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A MAN NAMED LED ZEPPELIN II, 1947-2012

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On Friday, the world lost Led Zeppelin II. But not Led Zeppelin II the 1969 record — Led Zeppelin II the man, who died of a heart attack last week at age 64, reports the Chicago Tribune (nice video here). Sure, a reasonable person’s first thought about a man in his 60s who changes his legal name to a classic rock album title: Wacko burnout. But Zeppelin, né George Blackburn, had a sweet, admirable reason for the new handle. Said his daughter:

‘He and Mom got divorced and he wanted to start his life over, like a new chapter. That’s the [record] that he just really related to, just the whole thing.’

‘I reinvented myself,’ Zeppelin said last fall, after the name change was made official. ‘Since I became Led Zeppelin, my life has improved a thousandfold. I changed my name from the standpoint that I can be a better person than I used to be.’

You may not agree about his choice — I’d argue for the lovely, pastoral “Led Zeppelin III,” but wait shit, strangers might pronounce it “Led Zeppelin the third”? — but only the heartless/dickless among us could step on a groovy guy’s efforts at self-improvement, no matter the unusual tactic. Think of it: Introducing himself as Led Zeppelin II, the Illinois man probably left a wide, frothy wake of smiles and good cheer everywhere, hence that “thousandfold” improvement. And just in time! Rock in peace, dude!

-ADF

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