Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Led Zeppelin at the Chateau

This 1969 photograph by Jay Thompson features the legendary band, Led Zeppelin, during their visit to the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard. From left to right: Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham. One of the notorious legends about the Chateau is that Bonham (the drummer) drove a Harley motorcycle (his 25th birthday present through the hallway of the hotel. Having been born in 1948, Bonham’s 25th birthday would have been in 1973. The photos from the Chateau were 1969. Oops. Here’s the fire escape as it looks today where the above photo was taken:

The photographer stood on the fire escape steps for this one:

I stood at the top of the steps. Sorry. I get dizzy.

Another shot of the English rock band just hanging outside one of the hotel’s windows:

From faroutmagazine:

Legend has it Bonham rode a Harley Davidson right through the lobby of the hotel in an insane stunt he would repeat on a further two occasions while staying at the Continental Hyatt House Hotel and the Andaz West Hollywood.

Whilst Bonham was performing his trademark stunt, Robert Plant allegedly shouted: “I am a golden god!” from one of the hotel’s balconies which would be a scene repeated by character Russell Hammond in “Almost Famous.” The 2000 film was based on the hedonistic exploits of 1970s rock legends such as Led Zeppelin and the scene showcasing an inebriated rockstar riding a motorcycle through a hotel hallway was based on Zeppelin’s famous stay at the Chateau Marmont.

Bonham completely destroyed the hotel lobby’s carpet—which they kept in the state he had left it in to mark his legacy. However, when the hotel was purchased by Andre Balazs in 1990, the first thing he would do was replace the Bonham tire marks.

According to their former tour manager Richard Cole in the documentary “Sunset Strip,” when a hotel employee told them how envious he was that they could smash the rooms up, they told him to pick a room of his choice, vent his frustrations to his heart’s content which they would add to their bill and let the hotel worker live out their rockstar fantasy.

Here’s a color shot from the band’s visit:

The same area circa April 2002; the mural above the fountain is still there, but it appears that the wings that were once painted below the fountain are long gone.

The same fountain as it looks today:

See more Chateau Marmont photos at my main website.


Fifthrider said...

Mixed feelings on making a shrine of the vandalism of the rich and famous. Great pics though, I can see how lining up a matching shot would be tough with those stairs.

Anonymous said...

I keep wondering if the fire escape shot was the genesis of "Stairway to Heaven'. KS

Daveland said...

Bryan - I will probably take another stab at it on my return.

KS: Wow, interesting theory!!