Once upon a time, way back in 2007, for the first time in 12 years, Led Zeppelin reunited to play a show … and that was the end of the story. Almost. Not only has that now five-year-old concert just gotten a well-hyped theatrical and DVD release — “Five years is like five minutes in Zeppelin time,” said John Paul Jones at a press conference — the abrupt end of that flirtation with reforming has fueled unceasing discussion amongst fans and press, since exacerbated by the presence of Celebration Day.
By late 2008, it was clear that Robert Plant had refused to push forward with a full tour. As SPIN’s Steve Kandell wrote then, “it just may be that a 60-year-old man who now more closely resembles the Cowardly Lion than a bare-chested golden god in too-tight jeans wants to preserve that bedroom-poster image, and his dignity, rather than treat us all to the mental image of the juice dripping down his leg. (Who among us wants to hear rock’s gnarliest bit of double-entendre turned into a Depends gag?)”
Finally though, after endless wild (and probably spot-on) public speculation, Rolling Stone has cracked the case: “He was busy,” Jimmy Page said as the entire world let out its breath at once. “He was doing his Alison Krauss project. I wasn’t fully aware it was going to be launched at the same time. So what do you do in a situation like that? I’d been working with the other two guys for the percentage of the rehearsals at the O2. We were connecting well. The weakness was that none of us sang.”
Snark aside, Page did express the same emotions that many of his band’s fans have no doubt felt: “Some of us thought we would be continuing, that there were going to be more concerts in the not-too-distant-future. Because there was a lot of work being put into the show.” Famously, that work continued after Plant turned down a chance to sing with Page, Jones, and drummer Jason Bonham. The remaining three Zeps held auditions for a new frontman, and even tried out Steven Tyler.
“The timing wasn’t the best,” Page said of working with Aerosmith’s singer. “We had put so much toward the O2. And the three of us were catching up with stuff. It was very good, seriously promising. But there was this other thing going on. [Pauses] And that’s it.” That other thing could’ve been Tyler’s rehab stint, or his splintering relationship with his band. Ultimately, Page decided they “needed a good, credible album, not do something that sounded like we were trying to milk the O2.”
Celebration Day is available for $39.99 in deluxe CD/DVD form at a Barnes & Noble near you.