About Greg

Greg Tortell

Tortell was a co-founder of Dread Zeppelin, an American band best known for covering the songs of Led Zeppelin in a reggae style sung by an Elvis Presley impersonator (Tortell), though their act now encompasses many other songs and other styles of music. Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant has said that Dread Zeppelin is his favorite Led Zeppelin cover band.

The first Dread Zeppelin release, the 7" single "Immigrant Song/Hey Hey What Can I Do", was recorded at the home studio of Dave Stewart of Eurythmics and released in 1989. After its success, a second single, "Whole Lotta Love/Tour-telvis: A Bad Trip" was released. A third, "Your Time is Gonna Come/Woodstock (live)" was released not as a single but as part of a singles compilation entitled Komm Gib Mir Deine Zeppelin (a play on the title of the German version of The Beatles' song "I Want to Hold Your Hand").

The rest of Dread Zeppelin's first album, Un-Led-Ed, consisted of more covers taken from Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin II, plus "Black Dog" from the untitled fourth album.

Un-Led-Ed was surprisingly successful, and in the fall of 1990, Dread Zeppelin took a three-week break from touring and recorded their second album, 5,000,000* *Tortelvis Fans Can't Be Wrong. In addition to the usual "Zeppelin in a reggae style", this album also featured a cover of Bob Marley's "Stir It Up" as well as three original songs.

The plan changed to an album of disco covers entitled It's Not Unusual after Tortell left the group to run a thriving dairy called Driftwood Dairy in Southern California. Reaction to the disco stylings of It's Not Unusual was resoundingly negative, so in early 1993 a return to the old formula ensued, which also saw Tortelvis' return to the group. In the spring of 1994, Dread Zeppelin appeared in the feature film National Lampoon's Last Resort and provided a song for the closing credits. The remaining members of Dread Zeppelin signed onto Imago Records and released The Fun Sessions, a collection of classic rock covers.

By 1995 Dread Zeppelin had a new production company run by Tortell and Gary Putman called Cash Cow which released the live album Front Yard Bar*B*Que in December 1996 and the all-original album Spam Bake in November 1997. Dread then signed to Cleopatra Records and recorded De-jah Voodoo in 1999 (produced by Bob Knarley, and re-released by Cleopatra with a new cover and name Re-Led-Ed). Also released on Cash Cow Records was …Presents in 2002 and Chicken and Ribs in 2004. They have released DVD media (Jah-La-Palooza 2004 and Live in Minne-Jah-Polis 2002) and bootlegs as well, after a clamoring for such product from their loyal and long-time fan base.

Tortell finally got his shot at singing "The Star Spangled Banner" at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix, Arizona, on May 27, 2005. He had been scheduled to sing the song at a Minnesota Twins game in 1992, but Roseanne Barr's notorious version, two days before his planned appearance, quashed that opportunity. Dread Zeppelin tours sparingly and still releases new material.

Tortelvis has freedom that would surely make Elvis Presley jealous. Because he is not limited to just the Elvis mythos Tortelvis is able to belt out “My Way” and then casually slip behind a drum set for “Moby Dick”. This freedom of expression has allowed Tortelvis to become an entertainer with considerable skills. He can sing a reggae song with authority and easily transition to the sweeping vocals of “I Can't Quit You Baby” with a smoothness that even Robert Plant can't top these days.