EXTREME guitarist Nuno Bettencourt has penned a lengthy response to music industry commentator Bob Lefsetz's recent review of LED ZEPPELIN's reunion concert at the O2 arena in London in which Bob wrote, in part, "LED ZEPPELIN is dead. And one of the reasons it's so revered is that the band didn't carry on after Bonham died, which utterly stunned us. There's no time for carrying on now. Give it a rest. Sell the DVD. Allow those in attendance their badge of honor and their memories. Please don't tarnish the image, the legend. We've whored out rock and roll too much already. It's as if Jesus sold Cadillacs."
Bettencourt's entire letter reads as follows (edited by BLABBERMOUTH.NET for clarity):
"Stop it! Just stop it! Enough! All of you writing these negative letters in regards to LED ZEPPELIN should be ashamed of yourselves. Who the fuck are you to assume or pretend to know why Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones at this point in their lives are jamming together? Maybe it was just time... maybe they wanted a last run before they go. Maybe at the rehearsals for this benefit they got turned on by the magic and chemistry they have forgotten and secretly craved for so many years and now realize that they are not getting any younger and they should put they're differences aside and go out and have some fun. It's a stretch, but possible. Maybe they wanna rock. Maybe they need to rock. Maybe it's for the money. But that's none of our business. Our business, as fans, is to rock with them.
"Upset about the money? If that was the case, then you should punish them for all the previous tours they did back in the day, 'cause they were raking it in... private jets, limos, five-star hotels, not to mention the merch. What did you think? That they weren't thinking about money back then? They were doing it only for us? And so they should get paid. They are one of the biggest rock band this earth has ever seen. Only THE BEATLES, who were obviously massive, could create this much havoc and excitement on a reunion. They deserve every fucking penny. This is LED ZEPPELIN. They are true rock and roll royalty. And you do have the right to NOT go see them. But don't be like those pompous assholes who picket movies calling the film blasphemous and disrespectable that, when asked if they had seen the movie they are boycotting, they say, 'No, I don't need to see it. I just know.' That is just ignorance speaking.
"Whatever the reason for hating on these guys, I just can't believe I read, 'I don't want them to fuck with my memories.' They gave you those fucking memories. For that reason alone, if you are a true ZEP fan, you owe them at least the respect to not criticize them for wanting to rock and roll again. What's so wrong with that? ZEP has always played by their own rules. Instead, we, as fans, should be estatic to get a chance to celebrate with them and show them how much we appreciate what they have left behind for us. They were the most played soundtrack to our lives... the bad times that they got us through, and the parties they hosted for us, just by dropping that needle. Not to mention how much they have influenced musicians.
"And why is it so wrong just to simply sit in a venue and share some beautiful music with them maybe one last time before they die? Hell, before we all die. Why are there so many rules? Rock and roll has NO RULES! Where did these regulations come from? They are betraying us? Is Jimmy Page is really Osama Bin Laden? LED ZEPPELIN backwards is really Al Qaeda? They are a rock and roll band. Don't crucify them for wanting to rock.
"Yeah, I know it's gonna be different. No shit. There's no Bonzo, no shiny dragon outfit, no sock stuffed down Plant's pants... Well, I can't be sure about that one. But it won't be as crazy as it was was when they were coming to Boston Garden and cars and trains were being flipped over and destroyed, and we got so wasted we don't remember how we got home. Oh, yeah, we didn't make it home; we got into a head-on car collision doing 120 mph and in the hospital with glass in our faces. But that's another story for another day.
"'But Plant looks all wrinkly and…' And guess what?! Newsflash! They're much, much older. Robert Plant looks old, and so does Page. Are we to punish them for that also? 'How dare they wanna rock at that age?!?!?!!?' Oh, shit. If that's the case, I'm in my 40s and I'm fucked. I was just cutting some new tracks today. Oh, well, I'd better go put my guitar and rig up in the attic for good, because, guaranteed, I will be accused of greed if I tour with my band.
"Is that what we have become? We look for any reason to criticize the greats. But yet the majority of emails that come from Bob and his readers are about how much the new generation of artists have no soul and musicianship and can't write a decent tune. See, more importantly, he fucking kids NEED to see ZEP... even this lineup at this age.
"Rock is dying... if [it's] not dead already.
"Do we need to see one more awards show to know that music is in deep shit? So depressing. There is no one out there inspiring kids to pick up a guitar. Why do you think that there are millions of copies of the game Guitar Hero are being sold? They are starved for it. We're fucked if we have to count on a video game to save rock and roll.
"And I have to say it broke my heart to hear Bob say that he was sitting next to the legendary Jimmy Page and didn't even bother to say hi or shake his hand, for selfish, memory-based reasons. You missed out, Bob. That could have turned into one of your greatest memories ever. Are you that old and set in your ways that you are not capable to allow some new memories into your heart? You might have missed out on a life-changing conversation that we would have read in your letters. You see, I did a gig in Germany in the early Nineties, a festival. PAGE/PLANT were also on the bill. When I saw them walk into the backstage outdoor area, my childhood flashed before me. Sheryl Crow was standing next to me. She said, 'Go say hi!' I said, 'No fucking way! That is Jimmy Page! What do you say to Jimmy Page?' 'Hi, dude. I dig your playing?' So I did nothing. What a fool I was! So I turned around to walk away, and I felt a hand on my shoulder and someone called my name. I turned around and it was... HIM. All I can say, Bob, right after I passed out and he picked me up off the floor, we spoke for the next two hours about one of his favorite places, my birthplace, Portugal — how much time he spends there, the local moonshine he had an anvil case full of, the traditional guitars he buys there, my family there. No mention of the music business or our bands — just a hang.
"So next time you see him, Bob, don't shun him or punish him for being in LED ZEPPELIN — just say, 'Hi, Jimmy.' Shake his hand and smile. I swear, the magic and sincerety in his hands will stay with you forever, and you will be glad to know that that new memory didn't erase any of the old ones.
"I guess the point is, can we please, please stop talking about the business side of things for a little while? Just this once. I beg you... All I hear and read from you is how there is no great music anymore, that it's all a scam... marketing, marketing, money, money, money. Clive [Davis] is the evil empire that ruined it all…
"You're so right... That's why I beg you to not boycott THE POLICE or LED ZEPPELIN merely because you're upset they are getting compensated. Added more shows... They planned it? Maybe. Fuck it! Who cares? The music is too important. It's a dry musical desert out there, and life is too short to be judgmental and untrusting and missing out with the bands that shaped your life because all we really crave and all we really need is an evening of ROCK and ROLL... Nothing more, nothing less. Just a new memory to take home with us... to keep 'till we die.
"And for those of you afraid to take that risk because of the old ZEP? You must have been too fucked up to remember or to notice that seven out of 10 gigs ZEPPELIN sucked live. Those were the nights that they were so drugged and wasted that they could barely stand, never mind play an instrument. Bonham puking into a bucket on stage. But that was the danger and that was the risk. I saw Steven Tyler pass out two nights in a row by the second song in Worcester to never return.
"I would give anything to witness one of these great, legendary acts in their fragile state or in their latter years of life than to listen to or to see most of the pretentious crap that's on the radio. This current state of music is so worth seeing that it made MTV extinct. That might be a good thing, though.
"And the guy who made fun of Plant having a cup of tea before the show? You must not be a singer. And give the guy a fucking break... he's nearly 100 years old.
"But believe me as an eyewitness when I tell you guys and Bob, these guys are old, but they still party hard. Page? Are you kidding? And you also question whether there were groupies backstage at VAN HALEN and whether David Lee Roth was still fucking them. YES! Rock is still alive and well, my friend.
"I know you keep going back to the good old days. So do I. It makes me angry. The lineups were rediculous. We were spoiled. Two to three great bands on the bill on any given tour. That was the norm. We took it for granted. It was like tap water. We would go to the sink time and time again believing it was pure and the quality was always gonna be there. Today all we get is bottled water. Flavored water. Vitamin water. With colorful labels, each claiming they are the purest. The truth is, just like rock and roll, tap water was never clean. It was dirty. But that didn't matter — it quenched our thirst just fine.
"Bring back that dirty water. Bring back that rock and roll.
"Pardon my spelling and typing. I am a simple musician.
"And Bob, I just have one last request. To the ones who write in and ask to hide their identity: Grow some balls. Be proud of your opinions. And tell us who you are. This is AMERICA. We are free."