Robert Plant

by Jeff Suwak

Robert Plant will always be best remembered as the frontman for Led Zeppelin. His vocal work with that legendary band is among the most distinctive in popular-music history. He wielded an otherworldly singing range capable of transitioning from soft, swoon-inducing siren calls to caterwauling banshee howls shredding apart the fabric of time. Visually, the tall, lean singer with the leonine mane was the perfect embodiment of the Rock God archetype, and the image of Plant onstage with Zeppelin was long ago frozen in amber as an emblem of its era.

Because of all that, we often overlook the fact that Plant's time with Zeppelin was relatively short, encompassing only 12 years (1968—1980). Many fans, particularly new ones that stumble upon Zeppelin on streaming services or classic-rock radio stations, discount the significance of his solo career entirely - if they even know it happened.

The truth of the matter is, Plant has been recording as a solo artist for nearly 40 years and has had more than a fair share of chart success, and he talks about his solo career as being more representative of himself as an artist than his time with Zeppelin.

With Zeppelin, Plant was treated as a pretty face with a killer voice. Guitarist Jimmy Page was seen as the primary creative force behind the band, and though Plant rarely (if ever) brought his frustrations to the press, he never liked that characterization, knowing he had more to offer. So, when he struck out on his own in 1982, he did so determined to establish his own sound and creative vision.

Plant is generally seen as more of a rocker than as a "true artist" like a Neil Young or Bob Dylan, but that image is neither fair nor accurate. He lives his art and carries notepads with him everywhere he goes to jot down lyrics and music as inspiration comes to him. If you look beyond the indulgence and excess of the Led Zeppelin years, you'll see that he has always been the real deal. This is how Plant himself prefers to be seen, and he purposefully sought to move away from libidinous testosterone-psychedelia ever since the 1977 death of his 5-year-old son, Karac, reframed his perspective.

With the 2020 release of Digging Deep: Subterranea, Plant's presence as a substantial solo artist seems to be cementing itself a little more powerfully in the public consciousness. The album compiles some of Plant's best solo work, and discussion of it has given us time to appraise his post-Zeppelin output. With that has come a deeper examination of the man as someone beyond the now-tired tales of '70s debauchery.

We put together this Fact Or Fiction about Plant's music and life, focused more on his pre- and post-Zeppelin life. We did sneak in some Zeppelin, though... I mean, come on.
Here's our list of Robert Plant songs
and list of Led Zeppelin songs
photo: Mads Perch
February 5, 2021
More Fact or Fiction

Comments: 2

  • James from MobileI did get them all right. I now think of him as a solo artist as his solo career has lasted 4 times longer than his time in Zeppelin.
  • Jim from Mobile, AlI did get them all right. I now think of him as a solo artist as his solo career has lasted 4 times longer than his time in Zeppelin. Principle of Moments is brilliant.
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