ROBERT PLANT: 'I Was Outdone By A Taiwanese Guy Singing TONY ORLANDO'

RollingStone.com recently conducted a question-and-answer session with former LED ZEPPELIN frontman Robert Plant. Several excerpts from the interview follow:

RollingStone.com: What is your best vocal performance?

Robert Plant: Can I name two, from different eras? I'd say that on [LED ZEPPELIN's] "Rain Song" I sounded best. I'd reached a point where I knew that to get good I couldn't repeat myself. The high falsetto screams had become quite a kind of calling card. Nowadays, I learn new techniques on my trips to Mali and southern Morocco. I know about restraint and power and using my voice to insinuate. I got it right on ['Mighty Rearranger''s] "Another Tribe".

RollingStone.com: What music are you into now?

Robert Plant: I'm very happy listening to the BLACK KEYS. They're Akron's most feted sons, and they owe a lot to SKIP JAMES, as do I. So I listen to a lot of desert stuff, some very old blues like LEMON JEFFERSON, and the BLACK KEYS.

RollingStone.com: Ever sung karaoke?

Robert Plant: Yeah. In Playa del Carmen, which is on the Yucatan Peninsula, and once in China.

RollingStone.com: What inspired those performances?

Robert Plant: Vodka. In China it's a big deal, so I said, "Let me do 'It's Now or Never', by ELVIS, so I can really bring the house down!" But this guy from Taiwan was better than me. He did "Tie a Yellow Ribbon", by TONY ORLANDO AND DAWN. When he was done I thought, "Fuck me!" I was outdone by a Taiwanese guy singing Tony Orlando.

RollingStone.com: Do you remember ZEP's first gig in America?

Robert Plant: It was right in the heart of Denver, on the 26th of December, 1968. I remember pulling up to a theater and the marquee said, VANILLA FUDGE, TAJ MAHAL and support. I thought, "Wow, here we are: Support!" [Laughs] That's a great name for a band, too — especially if you're getting older.

RollingStone.com: What scenes from "Spinal Tap" hit home?

Robert Plant: Getting lost on the way to the stage. That was us, playing in Baltimore. It took twenty-five minutes to do the hundred yards from our Holiday Inn through the kitchen to the arena.

RollingStone.com: When you think about John Bonham, is there a certain image that comes to mind?

Robert Plant: There are several. Here's one: We'd been playing Madison Square Garden for five nights, and I said to Bonzo, "Fucking hell, my voice is gone." And he said, "Nobody cares about that. Just go out and look good" [laughs]. That was great.

RollingStone.com: Why didn't you go to the Grammys, where ZEP got the Lifetime Achievement Award?

Robert Plant: I was in Milan, promoting the new record. I think it was a fantastic tribute, but...[smiles]

RollingStone.com: You wanted nothing to do with it.

Robert Plant: Oh, absolutely! I would have put my robes on and my crown, my scepter! With Jim [Page] and John Paul — what a way to spend the weekend! It'd be nice to get together to see if we have anything to argue about!

Read the entire interview at this location.

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