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Robert Plant revisits Led Zeppelin's first rehearsal: "I knew that I was in a room full of giants"

Led Zeppelin in London, 1968
(Image credit: Dick Barnatt/Redferns)

Robert Plant has spoken about the birth of Led Zeppelin, sharing his memories of the band's very first rehearsal / jam session.

As Plant recalls, he and drummer John Bonham drove down to London from their homes in the West Midlands on August 12, 1968 in Bonham's mother's van, which the duo had borrowed for the day. The singer remembers that Bonham had to secure permission from his wife, Pat, to attend the planned rehearsal, which took place in a room on Gerrard Street, in London's Chinatown district.

"Pat always said, 'Keep away from Plant, because you’re just going to end up broke and in trouble'," the singer laughs, recounting the story to Rolling Stone.

As Plant recalls, the chemistry between the four musicians - and their potential for greatness as a unit - was instantly apparent.

"In that room, on that afternoon, when we kicked in with a bunch of songs that nobody really knew, Train Kept a-Rollin'… I knew that I was in a room full of giants, really, and that was it," he tells Rolling Stone. "By 1973, what happened in that one room had exploded into some of the most adventurous non-rock rock that you could ever wish to find, and it was just the sum of the parts. Those guys were just insanely good. And it was as if everybody had just been waiting for each other with whatever happened prior to that. It was just like, bang!"

In another recent interview, however, Plant reaffirmed that he has very little interest in performing again with the band.

Speaking in an interview with the LA Times to publicise his current North American tour with Alison Krauss, Plant was asked about how his singing voice had changed over time.

"I know that the full, open-throated falsetto that I was able to concoct in 1968 carried me through until I was tired of it," Plant says. "Then that sort of exaggerated personality of vocal performance morphed and went somewhere else. 

"But as a matter of fact, I was playing in Reykjavík, in Iceland, about three years ago, just before COVID. It was Midsummer Night and there was a festival, and I got my band and I said, 'OK, let’s do Immigrant Song.' They’d never done it before. We just hit it, and bang – there it was. I thought, 'Oh, I didn’t think I could still do that.'"

Reminded that fans would love to see him do the same with Led Zeppelin, Plant responded, "Going back to the font to get some kind of massive applause – it doesn’t really satisfy my need to be stimulated."

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.