Happy Birthday to Robert Plant, who turns 65 years old today (August 20th)!!! Although Plant has enjoyed a successful solo career since 1982, he will always be best known for his years fronting Led Zeppelin and co-writing the majority of the band's songs with Jimmy Page. Last week, Plant finally became active on Twitter, Instagram, and Google Plus, as well as re-launching his website, RobertPlant.com, which according to USA Today, "unveils never-before-seen personal artifacts, TV interviews, photos, press clippings, set lists, tour laminates, posters, videos, a discography and tour itineraries. Plant plans regular updates, including a documentary he shot of a recent trip to Mali."
Last year, Plant rush released a surprise live album from his new band Sensational Space Shifters, only two weeks after recording the set in London. The 15-track-collection, called Robert Plant Presents Sensational Space Shifters 7/12/12 HMV Forum, London, GB, includes tracks from Plant and bandmember Patty Griffin's solo works, blues covers of Howlin' Wolf and John Mayall tunes, along with handful of Led Zeppelin classics. In addition to Patty Griffin, the Space Shifters features members of Plant's pre-Band Of Joy group, Strange Sensations, including frequent Plant collaborator Justin Adams.
Despite the December 2007 Zeppelin reunion in London featuring himself, Page, John Paul Jones, and Jason Bonham filling in for his late dad John Bonham, Plant has been the lone hold-out in committing to any future performances. Several of the industries' top promoters have essentially offered the band a blank check should they commit to any number of road dates. Earlier this year, Plant hinted to Australia's 60 Minutes that the problems with reuniting with Zeppelin were due to his bandmates -- not him -- and adding that his schedule was free for 2014.
Last October at the New York City press conference following the press preview of Zeppelin's new concert film, Celebration Day -- which, along with is accompanying CD, chronicles the 2007 reunion gig -- Plant played it coy and then downright rude to reporters clamoring for some type of statement about future Zeppelin plans. After some coaxing by the event's moderator, Plant finally answered the reunion question with a bit of respect for the reporters in the room: "We were so happy that we were actually gettin' it right (coughs) and taking it beyond what we thought we were about that night. There were moments in it where we just took off and pushed off in some place. The responsibility of doing that four nights a week for the rest of time is a different thing. 'Cause, we're pretty good at what we do; the tail should never wag the dog. If we're capable of doing something in our own time that will be what will happen. So any inane questions who are from syndicated outlets (laughter), you should just really think what it takes to answer a question like that in one second, y'know? We know what we've got."
Coincidentally, just as the Zeppelin reunion rumors first began to catch fire in 2007, Plant enjoyed the biggest success of his solo career with his collaboration with Alison Krauss on their joint album Raising Sand, which hit Number Two on The Billboard 200 album charts. Plant and Krauss' cover of the Everly Brothers' "Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)" scored the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
Raising Sand producer T-Bone Burnett was sure that the duo would click immediately: "I know Alison's adventurous, and I didn't know Robert until we started working together. But, I've certainly followed him and I knew that he was adventurous, and I knew they were both interested in the history of music. So I suspected we could find common ground pretty easily."
In 2009, Plant was appointed a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) on the Queen's New Years Honors list, marking the first time that any member of Led Zeppelin has received an official accolade from Queen Elizabeth. The Queen's Honors are handed out twice a year, in June and at the New Year, and are awarded to people for all types of service, including the performing arts.
Well over 40 years in the business, Plant says that up and coming musicians should stay as independent as possible: "Stay away from a major label. Y'know, you've got to be able to deal with people who are telling the truth. You can't be in a position where, if things aren't happening for you within four weeks, you're history and you're left dangling forever. I know quite a few artists of my era who are in that position now, who just can't get away."
Although Led Zeppelin guards its catalogue against use in commercials, in 2004 they allowed their song "Rock And Roll" to be used by Cadillac, and let NBC use their song "Bring It Home" to be used in Olympic TV spots. Plant says that he actually doesn't mind the use of their material on TV, providing it's done with taste: "I think that's appropriate. I don't know how people view it, but as far as a young generation goes, if you hear that music in as many possible places as you can outside of the normal home for it, then it can only be a good thing."
The tracklisting for Robert Plant Presents Sensational Space Shifters 7/12/12 HMV Forum, London, GB is: "Fixin' To Die," "Tin Pan Valley," "'44," "Friends," "Spoonful," "Bron-Y-Aur-Stomp," "Ohio," "No Bad News," "Standing," "Black Dog," "Somebody Knocking," "Witchdoctor," "Whole Lotta Love"/"Steal Away"/"Bury My Body," "Another Tribe," and "Gallows Pole."
Robert Plant Presents Sensational Space Shifters will next perform on August 31st in Stradbally, Ireland.
Photo Courtesy of PRPhotos.com