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Led Zeppelin: CELEBRATION DAY (Global Press/Media Coverage)


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Led Zeppelin Clash With Reporters at New York Press Conference

Robert Plant slams media for 'inane questions'

By Patrick Doyle

October 9, 2012 3:45 PM ET


Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin at a press conference for 'Celebration Day' in New York.

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Led Zeppelin clashed with reporters at a press conference this afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art while promoting Celebration Day, an upcoming film capturing their 2007 reunion concert at London's O2 arena. The conference started out as congenial, with Plant jokingly singing lines from Elvis Presley's "Love Me" into the microphone, but turned contentious when an Associated Press reporter asked if the new film will possibly anticipate something bigger from the band. Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham became uncomfortably silent. "I mean, we've been thinking about all sorts of things," Plant said. "And then we can't remember what we were thinking of. Schmuck."

From the beginning, Plant seemed uncomfortable. "There are some people in here who are not journalists," he said early on. "There's a masseuse in here who's not a journalist. I think that's ever so exciting." The room erupted in uncomfortable laughter.

Minutes later, a radio host praised the film but added, "I don't know if it's going to quench the thirst of those who wished to see you in the flesh." Again, the band was silent until Plant said simply: "Sorry!"

Later, Plant clarified himself. "We were so happy we were getting it right and taking it beyond what we thought we were about that night," he said of the O2 gig. " There were moments where we took off . . . But the responsibility of doing that four nights a week for the rest of time is a different thing. We're pretty good at what we do but the tail should never wag the dog, really. If we're capable of doing something, in our own time, that will be what will happen. So any inane questions from people who are from syndicated outlets, you should just really think about what it takes to answer a question like that in one second. We know what we've got, you know."

Instead of looking ahead, the band looked back fondly of the reunion and its rehearsals, praising Jason Bonham and Ahmet Ertegen – and discussed current rock music. "I love Mumford & Sons," Plant said.

Page explained he felt the band still had unfinished business after previous reunions at Live Aid and Atlantic Records' 40th Anniversary concert. "I think if we had the opportunity to get back together again, which is what we had there to do the O2, things had left us a little uncomfortable like Live Aid and the Atlantic 40th, etc., we just really wanted to get it right and go out and play to people who maybe never heard us, who had heard about this reputation and what we were about, and basically stand up and be counted for what we were. That's my feeling, anyway."

Plant added, "I think expectations are a horrific thing. If you go off and play in North Africa, you know you're going to have a good time and work with people and there's nothing else about it. That's how we started in a room with Jason's dad all that time ago. So to do anything at all together is such a kind of incredible weight, because sometimes we were fucking awful. And sometimes we were stunning and a couple of times we tried to get together in the meantime. I think we were really propelled by Jason [bonham] and his enthusiasm and his dark glasses. He really brought the atmosphere and expectation because he knows far more about us than we do. He's got all the bootlegs, and he's in touch with the people who make the bootlegs. "


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Led Zeppelin not reuniting anytime soon, but fans can catch band at the movies

By Adam Reiss, CNN

updated 6:46 PM EDT, Wed October 10, 2012

(CNN) -- This week's New York premiere of Led Zeppelin's forthcoming concert film, "Celebration Day," may have brought out both fans and rock stars, including Mick Jones, Stevie Nicks and Paul Stanley of Kiss, but beyond the 2007 reunion depicted on-screen, don't expect to see the legendary band in concert anytime soon.

When asked at a press conference if there were any chance the band would play again together "in the flesh," John Paul Jones said only, "Sorry."

Jimmy Page suggested that "if (in the five years since the movie was made,) there wasn't a whisper or a hint that we would get together to do something, it seems pretty unlikely, doesn't it?"

120921070234-ctw-pkg-led-zeppelin-gig-curry-00005020-story-body.jpgIs a Led Zeppelin encore in the works?

Jimmy Page on another Led Zeppelin reunion: 'I don't see it'

But Robert Plant doesn't rule out the possibility entirely. "We're pretty good at what we do, but the tail should never wag the dog," he said. "If we're capable of doing something in our own time, that will be what will happen. We know what we've got. Que sera."

"Celebration Day" features a two-hour, 16-song set by surviving members of the iconic band, with John Bonham's son, Jason, filling in for him on the drums. The concert was a tribute to the group's friend and Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. It was the first time the original members had played with each other since the mid-1980s. Directed by Dick Carruthers, the film uses 12 cameras on and around the stage, exploring the intense guitar playing and smiles between the band members throughout the show.

"It was clicking again," Jones said. "You just fall into it. Time is condensed and you're right back there."

Six weeks of off-and-on rehearsals led to the big night that all the band members agreed was a resounding success.

The film focuses on the musicians as they revisit many of the songs that made them one of the most influential and best-selling music artists in history, with sales of more than 200 million albums. From "Stairway to Heaven" and "For Your Life" to "Kashmir" and "No Quarter," Plant's voice is as crisp as ever, Jones tackles the keyboards like few can and Page hasn't lost his touch as what some have called the finest rock guitarist ever.

Led Zeppelin song gets the Mike Winslow treatment

This week's premieremarks the first time Led Zeppelin has been in North America since a tour in 1977. The group was preparing to return in 1980 when drummer Bonham died, causing it to break up. Page said the band owes a massive debt to America; Plant says they feel like Americans in a way. Led Zeppelin is expected to receive the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors in Washington in December. Plant said he is looking forward to the evening and meeting President Barack Obama, which he says is a privilege.

"Celebration Day" will open worldwide on October 17. The band members will also appear Friday in London. Jones will appear at the Berlin premiere on Monday, while Page will be at the Tokyo premiere Tuesday.

Can you convince Led Zeppelin to reunite? Give us your best arguments in the comments section below.

2007: Can Led Zeppelin still rock?


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Led Zeppelin: 'There was a swagger – we knew we were good'

The film Celebration Day captures Led Zeppelin onstage in all their glory in 2007. The band discuss their musical legacy, reputation for excess – and why they will never reunite again

• Michael Hann

• The Guardian, Thursday 11 October 2012

The first thing you notice is how close together they are. Led Zeppelin are not scattered around the huge stage of the O2 arena in London like 100m relay runners awaiting the baton, like most bands at this venue. They are huddled within a few feet of each other in the centre of the stage, and they stay that way for most of the two hours or so of Celebration Day, the new movie that captures their one-off return to playing live in December 2007. Jimmy Page might wander off a few feet to hit a guitar pedal, John Paul Jones occasionally sets his bass down to sit at a keyboard, but Robert Plant sings from the heart of the group, just in front of the drum kit – occupied by Jason Bonham, son of Zeppelin's drummer John, who died in 1980. For most of the film, all four of them are in frame simultaneously.

"It was like a shield wall – it was a Romano-British shield wall, and what was coming at us was the idea of failure and ridiculousness – for me," says Plant, speaking on a sunny autumn morning in his local in north London. "It would be precocious of me to walk to the front of the stage and take on a kind of rock singer pose, at that time in my being – and that's five years ago. I could only send it up, and I don't want to do that."

"It was always like that," counters Jones, talking later that day amid the old-money graciousness of the Connaught hotel in Mayfair, where he and Page are both ensconced. "You need to be that close. There's a lot going on, a lot to concentrate on and focus on. Plus, I like to feel the wind from the bass drum."

"This was going to be a critical show," Page says. "We only had one shot at it, so we needed to go out there and do it really well. There was a lot of listening to be done, there was a lot of communication – nods and winks, and you can see this generate through the course of the evening to the point where we're really communicating through the music."

Celebration Day will likely mark the world's last chance to see Led Zeppelin communicating through the music. At a press conference the following day, they will avoid questions about whether they will ever again reunite, but Plant's ambivalence about Zeppelin's role in his current life is evident during our conversation. He talks about how being the singer in the band is "just kind of narrating some bits and pieces which hold together some great instrumentation". He says fronting Led Zeppelin means being specifically a rock'n'roll singer – and how that's not what he is any more; he's a singer. He talks about how the lyrics of those old, old songs are the words of a young man – "There was nothing cerebral about what I was doing at all" – even if he knows his writing got better as the band matured.

And he talks about how the last years of the group were something different anyway, after first he and his wife were seriously injured in a car crash in 1975, and then his five-year-old son Karac died of a respiratory infection in 1977. "My boyhood was over," he says. "I was 27 [in 1975] and flattened. A little premature, but that was it. It was over. Whatever happened after that was going to be different, and so it was."

What you experience on Celebration Day, then – those extraordinary songs, somehow combining intricacy and technical excellence with the wham! and the bam! of the earliest rock'n'roll – is just a reminder of how things must have been before it had to be different. For almost the whole point of Led Zeppelin is that it was music made by young men supremely confident in their ability to bend anything to their will – hard rock, folk, blues, funk, Arab-influenced epics, balladry. There is no doubt in their music: Dazed and Confused is as inaptly titled a signature song as could be. "There was a Zeppelin swagger, definitely," Jones says drily. "We knew we were good. At our best, we thought we could be a match for any band on the planet. And at our worst, we were better than most of them."

In one way, though, Celebration Day captures Led Zeppelin rather more perfectly than any previous live document: it's tight and punchy and unrelenting. Might it even be a better representation of Zeppelin's strengths than live shows in their heyday, when they might surrender half the set to lengthy solo instrumental excursions? "I think you should ask Jimmy that," Plant says, with a slight laugh. "Time is a funny thing when you're onstage. It did leave me occasionally a little bit adrift. But I'm a Jimmy Page fan, so I like to hear where he goes."

I do put the question to Page, who punches his hand quickly and repeatedly. "Like that!" he says, illustrating the ferocity of their presentation. "That's exactly what we were. That was the intention. We're doing that to bring in the element of surprise."

Then he notices the implicit criticism of lengthy solo instrumental excursions. "Can I just say, the thing with Led Zeppelin in the day – sure, the sets got longer, but it wasn't necessarily because of extended solos. Although that certainly would have helped." The problem, he says, was the desire never to lose anything from the set, even when new songs were added after each album. "We'd start out with a stripped-down show and by the end of the tour we were playing twice as long," Jones says. "And then, the next tour, we'd strip it all down again and start again."Page formed Led Zeppelin in 1968, after the Yardbirds broke up around him. His first recruit was Jones, whom he had known from the sessions they had worked on in the mid-60s. "I just wanted to stop going crazy and do something creative," Jones says. "And so I thought: 'I don't care what it is, as long as it's good.'" He was followed by Plant and Bonham, a young singer and drummer whom Page travelled up to Birmingham to scout.

Jones remembers their first rehearsal, in a basement in Chinatown, London in August 1968. "You think: 'I hope this drummer's all right, I really do,' because if the drummer's not listening or not on the ball, it's really hard work for a bass player. The first number we played – 'Ah, thank God for that; he's not only good, he's great; this is gonna be a joy.'"

Page already had a design for the group, having seen the way a new rock scene was developing in the US when he toured with the Yardbirds. "The FM stations were playing full sides of albums. Plus I'd been playing what were called the underground clubs – the Fillmores and places like that – with the Yardbirds. I could see the way it could go. One of the things we didn't adhere to was the singles market. We didn't have to do that because we had the mindset of these stations. It made a difference to how you would sequence the numbers and how one thing would roll into another – the cascading hills and valleys within the music."

The first Zeppelin album came out less than six months after the group had formed, and so began the relentless process of becoming the biggest band in the world. "It was hard touring," Jones recalls. "We toured by car for the first tour. There was another bloke in a little van driving the equipment. We finally got it right and got the private jet. We finally figured it out." It's surprising to see, given Zeppelin's live reputation, that only 295 shows are listed on their website, across the entire course of their career – less surprising that 133 of them were in the US.

The bigger the band got, the more of the world they got to see, and the more their music opened out, assimilating influences way beyond the scope of their hard rock peers. There were visits to India, to Morocco, to other places where 12-bar blues wasn't the muscial lingua franca. "In Morocco, we had some Nakamichi recording gear, which was quite the thing in those days, that Jimmy had got hold of," Plant says. "Every year there was a folklore festival in Marrakech and I got a press pass. I said I was working for the NME. And I could get right to the front with my recorder, and there were a lot of Berber rhythms that were spectacular."

And sometimes, Plant says, they left impressions of their own: "Jimmy and I played in a club in Bombay in 1972. I played drums and he played guitar and it was the only club in Bombay that had a drum kit. Somehow or other we ended up in there with loads and loads of illicit substances. Some guy is writing a book about rock in India – and apparently it was born in this club with Page and me wired out of our faces. I'm not a very good drummer, to say the least, but for some reason or another it left a mark."

When they returned from their travels and the four of them became Led Zeppelin again, the process of integrating the ideas into song began, be it some fragile acoustic snippet, or one of those towering electric edifices – Kashmir, Achilles' Last Stand, In My Time of Dying, Stairway to Heaven – that still startle with their grandeur. It was all done before they reached the studio, hence the fact that even their final album – with Bonham and Page reportedly deep in their narcotic and alcoholic addictions – took only three weeks to record.

"Page and I were studio musicians originally," Jones says, "and you don't waste time in a studio by trying to figure out the chord sequences. Studios cost money. If you want to work out everything you hire some old house or wherever and just go and sit there for however long it takes. Then you go and record it."The preferred old house was Headley Grange, a former workhouse in Hampshire, where Zeppelin would write and rehearse and then, when ready, summon the Rolling Stones's mobile studio to record the results, with Page overseeing sessions with minute attention to detail.

"I was curious to know how things had been recorded on some of the records that I was really keen on," he says. "From Robert Johnson, where you can hear how he's moving in and out on the mic, to those recordings that were done by Sam Phillips, and the Little Richard records. Where were the mics placed? How many mics were there? I learned various things that I now put into practice. And when I was a studio musician, then I could really see how recording worked, and also how it didn't work – like a drummer who was stuck in a little isolated booth, which was padded out so you couldn't hear any of the natural ambience of his kit. And so I knew instinctively that the drums had to breathe, but the fact was you had John Bonham, who really knew how to tune his drums, he really knew how to make them project."

And so Led Zeppelin developed that huge, spacious signature sound. Plant sounded as if he had hatched from some alien egg, all disembodied yowls and indecipherable screams, compared to the other blues-rock shouters of the day; Jones could arrange songs into new shapes or offer basslines beyond the imagination of other players. And then there was Page's guitar. For all the epic soloing, the Zeppelin records show off a player with a startling lack of vanity: he's always serving the song, and often he's low in the mix, letting Bonham and Jones rumble on before the necessary colour is added. His most effective interjections could be the simplest: the strange, off-key, rhythmic stabs that give the end of Immigrant Song its dramatic tension, for example.

For all that Zeppelin soon became a huge band, they were spurned and mocked by critics. "All you knew was that the Stones got all the press, and we sold a shitload of records," Plant says. Jones remembers being shocked by Rolling Stone's damning review of their first album, and still sounds irritated by the resentment of the group's success. "I thought we were about the most honest band out there," he says. "We were playing music that we loved for the reason that we loved it. I remember reading somewhere a musician saying that at a festival: 'I saw piles of Fender basses.' I thought: you bastard. I had one bass for like eight years in Zeppelin. One Jazz bass, my 1962 Jazz bass – and I know it was 1962 because that was the year I bought it, new."

As with any band, it always comes back to the songs. And when you get as successful as Led Zeppelin did – the record concert attendances, the private planes, the platinum records – your songs cease to be your own: they become owned by the audience, and it is the crowd that grants them their meaning. As Plant says at the following day's press conference about Stairway to Heaven: "Maybe I'm still trying to work out what I was talking about. Every other fucker is."

"Part of the investment for all music lovers is selfish, because it takes us to places we want to be and we want to remember," he says in the pub, more thoughtfully. "It takes us to a different person than the one who's now listening to it."

Page is sanguine about it. He knew what people wanted at the O2, and he was happy to deliver. "There's no way that we could get together, and omit something like Stairway, that would've been insulting to the public. We'd have to do certain things: Whole Lotta Love's obviously gonna be in there, Kashmir just has to be in there, and Stairway."

But, Plant points out, the music still holds its power because it has not been overused: it doesn't represent anything but itself. "Because we haven't gone out and flogged it, there's an anticipation and a memory of it being clean and pure and not part of some sort of threshing middle-aged circus, which I think is very much to our credit. If we'd been part of the merry-go-round year after year, or every two years, I think it might have damaged everything."

A degree-course's worth of books has been written about Zeppelin over the years, all containing their share of astonishing and horrifying stories. If only a fraction held any truth – and there are simply too many tales of violence, paranoia, underage groupies and the like for some of them not to be true – you can still be fairly certain that being in Led Zeppelin in the 1970s made possible decadence beyond imagining, and misbehaviour beyond mere condemnation. The tales provide ample fodder for those who see the band as vile representatives of a predatory, aggressive, arrogant male sexuality, even if for others they feed into the image of Zeppelin as the fullest representation of rock at its most swaggering. Ask them about what is often referred to as their "aura", though, and you meet a brick wall.

"It's the music," Page says. "My life has been about that, not just trying to create a stir over something else that's irrelevant to the music. I'll tell you something: in all those books you won't get any more understanding about the music than you will by actually listening to it. It's not about some bit of insanity over here, it's about that music that's recorded across those albums."

"Any peripheral bullshit left me cold and still does," Plant says. "The band was always four guys that got together and played and when they get together it becomes a different chemical combination. And in the middle of all that, there was probably a tiny fraction, a minuscule amount of what might be there now, of people being 'busy', people who were angling, people who wanted to encourage and advance their interests. It was a good thing to be near, because it was so powerful when it worked. It was an amulet for a lot of people."

Perhaps they are ashamed of what went on. Perhaps they feel not acknowledging the legend contributes to their lasting impact. Because, in a way, Zeppelin knew it wasn't really only about the music. Hence the attention lavished on their album sleeves. Led Zeppelin III – the one with the spinning card; Led Zeppelin IV – the one with no writing on it and the four symbols inside; Houses of the Holy – the one with the creepy cover of naked kids on the Giant's Causeway; Physical Graffiti – the one with the die-cut sleeve so the inner bag became part of the design; Presence – the one with the strange black obelisk and the embossed band name; In Through the Out Door – the one in the brown paper bag. Their albums were events.

"It was a major part," Page says of the designs. "It was quite interesting with the fourth album. We were getting flak from the press because they really couldn't understand what we were about. OK, we'll show you what it is, we'll put out an album with nothing on it, because it's what's inside that's going to be the important thing."

Of the three remaining men who once conquered the arenas of the world, you would bet on it being Page who most wishes they could do it again, though guessing what he's thinking is almost certainly a mug's game. After the band broke up, Plant was able to forge a successful solo career; after a period in which he "couldn't get arrested", Jones became an in-demand producer. Only Page never quite seemed to find a new musical home. Curiously, with his long white hair, he's the one who still looks most like a rock star from the days when bands were still big. And to hear him talk, you wish you could have been there during those days, too. "Sometimes we'd really be going at such a speed, to see whether we could really do it," he says of the band's shows back then. "If you go out with that sort of attitude, you're not going out there to fool around. There might be an area where it might dip – but it certainly comes back with a fury."

"All these cliches and terms that are used for whatever we were are fine," Plant says. "We were just a bunch of guys who could play in many different ways. And for young guys who were loaded with expectations of life and its promises, sometimes a tough backbeat doesn't hurt."


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Now, THAT is how you interview and write an article! I hope Rolling Stone took notes.

Bravo to Michael Hann and The Guardian and thank you, Sam, for posting. It sums up almost exactly what and how I feel about Led Zeppelin's music and place in the culture; both as I was growing up and today. Robert is right...I'm glad they didn't grab the money and turn into some middle-aged circus.

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Led Zeppelin regroups for one last 'Celebration Day'

Traci Watson, Special for USA TODAY

October 12. 2012 - LONDON — Thirty years ago, they were part of one of the greatest, loudest and most outrageous rock bands in history. Today, the three surviving members of Led Zeppelin qualify for senior passes on London buses. Their faces are lined, their hair grizzled.

But these aging rock legends, who dominated the 1970s with their thundering, sexually charged songs and offstage mayhem, are proving themselves relevant more than three decades after the band's breakup.

Tickets are selling briskly ahead of the Oct. 17 theatrical release of Celebration Day, the film version of Zeppelin's acclaimed 2007 reunion concert at London's O2 Arena. The concert also will be released on CD, DVD and Blu-ray (Swan Song/Atlantic Records, $19-$45) on Nov. 19, with vinyl to follow Dec. 11. Critically scorned in its heyday, the band will receive a Kennedy Center Honor, one of the world's most prestigious cultural awards, on Dec. 1.

"We were the worst. We were the face of excess in every way," says Zeppelin bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones, 66. So the acceptance "is very nice. We moved out, but we moved back."

In exclusive in-person interviews with USA TODAY, Jones, singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page dismiss talk of a tour, concede that they may not have made it big if they had started today and fondly recall their 2007 reunion.

It was the band's "destiny … to have one more show," says Page, 68. "It's in our DNA to play that music."

After Zeppelin was founded in 1968, the band's powerful guitar riffs, bashing drums and mix of lyricism and brutality enthralled a generation. At its peak, the group was playing to U.S. audiences of some 70,000 screaming fans. Zeppelin has sold 111.5 million albums in the United States, making the band the USA's fourth-best-selling artist, after The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Garth Brooks.

The band also broke new ground for its lurid exploits, from cocaine use to vandalism to dalliances with underage groupies. Zeppelin's self-destructive image was sealed when drummer John Bonham, 32, died after an alcoholic binge in 1980, leading to the band's demise.

In the years since, two of the three Zeppelin survivors have plunged into projects that might shock and disappoint their head-banging fans.

Jones is writing an opera based on a 1907 drama by Swedish playwright August Strindberg. He'll tour Britain next month with Norwegian experimental group Supersilent, traveling in a humble "splitter van" — gear in the back, a few seats in front — that's a far cry from the Starship, the luxurious jumbo jet that Zeppelin flew to gigs in the 1970s.

Does he miss the pampered treatment of his Zeppelin days? "Yes, of course," Jones says. "But I'd rather do that and play music I enjoy than start an artificial situation with a supergroup."

Plant, 64, has strayed almost as far from Zeppelin as Jones, entering an unlikely collaboration with bluegrass star Alison Krauss. Their Raising Sand album earned five Grammy Awards in 2008, including album of the year, and sold more than 3 million copies worldwide. Now Plant is about to tour South America with his own band, which melds blues, world music and rock. He has left his Zeppelin days so far behind that he had to struggle to recapture the old swagger for the 2007 reunion concert, a tribute to the late Ahmet Ertegun, the Atlantic Records founder who signed the band to its first recording contract.

"The kind of attitude that went with some of those songs is something I can remember," Plant says. "But it's a different place. To jump back in there and have that attitude … was a tough equation."

Page's current musical career is quieter than those of his former bandmates.

"I love playing live, and I had intended to be playing live by this point," he says wistfully. "I certainly hope to be playing live by this time next year." He has played in public only sporadically in the last few years, representing Britain in the closing ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and playing with old friend Roy Harper at a London tribute in 2011.

They've gone their separate ways, but their 2007 concert proved that the chemistry hasn't died. In a two-hour show, the trio, joined by Bonham's son Jason on drums, gave a taut, energized performance that made the critics swoon, though the three had played together publicly only a handful of times in the previous 27 years.

"Playing with Zeppelin is a bit like riding a bike," Jones says. "Once you got in the situation, lots came back."

Plant, on the other hand, says his performance was colored by "fatigue, fear. … It had to be good because we'd all worked so hard," he says. "And the anticipation was so great."

The band never intended to release a recording of the concert, but as it became clear that another reunion is unlikely, the need to satisfy fans became more urgent.

"It became apparent that (the footage) should go out because there wasn't going to be anything else, any other shows," Page says.

"I can't see it," says Jones of a reunion. "Robert has changed his style, and he doesn't want to sing like that anymore."

But the band members will regroup in December, this time in Washington, D.C., to pick up their Kennedy Center medallions. Even Plant, who skipped the 2005 ceremony for Zeppelin's Grammy lifetime achievement award, will show this time. He wants to shake hands with President Obama, whom he admires even though Obama's musical preferences in the 1970s ran to Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind & Fire.

"He needs to go back and get a bit of better taste," says Plant, unaware that one of his bandmates shared the president's leanings.

"Driving to Zeppelin sessions when we were recording, I played Stevie Wonder almost exclusively," Jones says. "Earth Wind & Fire, too, I'm afraid."

Their reputations are now assured, but they say Zeppelin may have been relegated to insignificance if they had started today.

"We would've ended up in the attic or something like Xfm," a U.K. alternative station, Plant says. "It would be very hard to get Kashmir (an eight-minute-plus Zeppelin classic) on maximum rotation. It was a long time ago."


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Really interesting and fairly long interview with Jimmy.


Five years after their legendary gig at London´s O2 arena, the biggest band on planet rock finally reveals what has been under wraps ever since: A double album/DVD with 16 songs and over two hours of Led Zep´s very best, performed at a one off event that attracted more than 20 million fans from around the globe, and is in fact Jimmy Page´s, Robert Plant´s and John Paul Jones’ swan song, putting an end to all speculations about a possible reunion tour. Here, Jimmy Page tells his side of the story – the days that led to the O2, the very evening, the attempts to start something new with a different singer, but also their current and future projects as well as the highlights of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

How does it feel watching the O2 show five years after it has been taped? Were you as good as you fought you´d be – or even better?

Uhm… well, I knew we’d performed a pretty incredible concert. We’d worked towards that. That was what we had in our sights – to actually go out there and knock everybody’s socks off.

You were well prepared for it, weren´t you?

Well, well, we had, we’d had a period of rehearsing, which maybe it spanned six weeks. But it wasn’t every week, it wasn’t every week. There was maybe three days here, couple of days over there, then maybe for days. Because the thing was… (fire alarm going off)

Just Ignore that. They said it was going to happen at 11:45am this morning – for one minute only. They haven’t told you though…

No, no, that’s pretty unbelievable, isn’t it? (chuckles) So it was over a period of time that we rehearsed. ´Cause I personally – when it was said we were doing the O2 – I said: “We’ve got to rehearse for this properly.” Because we had in the past there was Live Aid – no rehearsal really. With the drummer – hardly anything. The drummer that we were using on that. And the Atlantic 40th wasn’t what it could have been. And so, it was imperative that if we were going to go out there we were going to go out there and show people why we were so revered if you like. And there was such a respect and such a reputation for Led Zeppelin. There was no two ways round it. Sure, within the first of the rehearsals that we did, maybe we did three or four days, we were really already good. But: We needed to be extra special. And for two hours twenty minute set, whatever it is, we wanted to be able to take on all the numbers and still have a sort of new character to them – without losing what really made them tick in the first place. So, when I knew we’d done a good concert, I knew it was really special. It was really special for a number of reasons: Part of it, we put a lot of work into it. But also the fact that we were playing with John Bonham’s son, Jason… Jason, from my point of view, Jason had the hardest job on that stage. He was going to have the hardest job that night. And for that two hours and twenty minutes I wanted to know it myself that he felt 100 percent confident as we he was going through these rehearsals with that one date in mind. And you know, I had an accident on the way through. I don’t know whether you know about that. I broke my finger in three places. And we had to postpone. We didn´t want to cancel. So, even a broken finger wasn’t going to get in the way of this. (chuckles) So, yeah, no I’d broken my finger in three places. So, looking at it back there was still those moments: “Oh gosh”, but nobody’s going to notice. I’d notice, but… you know, so all those guitarists out there: It can be done. If Django Reinhardt… You know, I was thinking: If Django Reinhardt could do it, you know, cause he had only like two fingers, didn’t he? And a thumb basically. Mind you his right hand was exceptional. I didn’t have a right hand like that. But, you know, it was just, it was I guess the fact that music’s in my DNA helped, too. (chuckles)

But you didn’t have a theatrical or commercial release in mind at that time, did you? Of that material?

Well, it was a concert, it was a Led Zeppelin concert for me. It was an opportunity for us all to play together. And play well and stand up and be counted. And that was the opportunity to be able to do that. It wasn’t: “Let’s go and, let’s go and make a DVD.” It wasn’t that. You can tell that by the way that we’re approaching it. It wasn’t that. But: Even if it was just going to be a home movie for the people involved, it was necessary to record it. Because it was going to be mixed up on the screen, you know. But when I saw what was the original mix of the images for the back screen, and the sound of the night: yeah, it was pretty exciting, pretty exciting. But I think we’ve topped that.

Was it such a bulk of work that it took that long to finish? I mean, you basically worked on it for a year and a half or something?

Well, it was a long time that we didn’t sort of even… no, no we didn’t, we didn’t just no. It was ages before we even got round to having a look at it.

And the big screen? Did you try to top Elton John’s Las Vegas thing? Like putting up the biggest screen in rock history?

Was it, was it? I know it had… maybe that size was a first, I don’t know. I think they call it a Stealth Screen. But it was important for something the size of the O2 to have back screen projection. In fact though, we were the first band to have back screen projection over here, in England. The very first band in 1975 when we played Earls Court. We had back screen projection for that so people at a distance could see what was going on. So ah… yeah, okay, so if we had the largest one, that’s really good. (laughs)

There was a lot of laughter and smiles during the show. Is that an indication that you felt comfy after a while? And when did that kick in? When did you know you were onto something good?

Well, we put a lot of work into it. And there were those sort of smiles during the rehearsals as well. You know, when things would work, there was a connection. There was a serious connection going on on the stage. And that’s reflected. That’s all very honest all of that, all of that emotion or whatever or jubilation. All celebration. But it’s very honest. And I think because it’s honest, people will connect a lot more with it. Cause, you know, it’s more the heart and the passion and the soul than somebody who is just going there to go through the numbers, and yes, we are making a DVD and it’ll be out next week. No, it wasn’t like that.

It does come across like something very passionate.

Yeah, yeah. One of the things that you may not know is that the… talking about that rehearsal period, and final rehearsals were done at Shepperton. And we had a production rehearsal, it was the final rehearsal. In fact, it’s the only one where we sort of went through the whole of the set – with Robert. And that rehearsal is actually going to come out in one of the packages, you know, the DVD and the rehearsal. There’s an ordinary edition of without the rehearsal. But then there is a rehearsal, which it’s rather interesting. Because the numbers are done in the attitude, the approach to the them is different under circumstances of that, than to the O2. And what I can say to that offsetting one thing to the other, is that every rehearsal was different in its way. And that was always the Zeppelin ethic. That even if we were doing concerts back to back, they’d always be different. Uhm… apart of this is, you know, on the BBC Sessions that we did, there were I think it was three versions of “Communication Breakdown”. And they’ve all got a different approach to them. That’s what I mean. That sort of ethic that we had, still needed to be applicable in the current day of five years ago, whatever it is, four or five years ago. And that’s it. And that’s what we wanted to achieve so that we will be able to mutate numbers if we wanted to.

Plus: You´ve got this huge stage, yet the band is very close and uses very little of the actual space. Is that going back to the jamming thing – to playing eye to eye in a tiny little room?

Yes, cause, cause we need that connection. We got to listen to each other and hear. Because it may change, you know. I might change it round and I want everyone to follow on, you know. So, that’s how that was done, you know. You needed enough rehearsal time to be confident to be able to do that without anyone going: “What’s he, what’s he doing” or whatever. Or: “What’s John Paul Jones doing there?” As opposed to: “Well, I know what this is and I’m moving with it and weaving with it.” That’s it. And that’s what Zeppelin was about in all those years ago. And that’s what we wanted to work towards, so everyone was confident with playing within the unit, to be able to do that.

What do you think if you see other bands out there, where the singer is over there and the guitar player is over there?

Well, when they’re doing that in like sort of a stadium and stuff? Well, I mean it’s, you know, they do that. But we were, you know, we were a musical group. It was about music. It wasn’t, you know, when I had long hair I could have shook it all I wanted. Nobody’s going to see it when they’re listening to an album, are they? (laughs) So, no, no it was more about making music, and pioneering new things within it, too. Within the frame that music as it was at that time.

Also the DVD could work like a workshop for musicians, couldn’t it? Simply because the camera is capturing everything you guys are playing…

Well, yeah, personally I’d have more…

Is this meant to be musician friendly so to speak?

Well, personally I would have had even more of that close up if you like. Whether it’s John Paul Jones or Jason or myself. Because I think people are interested to know how the music is done, you know, as opposed to just hearing it. I think it’s important to ah… Well, I’ve always felt that. Certainly of the people that I’ve like from the past, my heroes if you like. I’d want to see what they were doing. I wouldn’t want the camera just to be off somewhere else when they’re doing something that’s really important. Because I wondered: “How did he do that?” you know what I mean? So, yeah, I suppose it´d apply the same ethic.

And you´re showing people that it’s not rocket science: It´s a Gibson, an Orange Amp and not too many effects, is it?

Well, it’s a bit of everything, isn’t it? I’m sort of playing around the effects. Certainly by the time it gets to “Whole Lotta Love”, and then it’s got the full works going with… Cause you’re doing a guitar magazine aren’t you, yeah? Well, there’s the guitar that changes chords by a press of a button.

That switch on the body?

Yeah, yeah. And… it had become quite an interesting sort of combination to use that with the Echoplex. And so you’ve got the Echoplex, you’ve got these sort of chords cascading around and coming back and around. The guitar has got a transperformance. Or at least the… it’s actually in a Gibson, but the whole mechanism of it was ah… it was originally called transperformance. And it’ so reliable that guitar. I’d use that going way, way back – from the time with Coverdale/Page. I was using it when I did that. And from that point on was I always used it.

Is that a custom thing, just built for you at the time?

What happened was: I heard about this guitar that tuned itself. And I thought: “Oh yeah”. I’d also heard about a bow that was like a magic bow. I saw a video of this guy doing it and I think: “He’s just messing around, he’s just sort of playing the bow and pretending it was nothing.” So when somebody said: “There was a guitar that tunes itself” – at the point of time that this was – I didn’t really pay too much attention to it until I eventually got a VHS, arrived when I was on tour. And I think it might have been in… yes, it was. It was when I was on my solo tour in 1988. Which actually had Jason on drums, which was great. But I put it on, and this guys says: “Well, this is how Jimmy Page plays uhm…” No, he plays “Rain Song” – not in a tuning. And I thought: “I never actually tried to play in the standard tuning.” And I thought: “Well, it’s really complicated isn’t it?” (laughs) And then he said: “This is how Jimmy Page plays it.” And he presses a button and the whole guitar weaves into this chord. And he starts playing and I went: “Where’s that box, where is his number?” And I was on the phone to this fellow in minutes, almost in the middle of the night. And I said: “We’ve got to get together and…”, yeah so. I’ve enjoyed that guitar. There’s that – Chaney it’s called – and I got the Whammy pedal taking it the pitch variation. And, you know, I’m having a bit of fun there. (chuckles)

And the bow? What’s the idea behind that?

Oh, unfortunately the bow was not as successful as it should have been that night, and I’ll tell you why. Because whoever was doing the monitors thought: “Oh he’ll want to hear himself.” And they whacked up the monitors so I was getting a lot of feedback. I was fighting it. A second gig would have sorted this out. But we only had one shot, so it is what it is. But the bow, actually I used the bow with The Yardbirds. And I heard some of The Yardbirds stuff quite recently. And it wasn’t too bad what I was doing. I was really trying to, I was really trying to make music with it on… I think it’s quite successful on the… well, it’s in “Dazed And Confused” and “Song Remains The Same”. I mean, there’s some really interesting playing going on. Which isn’t just sort of making a noise. I mean, it’s really sort of quite, dare we say, orchestral. It’s definitely avantgarde, yeah. But I wouldn’t say that it came off at its best in this. But that’s it. You win some, you lose some. But it’s okay. It sort of works, but it wasn’t on that really high intensity rate that it has been maybe in the past. But it still works, still illustrates the point.

It doesn´t come across like that though – like there was something wrong or there were any mistakes involved…

Well, it’s not a mistake, it’s just that it was a battle with with the monitors feeding back into the guitar. And nobody seemed to understand that I wanted it turned down when I was looking. So, anyway. There we go.

After that gig and considering the enormous demand with 20 million people seeking tickets, you could have easily said: We’re going to do more shows or even a proper tour.


Was it Robert not wanting to be involved, or why did that not come about?

All I can say is… I mean you have to be really brutally honest about it, that at this point of time – four years ago – we would have been rehearsing for the O2. Which will come in December – December it will be five years, it’ll be five years. And so, from a concert like that you would have thought that there might have been some sort of whisper or hint about another gig over here or over there. For maybe very, very good reasons, you know, charitable cause or whatever it is. Well, there wasn’t. So, I mean that’s it. I mean, that’s all I can tell you. So if there’s a five year span I wouldn’t expect that there would be anymore concerts really.

Which is sad in a way…

Well, it is what it is, isn’t it? So under those circumstances, I could tell after three years, when it was getting in, 3 ½ years, we got to pay some attention, I´ve got to look at it and forget and just go in, in an objective way and just ah… forget about broken fingers and all the rest of it. And think, you know, going in with a really positive attitude of knowing that we did a really great show. And that Jason had played marvelously. His father would have been so proud of him. And that was the way to go in and look at the O2.

But weren´t there plans to form another band with a different singer and to go on tour as well?

No. You see, what we did – doing all of the rehearsals – was not to play any new stuff. Not to get sidetracked. But we felt that all, certainly Jason, myself and John Paul Jones – cause Robert had his Alison Krauss project to, to quickly promote or manifest – it seemed the right thing to do, to go in and start playing new material and see how we were getting on. But I thought that really we should play on our strengths here. Which was the music. And we should start working on quite a lot of music. Which we had, you know, a few things together. But there were a lot of movements to bring in singers and do this that and the other, and that would have changed the character too early from what we could and were doing, do you know what I mean? All of the sudden we shift around and… but there was a lot of… I won’t say pressure, but a lot of hinting about this singer and that singer. And it was for me, it was more a question of: “Let’s see what we can really do.” And I don´t think we really got a chance to do that.

So, it would have been too early at that point?

To do what? Bring in a singer on it? No, I think we needed the material; we needed to work on the material first, and all the various sort of textures and moods that we could do. So, no that wasn’t to be either.

See everybody thought you would go on a Led Zeppelin reunion tour replacing Robert with another singer. That is obviously a misunderstanding then?

Well, look: If we’d have eventually settled on a singer, I don’t think that would have been a good idea to have done that prematurely. Of course, we would have played Led Zeppelin material. But I don’t know, it’s all hypothetical. But, you know, you want to be playing some really, really, really good new material to knock people’s socks off.

Is that ever going to happen?

I don’t think so, I don’t think so. I know that I certainly want to be… Well, let’s put it this way: This time last year I intended to be actually playing by now, in a live outfit. And out there playing concerts. (chuckles) So, that will have to be postponed now into sort of next year, tail end of next year. But I definitely want to be doing that.

With Roger Daltrey for a singer?

No, no, not Roger. Why, why, is that one of the rumors?

Roger said he would love to do something with you.

Well, we had discussed it. But for the Teenager Cancer Trust, yeah. Yeah, and I said: “You know, I’d love to do that with you, Roger”, but certainly at the time I was saying that I thought I was already going to be out there playing, you know what I mean? But although everything I’d been doing is something that’s musical, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s playing the guitar, do you see what I mean? Like, you can imagine with all of this, this relative to the O2, and there’s some other things that are going on. Like the sort of re-mastering of the catalog and this sort of stuff. It’s all stuff that is highly musical, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you could sit there and play the guitar at the same time. So I’m going to be working with musicians I sincerely hope by… well, into next year. And then hopefully surface by the end of that year.

In a new band outfit or with various guest musicians?

We’ll see what it is, we’ll see what it is.

So in a way Led Zeppelin still occupies most of your time these days?

Yeah, oh absolutely. Absolutely it just does, yeah.

Thirty two years later – who would have thought?

Yeah, really, really. But providing the things that you’re involved with – on a Led Zeppelin front – are really honorable things. And they’re things you, I can be proud of, everyone in the band can be proud of. And things that the fans are really looking forward to hearing, then it’s worth doing, isn’t it? And it’s essential really.

You´ve been nominated for the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors in Washington later this year.

Yes, we have.

Together with Dustin Hoffman and Buddy Guy…

Oh, is Buddy Guy going to be there, too?

That’s why I thought: Are you going to jam on the occasion?

Well, they said there’s no playing. That we didn’t have to play. It doesn’t mean to say that, I don’t know… I mean, they said it’s not a playing event. So I don’t know. Buddy Guy’s absolutely marvelous, isn’t he? I saw the ah… I haven’t seen him before, but just recently I was in a club where they were playing The Rolling Stones where he comes on and starts playing. And he’s just magnificent, he always was though. He’s just such a powerful presence. Yeah. I think I just give him my guitar and let him get on with it. (laughing)

How does it feel that Led Zeppelin is still that popular after all those years – maybe even more so than in the 70’s and 80’s? Is that what you’ve always struggled for as a musician – to be recognized for your work?

Well, when the first album was done, it was definitely one hope. I’m sure everyone else in the band felt the same way – that they wanted other musicians to come up and say: “Hey, that’s a really good album you’ve got, and that’s a really good band.” But the fact is: The chemistry of Led Zeppelin is that you’ve got four – I´m going to say Robert here, I’m going to count him as a musician – four incredible musicians, individually. But the thing was that they could play as a band. And that was the difference between us and all of the others. It might be a superstar this or superstar that – we were all on top of our game. And that element of us playing together was just something else. So, I think that is one of the things that, you know, if you want to play guitar, if you want to play bass or harmony, or whatever you want to do, there’s a wonderful textbook there of Led Zeppelin.

I mean, you were all well trained session musicians, you knew what you were doing at that time, weren´t you?

I wasn’t so much a trained musician. I sort of learned as I went along.

But you were experience or weathered?

Uhm… disciplined! You had to be really good. Yeah, cause if you started messing up you wouldn’t come back. They wouldn’t invite you back. So, yeah, I managed to go through that running the gauntlet, if you like, of sessions. It was like an apprenticeship for me doing that. I learned a lot.

The opening sequence of “Celebration Day” is you arriving in Atlanta on a private jet, a police escort and two limousines in tow, and 76.000 people setting a new ticket record. How did it feel to make that transition from session musicians to rock stars? How did you handle that?

Listen, when I first went to America with Yardbirds they were still screaming in those days of the Beatles. And we played in a ice rink. This was when Beck was still in the band, and I think I still may have been on bass. Because I did bass and then I’d swap over to guitar. So we’d had twin guitars and Chris Dreja would play the bass. But it was on an ice rink. And I remember they mobbed the stage. And we had to run away. And of course, there was only this little bit of carpet to take you from the dressing room area. And slipping over and having your clothes ripped off. That’s the sort of mania thing that I can remember, having been through all of that as well. And yeah, so I remember those days as much as anything else. And I was playing in stadiums as a support band with others, with The Yardbirds as well. So I sort of knew about stadiums and I sort of, you know, I definitely paid my dues if you like along the way. So, I had a really good idea about Led Zeppelin. And at the time FM radio as opposed to the singles AM stations and all of that, ´cause they were playing whole sides of albums in those days. Which was really quite refreshing.

That would be impossible today.

Well, of course it would, yeah, yeah.

What does Jimmy Page listen to these days, what is he into?

A (cell phone rings): Sorry. That was a really interesting intervention by the phone. I’m still listening to music right across the board. It’s not any one thing. And I’m really pleased about that. I want to go on about a sort of an eclectic taste, but I always have… yeah, back to being a teenager even. I was always listening to all different styles of music. Even though I loved rockabilly and I loved jazz. But I also liked classical guitar, and not that I could play it. (chuckles) But I loved to listen to it. And orchestration, you know, and sort of ethnic music from various continents. Even then when I was a teenager and a session musician, I was really into all of that. And I haven’t changed, I haven’t changed. I can still be really excited by hearing some fierce rockabilly or some really authentic blues, you know. But I can still just as easily be seduced by classical music as well – whatever. So, that’s how it goes. And that won’t change, because that hasn’t changed over all these years.

Is that why you´ve played with so many different people over the years? Because you always have an open ear for new bands?

Yeah, I’ve been really lucky that I played with some magnificent singers as well, you know, in bands. And that’s been wonderful. You know, Paul Rogers – absolute superb, and he´s absolutely marvelous still. I don’t know whether you’ve heard him recently. But he’s marvelous. And to even record with Puff Daddy that was quite something else. Because I was actually going to America and I was getting asked to do autographs by black people who were coming up. And I thought: “Wow, this is, this is change. That’s really cool.” (laughs)

May I ask you how big your guitar collection is by now?


There should be a museum of stuff by now?

I’ve got a sizable collection of guitars. And if I said: “It was a hundred”, it sounds like far too many, doesn’t it? But let´s say I’ve got instruments, including bass, mandolin, banjos, a Japan banjo. Which is a sort of, it’s an instrument I found in India, which has got like typewriter keys on it. (chuckles) And it’s a really wacky thing. Yeah, anyway all various little instruments that I’ll have a, you know, I’ll have a crack on.

While your signature guitars, the Gibsons, have always been very limited editions – like 25 here, 35 there. Why is that? Are they meant to be collectibles?

Well, you know, but I wasn’t… maybe I wasn’t the first one to be involved in the signature guitars from Gibson. But I knew that the quality, cause there was one that came out in the 90s, where the quality wasn’t that good. And when I was approached to do another, one I said: “Well, the quality would have to be absolutely phenomenal”, you know. And I’ve got to say that if there was an addition of whatever, I’d say 35, they’d maybe bring over 37. And out of those there might be one, one would be awful. Maybe they put that one in just to see whether I’d notice. And another one might just have a little imperfection over here. But all the rest of them were really consistent. So, the quality was there. And ah… well, they guaranteed that it would be. And they’d certainly did deliver the quality, so.

Mind you: They just got sued for using illegal woods…

Have they? Yeah, I think I may have heard something about that. See, that’s the problem with guitars, you know: Those woods that were used back in the 1890’s (chuckles) are the woods that work. They worked for a purpose, Brazilian Rosewood and all of this. It’s what it is, isn’t it?

And 50 years later they sound even better?

Well yeah, yeah.

In what way has your playing changed over the years? Can you see a development – especially after Led Zeppelin?

Yes. Well, yes it has. Certainly at the O2 with a broken finger I noticed there was a difference. (laughs) And on the rehearsal, it’s broke a bit. So I did notice, I did notice there was a difference. But yes, I think there’s definitely a different insight into the playing. And there’s a maturity without losing the edge and the passion for it. So, you know, where there’s a solo like uhm… something from say the first album, from “Communication Breakdown”. It comes in as really, you know, it’s really roaring and there’s an aggressiveness to it. I can still play like that. And as long as I’ve still got that and as long as I can still make up music and conjure up music out of nowhere, then I’m really thankful, you know, for the gift that I’ve been given.

Meaning: There is a foundation and you could go left or right, if you wanted to?

Well, sort of, yeah. What do you mean? Playing in other sort of same picture different frame? There’s always that aspect to it, yeah.

Like using folky, bluesy or even Arabic influences?

Well, yes.

So the door is wide open?

Well, it is, it is. But it’s quite, you see, I’ve had numbers of ideas of how to sort of have a fusion with this. I’ve never… Things are so complex now – in this day and age, too, because the music isn’t quite what it used to be. It’s quite, you know, whoever you meet has got a manager and an agent and a lawyer and it uhm… Things can be quite complicated, where it sort of restricts the flow if you like. (chuckles)

Does that mean you do miss the old days and ways?


Just bumping into people and saying: “Hi, can we work?”

Well no, because that’s up to me to do that. That’s up to me to do that. And what I do know is that if I do any… if I do another album, then I want it to have as many sort of colors and moods as you would expect from anything that I’ve done in the past. Whether it was The Yardbirds or whether it was Led Zeppelin or whatever. And that’s because, that’s how I do it. It’s sort of a reflection of this mood or that or, you know what I’m saying?

Looking back on Led Zep: Is that band like a monster you’ve created or would you consider it the best thing that could have happened to you?

No, my Led Zeppelin heritage, I’m really proud of it. And I’m sure everybody else is. Because within the framework of that band everybody’s playing came on and on, songwriting, everything about it. It was such a wonderful band to be in, you know. It was a privilege to be in a band like that. But we didn’t waste our time. We really, you know, we really made the most of what we had of that creative flow, the juices that were joined. So yeah, looking at the whole of that work, I can see my guitar playing improving from the first album through to the sort of midpoint to the end. Yes, I can see a whole sort of movement and change in the approaches of this, you know, and the others. So for example, the two numbers that were supposed to be like a tip back to the past: “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “Tea For One”. Which is, it’s all within this timeframe of eleven years or whatever, but “Tea For One” and the whole approach to the way that I was playing the guitar solo on that, is chalk and cheese from the what that I’m trying to play at that time of “Since I’ve Been Loving You”. So there was a change going on even then. And that change has continued on through.

But after the break-up you had to put the guitar aside to get away from it all?


Because it was such an intense eleven years as you´ve put?

Well, yes, of course it was. What I did after Led Zeppelin was: I actually played with – I don’t know whether you know this – Alan White and Chris Squire from Yes. And ´cause I had my own studio at that point, and it was suggested to play with them. And I thought: “That’s really going to be testy.” Because Yes’ music is really good, and I know they’re really fine, I love them. So that was the first thing that I actually did after, after we lost John, and that sort of period where I didn’t play for… It doesn’t actually amount to that much time that I wasn’t playing or making music if you like, but I certainly made music then with them, and I really enjoyed that. And then after that I got the chance to do the soundtrack of “Death Wish II”, which was really a challenge. So, I was really challenging myself and just moving on. And with something like “Death Wish II”, I really had to come up with a lot of stuff. It was 45 minutes of music in a 90 minute film, that’s a lot. That’s how it all added up: 45 minutes; it was too much music in it, really. But nevertheless it was very challenging. And I had to make all of that up on the spot. So yeah, I’m good at that though.

Also there’s the release of the Kenneth Anger soundtrack. After how many years?

Well, yeah. I put it out on my website. It’s on vinyl. And ah…

As it should be?

Yeah! Yeah, and it’s the music that I, it’s not the actual mix that I sent to Kenneth Anger. Because I don’t know what happened to that. I’m not sure that it ever got sent back. But I know there’s bootlegs of it out there. But I remixed this, but fortunately I had all the effects, it’s only 8-track-tape. But I employed all the effects at the time, oh thank you. Cause some of them I didn’t want to try and recreate. And they would have been very difficult to recreate. So, it was just sort of putting the levels up and letting it go. So yeah, it did come out. I’m pleased that came out. Cause that’s really flirting with the avantgarde, you know. And it’s the sort of stuff you couldn’t have done that with Led Zeppelin. But I was thinking that way as much as I was thinking Rock´n´Roll.

That’s only 23 minutes of music though, isn´t it?

Yeah, and some of the stuff on the other side of the vinyl is pretty interesting, too. Yeah, there’s some interesting stuff. It´s sort of like the mad scientist at home in his laboratory. And I had the music, and then, it wasn’t, it wasn’t, I presented that music to Kenneth Anger when he asked me if I… I said: “I’ve got something.” And I´ve just doubled it up in length, and I played it to him. It was just absolutely perfect.

See what he did with it.

Yeah, yeah.

He never even used it.

Yeah, yeah. Well, that was his choice. But I do know that I had an approach. Would I like to put, would I like to put the music on the film again? And I think: “Well, no you took it off, you took it off.”

How comes you weren’t involved in the London Olympics? I mean you’ve presented the Beijing thing, so I was expecting you to be a part of this ceremony, too…

I wasn’t invited. But then again, nor was Leona, was she? So, but it was terrific to do the Beijing one. Because there was only us to worry about. We didn’t have to worry about other people wanting to have more time to play and cutting down your time and all that sort of stuff. It was great. But I thought the opening ceremony was superb at the London Olympics. It was really something. We were really quite overwhelmed I think as a nation to see just how well that had been done by Mr. Boyle. It was superb, wasn’t it?

Not to forget The Who…

Yeah, yeah. That’s the closing ceremony though. I thought the opening ceremony was good. Yeah, The Who were good on the closing ceremony.

Honestly: Do you ever miss working in a band context? I mean, you had the Firm in between. You worked with the Yes guys, but you never got around to form another band…

No, I didn’t.

Because it would have been impossible in a way?

No, I just… Listen: I did a film track for Michael Winner. OK, so there’s the Anger one as well. But I did one for Michael Winner, the Anger one came first. I had the opportunity to do more soundtracks, but I thought: “I’ve done it”, you know. That’s fair enough. And actually after that then I got together with Paul Rogers. And we did a couple of albums and quite a bit of touring. Basically yeah, I had a single out in 1965, and then… well, of course there was “Death Wish” came out as an album. And then I had a solo album in 1988. That’s sort of fair enough really. So I guess it’s time to do another solo album. But, you know, it’s ah… it’ll be a good thing to do. Sort of summing up.

Well, you’re under no pressure. You lead a good life, what else do can you ask for?

Well, I like to play. I like playing live, I enjoy playing live. And that’s really important part of me. Because I enjoy the challenge of ah… is it the challenge or is it the adventure of having a set and knowing that it can change and mutate and you’re playing? Cause I’d always try and play differently every night no matter what. So that’s always something that’s fun to do. And I enjoy playing live. So, it’s time to do it. But there’s been a lot of Led Zeppelin work to be done. And to have done up to this point, and to be done as well. But after that I should do it… no, this is all studio stuff, nothing to do with any live stuff. So, you know, sort of revisiting the vaults.

So once you´re done with that you´re free, you´re off to the next thing?

Well, I just, yeah there’s a few bits and pieces to come. Uhm… and then, yeah I should be off doing solo projects. And we’ll see what I manage to pull together under those circumstances. But I had some really ambitious ideas. But actually they certainly weren’t cost effective. (laughing) But we’ll see how it all comes out. Then I’ll talk to you again about what those ideas were and how it all actually, how it finalized, the actual thinking process behind things…

Last thing for today, and I know you’re not too keen talking about this, is the heroin use of the late 70’s. I know if you are under constant pressure you seek for tools to be able to focus accordingly. Was that drug something that enabled you to work under those circumstances? And did it influence your playing in any way?

Well, I don’t want to actually pinpoint any one thing. But if you take in to account the albumPresence was done in three weeks. And if you take into account that In Through The Outdoor, which is basically the last studio album – even though Coda is like a compilation of bits. But that again was done in three weeks and a bit more than that, bit more. But, you know, four weeks maximum, 3 ½ to four weeks that the element of focus would be pretty substantial I’d say. But: We don’t really want to be in a position of supporting drug use and whatever.

Fair enough.

You know, a lot of people died along the way using.

And they still do.

That´s right…

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Nice interview with Jimmy, which was quite candid.

Will be interesting to see if he does start playing live and comes up with new material and a band. Also, wonder what he will be doing with the LZ studio material, when he referred to revisiting the vaults. We'll see, I guess.

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Really interesting and fairly long interview with Jimmy.


Really important interview. I don't think anything so thorough has been published in a long time, and Jimmy is very open, and fascinating, about his current attitudes, aspirations, and activity . Of course, a little of the evasion we are all used to, but he seems to be relaxed and in earnest about sharing his current approach. It's a valuable thing to have done .

Also such a contrast to the limited value of these press conferences we've seen : fascinating as they are, they've been guarded in terms of content, and for the most part very defensive.

Love it! thanks for posting

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Thanks, Sam!

It seemed more like a conversation than an interview so I thought it was a tad more revealing than others (and it gives me hope to see him live at some point.)

That is an exceptional interview, thanks for posting! I found this really interesting:

"So once you´re done with that you´re free, you´re off to the next thing?

Well, I just, yeah there’s a few bits and pieces to come. Uhm… and then, yeah I should be off doing solo projects. And we’ll see what I manage to pull together under those circumstances. But I had some really ambitious ideas. But actually they certainly weren’t cost effective. (laughing) But we’ll see how it all comes out. Then I’ll talk to you again about what those ideas were and how it all actually, how it finalized, the actual thinking process behind things…"

Wonder what kind of ideas he had that "weren't cost effective". And what does that mean?...

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^^Thanks fdm12!1 I loved that interview. THANK you for posting it.

New concert documentary offers ‘Celebration Day’ for Led Zeppelin fans


From left: Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Jason Bonham performing in London in 2007. A film of the Led Zeppelin reunion concert has been made into the documentary “Celebration Day.”

By Steve Morse

Globe Correspondent / October 13, 2012

When I first saw Led Zeppelin, they were the middle act at the Bath Festival of Blues in England in 1969 behind headliners Fleetwood Mac, Ten Years After, and John Mayall. These others were good, but Zeppelin was transcendent. They stole the show — something that would happen often in the future on the way to selling 300 million records.

Flash forward to 2007. Led Zeppelin reunites for its first headlining show in 27 years — a charity fund-raiser for the Ahmet Ertegun Foundation at London’s O2 Arena. More than 20 million people enter a lottery for tickets, but only 18,000 get them. For those lucky few it becomes “Celebration Day,” which is also the title of the new, long-delayed movie from that performance. It will first have premieres in London, New York, Berlin, and Tokyo, then a two-day debut at 1,500 cinemas in 43 countries on Wednesday and Thursday, followed by a multi-format Blu-ray and DVD release on Nov. 19.

At a recent screening in New York, I was struck by how powerfully and easily the band turned back the years. Fronted by Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones and backed by drummer Jason Bonham (son of Zeppelin’s original drummer, John), the group played two hours of Zep favorites from the opening “Good Times Bad Times” (the first song on their debut album) to all-time classic-rock hit “Stairway to Heaven.” They were framed against a high-tech, color-drenched LED screen that would have made U2 envious.

“Thank you for the thousands and thousands of emotions we’re going through,’’ Plant tells the crowd, which includes celebrities Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Oasis, and “three generations of Presleys,” as Page would say later. (Presumably, these celebs didn’t go through the ticket lottery.)

The race is now on to make the rollout of the film as legendary as the performance. “I started working on this two years ago,’’ says Grant Calton, CEO of distributors Omniverse Vision, in a phone interview from Europe. “We’re basically in the business of what is known as ‘alternative content’ or ‘event cinema.’ It’s about things that fall outside the regular film mold, if you will, and creating events around them.

“Event cinema is a burgeoning niche which is being driven by digital cinema, obviously, and also the growth of emerging markets like Brazil and Southeastern Asia, Eastern Europe, and China, as well,” Calton adds.

The Zeppelin film will be Omniverse’s biggest global event so far in terms of distribution. The second biggest was a live transmission of the 25th anniversary performance of “The Phantom of the Opera” at London’s Royal Albert Hall, beamed to 900 cinemas around the world.

The Zep film is the career peak for director Dick Carruthers. He is a longtime collaborator with the band, having worked on the re-release of their concert film, “The Song Remains the Same,” in 2007.

Carruthers used a whopping 15 cameras for the Zeppelin shoot at O2 Arena. Most were high-definition cameras but he also had three Super 8s (“those domestic ’70s home movie cameras,” he says) planted in the crowd. The Super 8s yielded grainy footage that he mixed in with the HD footage to give “a hint of a bootleg feel.” It works beautifully. And, in the only non-concert moments, he adds humorous footage from a news station in Tampa reporting on a Zeppelin stadium concert there that drew 50,000 people in 1973.

“That was Robert Plant’s idea,” Carruthers says in a phone interview from London. “We found it as a little historical curio from the archives.”

The band also gave Carruthers carte blanche to film whatever he wanted, thus fostering an astonishing intimacy in the images achieved. “Jimmy

said, ‘We want you to be nice and close so everybody can see what we’re playing.’ That was so different from when I shot Jack White of the White Stripes. There was a shot of Jack playing his wah-wah (guitar) pedal with his foot, but he said, ‘Can you take that out? I don’t want people to know how I made that sound.’ So I mentioned this to Jimmy Page and he said, ‘No, I want people to see what I play. Show the pedals, show the feet, and show close-ups of my hands on the guitar.’

“So we ended with a lot of things the world has never seen — the close-ups of Jimmy and of John Paul Jones playing the bass with his foot pedals while he’s on the keyboards. You’ve heard it and wondered if it was an overdub, but it’s him playing with his feet.”

Another smart move was Carruthers putting a fixed camera on the drum riser. “We didn’t expect to get anything from it, but from going through the rushes, every now and again both Jimmy and John will turn and face Jason and you get a great shot of them right in front of the bass drum that no camera operator would ever get.”

The performance reaches a zenith on “Misty Mountain Hop,” which is accompanied by fluid images of stained glass windows on the LED screen; and on the following “Kashmir,” one of Zeppelin’s most mystical songs, in which Plant shouts the incantation, “Let me take you there!”

“Everybody’s eyes were on us waiting for this to go not-so-much right but go wrong,” Plant said at a recent press conference in London. “So there was a real feeling of camaraderie afterward.”

Not enough camaraderie, alas, to spark Zeppelin to tour again. Promoters offered them millions of dollars after this comeback show, but Plant, in particular, did not want to do it, instead opting for smaller, boutique albums and tours with Alison Krauss and Patty Griffin.

One bonus for fans is that a special disc of a full dress rehearsal for the O2 show will be added to one of the DVD packages in November. It took place at Shepperton Studios, which also houses a famous film studio. Carruthers set up just one camera at the back of a hall space, so it’s totally unlike the all-out film assault at the arena.

A big question, of course, is why did it take five years to get “Celebration Day” out?

“Five years is five minutes in Led Zeppelin time. I’m surprised we’re getting it out this quickly,’’ said the dry-witted Jones at the press conference.

“You have to look at the historical perspective,’’ says Carruthers. “There were bits from the ’70s that never came out until Jimmy and I worked on them in 2002, which became a DVD [‘How the West Was Won’]. So what it tells you is that this is a band that will sit on stuff until the time is right. There is certainly no commercial pressure on them. No rules apply to them now.

“They locked this stuff away in a vault after the London show, but I figured I’d get a phone call at some point that would say, ‘Let’s have a look at it.’ And I did,” says Carruthers, who is still working on the various DVD packages. “To have this come to life in the cinema and on DVD is the pinnacle for me. It doesn’t feel like it right now, but when it’s all over and I’m de-stressed and have a large Sam Adams by my side, I’ll be very happy.”

Steve Morse can be reached at spmorse@gmail.com.


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Thanks everyone - glad I could contribute something besides just my opinion for a change!

And Deborah J, the link you provided made me remember that in the interview Jimmy seems to indicate the "full dress rehearsal" will be part of the deluxe DVD release- which is great news! The film sounds amazing - can't wait for Wed night!

I have to say watching him (not in a stalker/creepy way but he was directly in my line of sight) watch Joe Walsh, I thought how could he watch and not be overwhelmed with a longing to play live again. Walsh was having so much fun and so was the audience. I can't imagine that feeling would ever go away.

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Also today ..http://www.guardian....ood?INTCMP=SRCHThe Guardian interview with the members of the band.

Oh just one more... this is my favorite remark from JPJ about the band standing close together on stage... " You need to be that close. There's a lot going on, a lot to concentrate on and focus on. Plus, I like to feel the wind from the bass drum."

Always professional mixed with a little bit of poetry.

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