The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra brings “The Music of Led Zeppelin” to the Schuster Center

(Back L-R) Brent Havens, Powell Randolph, George Cintron (Front L-R) Allegra, Randy Jackson, and Dan Clemens

By Tim Walker

In the 1970s, there was no bigger music group in the world than Led Zeppelin. The band members were shameless – louder, wilder, and wealthier than anyone who had come before. The Zeppelin juggernaut set a gaudy standard for wretched excess that rock bands to this day are measured against. Nothing was denied them: fame, private jets, underage groupies, magic, drugs, and mayhem. The four English rock stars traveled the world in a winged chariot, lived like kings, and played epic three-hour shows, which brought audiences to their knees.

From a musical perspective, the band borrowed a great deal of its sound from legendary American blues artists like Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon, sometimes without attribution. Jimmy Page, as Zeppelin’s guitarist and producer, co-wrote the songs with vocalist Robert Plant, dressing them up with a dash of mysticism, folk, and hippie chic. Then he cranked up the amps, multi-tracked the guitars, and just let it all rip. The peerless rhythm section of bassist John Paul Jones and the late John Bonham held it all together, and classic tracks like “Misty Mountain Hop,” “Black Dog,” “Ramble On,” and “Dazed and Confused” defined the sound of ‘70s hard rock for an entire generation.

On Saturday, Feb. 3, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra (DPO) will celebrate that sound when it presents of “The Music of Led Zeppelin” at the Schuster Center, as part of the Rockin’ Orchestra series that started in 2017. The DPO, which will be under the direction of guest conductor Brent Havens for the evening, will perform along with the rock ensemble, Windborne, which was founded by Havens. Its vocalist and guitarist is Randy Jackson of the band Zebra. The one-night-only Feb. 3 performance starts at 8 p.m., and good seats are still available.

“You know, it’s great having the orchestra play along with you,” says Randy Jackson, speaking to the Dayton City Paper from New Orleans recently. “When you have the orchestra playing, it’s easier to recreate the sound of Led Zeppelin. You’ve got so much music going on in addition to the rock band, it just makes the sound bigger. Having the orchestra there really inspires you.”

When asked if there are any songs from the Zeppelin catalog that he really enjoys performing, the singer replied, “I mean, I love ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You.’ And ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ of course. I love that one. The orchestration that Brent [Havens, guest conductor] did was tremendous on that. The whole show is good, and there are a lot of songs that Zeppelin orchestrated themselves, and Brent kind of stuck to those arrangements when it comes to those. I think people will really enjoy the show, especially the big Zeppelin fans.”

Randy Jackson himself is no stranger to rock and roll success. His own band, Zebra, which he started in New Orleans in 1975, found fame with its 1983 eponymous debut album, released by Atlantic Records – the same label, coincidentally, that released Led Zeppelin’s classic albums. Zebra’s debut record featured the hit singles “Tell Me What You Want” and “Who’s Behind the Door?,” both of which earned the band heavy airplay in the early days of MTV. Though he took a brief hiatus in the ‘90s, Jackson still performs with Zebra to this day.

Jackson has also been associated with rock ensemble, Windborne, since its inception, and he performs with it while paying tribute to a number of classic rock artists. “The band started out, and we started doing this show, about 22 years ago,” says Jackson. “I got involved when Brent Havens first put the show together. He did a trial run of it down in Virginia Beach, and everything was cool with the show, but they thought they could use a different singer. A promoter down there recommended me, and we did a couple of shows with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and I’ve been doing them ever since.”

“Over the years, we’ve played with different symphonies all around the country,” continues Jackson. “And we love working with the Dayton Philharmonic. With Windborne, I also do the music of Pink Floyd, and I just did The Doors up in Buffalo. You definitely have to change gears, going from Zeppelin to The Doors.”

A favorite with local audiences, the Dayton Philharmonic’s Rockin’ Orchestra Series, sponsored each year by Dayton Freight, has proven to be one of the DPO and Dayton Performing Arts Alliance’s most popular annual series. In a typical Rockin’ Orchestra performance, the orchestra performs an evening of popular songs by a particular artist while accompanied by a talented rock band and one or more vocalists. Recent concerts celebrated the work of Elton John and David Bowie, and upcoming performances in this season’s series will celebrate the music of U2 and The Who’s “Tommy.”

“The Music of Led Zeppelin,” performed by the DPO and Windborne, featuring vocalist, Randy Jackson, and conducted by Brent Havens, is one-night-only at the Schuster Center: Saturday, Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 888.228.3630 or visit

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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at

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