Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reason to believe in a Led Zeppelin reunion has faded

The rumor of a Led Zeppelin reunion supposedly in the works, sparked by something Robert Plant said to a reporter on Monday, is worth considering -- if only to keep people from wishing, hoping, believing, and being disappointed.

Briefly, for a few months one year ago, there was a reason to believe in a Led Zeppelin reunion. That reason has long since faded.

Last year, Plant was the only one with a steady gig. When Jimmy Page was asked on Jan. 29, 2008, what the chances would be of a Led Zeppelin tour later in the year, he blamed the fact that Plant was unavailable. All we know of what Page said during that day's Tokyo press conference is this: "Robert Plant also had a parallel project running and he's really busy with that project, certainly until September, so I can't give you any news."

Page himself was a bit busy at the time. He was in Tokyo making the rounds to help promote the release of Led Zeppelin's latest best-of repackaging, Mothership. Just days before, he had met for the first time with The Edge and Jack White, as filmed for the movie "It Might Get Loud."

He plays a piece in that movie, originally called "Domino" and now recast as "Embryo No. 2," a leftover from his 1999 rehearsals with drummer Michael Lee for an album they hoped to release with Robert Plant on vocals.

So, when Page spoke with David Cavanagh for Uncut magazine on March 10, 2008, the topic of his unreleased music was on the tip of Page's tongue. "I had some new material written for another album," he said. "I had about a dozen numbers, and some of them were really good, but Robert heard them and he wanted to go in another direction. He wanted to do another solo album. Fair enough."

As Page says, another album never happened back then. Walking into Clarksdale in 1998 was their last together, and Plant went on to release the solo albums Dreamland and Mighty ReArranger, followed by Raising Sand with Alison Krauss.

It's obvious from Page's comments early last year that he was still hoping for Plant to come around, nine years after they parted ways at the beginning of 1999. But he finally had reason to believe again in a productive working relationship with Plant.

They'd just played a single show together, as Led Zeppelin, and spent months and months planning it and rehearsing it beforehand. Page discussed with Uncut the commitment that was involved in making that concert the worldwide success it was, and the same commitment it would take to carry Led Zeppelin forward:
"Everybody had such a great commitment to it. Now, if you're talking about a tour -- other dates, maybe recording together -- there's only one thing that's going to be the common denominator with that. And that's commitment. That's how we did the O2."
What a difference a year makes! When the calendar flipped to 2008, and the world was abuzz with cries for Led Zeppelin to reunite, Plant could not commit to the project.

Page also spoke during his interview on March 10, 2008, about any number of projects he had cooking. He wasn't forthcoming on the specifics, but "It Might Get Loud" was one; he'd be named an associate producer of the film. As the year proceeded, it became evident that Page had been in rehearsals with John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham.

But Page said in September of last year there needed to be four members. Evidently, there weren't.

As of this writing, a year and a month later, little has been disclosed about the nature of those rehearsals Page had with Jones and Bonham. All we know are that there were multiple candidates for singers who wanted to front their band, that the members never would have called their band Led Zeppelin if Robert Plant was not involved, that they were playing "loud music," and that rehearsals "fell by the wayside" after they "couldn't really agree on singers."

And if the anonymous tipster to England's The Sun tabloid is to be believed, there's this statement, which was printed in September of last year:
"Jimmy, Jason and John are determined a tour will go ahead next year. They've been rehearsing frequently in London and the band is really gelling. There's an American guy who has been standing in for Robert regularly and doing a great job. Obviously they want the original frontman to join them on the road but he still won't commit. They will be finalising plans for shows over the next couple of months and will tell Robert that if he doesn't want to be involved they will go ahead without him."
The Sun reported that Plant was receiving "an ultimatum by his bandmates - join us on tour or we'll replace you." Them's fighting words!

By the time Page's manager, Peter Mensch, publicly said singer auditions failed, it was old news to him. Mensch told MusicRadar on Jan. 7, 2009:
"They tried out a few singers, but no one worked out. That was it. The whole thing is completely over now. There are absolutely no plans for them to continue. Zero. Frankly, I wish everybody would stop talking about it."
Also by that time, other opportunities had opened themselves up to John Paul Jones, and he beckoned their calls. Jones spent part of this February producing the debut solo album by former Nickel Creek singer Sara Watkins. Once it was out, he joined her on a late-night TV slot and, eventually, a festival appearance. When the recently departed Merce Cunningham marked his 90th birthday with a ballet series in his honor, Jones teamed up with Takehisa Kosugi and the members of Sonic Youth to make some experimental music on the fly.

These commitments kept Jones busy in the opening months of this year, but all the while, he was keeping a huge secret from everybody: During his time away from the public eye, he was hiding away, intensely preparing a complete album of all new material with Josh Homme and Dave Grohl. Now, they have a single out this week, their resulting album is due in less than a month, and they'll be on tour straight on through January, hitting England, mainland Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Other dates are also expected.

Now, there is the rumor of a Led Zeppelin reunion taking place in June 2010 at the Glastonbury Festival in England -- all because Plant said he'd been talking to Michael Eavis about booking him in some shape or form but not being any more specific than that. Somehow, this makes many folks jump to the conclusion: He's finally getting Led Zeppelin back together! Celebrate!

I said it the other day, and I'll say it again: There just isn't any chance Plant would be volunteering eight months' advance notice of a Led Zeppelin gig. In my opinion, this isn't a Led Zeppelin gig. It just can't be. It has to be something else. Someday, what it is will be revealed. For right now, it's nothing more than Plant's cheap attempt to draw some attention to himself at a time when the only gigs he's playing are the ones he decides with no notice. (Last night in England, he played an impromptu set at a charity benefit, shortly following an unforeseen weekend of activity with Buddy Miller in California.)

Earlier this month, Jones commented on the longevity of his current group, Them Crooked Vultures. He told KUT 90.5 in Austin, Texas:
"Yeah, I think it's going to go for a while. Honestly, you know, their respective bands will call them back eventually, but I think we're going to get a good run of it before anything like that happens."
Notice he said "their bands" and not "our bands." Jones didn't even allow for the possibility that Led Zeppelin would be calling him back. No splinter group either. There you have it: It wasn't on the back of his mind.

Wish for a Led Zeppelin reunion tour eventually? Hope for this Led Zeppelin gig next summer? Puh-leeeease.

If you have read this far and still believe in an imminent Led Zeppelin reunion, then please tell me what you know and I don't, or give me a hit of whatever that stuff is you're smoking.


  1. My bet for Glastonbury: either some sort of collaboration with Buddy Miller, which I worry will not go over well in England, or he will put together his usual Billy Fuller et al African nose flute playing ensemble that he tends to use for one-offs and charity gigs. Around Christams 2008, Robert boasted on a Wales radio show that he could not work with Zep because he was "dug in" with Alison Krauss. I know for a fact Alison Krauss is "dug in" with Dan Tyminski and Jerry Douglas.

  2. When I heard this on the radio, my heart skipped a beat or two. Had to wait several hours to get a reliable source (i.e. you).I'm surprised you used the term "cheap" to qualify Plant's attempt, although I agree 100%. On a whole different note, I wonder after listening to it a few times why Stairway in the London gig was sung a full tone lower, couln't he have just hit a do (a D)at the end like he did in tsrts version? Hitting a D doesn't seem to be a problem for him, he even did it twice the same night in Kashmir. I don't have perfect pitch so I could be wrong. Thanks again for the article, it was a pleasure to read.

  3. I'd like to ask Mr. Lemon, have you watched the BBC 6 Music News clip before you stated what Plant said as "a cheap attempt"?

    He was ASKED by the journalist if he would play at Glastonbury, "any chance about that? " to which he answered "yeah there's a chance".

  4. maybe he's finally retired and is only doing charity gigs - besides who cares?

  5. I’ve been waiting my entire adult life for it. Traveling around to see Robert, Jimmy, John Paul, and even Jason anytime they came with in 250 miles and sometimes more. I’m tired of waiting. It will never happen as a tour, maybe some single shows here or there but never a tour. If it does they will be too old. It sucks. I respect Robert and his consistent stance on Zep reunions but....To all of us early 40 something’s and younger who never got a chance to see them tour under the Zeppelin name is one year of a world tour really to much to ask? Is it that much of pain for them to do 100 or so shows? Make millions and millions or dollars? Make 100s of thousands of fans happy? I certainly think in some respect to the fans that have spent their hard earned $$$ on the tours, the shirts, the albums, the cassettes, the CDs, the itunes, and all the repackaged same tunes could reasonably expect 1 tour before it too late. I mean really, doesn’t Robert in around about way owe just about everything to Jimmy Page? No disrespect to Mr. Plant he is my favorite singer, God knows I’ve been to enough Robert Plant shows. Just a crazy random thought by a frustrated Zep fan.

  6. One year with 100 shows? Are you sane?

    And the "Robert Plant owes Jimmy Page everything" is getting old. Robert Plant had his success because he was/is talented. Or do you think Jimmy Page owes everything to Keith Relf/Jim McCartey/Chris Dreja, too?

  7. Anonymous - Yep, the 100 shows is too much at their age. I was typing during my lunch break and on the fly. But how about a world tour with breaks built in just like all of the classic rockers do now...take as much time as the need between shows etc. Now as for the rest...Yes, Robert is mega talented and may or MAY NOT have made it on his own. Very little "success" before LZ. Do you seriously think he would have the impact or be the rock god/royalty he is today with out being in LZ. NO WAY- NO HOW!! With that said it is a 2 way street. Roberts’s voice took LZ to places it wouldn’t probably have gone with any other singer. There are 1000s of talented musicians out there that never see outside the local Pub, Bar, or Club because they were not in the right place at the right time. Jimmy put LZ together, it was his baby. He offered Robert the gig unless everything I have ever seen or read is wrong. So maybe my comments about owing everything is a little over the top…but he certainly has some debt.. I’m not sure what that is but I don’t see how you can think other wise. As far as Jimmy owing the Yardbirds…..Yep he does a little I’m sure, it lead directly to LZ but it’s certainly not the same. Page and JPJ were successful before LZ so….I think you can agree JP would have been successful without the Yardbirds

    BTW, no disrespect to RP…he is the man.

  8. Oh so it's still clear that JP owes everything to the man who offered him his first gig.

  9. If Jimmy hadn't been in Yardbirds, then he probably would not have Led Zeppelin as well, he would still have become a successful musician, because he is talented, but he would not have the guitar god status he is enjoying now.

    If Robert was not in Led Zeppelin, he would still have become a successful musician, because he is talented, but he would not have had the impact he has now.

    See the similarity?

  10. I just read about Jimmy Page's first gig in "The First Time We Met the Blues: A Journey of Discovery with Jimmy Page, Brian Jones, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards" by David Williams. (Jimmy wrote the foreword.)

    Sadine: No. Would seeing it change my mind?

  11. How am I supposed to know? Maybe it will, maybe it will not, it's not up to me :p.

    Anyway as i've stated above, he simply answered a question he was asked. It's not like he was talking about it enthusiastically and had enough time to think "oh now I'll give the fans something to think about, hmmmm, maybe a Zeppelin reunion will be exciting enough so that they will pay more attention to me now".

  12. I agree with Steve on this one, the way Plant handled the BBC interview revealed his need for attention and I think it was a bit cheap. However, after glancing through several message boards all I see is apathy and disbelief. Robert needs to develop another strategy to keep his name in headlines.


    Read through this and anyone thinks what Jonesy said was a "cheap attempt to gain attention" too?

  14. Anonymous....Come on, really? It not remotely close to clear

  15. PS: the special guests to get on stage with U2/Jeff Beck/Metallica tomorrow are Ray Davies, Lou Reed and Ozzy : D.

  16. In April, when JPJ made that comment, he was sworn to secrecy and couldn't comment further on the couple of guys he was making loud music with. Note that I had several guesses -- none of them right: "Is Jones teaming up with the Slash-Osbourne-Wood-Bonham supergroup? And if he is, will Page join him too? Could the 'couple of other people' Jones mentioned be Page and Bonham? Furthermore, have they finally persuaded Robert Plant to do a 360 and participate in a Led Zeppelin reunion tour despite his most recent and insistent refusal last September?"

    Sure, Plant could have an ace up his sleeve now too.

    Good point though, there's a difference between the way JPJ said it in April and the way Robert said this earlier this week. It's an intangible. I prefer the way JPJ said what he said in April compared to what Robert said this week.

  17. Hey Steve,
    Looks like you've finally hit a hot button on this site.

    I think 'A cheap attempt" is a perfectly appropriate term you used in describing the situation.


  18. Sure, there's a difference between the way how JPJ said it and how Plant said it.

    JPJ was being properly interviewed, they talked length and he had much more time than Robert Plant last week to think about what he should say and should not say, and he told you something, and then "oh I can't tell you more", while he probably knew very well it could lead to a lot of speculations(as you've mentioned it too). Are you seriously thinking this is not "attention seeking"? And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, the musicians go out and play music, they NEED the attention.

    Robert Plant was at a music Award and asked by a BBC journalist for several questions. She brought Glastonbury up and asked "any chance about that", which he answered casually "yeah there is a chance", and he doesn't know what will happen in about 8 months. He didn't volunteer the information.

    Anyway, if you are determined to think he has rehearsed in front of a mirror for quite a few times and was eagerly waiting for this question so that he could make his "cheap attempt", I guess I cannot persuade you to believe him, and I give up. And you don't need to watch the BBC clip.

    BTW: if you asked me to email you privately because you don't want me to comment here (because I'm abit confused about your intention), feel free to delete this. I'm happy at least with you, we can have a civilised conversation.

  19. Steve, mea culpa maxima. I shouldn't have brought up the adjective you used to qualify Plant's attempt. It obviously vexed Sadine, who seems to be quarrelsome and on a crusade to keep Robert Plant's integrity or moral greatness intact. No doubt in my mind Plant is the greatest vocalist and performer, with charisma and the rest, but this doesn't blind me to his shortcomings. I meant to say C (for do)in my earlier post. And Steve, please stop blaspheming almighty Plant, will ya?

  20. Oh my have I grown weary through the years as Plant has ducked, dodged, belittled and kissed butt to push his career forward at all the right times. No doubt we are in one of those cycles as he is a bit stand-still right now. 2007 at the O2 closed the book for me. The chemistry these guys create together is untouchable, without definition and part of my life cycle. Rumor on...story on, riddle on...


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