Thursday, March 13, 2003

Plant says Zep won't reunite: 'When Bonzo left, so did I'

These comments regarding the possibility, or impossibility, of a Led Zeppelin reunion in 2003 appear exactly as they were delivered, with the historical perspective, in an edition of the newsletter "On This Day In Led Zeppelin History" published March 13, 2003.

On this day in 1991 -- while it's been said that no news is good news, it was not so for those who were hoping that their wildest dreams of a Led Zeppelin reunion would come true any time soon.

The three former members of the rock band were mostly out of the public eye at the time, following a disturbing threat to the likelihood of any future reunion.

In 1990, Atlantic Records released two successful Led Zeppelin box sets, and the press reported as much as $170 million offered for a single reunion tour of North America. In the wake of these facts, the former bandmates picked up on the idea that people wanted -- or even expected -- a reunion.

As a result, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones met in January 1991 with their former manager, Peter Grant, to discuss and plan a tour, reunited as Led Zeppelin.

"It wouldn't be a bad thing to do. I'm not at all opposed to it," Jones was heard to comment. "I don't think I'd want to tour forever, but it's certainly good fun when you're out onstage together."

When asked to speak for Page, Jones responded, "I think Jimmy feels the same as I do about it."

The ever-indecisive Plant was much less in favor of a reunion, arguing that Led Zeppelin could never be the same. "Could we play 'Black Dog' for a further 10 years? I don't think so," he said.

Plant was reluctant but did briefly agree to a comeback reunion tour. However, he was said to change his mind once again within an hour of agreeing. Plant said he would not do it, and so Grant canceled all the plans he'd quickly laid down with stadiums and lighting and sound companies.

"I think it's pretty safe to assume that if it didn't happen then, it's pretty dim any chance of it happening in the future," reacted Page.

Page relayed to the press that Plant's stated reason was "that he thought it would harm his solo career." Page shrugged his shoulders and sighed. "That's what he said, which is rather peculiar, but that's his reason."

On the heels of a Zeppelin-heavy 1990 Manic Nirvana concert tour, Plant ended up taking most of 1991 and 1992 off. One would think that such a move could equally, if not more easily, hurt Plant's solo career.

Jones was asked to comment whether he thought a Led Zeppelin reunion would hinder Plant's ongoing solo career. Jones said, "I definitely don't think he's got anything to lose. I think it would be quite possible to do the two things -- continue his solo career and do a reunion tour. So you never know. It could be a possibility, but the chances are a bit slim."

The former members of Led Zeppelin had tried to reunite in January 1986, exactly five years before the January 1991 reunion that nearly came to be. Page and Jones discussed reuniting Led Zeppelin again in late 1993, but that reunion somehow ended up not including Jones. Whereas Jones had always been willing to take part in a Led Zeppelin reunion, he eloquently told Lemon Squeezings on Dec. 10, 2001, "The time has passed."

Did he feel the same way a year later when talks of a Led Zeppelin reunion were rumored to have occurred yet again?

Page, Plant and Jones were seen together at a London studio in October 2002 to work together on the Led Zeppelin DVD project, but proceeding on the DVD was all that was decided on, according to John Paul Jones. "I think that sightings of us meeting for this project have given rise to many rumours of reunions etc., but rumours they are," he wrote at his Web site.

Page has not publicly addressed this line of questioning, but Plant is faced with the question almost daily when he's doing publicity for his continuing solo career. This past weekend, he phoned into a British radio program to talk about football, but the presenters thought to ask him about a Led Zeppelin reunion instead.

"It's just not appropriate," he responded. "It's just not appropriate for me, anyway. Of course, the memories are great, the music is great, and the last 10 years or so with Jimmy have been great, but whatever showbiz you dress it up in, we don't have a drummer." Plant said that he and John Bonham had been playing in various bands since they were teen-agers. Plant finished, "When Bonzo left, so did I."

Thanks to Jools and to Billy's Zep Phreaks Club for Plant's quote from this weekend.

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