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Led Zeppelin burned briefly but brightly. The band existed for 12 years, but their eight studio albums came out between 1969 and 1979. They mastered different musical styles on the big hits and their underrated songs during that relatively short run. When Zep founder Jimmy Page formed the band, he started with the singer. His first choice pointed him toward Robert Plant, who impressed Page so much he offered Plant the job of Led Zeppelin’s singer almost immediatelt.

Robert Plant (left), who became Led Zeppelin's singer days after blowing Jimmy Page (right) away, performs with Led Zeppelin (billed The New Yardbirds) in 1968.
(l-r) Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page | Jorgen Angel/Redferns

Jimmy Page worked quickly to put Led Zeppelin together, and singer Robert Plant was the first recruit

Page went from being a session musician to joining the Yardbirds as a bassist. He eventually became that band’s sole guitarist, but the band fell apart in 1968. Page knew he didn’t want to go back to being a session musician, so he formed a new band.

Drummer John Bonham and bassist, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones, who once explained why Led Zeppelin worked well together, joined later. Page started his search with the singer.

English singer, guitarist, and songwriter Terry Reid, Page’s first choice to be Zep’s singer, turned him down, but he did him a favor. Reid pointed Page in the direction of Plant, whose singing blew away his soon-to-be bandmate even though the setting was far from ideal.

Plant blew Page away while singing to a tiny crowd

He admitted to being embarrassed by some Led Zeppelin songs, but Plant proved to be the perfect singer for the band. Hat tip here to Page, who recognized Plant had something special even though the setting where he first saw him perform wasn’t ideal. As Page recalled (per Centennial Media’s Legends of Music Spotlight: Led Zeppelin):

“I went up to see Robert sing with Obs-Tweedle at a college to an audience of about 12. His voice was exceptional. I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t a big name already.”

Jimmy Page describes the performance that made him as Robert Plant to sing for Led Zeppelin

Plant blew Page away with his powerful voice in front of what can barely be described as an audience. A dozen people is more of a gathering or a meeting, not an audience. Another hat tip to Page for looking past the awful name of the band Plant fronted at the time.

After witnessing Plant’s powerful singing, Page invited him to hang out at his house for a few days, where they found they liked some of the same music (electric blues and folk rock among them). Page extended an offer to join his new band, Plant accepted, and the rest is history.

Led Zeppelin without Robert Plant singing would have been very different in two ways


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Plant blew Page away in a less-than-ideal setting, and Page had the first piece of the Led Zeppelin puzzle in place days later. Without him, Zep would have been very different in two ways.

  1. Plant’s singing in Led Zeppelin included banshee howls, quiet-loud duality, and ability to sing sensitive ballads. His talents proved to be perfect for a band that never remained in one place stylistically for very long. Plant once said he needed a few Led Zeppelin albums to learn how to sing. Still, without his talents standing up to Page’s guitar riffs and Bonham’s and Jones’ rhythmic onslaught, Zeppelin’s aural attack would have sounded flat.
  2. Without Robert Plant, we might never have heard John Bonham’s drumming skills. Jones came on board after Page added Plant to the mix, but Led Zeppelin still needed a drummer. Plant suggested his old Band of Joy timekeeper Bonham. Bonzo joining the group solidified the quartet that would soon take over the world. Like with Plant’s vocals, Led Zeppelin’s sound would have been drastically different if not for Bonham’s powerful pounding behind the kit.

Robert Plant blew Jimmy Page away while singing in front of a sparse crowd. Page looked past the less-than-ideal setting and added a pivotal piece to Led Zeppelin, who then helped add another essential member that helped make the band a success.

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