Happy Birthday to Robert Plant, who turns 71 today (August 20th)!!! Although Plant has enjoyed a successful solo career since 1982, he will always be best known for his years fronting Led Zeppelin and co-writing the majority of the band's songs with Jimmy Page. In October 2018, Plant released his latest solo set, Carry Fire, which peaked at Number 14 on the Billboard 200. Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters will be back on the road starting next month.
Last June, Plant premiered his new podcast, titled Digging Deep. The promo for the new 'cast featured Plant setting the scene for the show, explaining, “Making records is a very personal experience. I was so deep to get away from that environment, then I was saying, 'let's get out of here!' But then, now and again, down the line, opening up some of the songs and looking back at ’em, I marvel at some of it. The players in the room were out of sight — and they found me to be something that they hadn't been used to dealing with.”
In the summer of 2016, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page prevailed in Los Angeles federal court in the copyright infringement lawsuit regarding their authorship of “Stairway To Heaven.” The pair was sued by Michael Skidmore, the trustee of the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust, on behalf of the late Spirit guitarist who wrote “Taurus” and performed under the name Randy California. The trust was hoping to not only win a monetary judgment, but also secure a writing credit for California on “Stairway To Heaven.”
On June 24th, the seventh and final day of the trial — which saw Plant, Page, and John Paul Jones all take the witness stand — the jury asked for recordings of both song to be played — with “Stairway” being aired twice. These were not the records of each song, but new recordings based solely on the respective song's sheet music. 20 minutes later, the jury had its verdict.
Best Classic Bands reported this week: “On September 28th, 2018, a three-judge panel for the Court of Appeals overturned the 2016 court verdict that had ruled in favor of the band. The Federal appeals court agreed on June 10th; a new hearing before an 11-judge panel will be held in San Francisco in late September 2019.”
Out now on DVD and digital video is Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters Live At David Lynch’s Festival Of Disruption. The eight-song performance was captured on October 8th, 2016 at L.A.'s Ace Hotel Theatre as part of David Lynch‘s inaugural Festival of Disruption, which raised money for The David Lynch Foundation. In addition to newer solo material, Plant dips into Zeppelin's back catalogue for updated takes on such classics as “Black Dog,” “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You,” “Going To California,” and a medley of “Hoochie Coochie Man / Whole Lotta Love / Mona.”
According to reports, Led Zeppelin reportedly turned down $14 million for two reunion performances at 2016's “Desert Trip” concerts in Indio, California. Showbiz411.com — the site that broke the news on the concerts — spoke to an insider that revealed that not only were all the headliners each receiving $14 million flat for their pair of weekend sets, but that Zeppelin was approached to reunite and once again, Jimmy Page said yes and Plant chose to pass. The source claimed, “Jimmy went crazy. He really wanted to do it.” Also, although all the acts — including the Who, Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, and Neil Young — signed on as favored nations regarding their fee, sources suggest that both McCartney and the Stones snagged more for their respective sets.
Robert Plant has three children with his ex-wife Maureen Wilson — a daughter, Carmen Jane, who went on to marry Plant's longtime bass player Charlie Jones, and son Logan Romero. The couple's second child, Karac Pendragon, died at age five in 1977 from a stomach virus. Following Plant's divorce in 1983, Plant took up with his wife's sister, Shirley and fathered his youngest child, Jesse Lee.
Led Zeppelin's 1979 classic, “All Of My Love,” was written by Robert Plant and John Paul Jones about the July 26th, 1977 death of Karac. Plant shed light on the massive blow the loss of his child had on his life: “Y’know, our fate, at, at times is so fragile, that when I lost my boy, I was 28 years old, and I was the King. I had two kids and everything was amazing. I had no ideas of dealing with tragedy, or anything in life, which wasn’t just moving on. So when something as big — there is nothing bigger, really, I don’t think, than losing your child, and when that happens, you have to revue everything about yourself, about your condition, and about the future of your family. And that was. . . it was so, sobering that I’ve never, ever — obviously — been the same ever again from that day on.”
Robert Plant said that Phil Collins provided the support necessary upon diving full scale into a solo career following Led Zeppelin's 1980 split: “I made my business to go out and start again at the age of 32 — it’s like, hysterical, really, when you think about it now. But I worked and worked with these guys — Robbie Blunt, who was a particularly fine guitarist. And I was graced by my first two solo records Pictures At Eleven and (The) Principle Of Moments. A drummer contacted me and said, ‘I love (John) Bonham so much I wanna sit behind you when you sing. It was Phil Collins. His career was just kicking in and he was the most spirited and positive and really encouraging force, because you can’t imagine what it was like, me trying to carve my own way after all that.”
Prior to the release of his second album, 1983's The Principle Of Moments, which featured such '80s standards as “In The Mood” and “Big Log,” Robert Plant spoke about the importance of moving out from under Led Zeppelin's massive shadow: “This next album is crucial. I mean, it's really weird for a bloke of my age to say that anything's crucial, I suppose when I've done so much — but that's the whole thing about me. Then next step is very important, having been with Zeppelin for years and years. The first album that I've done away from that stable was pretty good. And the next one's got to. . . I've got to take everything that I know and everything that these guys I'm playing with know and shift across to gain a wider platform of what I can do, y'know, what we can all do together. And once we've achieve that, by March, April next year it should be able to go on the road.”
Back in 2014, while publicizing the expanded reissues of the Zeppelin catalogue, Plant spoke to the NME and addressed Jimmy Page's claims of him being uninterested in teaming up, saying, “I feel for the guy. He knows he's got the headlines if he wants them. But I don't know what he's trying to do. So I feel slightly disappointed and baffled.”
Plant revealed that he proposed working again with Page — and presumably Zeppelin — in an acoustic capacity: “A couple of years ago, I said, 'If you've got anything acoustic, let me know. I'll give it a whirl.' It was hands across the water. He just walked away. But we couldn't do anything proper. The weight of expectation is too great.”
In 2012, Plant rush released a surprise live album from the Space Shifters, only two weeks after recording the set in London. The 15-track-collection, called Robert Plant Presents Sensational Space Shifters 7/12/12 HMV Forum, London, GB, includes tracks from Plant and bandmember Patty Griffin's solo works, blues covers of Howlin' Wolf and John Mayall tunes, along with handful of Led Zeppelin classics. In addition to Patty Griffin, the Space Shifters features members of Plant's pre-Band Of Joy group, Strange Sensations, including frequent Plant collaborator Justin Adams.
Despite the December 2007 Zeppelin reunion in London featuring himself, Page, John Paul Jones, and Jason Bonham filling in for his late dad John Bonham, Plant has been the lone hold-out in committing to a full-on reunion. Several of the industries' top promoters have essentially offered the band a blank check should they commit to any number of road dates.
In October 2012 at the New York City press conference following the press preview of Zeppelin's concert film, Celebration Day — which, along with its accompanying CD, chronicles the 2007 reunion gig — Plant played it coy and then downright rude to reporters clamoring for some type of statement about future Zeppelin plans. After some coaxing by the event's moderator, Plant finally answered the reunion question with a bit of respect for the reporters in the room: “We were so happy that we were actually gettin' it right (coughs) and taking it beyond what we thought we were about that night. There were moments in it where we just took off and pushed off in some place. The responsibility of doing that four nights a week for the rest of time is a different thing. 'Cause, we're pretty good at what we do; the tail should never wag the dog. If we're capable of doing something in our own time that will be what will happen. So any inane questions who are from syndicated outlets (laughter), you should just really think what it takes to answer a question like that in one second, y'know? We know what we've got.”
Plant explained that Led Zeppelin constantly stayed ahead of the curve by never resting on their creative laurels: “You have to be creative and imaginative and move on. And I think the great essence of Led Zeppelin is the creativity and the imagination that developed with each project. And a project is a project. It's not just going back and visiting the past. It's moving forward.”
Coincidentally, just as the Zeppelin reunion rumors first began to catch fire in 2007, Plant enjoyed the biggest success of his solo career with his collaboration with Alison Krauss on their joint album Raising Sand, which hit Number Two on The Billboard 200 album charts. Plant and Krauss' cover of the Everly Brothers' “Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)” scored the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
Raising Sand producer T-Bone Burnett was sure that the duo would click immediately: “I know Alison's adventurous, and I didn't know Robert until we started working together. But, I've certainly followed him and I knew that he was adventurous, and I knew they were both interested in the history of music. So I suspected we could find common ground pretty easily.”
In 2009, Plant was appointed a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) on the Queen's New Years Honors list, marking the first time that any member of Led Zeppelin has received an official accolade from Queen Elizabeth. The Queen's Honors are handed out twice a year, in June and at the New Year, and are awarded to people for all types of service, including the performing arts.
Although Robert Plant has had several distinct chapters in his legendary career, he’s adamant that all of them — from being a belting rock screamer in Led Zeppelin, to edgy pop songsmith of the ‘80s, and now the Americana/world music-influenced musician, are all equally authentic: “I was always 100 percent me, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it — I wouldn’t have done it. There weren’t many tracks that Zeppelin didn’t use; they were all pretty. . . there was a lot of incendiary material there. I play the game — but I don’t play the game. If I didn’t play the game, I wouldn’t be here — but I like the game.”