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Led Zeppelin receives Kennedy Center honors from President Obama

December 03, 2012|By August Brown
  • Surviving Led Zeppelin members keyboardist-bassist John Paul Jones, left, singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page stand during the national anthem at the Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday in Washington, D.C.
Surviving Led Zeppelin members keyboardist-bassist John Paul Jones,… (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta )

The surviving members of the English rock group Led Zeppelin climbed an exalted stairway on Sunday. No, not that one. But the group did arrive in person to receive the Kennedy Center Honors in a ceremony hosted by President Obama in Washington D.C..

The mega-selling act, known for its punishing blues riffs and wails from Robert Plant that became classic-rock staples, was lauded along with guitarist Buddy Guy, ballerina Natalia Makarova, David Letterman and Dustin Hoffman. The Kennedy Center honors lifetime accomplishments in the performing arts. Recent winners have included Yo-Yo Ma, Meryl Streep, Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey.

Jack Black introduced the band, cheekily recounting its memorable lyrics about "love, Vikings, Vikings making love and 'The Lord of the Rings.' " A number of acts performed covers from the band's wide catalog -- Foo Fighters on "Rock & Roll," Kid Rock on "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" and "Ramble on," and Heart joined by Jason Bonham, son of the late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, on "Stairway to Heaven."

The president, for his part, joked about the band's famously wild reputation in its heyday."These guys also redefined the rock 'n' roll lifestyle. We do not have video of this.... But there was some hotel rooms trashed and mayhem all around. So it's fitting that we’re doing this in a room with windows that are about 3 inches thick -- and Secret Service all around. So, guys, just settle down. These paintings are valuable.”

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