Led Zeppelin’s Former Tour Manager Discusses the Band’s Business Side
Simplicity and discipline are just two of the traits that helped make Led Zeppelin as big as they were. In a new interview, former tour manager Richard Cole talks about the inner workings of the the band during the ’70s.
Speaking to Forbes, Cole praised Led Zeppelin’s work ethic, which sprang from the jobs they had before they formed a band. “John Bonham had been a bricklayer,” he said. “Robert Plant had worked with asphalt on the road. Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones were session musicians. For session musicians, when they tell you you’ve got to be there for the session at 10:00AM in the morning, you’re there. These were coveted jobs so they didn’t mess around. So all of us had that work ethic.”
Cole also said that he can’t believe the massive organizations that tour with major bands these days, compared with the 15 people that accompanied Zeppelin. He recalled being backstage at an arena show a number of years ago and seeing a room set up as a production office, with 10 people on computers. He noted that in his day, the “production office” consisted of “[a] telephone, a bottle of Jack Daniels and a few bags of coke and that was it. If you hadn’t got it right before you got here, you were f—ed. The phone was no good to you because the band were on in two hours and it was too late.’”
It helped that their manager, Peter Grant, was notorious for making sure that the organization ran smoothly, with the focus being kept on the band. “One thing is for certain,” he once told Cole as they watched Led Zeppelin from the wings. “Most people out there aren’t paying $7 to come and see us.”