Zeppelin Over Washington
(Continued from Pt. I of Lori Spencer’s report from the nation‘s capitol.)
When Led Zeppelin attended a reception at the White House in advance of the Kennedy Center Honors, they were just as shocked to find themselves there as most everybody else was. Being personally roasted by the President of the United States -- along with fellow Kennedy Center Honorees Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, Natalia Makarova, and Buddy Guy -- was an experience Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page could later only describe as “surreal.”
Page, Plant, and John Paul Jones also enjoyed getting the royal treatment during a weekend of festivities in Washington, D.C., including a State Department dinner on December 1 hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former president Bill Clinton.
Secretary Clinton described the honorees as “a group of legends and icons as diverse as they are talented. We have in our group of honorees tonight a broad cross section of talent and energy from comedian to chameleon, ballerina to bluesman, and three men so synonymous with rock and roll they need no more description than Page, Plant, Jones,” Clinton said.
“Now, in my line of work, we often talk about the art of diplomacy,” she added. “I really like saying that because so many of the building blocks for art and diplomacy are the same. We have to be willing to try new things, occasionally take big risks. … So the arts and diplomacy actually do go hand in hand. They play out on world stages and reflect our common need to build bonds of understanding with others.”
(Now, if only Secretary Clinton would listen to more Led Zeppelin, perhaps she could manage to tone down the warmongering and actually live up to her words about building bonds of understanding with others. But I digress...)
The Kennedy Center Honors take place at the Opera House in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Honorees and their guests sit in the front of the Box Tier with the President and the First Family. In keeping with Kennedy Center tradition, the Honorees are not allowed to speak to or interact with members of the audience.
Zeppelin's three surviving members, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page, sat down the row from President and Michelle Obama in the balcony. All of the honorees wore the Kennedy Center Honors rainbow-colored sash and medal.