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Led Zeppelin classic 'too racy' for Olympics

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Led Zeppelin classic 'too racy' for Olympics

It has been delighting fans for almost 40 years but Led Zeppelin's rock classic "Whole Lotta Love" has been deemed too racy by Olympics organisers.

By David Bond in Beijing and John Bingham


After choosing the song for the closing ceremony on Sunday they decided that some of the lyrics would have to be omitted or re-written amid concerns that they could cause offence.

The song was chosen as the centrepiece of an eight-minute ?2.5million British segment at the event in Beijing at which the Olympic flag will be officially passed to the London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Organisers of the London 2012 Games commissioned the band's guitarist Jimmy Page to record a new version of the song to be performed on top of a special red double-decker bus accompanied by Leona Lewis, winner of the ITV reality television show The X Factor, with David Beckham looking on.

But, according to London 2012 officials, Lewis - who grew up in east London close to the Olympic site - requested a change to the song's second verse because she was worried they would not make sense for a female singer.

In the original, recorded in 1969, frontman Robert Plant sings, "I'm gonna give you every inch of my love".

But in the version that will be sung tomorrow, however, Lewis changes the words to "every bit" of my love.

The band also agreed to a request from organisers to drop the third verse, which includes similar sexual innuendoes, to fit in to the eight-minute performance.

With an estimated two billion around the world expected to tune in for the closing ceremony, the British segment will throw the spotlight firmly on preparations for the London Games in four years time.

Celebrations are being planned at 30 sites across Britain to celebrate the handover.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to gather in the Mall as the skies above Buckingham Palace are turned the colours of the Union Flag by the Red Arrows display team.

The events, seven time-zones apart, will focus the eyes of the world on Britain's Olympic efforts at the end of the most success Games for 100 years. Last night the British gold medal tally stood at 18 with hopes for more success today.

In contrast to the Beijing organisers, who have been accused of creating a Games lacking in fun and Olympic spirit, London's creative team say they want the show to reflect Britain's deep cultural heritage and party spirit.

As the Beijing mayor Guo Jinlong passes the flag to Boris Johnson, the Greenwich pips will herald the start of the London section of the show followed quickly by a rendition of the national anthem - including, unusually, its second verse, performed by 25 children from the National Youth Theatre.

A London bus will then be driven into the arena, chased by Britain's Olympic gold medal winning cyclists Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton.

Shanaze Reade, the BMX cyclist who was set to win a silver medal in yesterday's competition before a spectacular fall, will have a scan on a wrist injury before deciding whether she can take part.

The top section of the vehicle will open up like a "lotus flower" to reveal a stage from which elevated platforms will lift Lewis and Page. A further platform will rise up to reveal former England captain Beckham, flanked by a violinist and a cellist dressed in Britain's official Olympic kit.

Beckham, who featured in England's disappointing 2-2 draw against the Czech Republic at Wembley on Wednesday night, will then kick a football into a crowd of athletes in the centre of the arena.

Tayyiba Dudhwala, a 10-year-old girl from east London, will appear alongside Beckham after winning a competition on the children's programme Blue Peter.

London officials explained they chose the Led Zeppelin number for its instantly recognisable guitar riff and because it would sum up London's desire to turn the 2012 Olympics into 'one big party'.

Dancers from the Royal Opera House, a hip hop dance troupe from South London called ZooNation and CandoCo, a group made up of able bodied and disabled dancers, have spent the last two weeks with other performers preparing for the show at an airfield an hour and a half outside Beijing.

Bill Morris, London 2012 director of culture, ceremonies and education, said: "This is not a distilled version of our opening ceremony four years from now.

"We wanted to keep it simple, make it youthful and diverse. It's entertaining and fun and it's UK and London, loud and proud."

? Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2008

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Wonder if they dropped the line "I wanna be your back door man," too?

(Rock fans know this is actually a reference to a 1950s Howlin' Wolf R&B classic, referring to a guy cheating with a married woman, but I came to a completely different conclusion in the 1970s, when the song was first out.)

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