Robert Plant is a singer and songwriter who was Led Zeppelin’s frontman from the band’s inception in 1968 until it disbanded in 1980. Led Zeppelin sold hundreds of millions of albums and in their heyday acquired a reputation for unbridled rock ‘n’ roll hedonism. Since 1980 Robert has gone on to achieve success as a solo artist and has collaborated with other musicians, notably the bluegrass singer Alison Krauss. Their 2007 album Raising Sand won five Grammy Awards. Robert was born in West Bromwich in 1948. At 15 he appeared on stage for the first time as the lead vocalist for a local band after the regular singer fell ill. In 1965 he started performing with the Crawling King Snakes and it was after one of the band’s gigs that he met his friend, the drummer John Bonham. In 1968 Robert and John joined up with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones to form Led Zeppelin. Later that year the band embarked on its first US tour and the enthusiastic response from American audiences heralded a new force in British music. Over the next 12 years the band released eight studio albums including Led Zeppelin IV which featured one of their most popular tracks – Stairway to Heaven. In 1980 John Bonham died from alcohol poisoning at the age of 32 and Led Zeppelin broke up. Devastated by his friend’s death, Robert took himself off to explore other creative avenues, recording and performing with a wide range of artists. Robert and Alison Krauss released their second album, Raising the Roof, in 2021. Robert lives in Worcestershire near where he grew up. He is a committed fan of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Black Country homing pigeons. DISC ONE: Pink Peg Slacks by Eddie Cochrane DISC TWO: Serenade by Mario Lanza DISC THREE: I Ain’t Superstitious by Howlin’ Wolf DISC FOUR: Teenage Ska by Baba Brooks DISC FIVE: Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young DISC SIX: Raha Gardishon Mein Hardam by Mohammed Rafi DISC SEVEN: Diaraby by Ali Farka Touré with Ry Cooder DISC EIGHT: Your Long Journey by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss BOOK CHOICE: The Earliest English Poems, translated by Michael Alexander LUXURY ITEM: A basket containing photos of homing pigeons CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Serenade by Mario Lanza Presenter: Lauren Laverne Producer: Paula McGinley
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Previously sounds music radio broadcasts, hello, I'm Lorna Van, and this is the desert island discs. Podcast. Every week I ask my guest to choose the eight tracks book and luxury they want to take with them if they were cast away to a desert island and for right reasons them Nick is shorter than the original broadcast. I hope you enjoy listening. I my castaway. This week, the singer and some writer Robert plants. They spent a lifetime at what it calls the sharp end of making music on stage out front. First conquering a mobile audience with led Zeppelin. He fell in love,
Rock n roll in the blues clubs. If the black country in the West Midlands, where he grew up, deciding early on that he would dedicate his life to it. Watch to the disapproval of his parents, who thought d do better as an accountant, but in the end they had to concede. He did all right for himself Applin sold, hundreds of millions of albums. The life shows where legendary and they off stage followed, you ran them created headedness, dig blueprint that still impresses funds and horrifies critics. It was also the catalyst for that Breakup Wendy a John Bonham died as a result of alcoholism. H, just thirty two, the group disbanded losing his band made I'm childhood friend had a profound effect on Robert new era began one of restless, exploration and constant innovation in the decade, since his creative journeys and him commercial success and critical acclaim, including multiple grammys, as well as the satin
faction of playing in the hot of the music, he loves with some of the world's best artists of his led Zeppelin years. He says I experienced on imagined or creative peaks and vivid adventure often played against a relentless emotional landscape. There were no instructions inside the box. We opened Robert Plant Welcome to Desert island disk. Thank you. Robert. Your appetite for musical adventurers is healthy, as ever you ve collaborate with a range of artists from pilgrim to fill Collins port, his head and and beyond. Most recently with the bluegrass singer, us in Kraus after so many years been the front man. How did you adapt to being one half of a dual? I think he first sense gathered two thousand and four for a tribute. Consent to the blues musician led belly. We started to rehearse the tiny whore them. Everything was
nine swimmingly until we stopped performing this song caught in the pines and she said you really want me to do. Should I just play Phil, I said: well, no, would you sing a harmony. She said what I could. If you sang the same thing twice, it was just. I never even thought about it, of course, as well as king on sums by other artists and traditional pieces. You, you write your own material to watch your starting point for a new track. Usually I'm right, all the time I carry a book with me. The front side of the book has got detail and reminders of what I gotta do and that flip the book over it and anything that I see or feel or find slightly ironic or ridiculous or funny, or really and I just ride him dancer. My imagination is like a kinda box. Adjust suddenly I hear another
turn other contribution within whatever, so zone that I'm in and it just lights me up well but it's time to get into your disks. Let's have your first. What's it going to be April? Ninth! stay here. I was twelve any twelve and already Something was knocking on the door that April Eddie Cochran. Killed in a car wreck in Chippenham and heat. recorded loads and loads. Pretty really provocative very well used songs, and this one now it's called pink pegs flax and I really wanted to know what the whole deal was round the corner and can I have some pink pigs? I wouldn't miss, dig he'll, just wayward still you said you would have written into the bottom
crash planting bags. Land can easily, pink peg slacks by Eddie Cochran, rubber plan. Your born in that nineteen, forty eight in West Bromwich, your father, was also called robber, even civil engineer, and you with the Celia, was a homemaker you've described her as quite a character. Tell me a bit about your mom. She was suitably and joyously combustible as she was prettier as he was like a a big fizzy bought la pop. What would set her off for Canada? She had a lot of energy, then yeah. I think she just that sometimes bit like me. She didn't really know how to harness it quiet, but she loved song and she had a great voice and choose to surround the house, twelve
swirling and sing in these remarks. what songs, whether it would be careful, in very error, some skin. I bought song and- and She was hysterical. She was very funny. Good black country, star I remember one Christmas: we were all sitting around with my grandfather as well and my sister and we we were opening, presents at my mom and dad's, and I recorded the whole adventure of the rustling of the paper and the shock and a surprise, and I played it back and my mom said who I said: well, it's it's. Your mom said that common. I had an occasion lessons so with really good fun. She was great and what about your dad's? What kind of man was he. He was a real real gentleman. He was always concerned that I shouldn't go too close to whatever this thing is. I'm immersed in here
He was at the generation that you would meet people and they would say yeah, let's it interesting section with you, young man. What do you do not say you know I sing and they say yeah, but I mean what are you to him, so my dad was slide, be concerned that I would throw away in education yeah, I mean the generation gap at that time. Let you say it. It was seem quite large, but you had some interests in common you and your dad. I know that he was a keen cyclist and I think it was a hobby that you shared that RIAA yeah, my father and before the war he didn't annex several tours of the the the sheils. He had the sir deal about Cyclo Cross, so he would cycle he carry his bike. He take photographs on the top of the most amazing chains of hills and crossed the Pennines and into Cumbria them, but I gotTA ices cycle alongside him and he taught me had cancer
my strengthen that I started track rating, which was fixed, we're racing. I was really good anyway. I mean really in a way to show at the same fascination and attraction to something. When you have this duration of thing, which was radical him. I mean not so much now between me and my kids to, but it did help us too discuss the meaning of life together as well time for the move, it then Robert plant disk number two. What are we gonna hear its courts? serenade by Mario Lanza, when I was invited to do this pro I started. Looking at something that I would say, wouldn't be with the elephant, be the runaway train. It would be something that made me just stop and feel the goose bumps. This was. The first summit did not
me hear your voice in the wind. That's no I see your face in this answer serenade the thunderbolt moment and you are huge. Elvis fan. Can you remember when you first heard him it was around the time when Handog came out, so I might have been about eight or nine I'm done. I was fortunate enough to cross us with him. He came to see right cause. No, no, we went to see him We entirely him, but he wanted to.
Wanted to meet you after, but he was talking to us and he said well how do you get on with sand checks and stuffed? it's happening. Didn't really do a lot of things like tat, but when we did try out new equipment whenever it might be, I'd want to signal our Son I said: well, what is it myself? Some call song called love me, which is like a dream. You, like a fool. treat me mean cool, but love me so talk about things and say good night and walked down the corridor, Suddenly I'm held, and I turn around, and he he's does this way out of the room on the door frame, doesn't Elvis to me, which we all do and Stotts the sun, so the two of us, like the ultimate pub sing that night for a moment yeah. So you went to take.
Cool robot and in in and- and it was around that time that you started by an american blues records you going to gag softened at the town hall, and some of your friends were in upon call the jury men in nineteen sixty three. They gave you a big break. What happens? The singer got sick and the gig was on so they said you know the songs get up and let's do the gig It feels been up there. Looking at the audience, I was very nervous and didn't look at the audience at all, not until about nineteen sixty eight, you took your time, so you style it filming with other local bands, but you weren't doing so well at school and later dropped out of a business studies course. What made you decide to call it quits at college and pursue music full time, and I had no choice just had to just go wherever it took me. How did your parents react
went hugely over the moon about it to so. I didn't go back for a while, but then, when I did my mom if China Rat and put her pearls on for a cup of tea and my dad used to tell people is he's gone off the rails and then at eighteen months later he's on the rails. It's funny it's time for summer music, Robert, what's disc number three today and why you taking it with you, as you mentioned coming in town hall, had several years of these remarkable visitations from musicians, muddy waters, how to move to water. So I'd chosen this record because how moved me he's like the century of all of it, his magnificent strong, powerful and his two lyrics. I think a lot came from when he takes it.
Making songs, absolutely otherworldly. So this is a song war. I ain't superstitious. yes superstition, the Highland wolf with I ain't superstitious so Robert Plant in nineteen, sixty five, you joined a local blues band called the crawling king snake. So with a lead vocalist. Will you confident singer at the beginning? No, when did that start to come, and how long did it take, probably until about nineteen seventy, seventy one,
because I knew when Zeppelin began John Bonham myself. Coming from the black country, we were big fish there, We were suddenly alongside John Paul Jones and Jimmy and you are really seriously accomplished far more mature and pretty well have, first in all the different elements of melody and construction and stuff like that. So I was kind of daunting in a way along I really wanted to be around excellence. When I came head to head with it, I was really amps and kinda intimidated, you'd manage on the John. On and before in nineteen sixty five. I think he was in the audience at a crawling king snake skeg. What were your first impressions of him while he was big, I mean that I mean physically big. He just had his way about him and them
He said: look you're going somewhere really special. He said, but you know get there without me and I mean he was right. Yeah journal, I walked a million miles together so Jimmy They just recruited you and John to join him on John Paul Jones. In that Zeppelin you started rehearsing. How quickly did you realize that together, the four of you had something really special? We just kicked off with and in a small room, not much bigger than this reading this studio here and he just overwhelming it was like all the doors and the windows in the house. odds were open, and now we just blew right through the the walls of the salary right through the world
I remember we bought John's mom's car and went down in our Anglia Van then came back up from the rehearsals and all the way out. We went what was that and that's why it was it's time for discussion before Robert and I think this one evokes memories of your time before led Zeppelin success when you'd left home and you were working as a labourer at that point. yeah. So what that my was far from home and definitely fell off and talented living around the place. I met this magnificent lady who would like to become my wife. She was from a anglo indian family who were really really they gave me a home I to work workin I've put bitch on was high street drive the
and stuff and, and then at the end of it all I'd end up in the castle bamboo in West Bromwich, with a bunch west, Indians from larger Jamaicans, just listening to the most deep scars- and this was one of my everytime ferrets teenagers, I remember Brooks the I understand the the the the teenage girl by Barbara Brooks so Robert Plant after led Zeppelin's, first american tour in nineteen, sixty eight, it all took off lightning fast for the band and with success came excess
now the banned at the time, a pessimist: unbridled rock n roll Headin, isn't that was stories of sex drugs, rock n roll tvs in swimming pool motorbikes indoors how'd. You look back. Those exploits in on that mythology around you now? Well, the whole deal was sometimes ah very tough to be a part of, and much mean by that I think the intensity and the momentum of what we were experiencing an animal sort of lack of structure. Was very difficult, we were all maturity was on its move on. Campbell lying along and tat. It was we flexing one way or the other, and I was found a lot of it difficult to some of the intensity and stuff. I found it quite tough.
So you're, just a life with changing too fast, for you I don't know baby, because I can't really get my head around it now, So far away from I mean you can read bits and pieces media wise, but think is so far removed from what it was. So I guess the best thing to do is to just imagine that a lot of it is incredible exaggerate. and, most importantly, we were able to go home and get new perspective and grow up. How are you able to balance being Then an and father with the life of a rock star. Well, pretty good. I think I'm in Santa Bit glib, but I always longed for those those hills
My parents had always taken me to a beautiful little cottage in the middle of nowhere near my hamlet, and I took my family there. There was so much of the old ways, still pulsing in those hills in it, Sir John to it. time for this number. Five. What if he chosen this is a track called Ohio by Crosby, stills NASH and young. This is a song. It was written at the time following an event. In State University in Ohio, where four students were shot by the authorities, and this is the song that was written, which will remind us forever how it can go?
mastery badly wrong, NASH and Young and Ohio Robert Plant, the next CVS, where a difficult time for you and one thousand nine hundred and seventy five, even your family, were involved in a car crash, while you're on holiday in the road. Since you also fits terrible injuries yourself ended up spending many more Since wheelchair I must have had a huge effect on use, as a person is as well as, of course, you know put in
Forming career in jeopardy at that point, one minute: everything in the garden is magnificent, following the next minute, you're lying in the dust. That's how it was our twenty seven men, men them. Obviously every day every week, every month with a family and a couple, kids and stuff, that's the beauty of is way more paramount, really them flung in it forever and ever and ever it was a difficult time and it continued to be difficult. Robert, just two years later, you son character, died. He'd contracted a stomach virus It was just five years old and you were on tour in America when it happened, so he went them MT. That's definitely another moment when you're. Ok, so I came back gathered. What was left
If the shots of the family in them tried to put it together I really want to do anything after that. In that whole world really, but a time is time, momentum and encouragement and unkindness from everybody, we turned on you, so he and his wife were really good for me, Moines at the time of helped get you three yeah. He considered walking away in the ban. To that point- and you have you had another plan, you were going to go down a completely different avenue belief at one stage and and become a teacher. While the kids were common, correct. sign a school in storage and there I thought- maybe I could do much better than. then be singer. How far did you go Exploring that I went to town to forest role, whether Steiner centuries and then walked around it,
When I got back and John Bonham was at the gate going come on, I said no get in the car get in the car. He was driving the six door Mercedes with a with a chauffeur's cap on taking me to the pub in the back so that he could never get nicked on the way home. Because the copter, though we go, our poor drivers drive in some twerp IRAN magnificent I love him acceptable. Music Roberts number six. What are we going to hear next and why have you chosen it? My wife's family sat in a little street in West Brom, And it was a good draft family who lived. the other side of the doorway. Busy, cooking doll and Ryan opinions and spices and listening to this music sites. Knock on their door instead of the family's.
I might bring me in and give me a bowl of Vicky Layton Doll, and I just sit and listen to this music and that it just a picture of Mises, the extravagance of color and goodness knows what else about this error of indian Bollywood music it's cool, Mohamad Raffi, it's just in same listen to this situation and stuff. It's just magnificent and the food was great, the girl the show. Man made a huge pink said that, but I have a good day she made a. She could see that, because we have the cool guy behind,
They showed me hardened by Mohammed Roughy Robert plants in nineteen eighty, your friend when Burnham died of alcohol poisoning. That must have hit you so hard on on top of everything else that you'd already been through you're, certainly dirtier. I drove down with him on the day of the rehearsal and I drove back without him and he was an incredible character and so encouraging for me. Despite the fact he Those sending me up taken taking the Mickey out of me and all that and I loved him desperately yeah. You want said about him, he's omnipresent in my time still miss him to still still in with you yeah. I do I mean because
What really were kids and we grew up not having a clue about anything at all, just the two of us sort of loud, confident and mostly wrong, and you see the goodwill. We covered most of the squares on the board as time went by sir. I do some. You were both just just there to when he dies I mean, do you think it was inevitable that that the band wouldn't be able to continue absolutely the whole circumstances were I had become more and more alien to me as time has gone on. I thought it was time, obviously time to do something for myself. I know you don't want to get back together permanently, so not going to ask that question about the indian, but I do
to know how you feel looking back at what you achieved with that Great Pino, the group that you call the tumultuous amazing combination of friends for days and weeks. I never even told anywhere close to listening to the past. And then suddenly turned a corner in the middle of it all. I find myself absolutely glued to a piece of music carouse, partly responsible for, and I am absolutely side myself with pride at being able to be, amongst that huge mind palm that was the creativity of the of the group. It's time for your next piece of music Robert, and I know it takes you back to two thousand and three. He went to a music festival in the desert, just north of Timbuktu. He cannot imagine for a second, how
that felt going from Birmingham Airport to Paris to Bamako and then getting a little plane with somebody from Blue Peter some kid who was still in some checking out the lifestyles of kids in timber, Getting off often going north. But in the middle of it all, I saw some of the most remarkable music medicine banned from Molly container when were playing and Sangre and Ali Molly Factory. This is a dear Abby from the album that he made with Ry Cooder. Before we hear I've got to ask. But how you got to sing another some with alfalfa, torrid doing that trip what happened. There was a little firelit in a scoop in the night sky and mean that you never seen a night sky like it
and how the fuck is singing to sing so quietly and playing the guitar and singing these really soft, melodies and Annie Farkas Mars at many nods to me, and I think to Myself- hmm. This is in What am I going to do and I went well. The meter of the song is very livable beautiful, so I quickly came up with her a rash decision thing beside of the drifter song from natural, fifty nine good who's, gonna kiss you in it's kissing time, kissing time it was just so cool and he said to me: we know your voice If we were a bird in the tree and we could see nothing but leaves we know it was you
back generally, with only for category and rye kudos, Robert Plan, you moved back to the UK in twenty fourteen not far away. You grew up every life, long supporter of Bull, the Hampton Wondrous, what you love most by being found. It was always a place to escape to, but I never was quite so knowledgeable and intense about it. Now hand them, probably one of the main things along with all that is the songs, nikes shovel,
from the ground in the rain in the dark and dark have passed. Some guys are at rub when I drop rubbed still do it a bit, and the answer is just about yeah yeah. Keep it up, yeah yeah! It's all you need that familiar faces to make. You smile I know that you've been looking back a bit recently recently robber during lockdown. You arranged your own archive and that's got details of music projects, cuz and- and you know personal items I letters and photos. I wonder what what surprised the most when you kind of revisited it discovered after not seeing it for many years, perhaps the big big one of all is. I found an unopened letter from my mom from nineteen sixty eight and her job, and it was before we got. The yardbirds was zapped
and so I opened the letter amongst mom's handwriting and all that she said well, dear orbits yeah. I know you're out there somewhere, we ve had a word with the accountancy company and your job is still available and your girlfriend would like to know when you coming back like it was just so beauty Well, I'm about to cast you away to our islands. I wonder what approach you'll take to living a life cut off from the rest of the world. not really sure how that's gonna work out, but I can tell my hand to a few things on foreign, some getting by on my own, I'm sure I'll get there I'll be. Ok. all right and one more desk before you go. What's gonna be I did we were talking about Europe
without a sum crass in that tribute to lead bellied. So I'd have to play some, I recorded with her and said doc. Watson, songs, really define it's called you a long journey is here's the call for real the the you a long journey, Alison Kraus with my Castaway Robert plant. So Robert
in a cast your way to the islands, I'm giving you, the Bible and the complete works? If Shakespeare to take with you, you can take one other. But what would you like I'd like to take the penguin book of Earnest English, Anglo Saxon poetry, inverse these magnificent riddles that you would have to try and find them out and I've had this book. Since I was twenty one and I won't look at the answer. the back gonna play a time. Will you look on the island? Would you consider it in that scenario, no of couple If I'm going to have a lot of time, I'm going to make some notes in the sand, so what I think it is and then And then the title come in and another goaded you it can also. Luxury item Robert? What's that going to be a beautiful Wicca basket with three pairs of black country, homing pigeons, Then I can keep to stay with me and be my friends, because I've got to
The window right now where I live, but the other four will have to take notes back to the black country say I'm here Okay, the way help Robert I'm not allowed were not allowed any living beings or any communication devices. Oh well I'll just have a basket with some pictures of black country, homing pigeons, with with the hope that somebody will go ease over there, so pigeons photographs in a basket too. Tract of pigeons. Yeah, that's good! Maybe that will remind me the beauty of the canals and Tipton who wouldn't want to be reminded of that Robert plant. Absolutely yours I'm finally, which one track of the eight that you've shared with us today. Would you rush to save from the waves if they were threatened by water Well Mario Lanza, definitely because it's so evocative and carries so much present and beauty, and
just lifts to crescendos that, though imagine imagine singing along with that until you got it right, Robert plant. Thank you very much. letting us here, your desert island discs and you very much to be fun the hope you enjoyed my conversation with Robert and hope. His pitching focus will do the trick reminding
of whom we cast away many other things, some writers over the years, including Bruce Springsteen, use of CAT Stevens and Joan Alma trading. You can find their episodes in a desert, island discs programme archive and through a BBC sands, the studio manager for today's programme with Sarah Hockley. These systems producer was Christine Pavlovsk II and the producer was poem again me next time. My guest will be the actor and writer Uninquiring. I do who will join us Harry five thousand six hundred and seventy eight dance, it has the power to connect and to entertain and in the new series for BBC Radio, four and BBC sound. I explore the iconic dances who have been doing just dance. It really, I think, saved my life join me. Ultima as I delve into the lives of innovative and the more breakers who have changed, downs
Gene Kelly was this working class guy that I just really connected with that Ultima, who says dancing legends on radio, four and BBC South.
Transcript generated on 2022-04-12.