The surviving members of Led Zeppelin gathered yesterday for the first time since their acclaimed reunion show in 2007 – and offered ten reasons why they’ll never do it again.
Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones played a one-off concert that drew over 20 million ticket applications, although only 12,000 people saw the performance with Jason Bonham playing drums in place of his late dad John.
The three founding members answered questions at a press conference to mark the upcoming release of Celebration Day, the movie recorded on that night in London’s O2 Arena.
And in the question-and-answer sessions they offered ten good reason why no one will ever see Led Zeppelin live again. See below for a clip from Celebration Day and a full transcript of the press conference.
1. It was a relief to get through the reunion show.
Robert Plant: “It’s a terrible thing to say, but in truth, the idea of actually being where I am now in my lifetime, to get back in the middle of that music, was a spectacular experience. I was approaching it from a different angle, so to get through it and come out the other side was something not much short of miraculous, I think. But great fun.”
Jimmy Page: “I remember walking up the steps onto the stage, and then the moment right at the very end of it. The rest of it had passed very, very quickly, actually, but I knew, and the lasting memory of it was that I knew we did what we intended to do: go out there, stand up and be counted.”
John Paul Jones: “My lasting memory: getting through it all. It was pretty good. It worked out really well, but it was a relief at the end of it.”
2. It’s part of their past.
Plant: “We don’t see each other too often, but no sooner do we start talking than some little innuendo creeps in. Some old memory pops up, and you go ‘Whoa, that’s one to forget!’ There’s lot of those things drifting around.”
3. Stairway to Heaven doesn’t mean what it used to mean.
Plant: “I struggle with some of the lyrics. The musicality and the construction of it is peerless. But maybe I didn’t feel quite the same about the lyrics later on in life, as I got further down the road. Maybe I’m still trying to work out what I was talking about… every other fucker is!”
4. The passage of time doesn’t mean much.
Jones: “Five years is five minutes in Led Zeppelin time.”
5. They didn’t know how to rehearse without new material.
Plant: “We didn’t have any material, did we?”
Page: “Well, not really, we were just doing whatever. But it was just the intensity of what was going on: the communion, if you like, of the four of us. It was very intense, right from the start.”
6. You just can’t be Led Zeppelin without John Bonham.
Jones: “Jason was great – all the songs we played throughout the Zeppelin years, we would end songs in a different way to accommodate the next song. We would play something and say, ‘Well, how does this one end?’ We’d all look at Jason, and Jason would go, ‘Well, in 1971, you did this, and in 1973, you went into this…’ He had this encyclopaedic knowledge of everything, and it was just a real compliment.”
Plant: “He’s got some great bootlegs. Some great Beatles stuff too. He’s a mine of information. I don’t know which band he’s going to be in next – but he’s really got it down.”
7. It was more fun in those days.
Page: “We weren’t having to follow up a single or any of this stuff. We were there to make music. It was a much easier process – and more positive for musicians.”
8. Nobody thought about reunions.
Plant: “The people we met along the way were brigands to some degree. Everybody was just having a great time, and the concept of looking back, and asking about what you said about, ‘Don’t you think you could do it again?’ There was no thought about ‘What do you think about it now?’”
9. They look back on their inspirations differently.
Page: “The very early blues and rockabilly, I can still put on and really get excited by it, now, still. Except – along the way, I think, each and every one of us, our tastes became more eclectic across the board. But it was that music that I heard when I was 12 or 13 that really seduced me. And it did a good job of seducing me.”
Plant: “So many more doors have opened in the last 40 years to access singers like King Solomon Hill, and some fantastic guys from the delta who maybe only cut four or five sides. But they shaped so much for other people. Willie Brown – who Robert Johnson sings about in Cross Road Blues – I think he cut five or six sides, and he was great . But everybody was out to play all sorts of different kinds of music along with the blues. Robert Johnson used to play all sorts of stuff, including songs of the day. To me, it’s a home of the heart. I really still feel moved by what their lives and their worlds and their aspirations might have been. Like we do, they came from another time. We can’t come from another time, really now.”
10. The journey was over.
Plant: “We just hugged each other and went: ‘Pffft’. There was a real feeling of camaraderie and, actually, successful adventure, really. As Jimmy was saying, it was nuts that we didn’t do any warm-up gigs or anything like that.”
Page: “There was a massive party that went on afterwards. There were lot of celebrities there. They must have had a great party while we disappeared off into the ether.”