Earlier this week, I was taking my 12-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, and her friend Luke to school.

As usual, the morning banter was about music. We talked about Linkin Park and Metallica, and then something happened that made my jaw drop.

I asked Luke to name his favorite band, thinking he would say Linkin Park.

"Led Zeppelin," he said, without a pause. "I like Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. And my favorite song is 'Kashmir."'

I was taken aback because, as most everyone knows, Led Zeppelin's self-titled debut album (yes, a 12-inch vinyl album) was released in 1969. They broke up on Dec. 4, 1980, a couple of months after the death of drummer John Bonham.

Sure, the remaining members — guitarist Page, vocalist Plant and bassist John Paul Jones — have regrouped a few times since the breakup, but here was this young boy telling me about the length of the epic songs "Kashmir" and "Stairway to Heaven."

"One of those songs would get us to school and back," he said.

While it was surprising to discover Luke's knowledge and fandom, it was also heartening that he would veer off the modern-pop flavor of the day and discover a real rock legend that was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

Another funny thing about our discussion: A few weeks ago, Voyageur Press released "Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin: The Illustrated History of the Heaviest Band of All Time" (288 pages, $40, hardcover).

This comprehensive biography delves into the band's history, which started from the ashes of Page's band — the Yardbirds. It finished with the band's reunion (with Bonham's son, Jason, on drums) for the 2007 concert for the late Atlantic Records founder and Led Zep mentor Ahmet Ertegun.

The book is loaded with rare and exciting photos of the band in its formative years and throughout its legendary career.

There are chapters on each of the band's nine studio albums and the feature film, "The Song Remains the Same."

Mostly written by Minneapolis Star Tribune music critic Jon Bream, with contributions from various music critics and musicians from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, the book gives detailed accounts of the songwriting processes, the record-breaking tours, the hedonistic parties and the band's alleged plagiarism from established blues artists and influences.

While past Led Zeppelin biographies have shed some light and fanned the flames of the band's fiery mythology, "Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin" goes a whole lot deeper. With more details and visuals, it attempts to debunk the fables to mine the truth.

However, there are passages about what happened at some of those hotel parties that will have the casual fans reading in disbelief.

Now, like most rock 'n' roll biographies, "Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin" is graphic. The sex and drugs are documented in a way that tries to come across as cautionary tales, but there is still has a bit of glorification in the prose.

The language is frank and blunt, but there aren't any graphic photos.

Some readers will come away with a deeper respect for the band. Others may find the book a bit disturbing. But all who read will understand the power the band had over the music scene in the '70s.

When I told Luke I had this book, he asked me if I had one about Pink Floyd.

"I'm going to the Australian Pink Floyd show next month," he said. "I like Pink Floyd, too."

There is hope for the younger generation!


E-mail: scott@desnews.com