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SolitudeIsBliss

What happened to Plant's voice in 1972 ?

33 posts in this topic

I am curious to know what happened to his voice between March 1972 and May 1972/the HOTH sessions. To me it seems like he lost his iconic raspiness that you hear so clearly when they do Hello Mary Lou in Sidney 1972, then when you listen to HTWWW his voice is a lot more clear.

Does anyone know what happened ?

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the way he used to sing is super harsh. plus he smoked. he put his vocal chords through a lot of abuse.

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The real question is WTF happened to his voice between June 72 and Oct 72

He goes from the soaring highs heard in Australia and the U.S. Tour to barely squeaking out the notes in Japan 72. Then his voice gets mangled by the flu on the British Tour, and then they toured until July 73 further damaging his vocal chords to the point he needed vocal chord surgery in late 73 after which his voice was never the same.

He prob had surgery to remove folds and or nodes on his vocal chords.

Why he has never been asked about this in depth by an interviewer I will never know

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The real question is WTF happened to his voice between June 72 and Oct 72

He goes from the soaring highs heard in Australia and the U.S. Tour to barely squeaking out the notes in Japan 72. Then his voice gets mangled by the flu on the British Tour, and then they toured until July 73 further damaging his vocal chords to the point he needed vocal chord surgery in late 73 after which his voice was never the same.

He prob had surgery to remove folds and or nodes on his vocal chords.

Why he has never been asked about this in depth by an interviewer I will never know

+ 1,000,000

Okay...now this thread makes sense. I don't get the ineptness of a lot of interviewers, either bluecongo, and their utter lack of curiosity beyond the usual groupies/drugs/reunion rehash. Even Brad Tolinski frequently disappoints me with his pedestrian approach.

I have a notebook filled with questions I have written down that I would ask Robert, Jones, and/or Jimmy if I ever had the chance to interview them. Not that it'll ever happen...but it's a fantasy I allow myself now and then.

Edited by Strider

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+ 1,000,000

Okay...now this thread makes sense. I don't get the ineptness of a lot of interviewers, either bluecongo, and their utter lack of curiosity beyond the usual groupies/drugs/reunion rehash. Even Brad Tolinski frequently disappoints me with his pedestrian approach.

I have a notebook filled with questions I have written down that I would ask Robert, Jones, and/or Jimmy if I ever had the chance to interview them. Not that it'll ever happen...but it's a fantasy I allow myself now and then.

I'll see yer +1,000,000 and raise ya another +1,000,000

"What happened to yer voice in '72, Robert?" would be chief among the questions I'd ask. Mind ya, I'd be inclined to ask Jimmy something like, "Did you really not even 'touch a guitar' in the month long postponement of the 1977 tour, and if you didn't, do you really think it was a good idea?" I don't care about groupies/drugs/occult/reunions either (I know about all that shit :lol: )- I'm talking about critical factors that affected the band's live performances.

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Judging by OK City and the first night in Chicago, I'd believe in Jimmy on his claim of not touching a guitar.

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I'll see yer +1,000,000 and raise ya another +1,000,000

"What happened to yer voice in '72, Robert?" would be chief among the questions I'd ask. Mind ya, I'd be inclined to ask Jimmy something like, "Did you really not even 'touch a guitar' in the month long postponement of the 1977 tour, and if you didn't, do you really think it was a good idea?" I don't care about groupies/drugs/occult/reunions either (I know about all that shit :lol: )- I'm talking about critical factors that affected the band's live performances.

IIRC, their gear had already been shipped to the U.S. before they postponed the tour. Still, you would think Page would have had a spare guitar laying about his house.

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Judging by OK City and the first night in Chicago, I'd believe in Jimmy on his claim of not touching a guitar.

On that basis, can you imagine what the first show in Dallas must have been like? Eek!

IIRC, their gear had already been shipped to the U.S. before they postponed the tour. Still, you would think Page would have had a spare guitar laying about his house.

You'd think so, wouldn't ya? Pure unprofessional irresponsibility on Jimmy's part.

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I think I read somewhere that page supposed to have close to 300 Guitars in his collection. Even by 1977, you'd think he'd have a lot of guitars lying around. He only took about 7 guitars on tour that year (his number 1, number 2 and number 3 les pauls, 2 acoustics, his telecaster and his double neck, plus a mandolin which may or may not be Jonesy's)

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^ Don't forget the Danny!

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I think I read somewhere that page supposed to have close to 300 Guitars in his collection. Even by 1977, you'd think he'd have a lot of guitars lying around. He only took about 7 guitars on tour that year (his number 1, number 2 and number 3 les pauls, 2 acoustics, his telecaster and his double neck, plus a mandolin which may or may not be Jonesy's)

Don't forget his Danelectro. Also I know that one of his acoustics was his D-28, but what was the other one?

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Don't forget his Danelectro. Also I know that one of his acoustics was his D-28, but what was the other one?

BW-LedZeppelin01.jpg

Judging by this photo from 1977, I'm guessing it's another D-28. I'll dig out my Jimmy Page book and have another look.

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^^^

I think yer right, Stairway...two D-28s. Different tunings, I'd imagine.

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After thinking a bit more about this I have concluded that he must have gotten early symptoms of laryngitis around august 1971, then he gets some rest between December and February and gets his range back but is still suffering from Laryngitis that gets worse during the HOTH sessions. I mean that must be the cause, usually when he got a break from touring his voice seemed to be in somewhat better shape but when he gets Laryngitis it just gets worse.

According to Wikipedia Laryngitis can also be caused by infection, they were traveling in Japan and Australia so maybe he got it there although I think it's more likely that he got it due to overuse of his vocal cords.

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Plant's vocal problems started earlier - in March 1971. Damage from his new singing style, courtesy of the songs on the 4th album. I really don't think lack of warmups, or cigarette use had anything to do with it. He simply strained himself too much with songs that required him to scream out at the top of his vocal range. Notice that during the 1970 Aug/Sept tour, he was nailing his vocals every single night. That was his vocal peak, and laid the foundation for his vocals on the 4th album, recorded a few months later in January 1971.

The very first show of 1971, at Belfast, and Plant was hitting all of the notes in the new songs Stairway, Rock and Roll, and Black Dog. But it only lasted that one night, and the very next night in Dublin he had stopped singing some of those key high notes, because it was too much to keep up. He obviously kept trying though, because over the 3 weeks of shows on that Clubs tour he ended up losing his voice, which he mentions on the BBC sessions performance from April 1971, at the end of that tour. He kept singing through 1971, and after the short periods of time off, he had some great moments at Copenhagen, Montreux, and the first LA Forum show, but he never regained the ability to hit those really really high notes, even at those shows where he had rest. Most shows in 1971 had some kind of voice crack that wasn't there before - something that never happened in September 1970, which had just as rigorous of a touring schedule.

From there, starting in August/September 1971, it was a gradual loss, over many months. But the beginning of the end definitely started with that clubs tour. Into 1972, Plant's voice had even more ups and downs, and imo his last "true" voice was the June 14 show at Uniondale. His singing during the cover of "Weekend" in the encore is kind of the swan song to his original voice - and Plant nails every high note. That show was the last time they ever covered that song. For the rest of the 1972 summer tour, Plant started using that falsetto voice to mimic the highs for his singing, which you can hear all over HTWWW.

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Plant's vocal problems started earlier - in March 1971. Damage from his new singing style, courtesy of the songs on the 4th album. I really don't think lack of warmups, or cigarette use had anything to do with it. He simply strained himself too much with songs that required him to scream out at the top of his vocal range. Notice that during the 1970 Aug/Sept tour, he was nailing his vocals every single night. That was his vocal peak, and laid the foundation for his vocals on the 4th album, recorded a few months later in January 1971.

The very first show of 1971, at Belfast, and Plant was hitting all of the notes in the new songs Stairway, Rock and Roll, and Black Dog. But it only lasted that one night, and the very next night in Dublin he had stopped singing some of those key high notes, because it was too much to keep up. He obviously kept trying though, because over the 3 weeks of shows on that Clubs tour he ended up losing his voice, which he mentions on the BBC sessions performance from April 1971, at the end of that tour. He kept singing through 1971, and after the short periods of time off, he had some great moments at Copenhagen, Montreux, and the first LA Forum show, but he never regained the ability to hit those really really high notes, even at those shows where he had rest. Most shows in 1971 had some kind of voice crack that wasn't there before - something that never happened in September 1970, which had just as rigorous of a touring schedule.

From there, starting in August/September 1971, it was a gradual loss, over many months. But the beginning of the end definitely started with that clubs tour. Into 1972, Plant's voice had even more ups and downs, and imo his last "true" voice was the June 14 show at Uniondale. His singing during the cover of "Weekend" in the encore is kind of the swan song to his original voice - and Plant nails every high note. That show was the last time they ever covered that song. For the rest of the 1972 summer tour, Plant started using that falsetto voice to mimic the highs for his singing, which you can hear all over HTWWW.

I agree to some degree, IMO his last true voice was the Australian tour, although I see what you mean with the 06/14 show, it really is one of the better shows for Plant on this tour. To see what I mean search for 'Rock and Roll live Australia'' on youtube. When I think of Robert Plant, I think of that clip.

That does make more sense regarding the reason for his vocal problems, I remember listening to a bootleg for the BBC concert in April and hearing him explain why his voice was so hoarse, wasn't it during the acoustic set ?

This was exactly the answer I was looking for, you can't lose your voice like Plant did by smoking cigarettes and doing cocaine, it's impossible.

And sorry for the poor writing structure, English isn't my native language and my sentences can sometimes be hard to read.

Edited by SolitudeIsBliss

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When was the last time Plant actually hit the proper high notes for Over the Hills and Far Away?
i.e. "Many times.." It has to be some time in 1972, but does anybody know the actual
concert?

Because by the time they get to 1973 he adapts to an alternate lower version. And that's
pretty much how it stays for the rest of Zeppelin when it comes to that song.

Still remained a song I enjoyed though. Just curious..

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I think July 5th 1971 should be added to the list of possible dates and culprits in the hunt for the cause of the change in young R's voice. The over zealous Milan Italy police hosed concert goers down with tear gas while the band sheltered in place, and then escape a while later. Also, Robert hitchhiking in the cold English night seems to have really done some damage, making Stoke on Trent Jan 73 a rough listen.

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From what i understand, He had the flu or laryngitis in 72 and had some sort of surgery on his vocal cords. Yeah it was right around october, after they came back from their break after the 3 concerts. San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Long Beach. I dont know when he had the surgery but i know he had it. I think it may have been when they took the break after the 3 concerts. becasue when they came back and did the mini Japan tour, he started losing it. I actually went and listened to each concert after this to try and track when he lost his high pitch. I would listen to OTHAFA and by time christmas 72 his high pitch was gone completely. But even so, he may sqeek here and there but he still sounds great. He may not be able to shred and hit the OTHAFA high pitch but he was still able to sound awesome IMO. If you want to hear for yourself go and listen the shows from 1972.06.19 Seattle WA (First performance of OTHAFA) and on to December and youll see.

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I've been wondering this for a long time myself. 1972 shows Robert's voice in its steepest decline. In the Australian shows, his voice is quite good. It's not quite to the soaring heights of 69-71, but it's still pretty damn powerful. In the American tour that summer, you can tell it's changed somewhat. It sounds "thinner" for lack of a better word, and it also cracks quite a bit more, even in some of his lower range. Some moments that come to mind include the "oh yeah, oh yeah, oh, oh oh" on Black Dog on HTWWW and the first sung note of SIBLY on the same album. At Tuscon, the last show of the tour, the cracks are particularly noticeable on OTHAFA (one very bad one occurs on the "...how much there is to know" lyric). 

On 8/4/2015 at 7:18 AM, bluecongo said:

The real question is WTF happened to his voice between June 72 and Oct 72

I'll add my + 1,000,000 to Strider and Nutrocker's. Seriously, what DID happen during those four months??? I can at least somewhat understand the decline from February to June, since they were recording HOTH at the time (this makes me think of another question: are the sped up vocals on the studio version of TSRTS deliberately done to mask the decline in Robert's voice, or was it done just as a cool effect?), but from June to October they weren't doing anything were they? So what happened? Was it an overindulgence of drugs, perhaps? Did he get another bad cold just prior to the Japan tour that messed up his voice? 

And when did he have the vocal surgery? I've heard many people place it around late '73-early '74, but I've also heard people date it during this four month long break. If that was when it occurred, then I guess it explains the decline in his voice by that time. If it occurred later, then what the hell happened? So many questions!

On 8/7/2015 at 1:45 PM, KellyGirl said:

 

When was the last time Plant actually hit the proper high notes for Over the Hills and Far Away?
i.e. "Many times.." It has to be some time in 1972, but does anybody know the actual
concert?

 

I just did a sample listen of the latter half of '72, listening specifically to the chorus of OTHAFA. The last time Plant hits all the high notes in the chorus is the last show in Japan, 10/10/72. For a while during the UK tour he attempts to sing the first line of the chorus (many have I loved, and many times been bitten) in the original melody while singing the second line (many times I've gazed along the open road) in the now-familiar altered melody, with mixed results. The last time he even attempts the original melody at all (prior to the NY run in 77) is (I believe) the last show of '72 at Alexandria Palace (12/23/72). Since the show after this one is the infamous Sheffield gig, I think it's safe to assume that was the last time.

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47 minutes ago, ZepHead315 said:

I've been wondering this for a long time myself. 1972 shows Robert's voice in its steepest decline. In the Australian shows, his voice is quite good. It's not quite to the soaring heights of 69-71, but it's still pretty damn powerful. In the American tour that summer, you can tell it's changed somewhat. It sounds "thinner" for lack of a better word, and it also cracks quite a bit more, even in some of his lower range. Some moments that come to mind include the "oh yeah, oh yeah, oh, oh oh" on Black Dog on HTWWW and the first sung note of SIBLY on the same album. At Tuscon, the last show of the tour, the cracks are particularly noticeable on OTHAFA (one very bad one occurs on the "...how much there is to know" lyric). 

I'll add my + 1,000,000 to Strider and Nutrocker's. Seriously, what DID happen during those four months??? I can at least somewhat understand the decline from February to June, since they were recording HOTH at the time (this makes me think of another question: are the sped up vocals on the studio version of TSRTS deliberately done to mask the decline in Robert's voice, or was it done just as a cool effect?), but from June to October they weren't doing anything were they? So what happened? Was it an overindulgence of drugs, perhaps? Did he get another bad cold just prior to the Japan tour that messed up his voice? 

And when did he have the vocal surgery? I've heard many people place it around late '73-early '74, but I've also heard people date it during this four month long break. If that was when it occurred, then I guess it explains the decline in his voice by that time. If it occurred later, then what the hell happened? So many questions!

I just did a sample listen of the latter half of '72, listening specifically to the chorus of OTHAFA. The last time Plant hits all the high notes in the chorus is the last show in Japan, 10/10/72. For a while during the UK tour he attempts to sing the first line of the chorus (many have I loved, and many times been bitten) in the original melody while singing the second line (many times I've gazed along the open road) in the now-familiar altered melody, with mixed results. The last time he even attempts the original melody at all (prior to the NY run in 77) is (I believe) the last show of '72 at Alexandria Palace (12/23/72). Since the show after this one is the infamous Sheffield gig, I think it's safe to assume that was the last time.

It was definitely after the '73 North American Tour--on the best shows of that tour, he still sounded close to his old self (e.g. 7/23/73 Baltimore).  After '73, it wasn't just that he'd lost the top end of his range; his tone was a bit different too, which would make sense to have resulted from the surgery...

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Vocal surgery happened in late 73'. You can hear the difference in tone, much less range, in the early 74' rough mixes off of PG. The rough mix of In the Light (Everybody Makes it Through) is the most obvious. I would venture to speculate Plant began singing and rehearsing for PG way too early and should have rested his voice a good six months before starting the album sessions. Plant should have also hired a vocal coach as well to aid in the transition, to learn to use what he had to the best of his ability and protect what was left. Oh well, that was the 70's for ya.

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On August 4, 2015 at 7:18 AM, bluecongo said:

The real question is WTF happened to his voice between June 72 and Oct 72

 

He goes from the soaring highs heard in Australia and the U.S. Tour to barely squeaking out the notes in Japan 72. Then his voice gets mangled by the flu on the British Tour, and then they toured until July 73 further damaging his vocal chords to the point he needed vocal chord surgery in late 73 after which his voice was never the same.

 

He prob had surgery to remove folds and or nodes on his vocal chords.

 

Why he has never been asked about this in depth by an interviewer I will never know

I would love for Page or Jones to be asked that question. I'm willing to bet that Page wasn't worried about it because Plant always performed great when recording their albums, much like himself. Live? 'Fuck it, just get out there, act like you own the place, and do your best'. I'll bet Jones feelings were similar, the show must go on folks. Nowadays a singer like Adele catches a cold and the whole tour is cancelled, thats not how Zeppelin rolled. I'm also willing to bet that they'd both comment on how well Plant adapted to his vocal issues and how much of a struggle it had to be for him to get through it. 

 

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Instrumentalists can keep getting better and better as they age.  Unfortunately for singers, the instrument ages with them (and not in a good way.)

Worse than that, Led Zeppelin were reckless, and Robert did not take care of his voice at all.  No warming up beforehand, smoking and drinking during shows and an unfortunate tendency towards pushing his limits for the sake of showboating.  On top of that, the tours were ridiculously relentless.  Their European Tour in the spring of 1970 was 15 shows in 18 days, and by that point the shows were two hours or more.  He also famously continued to tour despite vocal complications like the flu.  Yes, cancelled shows are a mess, but you've got to put the long-term needs of the band first.

Things like Robert's voice make me wish we could take a time machine back to manage the band better.  Peter Grant got them their money, but also failed to prevent so much damage to the band themselves.  At the risk of getting too off-topic, I won't get into here, but it really is too bad!  

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3 hours ago, ArmsofAtlas1977 said:

Instrumentalists can keep getting better and better as they age.  Unfortunately for singers, the instrument ages with them (and not in a good way.)

Worse than that, Led Zeppelin were reckless, and Robert did not take care of his voice at all.  No warming up beforehand, smoking and drinking during shows and an unfortunate tendency towards pushing his limits for the sake of showboating.  On top of that, the tours were ridiculously relentless.  Their European Tour in the spring of 1970 was 15 shows in 18 days, and by that point the shows were two hours or more.  He also famously continued to tour despite vocal complications like the flu.  Yes, cancelled shows are a mess, but you've got to put the long-term needs of the band first.

Things like Robert's voice make me wish we could take a time machine back to manage the band better.  Peter Grant got them their money, but also failed to prevent so much damage to the band themselves.  At the risk of getting too off-topic, I won't get into here, but it really is too bad!  

I agree almost completely with what you posted, except for the poor management part in the early (68'-71') days. You have to understand, this time period was a very chaotic one in music history, they were essentially learning as they went along. Of course as mentioned above if a performer now gets even a sniffle, they cancelled shows for a full week. I wish Zep would have done the same but rock music in particular was very fickle back then. I bet Robert felt the need to push it every night in fear that it might very well be the last tour, even as late as 75'. We can look back now and wonder why they did what they did but Robert was both very green and somewhat insecure in the beginning. Regarding the drinking, smoking, and no warm ups for his voice, that is a different story. Even then everyone knew how the great Maria Callas ruined her voice through smoking and booze and late night's. Robert, or at least those around him, should have known better. Then again I could see Janice telling Robert the reason her voice was so good was due to constant infusion of SoCo & cigs, so, there is that.

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