Thirty years ago, almost to the day, four British youngsters - including a session guitarist left over from the defunct Yardbirds - met, jammed and changed music history.
Of course at the time, guitarist Jimmy Page, vocalist Robert Plant, drummer Jason Bonham and bassist John Paul Jones - also known as Led Zeppelin - didn't know they would become the most influential rock band since the Beatles. They were just playing songs, having fun and earning beer money.Eighteen years ago, almost to the day, Bonham died of asphyxiation after a drinking binge, and soon the band died also . . . just as the legend of Zeppelin was born.
At 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, two survivors of history, playing simply as Page and Plant, will enter the E Center to support their latest work together, "Walking Into Clarksdale." (Tickets available through Smith's Tix outlets.)
The two parted ways in 1980 when the Zeppelin dissolved. Plant worked in various projects, never quite fading from the public mind. Some of his solo works included the hard-rock outfit "The Firm," and solo hits such as "Ship of Fools" and "Tall Cool One."
Plant used sound bites from several old Led classics in his individual works and even sold a tune for a Coca-Cola commercial, earning him some criticisms from Page. But when the two reunited for their first full-blown mutual project, it reinvigorated them . . . although they did have a time of feeling each other out musically.
"We had to decide how comfortable we could make it," Plant said through his press agent. "There had been a lot of stuff flying around between us, and most of it was coming from my adamance not to have anything to do with a Led Zeppelin rerun. I'd missed Jimmy's playing so much that as soon as we started working I realized that we had wasted quite a bit of time."
Reports from the two artists' camps indicate that the tour after that reunion left both musicians ready for more, including a stint in the studio. Plant traveled to the Silk Road of Central Asia and Page to northern Brazil, and then they entered the Abbey Road Studios, a place of music legend. Their latest effort took only 35 days to record, incorporating an eclectic blend of styles.
No matter what happens for the two reunited musicians, they have little hope of surpassing the brightness of their glorious musical past. According to press releases, they do Zeppelin songs on the tour including, "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You," "Going to California," "Ramble On," "Rock and Roll" and "Tangerine," but a "good portion" of their set-list is drawn from the new material.
When the two were younger, and still making music history, they released "Led Zeppelin I" in January of 1969 and "Led Zeppelin II" in October of the same year. They toured the United States with a vengence and released "Led Zeppelin III" in October 1970. The untitled fourth album in November of 1971 established the band forever just as it flavored rock music for the entire decade.
"Stairway to Heaven," a song considered "too long" to be released as a single, became an anthem of rock music that still gets air time today. The band so far has chosen not to release it as a single.
Later came the discs, "Houses Of The Holy," and the double disc, "Physical Graffiti."