Sunday, December 28, 2008

Robert Plant denies rift with Jimmy Page

"I still see Jimmy [Page] quite a lot and he's very complimentary and supportive of what I'm doing," Robert Plant now says. "But we are in different places now and you have to go on to do different things." This new remark comes from an interview broadcast live on BBC Radio Wales on Dec. 21.

The singer had recently commented he would start out the new year with some recording sessions with Alison Krauss, intending to make their second album together.

Which means no Led Zeppelin reunion! No big surprise; he told fans three months ago not to expect him doing anything with Led Zeppelin. And all the while, the band could never have existed without him.

So, Plant says there's no feud between him and Jimmy Page. Which is good news considering the year Page has had.

It's pretty evident that Page would have liked for a Led Zeppelin reunion to have taken place by now. The world was still reeling at the beginning of 2008 from the universally heralded one-off Led Zeppelin concert of December 2007, it seemed further shows would be in the cards.

Back in January, even Jimmy Page was giving an impression that the band might be nine months from its first tour in 28 years. Speaking with reporters in Japan, Page spoke of a "parallel project" of Plant's from which he would be freed after the summer.

Never mind the discouraging news report in March of Plant allegedly having turned down a lucrative offer to take part in a Led Zeppelin reunion tour. The press didn't know what they were talking about: One minute it was that, and the next minute the tour was magically going to occur -- with Whitesnake as the opening act.

Undaunted, the rest of Led Zeppelin's would-be members spent part of the year tightening up their act:
  • John Paul Jones and Page jammed with half of the Foo Fighters at a show in London, letting Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins take turns on drums and lead vocals while they ran through "Ramble On" and "Rock and Roll."
  • Jason Bonham quit his dayjob to take part in whatever was going to happen.
  • Page, Jones and Bonham rehearsed -- secretly at first, but then disclosing that they were jamming on new material and that they wanted to get an album out once they had the right singer. This revelation seemed to offer Plant assurance that the band would welcome brandishing new Zeppelin material.
But Page insisted Zeppelin would not exist without Plant: "If you're going to do a reunion, you need four members." So all they needed was their singer. An early report that the trio was rehearsing with an unnamed singer was worded to create the illusion that the singer was intended as a mere stand-in for Plant should he choose to rejoin them. They were rehearsing with him in mind but would tour without him if he said no.

And then came the further leaks that named Myles Kennedy and Steven Tyler. Putting names to the rumors added authenticity to them. Long before this week's offer from David Coverdale to sing for their band, some reporters were mentioning Jack White and Chris Cornell. Perhaps the theory was that the more in-demand the singing position in Led Zeppelin was perceived, the more Robert Plant would want it.

But through all this, Plant's concert itinerary with Alison Krauss -- that so-called "parallel project" that loomed from the get-go -- kept piling on through the late summer and deep into September and early October. While it's possible Plant had already made up his mind, he was never quite firm in his public interviews whenever asked about an eventual Led Zeppelin reunion. Everything sounded like we should wait and see.

That was the understanding until toward the end of all the touring, when Plant issued his parting thoughts on the matter: No, he wasn't going to do it. But good luck and best wishes.

That brings us to Plant's comments this week to interviewer Ruth Jones on BBC Radio Wales:
"I'm doing very well with Alison and I'm enjoying that.

"I still see Jimmy quite a lot and he's very complimentary and supportive of what I'm doing.

"But we are in different places now and you have to go on to do different things."
Plant has just spent all year touring and singing concerts, but he swore off all touring for another two years in September when he also put down his foot on Zeppelin activity. Asked about the chances of another Led Zeppelin tour, Plant suddenly alluded to the frailty of his mortal frame at age 60:
"Do you know how long it took me to climb up onto the stage here? And it's only four steps!"
Oh, please! That schtick again? That's so summer of 2007.

No feud between Page and Plant? If I were Jimmy Page, and if I had spent all of 2008 forecasting a Led Zeppelin reunion by year's end, I might be a little angry right about now.

Hopefully, this doesn't mean Page, Jones and Bonham will change their mind about going on the road without Plant and without the Led Zeppelin name. But I guess we will see.

I said back in March, after Plant's alleged rejection of a £100 million offer to reunite with Led Zeppelin, that I hoped Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham "would be able to move on and continue their own careers in a dignified manner if this tour thing doesn't come to fruition." And I also hoped "that they could carry on in whatever capacities makes them happy." I meant it, and I still hope that's what happens.

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