Over the hills and far away (the Led Zeppelin side) | home
Robert plant (the singer)
Born Robert Anthony Plant on August 20th, 1948, at West Bromwich, Staffordshire. Alone among the members of Led Zeppelin, the young Robert Plant was denied parental encouragement in his musical aspirations. Admittedly, his father did give him lifts to the local blues club in Stourbridge, but as his obsession with the music got stronger and his hair got longer, relations became increasingly strained.
The situation reached a climax when Plant left school in the summer of 1964, having acquired 6 'O'-Levels, started a charterd accountancy course and then packed it up within two weeks.
"The decision was the only thing I've ever looked at in my life with a long-term viewpoint. You've just got to have a go at what you really want to do first. I decided that if I didn't get anywhere by the time I was 20, I would pack it in. Of course it didn't really matter what happened because I wouldn't have packed it in anyway. You can't give up something you really believe in for financial reasons.
Fortunately my parents saw it too, but only after I'd proved it. Not before. I'm a little sorry about that, actually. They just could not relate to it at all, not even on a musical level. I just wasn't toeing any normal line."
So, at the tender age of 16, Plant left home and went to live in Walsall. He played in numerous Midlands bands, including The Crawling King Snakes (with John Bonham), Black Snake Moan and The Delta Blues Band. As the names suggest, most of these outfits were blues bands, but his influences and style expanded considerably as he started listening to the groups coming out of America's West Coast from 1966 onwards.
Like John Bonham, Plant established a local reputation and virtually starved. For much of the time, he was kept by his girlfriend Maureen, whom he had met at a Georgie Fame concert in 1966, and at one point he even turned his hand to road-making to keep the wolf from the door.
He did manage to get a solo contract with CBS and released (one single in October 1966, credited to the group "Listen" featuring "you better run"/"Everybody's Gonna Say" and) two singles during 1967, "Our Song"/"Laughing, Crying, Laughing" (March 1967)) and "Long Time Coming"/"I've Got A Secret" (September 1967). Neither set the world alight, however, so it was back to the Midlands and The Band Of Joy.
The Band Of Joy are now the group which everyone associates with Plant and Bonham in their pre-Zeppelin days, but noone was terribly interested in them at the time.
Nevertheless, they did enable Robert to travel down to London, where Alexis Korner, one of the grand old men of British R&B spotted him at a Speakeasy gig. "I rather liked Robert", he relates, "and since The Band Of Joy disintergrated a couple of gigs later, we worked out a loose arrangement and did some gigs around the Birmingham area. We started an album that was never finished. One of the tracks, "operator", came out on an album called "Bootleg Him"... We worked on and off for a year but it was all very loose - I just didn't want to re-form a band at that time. Robert needed a regular sum of money. It wasn't a lot, but it was more than I could afford. So he was looking around."
Plant's search took him to Tony Secunda, the manager of The Move, another Birmingham area band. Secunda tried to get him signed by Regal Zonophone, who were enjoying a lot of success with Procol Harum and Joe Cocker, but although label boss Denny Cordell liked him, he was too busy to sign any more acts.
So Plant went back to the Midlands yet again and played odd dates with local bands, little suspecting that fate was about to lend a very large hand.