Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Robert Plant and Richard Branson Split the Cheque

Actually, it appears, and logic dictates, they didn't split the cheque. It's one of those cases of a media gang-pile without any facts at their disposal. If you blog on a specific subject for long enough, i.e. Led Zeppelin, you see these things once in a while. Stories that make no real sense, or that are flat out wrong, but get picked up and run with by reporters who don't know enough about the subject matter to smell the fishy bits. My personal favourite involves a six month old quote by Dave Grohl saying he'd drum with Led Zeppelin, that got turned into a full reunion tour, with Dave Grohl at the drums.

This week it was the story of Richard Branson offering £500-million for a tour. Page, Jones and Plant could split the money, and hire whatever drummer they wanted at scale.  Page and Jones, reported an inside source, jumped at the chance/money, but Plant ripped up the cheque in front of Branson. So much for Jason Bonham making a sideman's wage (serious question: would Dave Grohl play for scale?)

But the story has its holes, not the least of which, musician's don't walk into a room with a promoter who's about to make a £500-million offer without knowing that in advance. It would be ridiculous for Led Zeppelin's three surviving members to meet as a group with anyone who does this kind of promoting, unless they had discussed it in advance and were interested. Seriously, do you think they like getting questions about this sort of thing every single interview? Do you think they don't know that these sorts of things are never really secret? And why, after years of saying no, would Page and Jones agree to anything without Robert being on board first?

But beyond that, Robert Plant, and I have been known to be critical of Plant at times, is simply not that rude. The idea of a serious offer being treated that way is too strange. Plant is, all the guys in Zeppelin always have been, pros. They don't rip up cheques in front of the person making an offer. That's for amateurs, or unnamed sources and a-holes. Plant doesn't tend towards either, by all accounts.

It was Plant too, who was first to deny this. "Rubbish," came the wordy response to this story from Plant's publicist. Today, Richard Branson added his response to the record:

I’ve been left dazed and confused by a story doing the rounds this week about us apparently offering Led Zeppelin £500 million to reform and carry out a tour. As much as I love the band, there is absolutely no truth to the story.

There were even claims that Virgin Atlantic was about to rename one of our planes and include a stairway to heaven in honour of the band. However nice an idea, this is also completely untrue. After a week of seeing worryingly inaccurate reports in various publications regarding Virgin, it was sad but not particularly surprising to see yet another fabricated story.

I spoke to Robert Plant about the story, which he also confirmed is complete rubbish from his side too. Robert told me he is very proud of his history and the band’s past, and has always had great respect and love for his work throughout his career. However, he really believes he must move on with his life and career today.

Making up this story is very disrespectful to how wonderful his solo career with the Sensational Space Shifters is going. He is setting out on a sold out tour today and they released a brilliant album last year.

Fellow band members Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones also have many exciting projects in the works and should be respected in their own right. I’m proud of how so many artists from my generation, whether it is Led Zeppelin, Mike Oldfield or Peter Gabriel, are still being so creative and inventive. They have all moved on into exciting new phases, while still celebrating their incredible pasts.

As Robert told me: “Look Richard, I just do things because I love them and I want to do more new things that I love.” I couldn’t agree more.

The story had its legs, but it should die now, to be resurrected, mark my words, in six months time with a small variation. But unless a reliable, named source, say Jimmy Page or John Paul Jones, confirms the story, consider it absurd and move on.


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