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Jones, Page, Plant, and Thompson in 1986


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Robert Plant interviewed in Rolling Stone #522 3/24/88:

RS: What's the real story about the secret rehearsals you, Page and John Paul Jones reportedly held with drummer Tony Thompson after Live Aid? How far did you really get in forming a new Led Zeppelin?

RP: We had a week together with Tony Thompson. This was the following January,'86. The guy who's now my tour manager was brought in to look after the drums, to help Tony Thompson leave Tony Thompson leave Heathrow Airport and travel to this secret destination.

RS: Where was this secret destination?

RP: Isn't it crazy? "Secret destination." It was off the motorway near Peter Gabriel's house in Bath. We took a village hall, filled it with parachutes to take all the angles and corners off the room and set up the equipment. Page duly arrived, and we plugged in. But as much as he wanted to do it, it wasn't time for Pagey to do that. He had just finished the second Firm album, and I think he was a bit confused about what he was doing. And the interesting thing is that after seven years of being without him and fending for myself, I'm a lot more forthright. When I reach a conclusion, I immediately react to it. Way back in the old days, this may have taken a week of mutual discussion. One person couldn't make the decision of four people.

RS: Did you have serious, or at least cautious, hopes about what you could accomplish?

RP: Yeah, I think so. But it wasn't to be. There was this little club we used to go to in this little town. Tony was a celebrity because he had played on Belouis Some's hit record. So he was invited to parties and stuff; we were, too, because we'd been famous once. Jonesy and I often chose to walk back to the place we were staying, at two in the morning. Pagey wouldn't come out, which is hardly the way to get everything back together again. Meanwhile, Tony became a celebrity and was metaphorically carried around on everybody's shoulders. He ended up in one of these small minicars with five other people. They took a corner to fast and ended up in somebody's basement, went off the road, through some railings and down a few steps. So I was called at five o'clock in the morning by the Bath Royal Infirmary by a rather short-tempered matron saying, "We have your Mr. Thompson here. He states you, Mr. Plant, as next of kin." I said, "But you can't do that. He's black!"

So after arguing about him having African descent, I went there, and Tony was lying in the hospital going, "Oh, man, oh, man." So that was the end of him.

RS: Did the band actually get any playing done?

RP: Yeah, about two days.

RS: What did you play? Did you have any new material to start off with?

RP: No, nothing. It was the most bristling embarrassing moment, to have all that will and not knowing what to play. Jonesy played keyboards, I played bass a bit. It sounded kind of like David Byrne meets Husker Du, I guess, sounding good and quite odd, because of Jonesy's tendency to play these jolly rollicking keyboards, Jimmy cutting across the whole thing with these searing, soaring chord mechanisms and me plotting the routes on the bass. It was pretty good. And there were two or three things that were very promising.

Then Tony left the road with his merry band. One of the roadies, who is now my tour manager, played drums. He was quite good too, but the whole thing dematerialized. Jimmy had to change the battery on his wah-wah pedal every one and a half songs. And I said "I'm going home." Jonesy said "Why?" "Because I can't put up with this." "But you lived with it before." I said "Look, man, I don't need the money. I'm off." For it to succeed in Bath, I would have had to be far more patient than I had been for years.

RS: Do you also think that you have outstripped Jimmy in terms of your ambition and drive?

RP: No, I don't think so at all. Jimmy needs a community workshop, and he needs to put his faith and trust and his vulnerability into someone. We shared something, and that's fine. It's just the way we do things now is different. And I don't know if the two ways of doing it are compatible.

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Jimmy Page in Guitar World Special Collector's Edition Vol 7, # 4 July 1986:

GW: And you mentioned you had been doing some writing with Robert?

JP: Yeah, we have been. We've been playing together, yeah.

GW: What does it feel like?

JP: Well it feels like playing with old friends. So it's good. It's good therapy, too, because everyone is in their own direction one way or the other. Well we all know everyone is into different things. And it was interesting. I must admit at first it was kind of odd. Not odd but a big smile and slightly tense the first day. The second day was great and we were all close together. It was great, fantastic. You're talking from the last time we played it's been years.

(...the interview then goes into the Honeydrippers, Scream For Help, Coda, ITTOD, Hammer Of The Gods, videos, current bands, The Firm, and then back into...)

GW: Without trying to be too inquisitive...

JP: You can be as inquisitive as you want in the right areas providing you only print those areas.

GW: Ok. Is there any other information you can give about your work with Robert Plant and John Paul Jones?

JP: Well what do you want to know? What do you want to know for fuck's sake?

GW: Will Led Zeppelin get together?

JP: Is that what you wanted to know? Ok, fair enough. The band is getting back together and playing every six months or every year. That's all. If I can do so without it being public knowledge that would be great. But I can't do that obviously. That's the truth, too. It's so difficult or it appears to be. It would be nice together just as friends.

GW: Or maybe just make some music together.

JP: Just as friends, that's it. I mean, who knows? I think everyone has there own thing going on seperately. If you had a friendship in the past, there's no reason why you shouldn't get together. I played with Robert in the Honeydrippers thing and I'm playing with John on the Scream For Help album.So why not? Why shouldn't the three of us get back together and see what happens? And have a good smile at the end of day hopefully and that's it.

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