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What was and what might be again; It would be big.

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What was and what might be again: how a Led Zeppelin reunion tour could erase the record books.

Billboard August 4, 2007: It would be big. Potentially one of the biggest ever.

I'm talking, of course, about the increased chatter regarding a Led Zeppelin reunion tour for 2008 featuring founding members Robert Plant on vocals, Jimmy Page on guitar and John Paul Jones on bass, with Jason Bonham, son of the late Zep drummer John Bonham, manning the skins.

There has been no announcement that this tour is going to happen, and Plant has publicly denied it will take place. Billboard in general and myself in particular aren't usually in the rumor business. But this thing is starting to take on a certain air of reality. Maybe it's a proposed tribute to late producer/record mogul Ahmet Ertegun tentatively set for November at London's 02 Arena, and Zeppelin's purported performance there. Maybe it's talk that AEG Live and Rolling Stones promoter Michael Cohl's CPI have already put in offers for a Zep tour. (Neither would comment.) Maybe it's just wishful thinking.

For years, a Led Zeppelin tour, or the closest thing to it in the absence of John Bonham, has been considered the holy grail of the touring world. With the Police having reconvened to tremendous success in 2007 and the core Pink Floyd quartet staging that one brilliant performance at Live 8 in 2005, two of the biggies have come to pass. Given that the reunions of the Beatles, the Clash and the Ramones cannot ever happen without a seance, that leaves Led Zeppelin as the biggest thing left that could happen with any degree of credibility.

Plant and Page toured arenas together in the mid-'90s. With a killer backing band, the pair reported $31.4 million from 63 shows that drew 1,028,678 people. That was enough to make Plant/ Page the seventh-grossing tour of the year at a time when the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead and the Eagles were all touring stadiums.

And remember, 1995 was the cusp of exploding ticket prices. A ticket price higher than $100 was rare; the Stones topped out most dates at $50 that year, the Dead were $33.50 tops and the Eagles had shattered the glass ceiling but were still mostly less than $100. Tickets for the Plant/Page show I attended at the (now shuttered) Pyramid !n Memphis topped out at $32.50, with Rusted Root opening.

While the days of coast-to-coast stadium tours appear to be behind us, a Led Zeppelin tour, particularly if Cohl is at the helm, will undoubtedly play scattered stadiums in North America and probably all stadiums in Europe. The tour would most likely be a creative "mix and match" route similar to what the Stones have done recently and what TNA International president Arthur Fogel has done with the Police this year.

So let's be conservative and say Led Zeppelin averages $225 per ticket, with top seats at a Stones-esque $450 and a low end at $75. It's a big production, so you get an arena capacity of about 15,000 max. Say 5,000 tickets at $75,5,000 at $200, 3,000 at $300 and 2,000 at $450, for the sake of discussion. That comes to a gross of $3.2 million for one night.

Suddenly those 1,028,678 headbangers Plant and Page played to in 1995 generate a gross of $231,452,550 in 2008. From those 63 shows the average gross is now $3.7 million, compared with slightly less than $500,000 per night then.

Given the status this tour would have and what it would take to get these guys out on the road, it's not unreasonable to assume the guarantee would be in the $3 million-per-night range. The merch numbers would be astronomical, $15 per head or better, so that brings in another $15.4 million minimum, with online sales bringing in plenty more. Plus, there no doubt would be some serious live DVD possibilities, not to mention there's talk of a new compilation release, and catalog sales at large would receive a terrific boost. Let's not forget VIP and fan club packages, and a high seven-figure sponsorship deal. And, hey, while were at it, let's get them in the studio to record some new material under the Zep brand.

Now that's big

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They wouldn't do it for the money, they already have enough.

Actually I've heard Jonesy....

Nah! Robert isn't even thinking about it from what I've heard. The press has all sorts of suggestive comments from Jimmy, but let's face it, it takes four, and Robert's focused on the tour with Allison, and a Strange Sensation project to follow. He says he's happy that Zep got to do the tribute to Ahmet, and make it a true statement for Zeppelin after the embarrassments of the 80s. From what I hear, he's happy, satisfied, and ready to get back to work (not with Zeppelin).

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Well I am happy and satisfied too - and I am SO GLAD to hear Robert wants to do something else with Strange Sensation, I absolutely love them! And I really want Jimmy to do his album...whatever happens its just all so exciting! How can it not be when you have these amazingly talented men out there performing in whatever form they choose? It's WONDERFUL!!! :yay:

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