The Prophecy of Abner Headstrong
By Bob E.
Once there was an aging hippie by the name of Abner Headstrong. Fate had not smiled on Abner, although he had been a roadie at one time for the mighty Led Zeppelin. But in the years which had passed since, he had struggled, making many promising career beginnings, only to have them come to naught. Finally, he was destitute, with a growing family to support. One night, while partying with some friends, he came upon a brilliant idea. It would involve almost no investment, excepting his time, since his product would be his experience with Led Zep.
So, he moved to Hollywood, capital of the music industry. He began hobnobbing with people in the industry, at first on the lower levels, telling all who had time to listen about his personal experiences on the road with Led Zeppelin. Abner actually claimed to have an active relationship with the leader and founder of Led Zeppelin, Jimmie Page, and shared the news that Led Zeppelin would soon return not only to the recording studio, but also would launch a worldwide tour in support of the new material. And, this, had all been shared with him personally by Jimmie!
Soon, Abner's new friends had contributed the equipment, money, and credibility that would allow him to publish a newsletter, foretelling the imminent return of Led Zeppelin. After several months, the fledgling newsletter attracted some major support, in the form of influential advertisers. Abner was able to hire a full staff, go on radio and television, and sponsor concerts, all with one goal: to let everyone know that the mighty Zeppelin would soon return. After all, he had a direct connection with Jimmie Page!
In 1985, the cover story in his magazine announced that the return would take place in Fall of 1986. One of his supporters who was a well known cartoonist illustrated the story depicting how bad the current rock scene was without Led Zep, and how glorious it would be to be part of their upcoming worldwide tour. Parents used it to scare their children out of listening to Punk Rock. By this time, Abner had started a music school dedicated to the music of Led Zeppelin, and had personally trained some young studio musicians in the art of inspiring young drummers, singers, and guitar players, as well as song-writers to perpetuate the wonderful musical messages of Led Zeppelin.
Unfortunately, Led Zeppelin did not return in 1986. Abner told his subscribers that he had never set a date, that Jimmie Page's communications with him were so cryptic that no-one could actually know when Led Zeppelin would return, but that all the fans should petition Jimmie directly via fan mail, and to send in tax deductible donations, so that Abner could take out high profile ads geared to letting Led Zeppelin know what a groundswell of interest there was in their return. Money came pouring in like crazy! It seemed like Abner was everywhere, traveling around the world meeting with influential promoters, giving wealthy fans of Led Zeppelin expensive gifts, so that they might be induced to work for the return of Led Zeppelin, and constantly writing of his progress to the many subscribers of his magazine! While he traveled around the world, his young son ran the Hollywood operation.
Ten years later, Abner's efforts were in great trouble. The music scene had changed. His son seemed more in touch with Abner's work than Abner himself. Led Zeppelin had not returned. In fact, some were even questioning whether Abner had ever been a roadie with them, or even knew Jimmie Page. Long time staff members were questioning Abner's editorial decisions, and some of the more brazen staff members were actually recommending that the whole organization change direction, via a large inclusionist outlook to bring in fans of Country Music, Rap, Alternative Rock, and Punk Rock. This made Abner all the more determined to get his message out. He fired the dissident staff members, including his own son. Some of the former staff started their own publications, incorporating their own ideas, but none were as successful as Abner. Unfortunately, Abner's health began to fail, just as his organization was going thru a contraction resulting from the wholesale defection of many staff members and subscribers. He appointed a successor, and died shortly thereafter, without ever seeing the return of those to whom he had dedicated his entire life's work.
The trusted successor did implement the changes to include more musical styles and to build readership. In fact, they were publicly complimented in some of the mainstream musical publications for broadening their appeal and becoming more mainstream. Abner's son started his own publication, but soon ran into legal problems which destroyed his credibility. Some of the hardcore former staff members who were rabid Led Zeppelin fans also started their own publications, claiming to be Abner's rightful philosophical heirs, and fighting over the legal rights to re-release some of Abner's early publications. Some of these staff members knew that Jimmie Page did not actually ever communicate his intentions to Abner Headstrong, but alas, this was the only thing they knew how to do, so they continued in Abner's footsteps just to perpetuate the income and status to which they had become accustomed.
Led Zeppelin never returned. Sadly, the world is filled with disillusioned people who followed Abner, and contributed money to him because they believed in so doing they would have front row seats at the anticipated concert. The splinter publications of Abner's former staff are holding their own, but will never be as big as Abner's original magazine. And, whereas Abner and his son appeared to be virtually everywhere, it is difficult to even find the so-called successors. Once in a great, great while, one might find one of these new magazines in a hospital waiting room, or in a little stand outside a supermarket, but at this point in time, there is no serious broad-based interest in Abner's work beyond a small cadre of true believers, who have invested too much of their life in Abner's hoax to be able to be motivated to find new purpose or meaning.
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