If you're like me, and your first record was Led Zeppelin III or one of their other eight classics, you've been clinging on to any glimmer of hope that the band might reunite following their blockbuster performance at London's 02 Arena in 2007. Even that gig, which was universally considered an immense success, was preceded by a number of failed shows in the years prior, accompanied by endless speculation by the media. Zep was under a lot of scrutiny and for good reason. Since they broke up, the rumor mill has continued to run at full capacity, as the band still possesses the ability to turn the music world upside-down at any given moment. Consider for a second the fact that over one million people worldwide applied for tickets to a venue that can only seat 20,000. A lot of Zeppelin fans were left out in the cold. Luckily, earlier this week, Robert Plant hinted on the Australia's 60 Minutes that he would be open to the long awaited Zeppelin world tour in 2014. In order to gauge the probability that this will actually occur, it could be worthwhile to examine a history of possible reunions following their breakup in 1980.
After a tumultuous decade of debauchery, Led Zeppelin seemed tired and nearly irrelevant as new movements such as punk rock, began to take the music scene by storm. In an attempt to recapture the intimacy of their earlier gigs, Zeppelin began to strip down their elaborate stage show of drum solos and lengthy jams. Manager Peter Grant purposefully chose smaller venues. Shortly after convincing Robert Plant to return to the U.S for a tour, John Bonham tragically passed away, effectively ending any potential plans for the future. Led Zeppelin broke up after loosing their musical brother.
Robert Plant forms the Honeydrippers with Jimmy Page on guitar. The super group featured contributions from top musicians such as Jeff Beck and Nile Rodgers. The Honeydrippers sound was a noted departure from the signature Led Zeppelin aesthetic. The new band had a much more relaxed vibe, and directed their attention to a different style of composition, featuring old blues standards and R&B rather than hard rock.
Coda, a compilation containing studio out takes from the band is released.
The Zep joined the likes of Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and Madonna at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia to raise money for Live Aid. The personnel for the gig included two drummers you may have heard of: Phil Collins and Tony Thompson. Ultimately, the righteous cause was overshadowed by an extremely sub par performance. The band suffered from lack of rehearsal time, failing monitors, and Robert's hoarse voice, all while Jimmy fought with an out-of-tune guitar. It was hardly the return to form that many fans had hoped for.
In the second of the two failed reunions of the 80s, Zeppelin seemed to be in even worse shape during their performance with Jason Bonham for the 40th anniversary performance for Atlantic Records. Viewers watching the telecast lost the feed from John Paul Jones while he was playing the keys. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant argued over whether or not the band should play "Stairway to Heaven." The visible tension between the members quickly traveled into the uncomfortable audience who had to sit and watch the former greats unsuccessfully attempt to regain their past glory. Robert Plant later commented that "the gig was foul." Sadly, we have to agree.
Jimmy Page and Robert Plant reunite for an MTV Unplugged special titled "No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded" after apparently forgetting John Paul Jones' phone number (you'll understand in the clip below). The special, which included completely reworked versions of their old hits was a massive success and was eventually sold as a DVD. The small and intimate vibe of the show was a good look for them, and it was refreshing to hear the two trying something different with their material, I guess you really can teach an old dog new tricks.
Led Zeppelin arrives at the top of the mountain and are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The awkwardness during the acceptance speech, and the somewhat awful performance with Aerosmith that went down afterwards will go down in history as one of the strangest and famed inductions in history. The crash and burn was a perfect example of how to get embarrassed while being honored in Cleveland. We never want to hear this version of "When The Levee Breaks" ever again. If we could only understand any of the words that came out of Robert Plant's mouth.
After nearly three decades of straight-up floundering, Led Zeppelin announces their first headlining set since Knebworth in August 1979 for the Ahmet Ertegune tribute concert at London's 02 arena. It was easily the biggest event of the year, and many wondered whether or not the band could live up to the lofty expectations set for them. The show attracted the highest demand for tickets in history, rendering over 20 million requests online. The announcement shook the music world to its very foundation as endless speculation over the setlist and concert date took place. Following the show, fans and critics universally agreed that Zeppelin had effectively recaptured their magic.
Following the success of the gig, a string of rumors made their way into the headlines concerning a world tour. Music publications and fans alike expressed fervent support for such an undertaking despite being left without any facts. Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Jason Bonham all publicly stated their desire to continue playing with Led Zeppelin, seemingly solidifying the tour as an actuality. Ledheads had barely a few weeks to rejoice before Robert Plant came out of the woodwork and explained that he was too busy with his Alison Krauss project. The remaining members of the band considered touring with a replacement vocalist, but these plans ultimately fell through.
In order to appease the millions who were unable to make it to the actual reunion, Led Zeppelin released Celebration Day, the concert film of their performance, in multiple formats and sets. The one-night-only theatrical release grossed over $2 million in its first night, and the audio/visual box sets debuted 9th on the Billboard charts. The film brought the concert experience to the living room's of devoted fans who now had front row seats to the epic gig. After earning universal acclaim, the tour rumors resumed, only to be slyly denied by Plant publicly in the press at conferences and Q&A's. Jimmy Page later appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, and blamed Robert for the lack of a tour.
Robert Plant appears on the Australian 60 Minutes for a profile piece. During the interview, he addressed the tour rumors, and (finally!) opened up to the idea of a world tour, stating: "They are Capricorns. They don't say a word. They're quite contained in their own worlds and they leave it to me. I'm not the bad guy...You need to see the Capricorns. I've got nothing to do in 2014." His words sparked another firestorm of speculation in the following days.
Well, if the past two decades have taught us anything when it comes to Led Zeppelin, the outcome of this announcement is entirely unpredictable and ambiguous. Perhaps Plant enjoys teasing us in this way. We will likely never find out. So it's probably best we don't get our hopes up. But how can we help it! There in an undeniable magic to this band and despite their feeble attempts in the recent past to recapture it, we'll continue to clamour for more live Led Zeppelin. After all, I'm a Sagittarius, and I want my damn Led Zeppelin back!