Should Led Zeppelin Reunite? – Classic Rock’s Greatest Debates
It’s one of classic rock’s greatest ongoing debates — should the surviving members of Led Zeppelin reunite? We asked two of our writers to make the case for either side of this still raging argument, and then give you the final word. Ready? The gloves come off now …
Way too many classic rock bands were cut down in their prime by either petty infighting or a key member going out in vomit-stained, rock-star style. But no premature end cut as deeply as Led Zeppelin’s. Thirty-three years after drummer John Bonham‘s death, fans young and old clamor for a Zeppelin reunion. No way, I say.
The band’s semi-reunions since 1980, when they called it quits following Bonham’s death, weren’t total embarrassments. Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones first got together in 1985 for the Live Aid concert, with drummers Phil Collins and Tony Thompson filling in on drums. Not bad, but they didn’t practice, and it showed.
The trio’s 2007 one-shot reunion for the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert in London in 2007, with Bonham’s son Jason on drums, was much better. But the anticipation for these reunions would lose whatever impact they have once a reunited Led Zeppelin were on the road for eight straight months.
We’ve all seen the dazzling concert footage of the young band tearing up stages. Do we really need to hear a 65-year-old Plant asking us to squeeze his lemon? And any recordings by the reunited group are bound to fall way, way short of the titanic achievements reached on their classic eight albums. Why scar that brief legacy? And why replace memories of a swaggering pack of rock gods with new images of wrinkly old guys onstage, trying to get it up one last time?
Everything you’re saying is right … in theory. The fact that Plant, Page and Jones have resisted the vast fortunes they could have earned with a full-fledged tour or reunion album for more than 30 years is one of the most impressive displays of class, restraint and taste the music industry has ever seen.
It’s also probably true that the 80th show of this tour wouldn’t be as magical as that 2007 night in London. And you didn’t even get into the very thorny issue of who should play drums, particularly if the group plans to record new music together.
But I’d still sell anything short of my wedding ring to be in the front row on that hypothetical mediocre Tuesday night in Cleveland. How could any Zep fan possibly resist? That ’07 show wasn’t just good, it was great, and demonstrated that the chemistry among the three is fully intact and capable of creating new magic even while performing 40-year-old songs.
Obviously, the raw power of Zeppelin’s ’70s live shows is something that’s forever in the past, but the notion that bands should only continue if they’re capable of matching the intensity they displayed in their youth is foolhardy. Plant’s solo career is the perfect example — he knows he can’t hit those famous high notes as often anymore, but by changing his approach and exploring new types of music, he’s remained one of the most creatively vital artists around.
Jones’ solo, Them Crooked Vultures and production resume shows there’s no shortage of ideas left in his tank either. And good God, anything that gets Page out of the house and onto a concert stage or into a recording studio where he belongs can’t be a bad idea. I’ll grant you this: Maybe they shouldn’t use their famous former name out of respect for Bonham. But if they want to, the three surviving members of Led Zeppelin should definitely perform together again.