Robert Anthony Plant (born 20 August 1948, West Bromwich, West Midlands, England) is a rock singer most famous for being the lead singer of one of the most influential rock bands of all time — Led Zeppelin. He is known for his powerful style with a wide vocal range that embodied folk/blues passion at its finest.
Plant started his career singing in a variety of bands including Band of Joy. His early efforts met with no commercial success, but word quickly spread about the young guy with the powerful voice. Guitarist Jimmy Page was in search of a lead singer for his new band and met Plant after talking with a drummer who referred him to a show where Plant was singing. Plant and Page immediately hit it off with a shared musical passion and after Plant joined the band, they began their powerful writing collaboration with reworks of earlier blues songs.
A well-read individual, Plant was influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien, which inspired some lyrics on early Zeppelin albums. The passion for diverse musical experiences drove Plant and Page to explore the African continent, specifically Morocco which they both revisited during their reunion album No Quarter in 1994. From blues, to folk, to African tribal music, Plant enjoyed diverse influences.
The band’s greatest success came with “Stairway to Heaven”, an epic fantasy piece that draws influence from folk, blues, Celtic traditional music and hard rock among other genres. While never released as a single, the song has topped charts as the greatest song of all time on various polls around the world. Even though most of the lyrics of the song were written on the spot and have been spread through bootlegs, various groups have claimed that the song contained satanic messages that can be heard when it is played backwards.
Plant enjoyed great success with the band throughout the 1970s, and at one point, during the height of his hubris, said to a reporter, “I’m a Golden-Haired God.” This hubris was cut short when Plant and wife Maureen were seriously injured in a car crash in Rhodes, Greece on August 4, 1975. This halted production of Led Zeppelin's album Presence for a few months while he recovered. Things also took a turn for the worse in 1977, when his oldest son Karac died of a stomach infection. Karac’s death later inspired him to write the Led Zeppelin song, “All My Love” in tribute. These tragic incidents seemed to foster break-up rumors and rumors that the band was involved with black magic.
Following the band’s breakup in 1980, Plant pursued a successful solo career distancing himself from past pain by charting a new course with a variety of new band members. Plant would later form a short-lived all-star group, the Honeydrippers, who had a Top Ten hit with a remake of “Sea of Love”.
Many calls from fans and by band members have led to a few brief Zeppelin reunions, including the historic Live Aid and Atlantic Records Anniversary concerts.
Through the ‘80s and ‘90s Plant co-wrote three solo albums with keyboardist/songwriter Phil Johnstone. Now and Zen, Fate of Nations and Manic Nirvana all graced the Plant/Johnstone partnership.
In 2002, Plant formed a new back-up group, Strange Sensation, for a new album, Dreamland. Their second album, Mighty Rearranger, was released in 2005. It contains new original songs recorded in the spirit of his former band, Led Zeppelin.
Today, in addition to his own post-Zeppelin work, Plant continues his occasional collaborations with his former bandmate, Jimmy Page.
His style varies through the years as does his influences. Through Led Zeppelin, Plant was able to explore a variety of styles including heavy rock, folk, blues, Indian and Celtic. As the quintessential rock vocalist and frontman, he is often imitated but NEVER duplicated.
Robert Plant’s Band of Joy (2010) reflects his unquenchable thirst for new songs and new sounds. Not satisfied with his stature as one of the great innovators and heroes of pop music, he continues to let his curiosity guide him to unexplored territory. Building on the roots-imbued sound he achieved with Alison Krauss on the wildly successful Raising Sand, Plant’s song selection and incomparable vocals make Band of Joy a new triumph.