The Cleveland Music Examiner posed a few questions about Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin. Read more of Dave’s responses here!
Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin by Dave Thompson
Rock journalist Dave Thompson doesn’t care how many women Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plantseduced in the Seventies, or what drugs he might’ve consumed during the band’s halcyon years headlining arenas around the world.
In his latest well-researched biography, “Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed The Zeppelin” (Backbeat books), Thompson focuses strictly on the music. More specifically, he hones in why Plant was as integral to Zeppelin’s sound as guitarist Jimmy Page, and how the determined singer forged his own distinct path as a soloist after the seminal quartet splintered.
Thanks for talking with us, Mr. Thompson! So, could you tell us a bit about the back-and-forth approach you took for “Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin?” One would think it’d be off-putting, but it works well, and the chapters dovetail nicely between Plant’s past and present.
I think—as I explained a little in the introduction—life, and a career, are not always just A-B-C-D. Things loop around. People always arrive back in the same place they were in before, but hopefully with a little more wisdom and ability to know what to do. And I was just noticing that a lot with Robert Plant. The story has been told. There are Zeppelin books out the wazoo, and there are a few good Plant books around as well. The idea always is, “Robert Plant was born…and he did this, that, and the other thing.” So boring! Because he has not lived his career in what anyone would consider a responsible manner. He’s been very much what he wants, with incredible little regard for the conventions of the music industry. When he left Zeppelin—here’s a great example—he should have done more of what Jimmy Page wanted to do, which was get together with the guys from Yes, and gone off and become The Firm or something.
You mean XYZ (ex-Yes / Zeppelin), the group Page was going to join with Yes bassist Chris Squire. Yeah, that’s probably what Plant’s manager and record company might’ve wanted. A new band, same kind of sound.
Yeah, form any of those horrible super-groups. Because the ‘80s were just littered with those ghastly four-people-from-four-huge-bands thing. And it’s like, “Why are you together? Oh, so you can be a super-group.” He should have done that, and people would have said “Hurrah!” very loudly if he had. But he didn’t want to. You’ve got to admire that. And it was with that admiration, that’s why I didn’t want to write a straightforward beginning-to-end story.