Robert Plant said he “itemized” his archive during lockdown but has no plans to release any of the rediscovered music until his death.
The 72-year-old Led Zeppelin legend revealed that cassettes contained a wide range of recordings from abandoned projects, along with personal paperwork including a family feud note sent to him soon after he decided to pursue singing as a career.
“I found a letter from my mom that said, ‘Look, you’ve been a very naughty boy. Why don’t you come back?’” Plant told presenter Matt Everitt on the latest episode of Plant’s Digging Deep podcast. “And also, the accountancy job is still open on Stourport-on-Severn … [so] why don’t you just come back home and we’ll pretend all this stuff didn’t happen?’”
Admitting he didn’t read the letter until finding it a few months ago, Plant noted that “it made me feel crazy because I thought about what a pitch it was in those days to chuck everything up in the air and just say, ‘Sorry, I’ve got to this,’ and for them to throw the next card down and say, ‘Well, if you do it, you can’t come back here and live the live you wanna live. It’s academia or you’re out.’ So I went. … I only went back, really, when I got engaged. … I went back and introduced my future ex-wife.”
You can listen to the episode below.
Plant said his collection also included “succinct” notes from Atlantic Records boss Ahmet Ertegun and that the pair had become “great friends” after John Bonham’s death brought Led Zeppelin to an end. One of those notes was a fax sent when Bonham had “won this really serious musician award alongside Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennett and stuff like that, in Playboy magazine. … ‘Isn’t it amazing how, despite all the kind of rumpus that was Led Zeppelin, this guy transcended it?’” Plant reflected: “Bonzo went right across everybody’s appreciation of music. You could cut away all the clamor and just listen to how he was contributing his part to what we used to do.”
He noted that he “got a really good cassette played and renovated everything.” “So if you ever wanna hear Robert Plant singing with Buggles – yeah!” he explained. “It’s Bruce Woolley and Robert singing something about the city, which ended up with Grace Jones.”
The singer said he was “whoring like crazy” in the early ’80s, admitting he’d “go and write with anybody at that time,” and name-checked punk Robert Crash. “It’s insanely brilliant,” he said of the pair’s music. “It’s like 1984: huge Oberheim computers belching out this huge bottom end, this mad German in a plastic mackintosh, tied at the waist, with spats, doing this wheel round the room playing this Stratocaster. … It’s just great! It really is the other side of David Byrne.”
Plant said the process of arranging his archive was probably a case of “putting my house in order. … All the adventures I’ve ever had with music, tours, album releases, projects that didn’t actually get finished or whatever it is, I just put them, itemized them all and put everything into some semblance of order. … I told the kids that when I kick the bucket, open it to the public – free of charge – just to see how many silly things there were down the line from 1966 to now: the journey.”
He added: “I don’t care what happens to it, it’s just great to hear it again.” When Everitt said, “One day … ,” Plant replied: “I don’t know whether there’s a ‘one day’ around the corner, to be honest!”