When you first meet Paul Sinclair, sporting long hair, wide-collared shirts and flared jeans, you may feel like you have just stepped back into the ‘70s. He is the front man for Get the Led Out (GTLO), a band that pays tribute to Led Zeppelin with performances that recreate, note-for-note, the songs that people fell in love with, the songs on Zeppelin albums.
When performing live, Led Zeppelin would freeform and improv their songs. While this might have made the performance more exciting for the band, it might have made some attendees feel a bit lost. How do you sing along to “Whole Lotta Love” when it sounds different from what you have listened to hundreds of times on your record player? The beauty of seeing a favorite band live is often that moment when everyone in the theatre is singing together, harmoniously.
It was while Sinclair was singing karaoke regularly that he recognized this is what fans want. They want the song they hear on their favorite album. This is the basis of Get the Led Out. They don’t wear wigs. They don’t talk in an English accent. It is all about the music.
How did this rocker get into a music career?
“I grew up during the late ‘60s and ‘70s. All that was going on with music….you are talking about the most exciting time for music. It was this massive explosion. You’re talking about the British Invasion – Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith. This was the soundtrack of my childhood,” says Sinclair. “I was watching Davey Jones and The Monkees, Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy on The Partridge Family. I saw these guys singing on television with the long hair, cool clothes and girls screaming. I knew that was what I wanted to do.”
Throughout his teenage years, the singer put bands together with different friends. Then in the ’80s, he met Paul Hammond, GTLO’s guitarist and his business partner. They started playing music from Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath. They wanted to be their own version of these bands.
“I left high school early for this purpose. My mission was that I wanted to be a rock ‘n’ roll singer,” says Sinclair.
It took 35 years, a lot of creative funding and missed opportunities before his dream was realized. From putting a second mortgage on his parents’ house to pay for the recording of their first album to purchasing retired school buses to serve as their transportation, Sinclair and Hammond did everything they could to be successful as a rock ‘n’ roll band.
“We were fighting, scratching and crawling to do whatever we could to get a success. We are persistent and driven,” says Sinclair. “It wasn’t until the last 10 years that we really made a living making music.”
The two were obsessed with the classics, uninterested in what was going on in music currently. And, the classics paid off for them in 2003 when he was approached to perform with a band playing Led Zeppelin. Hammond came with him and Sinclair pitched the idea that they had to play the songs in the show note-for-note from Zeppelin’s albums.
“They didn’t like it at first, but it is the model that worked for us,” says Sinclair. “It seems so obvious to me that this is how a tribute show should be. The joy of music is that connection you have with a song. And, those recordings are the definitive version of a song. That is the song we fall in love with.”
“We know every nuance of a song on an album. Take “Black Dog” from Led Zeppelin IV. We have listened to it for 51 years,” continues Sinclair. “You hear it on the radio and you turn it up so you can sing and do air guitar to the music.”
Sinclair looks at every performance as an opportunity to perfect each song. He never gets tired of Led Zeppelin’s music. Every member of the band is talented and each of them takes the music very seriously. Almost academically, the musicians in GTLO study the songs they play because they want to surpass expectations from fans.
“The wisdom in their music is the perfection in imperfection,” says Sinclair. “They leave it all out there.”
“I never expected to be the lead singer in a Led Zeppelin tribute band in my 50s,” continues Sinclair. “I am like the curator of a traveling Led Zeppelin museum.”
Experience Sinclair, Hammond and their traveling musical “museum” on Saturday, September 24, 2022, 7:30 p.m., on the main stage at the CCA. Always a vibrant and energetic show, patrons who love The Mighty Zep will not be disappointed. Tickets can be purchased online or over the phone at 480-782-2860. $28, $36, $44.