then, remembered Grant as scary as hell & # 39; was when he told her to get into a car and take her to Jimmy Page's hotel room.

Mattix says that she & # 39; instantly fall in love & # 39; was on Page and that they had a three-year relationship.

On another occasion, Grant remembered a room in the LA hotel to find a naked woman who had been tied to her bed by her wrists and ankles, & # 39; completely happy & # 39; that a series of men came in to have sex with her. Grant said that he had told her to have a beautiful day & # 39; and left her there.

Blake recognizes that such stories would elicit indignation, but were concealed in a rock era & # 39; where the moral compass pointed in all possible directions.

The current # MeToo movement might also have something to say about a Halloween party in 1974. The lethargic night in the Chislehurst caves in Kent consisted of female wrestlers, costumed dressers like nuns and a naked woman covered in jelly in a box .

Like most of the band, Grant was a married man, but he also succumbed to the temptations he threw on his path. His girlfriends on the road became concubines & # 39; mentioned in respect for the status of Grant as a mandarin.

The extent of Grant's alleged ties to organized crime remains unsolved: he denied that, but familiar Kray twins, the East End crime gang, would hang around his office.

Because cocaine made him increasingly paranoid and temperamental, Grant hired one of them, named John Bindon, as a bodyguard. Bindon, a violent part-time actor, reportedly had a relationship with Princess Margaret with whom he was portrayed on Mustique and wore a "Enjoy Cocaine & # 39; T-shirt.

Although he was hardly at home, Grant was devastated when his wife ran away with his farm manager in 1975. Two years later, his drug-fueled volatility reached a low point in an American tour from 1977. Grant, Bindon and John Bonham fiercely beat up a stadium guard who had ousted Grant's young son.

They were convicted for the battery but escaped imprisonment. When Bindon later fatally killed another gangster in a pub in London, Grant helped him to flee to Ireland.

Bonham died in 1980, suffocated in his vomit after drinking the equivalent of 40 shots of vodka. Led Zeppelin broke up and the band members left their once brilliant manager, who now struggled to keep themselves and the group together.

He closed himself with his cocaine habit and his keepers in his house in Sussex. It was a far cry from the days when he could tame even the unruly musician.

Grant grew up in Croydon in 1935 with a single mother and grew up in the streets of Battersea. He left the school at 3 pm and worked as a nightclub bouncer and as a professional wrestler.

Billed as & # 39; Count Massimo & # 39 ;, he struck opponents around the ring with his huge stomach and perfected movements such as the four-fingered prick under the rib cage he would later use for business rivals.

Grant was also a part-time actor and stunt double. He worked as a heavy one for Don Arden, a notoriously murderous promoter and the father of the TV star Sharon Osbourne.

Van Arden heard Grant what his boss the & # 39; force of fear & # 39; called. Grant claimed that he once helped the competitor of Arden, the Bee Gees manager Robert Stigwood, upside down from a balcony in his office.

Arden later awarded the clearly resourceful Grant for a series of American rock & # 39; n & # 39; to drive and drive rollers as they travel through the UK. One was Gene Vincent, a very volatile alcoholic whose dark off-stage behavior was exacerbated by the chronic pain he suffered from a withered leg, Blake says.

The singer would hit one of his crutches on the accelerator if he thought Grant was not driving fast enough. Once, he stole Grant's car and tried to persuade him.

Many suspected a lot of Grant & # 39; s threat was only for effect. Veteran manager Simon Napier-Bell said that everyone's first impression of Grant was the same: "ugly, crude and unattractive." Later he discovered that Grant, a passionate lover of art and antiques, had a "sensitive snare" and would never show it.

He was not very afraid of threats coming against him. While the Yardbirds were being herded during a tour through Canada, a few gangsters came in their bus and began to threaten them.

When Grant argued, one of them pointed a gun at him.

He warned him that he was running the risk of a & # 39; international incident & # 39; when he shot a British citizen, Grant walked in the barrel and then with his stomach the astonished gangster bounced off the bus.

Grant died of a heart attack in 1995 at the age of 60. At his funeral, Vera Lynn & # 39; s Meet Again was played – a final warning, some thought, to his enemies.

  • Bring It On Home by Mark Blake, published by Constable for £ 20. © Mark Blake 2018. To order a copy for £ 16 (offer valid until November 16, p & p free), go to mailshop.co.uk / books of call 0844 571 0640.