The recipients of the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors have been announced, and among this year's class to receive the prestigious award are blues guitarist Buddy Guy and Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones, the surviving members of British blues-rock band Led Zeppelin. Other honorees this year include actor Dustin Hoffman, late-night TV host David Letterman, and ballerina Natalia Makarova.
For 74-year-old blues guitar legend Buddy Guy, the Kennedy Center Honors are yet another accolade during an influential career that has spanned six decades, resulting in a half-dozen Grammy Awards and a whopping 34 W.C. Handy and Blues Music Awards (from an incredible 49 nominations). The blues artist was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bush in 2003, and has been inducted into both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (2005) and the Blues Hall of Fame (1985).
Led Zeppelin was formed in 1968 by guitarist Jimmy Page from the ashes of British blues-rock pioneers the Yardbirds. Originally known as "the New Yardbirds," Page enlisted the help of fellow studio musician John Paul Jones and two rookie musicians, singer Robert Plant and drummer John Bonham, to fulfill a number of already-booked Yardbirds shows. Changing their name to Led Zeppelin, the band's early sound was a blend of psychedelic blues and hard rock. The band would later expand its musical palette, adding shades of British folk, Celtic music, even reggae to its sound. During the decade of the 1970s, Zeppelin was arguably the most commercially-successful rock band in the world, retaining this status until their 1980 break-up in the wake of Bonham's tragic death.
The Kennedy Center Honors are sponsored by the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and awarded to artists in recognition of a lifetime of contribution to American culture. The annual event weekend-long event includes a performance at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C. Past Kennedy Center honorees from the blues and R&B worlds include Chuck Berry, Tina Turner, James Brown, and B.B. King, making Guy only the second pure blues artist to be so honored...
Buddy Guy photo courtesy The Blues Foundation