What pop groups say and what they mean are often two different things. Of managers, ‘he’s a pussycat really’ means ‘he’s a thug but he pays our wages’.
That forbidding semi-caricature owed much to the mythos surrounding Peter Grant, the physically imposing, temperamentally terrifying bouncer and wrestler turned keeper of the behemoth that was Led Zeppelin.
Grant learned his trade variously as Soho doorman and film and TV heavy. He was also an underling (albeit 22st, 6ft 6in) of the legendary Don Arden, father to Sharon Osborne, a man who was rumoured to routinely dangle rivals out of upper-storey windows as a negotiating tactic. Grant was a good student and turned Led Zeppelin into the enigmatic titans of rock’s imperial age.
According to Mark Blake’s exhaustive and detailed resumé, however, Grant was a complex individual with a passion for art nouveau, who let the British Legion use his offices for its poppy day appeal and whose genius was to realise that mystery was key to his charges’ allure.
He kept Zeppelin away from every sordid aspect of the rock business, bar playing and recording their folkish light metal, thus leaving them untainted by the altogether less ethereal Jimmy Hoffa-style dealings in car parks and board rooms (Grant claimed to have been one of the last people to see the notorious union boss). Some of the detail is