Just curious as to why Led Zeppelin is above the Grateful Dead in this list. Anyone care to explain?
I'm curious about that, too. The Grateful Dead even pioneered advancements in amplification for large concert events, along with Pink Floyd and The Who. Also, the live concert experience is so central to their considerable appeal that they have become almost synonymous with the concept of the "event" live artist. I would not consider them to be out of place in the top ten. But there's about twenty-five artists that I wouldn't consider out of place in the top ten, so...
Still, Led Zeppelin does look a bit too high to me, considering several of the names right below them, and I remember thinking that Sampson's reasons for Led Zeppelin's lofty ranking on the previous iteration of the list were faulty. If I recall correctly, it was largely based on the idea that Led Zeppelin didn't rely on hit singles to build a large concert following. I have two problems with that. First, they did have significant hit single success at the dawn of their career in the USA, with "Whole Lotta Love" hitting #4. Second, Jimi Hendrix predates them and actually did
build a large concert following without significant hit single success in the USA. He had nothing in the Top Forty in the USA until "All Along the Watchtower" hit #20. If we were talking the UK, it would be a different story, of course. Jimi had several hit singles there to jumpstart his career, while Led Zeppelin released none. But in terms of the USA, I think the Jimi Hendrix Experience ought to benefit from that argument much more than Led Zeppelin should.
Also, I'm not sure if this directly applies to the criteria, but Jimi Hendrix has at least two truly iconic live rock 'n' roll moments: Burning his guitar at Monterey, and playing "The Star Spangled Banner" at Woodstock. Led Zeppelin has none, unless you think Jimmy Page's guitar and bow sequence from The Song Remains the Same
qualifies. And, if it does, it's still a few rungs down the ladder from Jimi's best moments. Maybe this is because Led Zeppelin did not participate in any major rock festivals, but, even when they did, at Live Aid in 1985, they failed to impress. You can say that they were well past their prime by that point, but, c'mon, it was 1985. The Who blew everyone off the stage at the Concert For New York City in 2001, the Isle of Wight Festival in 2004 and Glastonbury in 2007. And they're even older than Led Zeppelin. You can say, "Yeah, but The Who are #4 and Led Zeppelin are #14." But Sampson will tell you that out of all the rock artists in all of rock history, that really ain't much.