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BBC - Why Won't Robert Plant Reform Led Zeppelin?


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This article was published on BBC Worldwide today. I've pasted the copy here so that UK readers can see it.

Original URL: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20130802-why-wont-led-zeppelin-reform

On the Record | 2 August 2013
Why won’t Robert Plant reform Led Zeppelin?
Reunions are big business. But one ‘70s superstar – Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant – is bucking the trend. Greg Kot explains why.
It’s just a wild guess, but the Rolling Stones’ recent run of paydays, er, concerts, are not likely to have gone unnoticed by the former members of Led Zeppelin. The Stones have been away for a while, are all around 70 years old, and are playing songs from three and four decades ago on their current tour. But with tickets going for as high as $600, they’re pulling in millions of dollars in revenue each night.
Somewhere, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones are thinking: “This too could be ours.” A 2007 Led Zeppelin reunion concert at the O2 Arena in London with original members Page, Jones and Robert Plant, joined on drums by Jason Bonham (the son of the late John Bonham), was a success artistically and commercially. The show set a record for ticket demand, with 20 million fans wanting in, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
But the reunion proved to be a one-off, largely because Plant wanted no part of doing something more, despite tour offers ranging as high as $200m (£132m) from concert promoters. Page and Jones even started working with other vocalists in Plant’s stead in hope of keeping Zeppelin afloat, but never took it beyond the rehearsal stage. Plant instead focused on touring in 2008 with country singer Alison Krauss and producer T Bone Burnett, with whom he made a Grammy-winning album, Raising Sand. It didn’t sound anything like Led Zeppelin – a guiding feature behind most of Plant’s music in the three decades since Zeppelin imploded after John Bonham’s death in 1980.
Once more with feeling
It’s the era of reunions, with everyone from classic-rockers to the first generation of Lollapalooza bands pulling together one more time for the big bucks, but Plant is no bandwagon jumper, despite the eye-popping revenue potential. Consider that the Police raked in more than $340m(£225m) on a 2007-08 comeback tour, the Eagles collected $250m (£165m) in 2008-11, and the Pixies have played to audiences five to ten times bigger in the last decade than when they were releasing ground-breaking albums in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. This year, it’s The Replacements’ turn – or what’s left of them. Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson have signed up to play three dates at Riot Fest in Toronto, Denver and Chicago, after rejecting lucrative offers from festivals such as Coachella and Lollapalooza for years.
The exceptions to the trend are dwindling. So far, the Smiths have resisted a big-bucks rapprochement, with Morrissey steadfast in his contention that it will never happen. Ditto for a victory lap from indie-rock favorites Hüsker Dü, with Bob Mould in no mood to commingle assets with Grant Hart. But Plant is the most notable hold-out of all.
The singer has his reasons, which he has rephrased countless times over the decades, turning many of his responses into punch lines: “It would be like sleeping with your ex-wife again without having sex.” Engage Plant more deeply on the subject of what it means to play music, and he’ll tell you it’s all about discovery, new challenges. He sees a Zeppelin reunion as a nostalgia piece “fired by youth and a different kind of exuberance,” as he once said.
Part of his response suggests that it would be difficult to do anything Zep-related on his terms; that is, to create and perform new music rather than rely on rehashing the past. Even if Plant, Page and Jones reunited to make a new album, would fans want to hear them play it in concert at the expense of Whole Lotta Love and Stairway to Heaven? And if the band was somehow persuaded to crank up the ‘70s jukebox, could Plant hit those high notes and conjure the bravado of the bare-chested “golden god”?
Reinventing the past
Plant certainly has his doubts. Call it integrity, common sense or just plain old distaste for reliving the past, the singer is that rare ‘70s superstar whose second act is as artistically rewarding – if not as financially lucrative – as his first. Even when he performs Zeppelin songs these days in concert, it’s with a twist, taking the music back not only to its roots in Mississippi Delta blues, but to the shores of West Africa. At a recent show in Grant Park on Chicago’s lakefront, Plant and his genre-bending band, the Sensational Space Shifters, refashioned Whole Lotta Love around a droning, one-string African fiddle rather than an electric guitar. A trance-inducing mix of keyboards and stringed instruments supplanted the flying metal shards of another Zep warhorse, Black Dog. Plant wasn’t trying to shout so much as snake through the songs, darting and diving between the syncopated beats and finding melody lines inside the band’s shadowy interplay.
With his greying hair tied up in a Miami Vice-style bun, he looked like he was having a blast, shimmying as the Space Shifters reshaped time. His fans – who have been trained to expect the unexpected from him – danced. The 64-year-old singer smiled devilishly and thanked the audience for indulging him “an evening of soft rock.” He poked fun at the days when he wrote lyrics filled with “mad hobbits and Vikings“.
How much did Plant get paid to have all that fun? According to city records, $125,000 (£82,400)– a tenth of what he might have hauled in had he been performing with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. Sure, Plant doesn’t need the money. But it appears he needs Led Zeppelin even less.
Greg Kot is the music critic at the Chicago Tribune. His work can be found here
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Greg Kot has been around forever and always reported on the band members favorably. Having said that, this article is not only snooze inducing but fails to reveal anything we haven't already known for years about why there will not be a Led Zeppelin reunion tour.

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Greg Kot has been around forever and always reported on the band members favorably. Having said that, this article is not only snooze inducing but fails to reveal anything we haven't already known for years about why there will not be a Led Zeppelin reunion tour.

Agreed. BBC Worldwide articles are usually sub-par.

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Thank god and I hope Plant sticks to his integrity until his last breath. O2 was the swansong of Zeppelin, going out on top with a great show, not saying they could not do that on a full on tour, they could and most likely get better as they went. My issue is kinda the same as Plant's, integrity. To me it is just sad to see these old farts like Jagger & Richards trying to relive the 70's, it a fucking joke and a bad one at that. Further, without new music it is rehashing a bygone era and that is the job of cover bands like Lez Zeppelin and the like. If you don't move forward in life it ain't much of a journey is it, it's more akin to jogging in place and what fun is that?

Robert...YOU RULE!!!

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Thank god and I hope Plant sticks to his integrity until his last breath. O2 was the swansong of Zeppelin, going out on top with a great show, not saying they could not do that on a full on tour, they could and most likely get better as they went. My issue is kinda the same as Plant's, integrity. To me it is just sad to see these old farts like Jagger & Richards trying to relive the 70's, it a fucking joke and a bad one at that. Further, without new music it is rehashing a bygone era and that is the job of cover bands like Lez Zeppelin and the like. If you don't move forward in life it ain't much of a journey is it, it's more akin to jogging in place and what fun is that?

Robert...YOU RULE!!!

You nailed it. Nothing else to say!

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Thank god and I hope Plant sticks to his integrity until his last breath. O2 was the swansong of Zeppelin, going out on top with a great show, not saying they could not do that on a full on tour, they could and most likely get better as they went. My issue is kinda the same as Plant's, integrity. To me it is just sad to see these old farts like Jagger & Richards trying to relive the 70's, it a fucking joke and a bad one at that. Further, without new music it is rehashing a bygone era and that is the job of cover bands like Lez Zeppelin and the like. If you don't move forward in life it ain't much of a journey is it, it's more akin to jogging in place and what fun is that?

Robert...YOU RULE!!!

:thumbsup:

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It’s just a wild guess, but the Rolling Stones’ recent run of paydays, er, concerts, are not likely to have gone unnoticed by the former members of Led Zeppelin.

I think it's the other way around.

The Celebration Day activity of last year didn't go unnoticed to the members of Rolling Stones.

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Thank god and I hope Plant sticks to his integrity until his last breath. O2 was the swansong of Zeppelin, going out on top with a great show, not saying they could not do that on a full on tour, they could and most likely get better as they went. My issue is kinda the same as Plant's, integrity. To me it is just sad to see these old farts like Jagger & Richards trying to relive the 70's, it a fucking joke and a bad one at that. Further, without new music it is rehashing a bygone era and that is the job of cover bands like Lez Zeppelin and the like. If you don't move forward in life it ain't much of a journey is it, it's more akin to jogging in place and what fun is that?

Robert...YOU RULE!!!

I don't think it's so much that the Stones want to relive or rehash that 70's era/the success as much as it is, them enjoying the thrill of playing together. I'm not disagreeing with you by any means, concerning their (2 or 3) decades long "stale" state of progress, because frankly I could give a shit about the Stones...never liked em' all that much aside from a dozen or so songs that I admit are really good tunes. I can name some much better, more influential, important acts in my opinion of course (but that's another story). Their best songs (the majority of them) are the one's that have become the most popular-same with The Who, etc. Whereas, Zeppelin had just as many great deep cuts as they did the well known tunes. In The Light, The Rover, Custard Pie, The Battle of Evermore, How many more Times, That's the Way, Out on the Tiles, For your Life, Carouselambra, etc were just as good and important as Black Dog and No Quarter, IMO.

Anyway.....

There are more than enough topics throughout this site to cover the whole "Plant refuses to reunite" subject. I'm glad things are as they are. I really don't think some people "get" Robert Plant, what he stands for and his intentions. If you listen to Zeppelin from the first album on through till the last official release, they were always changing and mutating as a band-never repeating themselves for the most part.

Robert Plant is no different on his own. You may or may not like the direction, but it's always fresh and ever changing.

Edited by Rock Historian
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Wow, Jimmy's culpability in the "NOT GONNA DO IT" column lasted all of 2.5 seconds!

see > http://forums.ledzeppelin.com/index.php?/topic/20495-harvey-weinstein-claims-that-jimmy-pages-lawyer-ended-led-zeppelin-reunion-dream/

And poor John Paul Jone's even less!

see> http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/jun/10/led-zeppellin-reunion-john-paul-jones-opera

Good grief! :rolleyes:

He's right about it being "soft rock", "elevator rock" would be appropriate too. :coffee:

"Elevator Rock"?

Lambeau, have you even seen Robert live lately?

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I think it's the other way around.

The Celebration Day activity of last year didn't go unnoticed to the members of Rolling Stones.

What activity, oh you mean that forgotten already ever so small flash in the pan that was Celebration Day? Noticed by the Rolling Stones, I think not.

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What activity, oh you mean that forgotten already ever so small flash in the pan that was Celebration Day? Noticed by the Rolling Stones, I think not.

I think it may not be a coincidence that the Rolling Stones, and Black Sabbath albums, appeared after Celebration Day, perhaps a reaction by marketers, it's the impression I have but I could be wrong.

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I think it may not be a coincidence that the Rolling Stones, and Black Sabbath albums, appeared after Celebration Day, perhaps a reaction by marketers, it's the impression I have but I could be wrong.

You're wrong. The gestation of albums and their marketing campaigns means both the Stones and Black Sabbath albums were in the works before "Celebration Day" was released.

Besides, the days are long gone since the Stones kept tabs on Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, the Who, and the rest of their peers.

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both the Stones and Black Sabbath albums were in the works before "Celebration Day" was released.

Thanks, I didn't think of that possibility, but it makes sense, Black Sabbath's album had been in the works for quite some time by October 2012, so you're correct.

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If Black Sabbath down to just the token original member Tony Iommi in the 80/ 90's could call themselves Black Sabbath then Page /Plant in the 90's was Led Zeppelin in all but name , look how that finished

2007 was probably to down the fact that the 1988 reunion was n't brilliant they owed Atlantic records and its boss (r.i.p) one

Edited by weslgarlic
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