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strombringer101

The change in Robert Plants singing.

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I often wondered what Zeppelin fans thought back in 1975-to Present what they thought of the change in Robert plants vocals? I do recall reading that Zeppelin toured before the  physical graffiti album so I am pretty sure fans notice in concert that Plant lost range but what about those that 1. Didn’t see Zeppelins 75 tour but bought the album the same year. 2. Those that didn’t know the history of Zeppelin but discovered a change on the PG album? For me I found it kinda odd that  physical graffiti had recordings that sounded different compared to other songs on the Album. Houses of The Holy song is one example, or down by the sea side is another. 

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A buddy of mine said he and his friends saw Zep at MSG in 75, and they were all disappointed with Plant.  It was shocking to them when they opened with Rock n Roll and he sang a full octave lower than album cut.  I’m sure they weren’t alone in that sentiment.

 

 

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42 minutes ago, bluecongo said:

A buddy of mine said he and his friends saw Zep at MSG in 75, and they were all disappointed with Plant.  It was shocking to them when they opened with Rock n Roll and he sang a full octave lower than album cut.  I’m sure they weren’t alone in that sentiment.

 

 

The night he had the flu? 

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I never expect a singer to sound like the album but of all singers, I give plant a wide birth when it comes to his lack of vocal range. The man could have postponed a shitton of shows because he was sick in 73 and 75 but went on instead. Other singers would have canceled in a heartbeat. I appreciate that a lot.  When I hear the first verses of WTLB from Chicago I cringe because he sounds like his throat is killing him.

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34 minutes ago, hummingbird69 said:

I never expect a singer to sound like the album but of all singers, I give plant a wide birth when it comes to his lack of vocal range. The man could have postponed a shitton of shows because he was sick in 73 and 75 but went on instead. Other singers would have canceled in a heartbeat. I appreciate that a lot.  When I hear the first verses of WTLB from Chicago I cringe because he sounds like his throat is killing him.

No one that I have ever seen has asked Plant about this in any interviews.  I think, in hindsight, Grant really let Plant down in this regard, he chose profit over Plants long term vocal health.  

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, bluecongo said:

No one that I have ever seen has asked Plant about this in any interviews.  I think, in hindsight, Grant really let Plant down in this regard, he chose profit over Plants long term vocal health.  

It was Robert Plants responsibility to take care of 'his' voice, not Peter Grants. Plants warm up routine was cocaine n cigarettes, no wonder why the first couple of songs the vocals sound like shit. Ever hear of a singer that had as many "flu's" as Robert Plant? Me neither. Should Grant have cancelled the shows when Jimmy Page injured his fingers as well? Should they have waited until he was fully healed? If Grant had cancelled all the shows/tours where Plant had "the flu" along with when Page's fingers were injured, (and lets not forget that Plant didn't want to record Presence while in a wheelchair either) I would say that would have effectively destroyed the band. Grant made the right decision as a manager. And yes, Grant chose "profits over Plants long term vocal health". A managers job is turn an artists work into profit, not babysit a bunch of adults.

Rock n Roll was not designed for "long term health". 

Just my two cents folks. 

 

Edited by blindwillie127

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4 hours ago, bluecongo said:

No one that I have ever seen has asked Plant about this in any interviews.  I think, in hindsight, Grant really let Plant down in this regard, he chose profit over Plants long term vocal health.  

IDK?  Do you think Grant really forced him to go on or was it ultimately his choice?

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Dan Rather asked him in his interview. Plant responded that performing with the flu several times was partially responsible, however he placed most of the blame on an adrenaline shot a doctor gave him during the 72' tour in Australia after he lost his voice after a gig. Don't quite know what adrenaline would have to do with it but I am not a sawbones.

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Posted (edited)

It is interesting to think back to those times in 1975-77. None of my close friends saw Zep until 1977.  We knew some older friends who saw them in 1975.   They just said they were blown away and it was the greatest concert ever - no comments about Plant's voice.

I do recall wondering about the vocals on some of HOTH in 1973 thinking what is that?  NQ - I get the atmospherics.  But TSRTS vocals?  Did not seem right to me.  Still don't.  But I digress.  When PG came out it was just so overwhelming.  I never really thought about the vocal change.  Every Zep album was different so I just thought he is singing this way to fit the mood of the song.  I loved the dark vibe to his voice in things like Kashmir, Trampled, Dying Time, Sick again, Custard Pie, Wanton Song.  So much of that album had a dark and mysterious vibe to it.  Same thing for Presence.  Loved every bit of it and thought Plant was perfect for the songs.   I was not thinking his voice changed or was shot - I was thinking these songs and lyrics and delivery are so great and so different.

Then the movie and soundtrack came out in fall 1976 and again, none of us thought "oh his voice is shot".  We just loved the music.  One thing I really noticed was how much better I liked the vocals in TSRTS track compared to the album version.  And the Rain Song - so much better vocals live on that soundtrack than on HOTH.   Then I finally saw them in 1977 and was blown away by Plant's vocals, and of course all the rest of it.  I did not hear my first bootleg til around 1979 - the BBC 1971 session.

I guess I was so involved in digging the music and the newness of PG and Presence, I never really thought his voice changed.  I thought he just changed his approach to fit the songs and lyrics.

Looking back now and hearing so many live shows over the years it is all so obvious, but  back in 75-76 I was not thinking about his voice may have changed, and none of my friends ever said anything about that - we just all loved every bit of Zeppelin.  Maybe because I was 16 and it was all so overwhelming to get a double album like PG after waiting 2 years from HOTH.  Or maybe because his voice could sound so different from album to album and track to track anyway across all the albums. 

 

Edited by John M

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Loooooooove the rawness and the crack of his '75 voice. On Dime there is a Minneapolis '75 show where he is so raw and has to sing Wanton Song an octave down, which IMO opinion makes it some Zep musical gold. I will take the '75 voice over the '73 one. But I will take the 69 voice over all of them 😄

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Vocals are the toughest instrument of all.  Anyone else can have a bad night and it isn't so noticeable ... at least not as noticeable as a shot voice.  Stinking cold.  Bronchitis.  The flu.  Unless it's at the passing-out point, anyone but the singer can usually tough it out for a show.  Even at Jimmy's worst, he could usually grind out a performance.  On top of this, a singer, when on a long tour, has to protect the vocals chords, knowing there about 30 shows ahead of him.  You might feel great one night, get a little too enthusiastic, and find out the next morning when you wake up that your voice is shot and needs 3 days to get back in shape.  Too bad, you've got a big show before then and to cancel it will piss of the fans and cost a fortune in refunds.   

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59 minutes ago, NealR2000 said:

Vocals are the toughest instrument of all.  Anyone else can have a bad night and it isn't so noticeable ... at least not as noticeable as a shot voice.  Stinking cold.  Bronchitis.  The flu.  Unless it's at the passing-out point, anyone but the singer can usually tough it out for a show.  Even at Jimmy's worst, he could usually grind out a performance.  On top of this, a singer, when on a long tour, has to protect the vocals chords, knowing there about 30 shows ahead of him.  You might feel great one night, get a little too enthusiastic, and find out the next morning when you wake up that your voice is shot and needs 3 days to get back in shape.  Too bad, you've got a big show before then and to cancel it will piss of the fans and cost a fortune in refunds.   

To continue the  January 73 UK tour & the January 75 US tour with his severly damaged voice was Robert´s Kamikaze trip into serious voice problems. I still can´t believe that he didn´t pull the emergency brake- to postpone the concerts & heal the vocal chords would have been a proper formula.

And where was their far-sighted, coked-up MANAGER, Mr. Peter Grant? It would have been his duty to stop this madness. But maybe he was too busy making poster seller lifes miserable, or doing similar highly important things.

Grant was an eyewitness, every night, but he didn´t act. Failure, what a shame!

 

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37 minutes ago, Autumn Moon said:

To continue the  January 73 UK tour & the January 75 US tour with his severly damaged voice was Robert´s Kamikaze trip into serious voice problems. I still can´t believe that he didn´t pull the emergency brake- to postpone the concerts & heal the vocal chords would have been a proper formula.

And where was their far-sighted, coked-up MANAGER, Mr. Peter Grant? It would have been his duty to stop this madness. But maybe he was too busy making poster seller lifes miserable, or doing similar highly important things.

Grant was an eyewitness, every night, but he didn´t act. Failure, what a shame!

 

In Peter's defense, he always made it clear that he left the band to focus on their music, and he took care of everything else.

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32 minutes ago, NealR2000 said:

In Peter's defense, he always made it clear that he left the band to focus on their music, and he took care of everything else.

One does have to wonder though no? Grant was the manager and the job of management is to protect the band. I would think with Robert sounding like he was snorting glass powder while sucking on a dick would have been a rather large red flag. Same with Jimmy's finger. You combine the two and any sane manager would have postponed.

I have always said Grant was A#1 as a manager from 68' - 74' but then went completely off the rails. TBH I don't think Grant sucked, he was just an addict, like Jimmy & Bonzo, and Cole. The story of Zeppelin is the ultimate Greek tragedy in music.

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Grant was a part of that crazy ride and yes - he needed to be a bit more distant to see the forest from outside the trees. The temptations that came with managing the great beast that was Led Zeppelin were too great it seems. Still - fucked if I could have been involved at any level from a gofer for the roadies to Peter Grant himself and not partaken in what surely must have been the most epic continuing party/tour experience in history. For all his shortcomings - he was the perfect manager early on (as already stated). And there is also the possibility he did discuss the '75 tour with Page/Plant and they decided to go on with it maybe over the objections of Grant - who knows??? We don't know - unless SAJ or someone else with a good knowledge base has more specific info. It's easy to speculate without knowing what actually went down - but yeah - Grant did himself (and the band) no favours by immersing himself in that excess for sure.

Still, at the end of the day - if I ever got to meet Grant before he passed, I'd shake his hand. Manager of the best band EVER. He holds the legend status he deserves IMHO.

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Some blame on Grant, but first of all Plant was far more a "master of ceremonies" with the partying, I've never heard that

he was even 1/100 the total maniacs that Bonham, Page, and ?? possibly Grant were with their practically heroic substance

alcohol intakes. So possibly some effect on his voice, but way overstated. Second even though Grant was closest to Page,

you could make a very strong case to cancel the entire 77' tour because Page was in poor health and a junkie, and did not

sound as if he had practiced much. Remember also that postponing a tour or changing many dates around can be very

difficult. Anyway, sure Plant lost range, etc., but remember that Robert was such an overwhelming talent that he was still

IMHO a great vocalist. Grant may have pushed a bit much, but I'm not entirely convinced of that, never heard or read anything like that. To me some posters make it seem like Plant was a baseball pitcher who had been forced to pitch 3 games in a row. It would never cross the mind of the baseball(or Rock manager) that you could be sidelining someone

for a long time.

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This was discussed a lot already on the forum and I think they should have taken a break in October 1972 already and then make each tour short enough and each break long enough for Roberts voice to stay intact.

I think the problem was that those were the early pioneer days of big rock and roll bands and the management wasn't that complex and developed and also you must know that the decisions about music were left to the band and how the band sounds, including Robert's voice was therefore perhaps not the decision of the management.

Now why Robert alone didn't take a break and shortened the tours for medical and musical reasons we will never know. Partly it's probably just the excess and the ego and to keep the show going, partly he was maybe actually unaware of how permanent the problem will be and partly somebody once mentioned his middle class mentality about it, which is to keep going while it lasts.

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I recently came across an obscure article that claimed he had some sort of throat surgery and I believe it was around 75.  If true it might explain the difference in his voice, notwithstanding illness claims. That said, I'm sure the crowd enjoyed themselves anyway.  Led Zeppelin was much, much more than Robert Plant's voice.  Not to diminish his great contribution to the band though there were four people there contributing.  Personally, I wouldn't care what he sounded like as long as I could see Master Page.  OYE!

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On 7/5/2019 at 2:28 PM, Mis Nomer said:

Led Zeppelin was much, much more than Robert Plant's voice.  Not to diminish his great contribution to the band though there were four people there contributing.  Personally, I wouldn't care what he sounded like

I'd like to revise what I said about Mr. Plant's vocal changes.  Had he not been the voice of Led Zep, I'm not sure weather they'd have been rocketed into the stratosphere as they did.  He was an integral part of Led Zep success.  I do care what he sounded like and he was great!  Better than most even on a bad day.

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On 7/5/2019 at 1:28 PM, Mis Nomer said:

I recently came across an obscure article that claimed he had some sort of throat surgery and I believe it was around 75.  If true it might explain the difference in his voice, notwithstanding illness claims. That said, I'm sure the crowd enjoyed themselves anyway.  Led Zeppelin was much, much more than Robert Plant's voice.  Not to diminish his great contribution to the band though there were four people there contributing.  Personally, I wouldn't care what he sounded like as long as I could see Master Page.  OYE!

  • I just finished the audiobook "Jimmy Page The Definitive Biography" by Chris Salewicz which also mentioned throat surgery after the 73 tour and recording of PG. First I ever heard of it but could explain a lot. Singing 3-4 hours a night with their early touring schedule, I'm surprised he can still sing at all.
  •  
 

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Plant had throat surgery after the 73' tour, around October 1973 I believe. The story I read this from also mentioned the reason was to remove nodes on his vocal chords. The problem with any vocal chord surgery is it usually requires months of rest afterward and even under the best of circumstance, those vocal chords will be much more susceptible to infection and long term issues, especially if you push your voice before it is ready.

Robert likely should have waited until spring of 74' before he started the PG sessions instead of beginning in November of 73' like he did. Good thing though was the PG sessions were halted after only a couple of weeks (I think) when JPJ decided to take a break and contemplate his future. The sessions then resumed in February of 74'. If you hear the outtakes from the November 73' sessions (Everyone Makes it Through, Sick Again) his voice sounds rough, almost Kim Carnes rough. Of course if the record company is on your ass for a new album, pressure will mount.

Either way, IMO Robert had some off night's in 73' and then he completely blew out his voice at the beginning of the 75' tour. Then in 77' he was almost back to his original range and his low & mid range were much warmer and deeper in timbre than he had been in his heyday. 77' is my favorite period of live Plant vocals. After 77' he gradually lost more of his higher register over time and by Now & Zen his voice was completely different. The change in his voice from Principal of Moments to Shaken n' Stirred was marked but minor. The change from Shaken n' Stirred to Now and Zen though was downright pronounced.

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Posted (edited)

I noticed that his voice was markedly different from Shaken n' Stirred to Now and Zen as well. Had he started singing in different a key. His vocals are very different from Now and Zen, was there any known issues with his voice at that time.

Edited by anniemouse

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He was a maturing young man. I think we all forget just how young he was. His voice was his most used muscle ( well maybe ...) and it is growing as it is being used constantly in all seasons. Robert was not a trained singer not many rock singers are. He used his throat too much and not pushing from his diaphragm. He was a blues singer who are naturally instinctive without any immediate control. They work as part of the rhythm not outside it. It’s quite difficult for Robert to hold on to that range for so long actually quite impossible. His voice changed as he did. 

Having said that..some 1977 shows like MSG , he was fantastic. Really heard some better recordings lately that demonstrated in 1977 his Daltrey like power. 

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Posted (edited)

I always heard he had surgery after the US  summer 72 tour, before going to Japan, and he blew his voice out because he got back at it too soon in Japan in Oct. Also, he was sick with flu in Jan 73 and kept right on wailing through that tour and the European tour in March and April. His voice was toast through Jan -April, especially in Southampton, Liverpool, Stoke....all those dates feature painfully bad vocals. 

Edited by porgie66

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