I‘m advised that Robert Plant was the lead singer in a band called Led Zeppelin but you know, I’d never even fucking heard of them. And what a silly name for a band! So I’ll fake my way through their history.
Wikipedia: Robert Anthony Plant was born on 20 August 1948, in the Black Country town of West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England, Plant gained an interest in singing and rock and roll music at an early age. In an interview, Plant stated his desire, as a ten-year-old, to be like Elvis Presley:
“When I was a kid I used to hide behind the curtains at home at Christmas and I used to try and be Elvis. There was a certain ambiance between the curtains and the French windows, there was a certain sound there for a ten-year-old. That was all the ambiance I got at ten years old … And I always wanted to be … a bit similar to that.”
Plant (along with his friend drummer John Bonham) was performing in bands in the English Midlands. One day ex-Yardbirds, ex-session guitarist Jimmy Page showed up to hear him sing. He’d initially wanted singer Terry Reid. Reid passed and recommended Plant. Page, impressed by Plant’s vocal prowess, convinced Plant (and eventually Bonham) to join him in his band, The New Yardbirds.
The Yardbirds became Led Zeppelin then yadda, yadda, yadda and by 1980 – with Bonham’s untimely death -it was all over. So now what? Plant could spend the rest of his life endlessly re-mastering and re-releasing the Zep catalog but that eventually became just about Page’s entire post-Zep career. And bassist John Paul Jones did some solo stuff, some session work, and the like but mostly stayed in the background where I think he likes it.
So it was left to the Plant-meister to become the Paul McCartney of Led Balloon. I don’t mean that necessarily in terms of the same level of songwriting but in terms of having a successful solo career.
His debut album, Pictures at Eleven, was released in 1982 and made it to number 5 on the US charts. It was just nice to hear something Zeppy again.
This song is called “Like I’ve Never Been Gone” with the late Cozy Powell on drums. Phil Collins plays drums on this album as well. Collins would play with Zep at Live Aid. To this day, Jimmy Page blames Collins for his own sloppy, unrehearsed dismal performance. I like Pagey but he doesn’t seem to be a very self-reflective guy.
Little Robert Anthony is nothing if not eclectic. Atlantic Records honcho Ahmet Ertegun wanted to record an album of his favorite 50’s songs. Plant was all over that because that is the shit he grew up on. So a band was pulled together and they made an album called The Honeydrippers: Volume One. (We await Volume Two.)
The album not only reunited Plant with Jimmy Page but also included Jeff Beck, Nile Rogers, and David Letterman’s keyboardist, Paul Shaffer. I love this tune “Rockin’ at Midnight.” which, as it happens, neither Plant nor Page plays on.
“Big Log” – another pot song per El Roberto – comes from his 1983 album The Principle of Moments. You can still hear this one all over the radio. Phil Collins on drums here. (Side note -Barriemore Barlow, Jethro Tull’s drummer – is on this album. Zep and Tull toured together quite a bit back in the day.)
“Oh man,” you are by now certainly whining, “why can’t I hear Page and Plant back together again?” From 1988’s Now and Zen, the singularly un-Zep-like “Tall Cool One.”
Going back to the ZoSo album, recall that Plant sang “Battle of Evermore” with the late Sandy Denny (a star in her own right but also as it happens an old mate of Jimmy Page’s.)
Cut forward to 2007 and the equally unlikely pairing of Plant and bluegrass queen Alison Krauss. (She is the most awarded singer and the most awarded female artist in Grammy history.) Their album Raising Sand won Album of the Year at the 2008 Americana Music Honors & Awards and at the 2009 Grammy Awards.
The songs, all covers, were “handpicked by producer T Bone Burnett.” Here’s the Everly Brothers’ “Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On).” It’s the harmonies folks:
Last but not least, Plant released an album in 1990 called Manic Nirvana. No big A-list names on this one but here’s a good tune called “Hurting Kind (I’ve Got My Eyes On You.” (From Italian TV with a bunch of ladies dancing in the background.)
In 2008, Rolling Stone editors ranked Robert Plant number 15 on their list of the 100 best singers of all time. Then In 2011, Rolling Stone readers ranked Plant the greatest of all lead singers. In 2006, Hit Parader magazine named Plant the “Greatest Metal Vocalist of All Time. In 2009, Plant was voted “the greatest voice in rock” in a poll conducted by Planet Rock.