Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, both formerly of the English rock band Led Zeppelin, recorded and toured in the mid-1990s under the title Page and Plant. The pair re-united in 1994 and, after recording a highly successful first album, they embarked on a world tour. They then recorded a second album, followed by another world tour, before disbanding at the end of 1998. They later briefly reunited in 2001.
The initial plans for a reunion were made in 1993, with discussions between the two of collaborating emerging from casual small talk and then an invitation to perform on MTV Unplugged. Music producer Bill Curbishley, who had been managing Plant since the 1980s and who assumed management of Page in 1994, was integral in the reuniting of Page and Plant. Despite failed attempts by others to reunite the pair, Curbishley was able to persuade the previously reluctant Plant into working with Page again. In an interview he gave in 2004, Page recounted the background:
I was going to play in Japan with David, the only time we played live, and I had a call from Robert's management to pop in and see Robert in Boston on the way to LA to rehearse. Robert said, "I've been approached by MTV to do an Unplugged and I'd really like to do it with you", so I said OK. It gave us a chance to revisit some numbers and use that same picture with a very, very different frame.
Plant's recollection of the reunion was as follows:
By that time I didn't feel like I was even a rock singer anymore ... Then I was approached by MTV to do an Unplugged session. But I knew that I couldn't be seen to be holding the flag for the Zeppelin legacy on TV. Then mysteriously Jimmy turned up at a gig I was playing in Boston and it was like those difficult last days of Led Zep had vanished. We had this understanding again without doing or saying anything. We talked about the MTV thing and decided to see where we could take it.
Led Zeppelin's main songwriters reformed on 17 April 1994 as a part of the Alexis Korner Memorial Concert at Buxton, England. On 25 and 26 August, they taped performances in London, Wales, and Morocco with Egyptian and Moroccan orchestration of several Led Zeppelin tunes along with four new songs. The performances aired on 12 October, and were so successful commercially and artistically that the two coordinated a tour which kicked off in February 1995. The Unplugged performance was released as an album in November 1994 as No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded.
They toured the world with a line-up including Charlie Jones playing bass and percussion, Michael Lee on drums, Porl Thompson (of The Cure fame) performing guitar and banjo, Najma Akhtar providing backup vocals, Jim Sutherland on mandolin and bodhrán, Nigel Eaton playing hurdy-gurdy, and Ed Shearmur adding Hammond organ with orchestral arrangements. Page:
It was heroic to take something like that around the world, because it was using two orchestras: one Western, one Arab orchestra, with a hurdy-gurdy. It was great going around the world to turn people on to sounds they hadn't heard. It wasn't an easy thing to do, but it was worth it.
Afterwards, the two artists entered the studio with engineer Steve Albini to record Walking into Clarksdale, an album composed of entirely new material with more traditional rock enterprises. The album was not as commercially successful as Unledded had been, and after a supporting tour the Page/Plant reunion slowly dissolved, with both members going on to perform with other side projects. As Page explained:
There could have been a follow-up [to Walking into Clarksdale]. I certainly had about a dozen numbers written for a third album. Robert heard them and said that some of them were really good, but he just wanted to go in another direction. That's fair enough.
In an interview he gave to Uncut magazine in 2005 Plant recounted:
We had some good songs [on Walking into Clarksdale], but I wasn't sure about the production. I felt kind of marooned. We were still surrounded by the protective shield of who we were, and it meant we were playing big arenas around the world. And I realised once again there had to be another way... I knew I had to get back to playing clubs and remember what pulse was all about. To say goodbye to those large arenas that I played with Jimmy was a very purposeful move.
They reunited once more in July 2001 for the Montreux Jazz Festival.
|Year||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications
|1998||Walking into Clarksdale
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart or was not released.|
|1997||The Inner Flame: Rainer Ptacek Tribute (collaboration)|
|2001||Good Rockin' Tonight - The Legacy Of Sun Records (Song: My Bucket's Got a Hole in It)|
|1994||"The Battle of Evermore" (promo)|
|1994||"Four Sticks" (promo)|
|1995||"Thank You" (promo)|
|1998||"Shining in the Light"|
|1998||"Sons of Freedom" (promo)|
|2004||No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded|