Neil Preston If you're a fan of Led Zeppelin, you're familiar with…
- Posted on Dec 4th 2012 5:00PM by Jason MacNeil
Brendan Smialowski, Getty
Introduced by Letterman who plugged their live CD/DVD package Celebration Day beforehand and quipping "What are we doing here?" Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones walked out to much applause as bandleader Paul Shaffer and company churned out "Rock And Roll."
When asked if all three -- who received the Kennedy Center Honor in Washington recently -- had received similar honors in their homeland, John Paul Jones quipped "No!" which drew some laughs.
The discussion then turned to fellow Kennedy Center honoree Buddy Guy, with Page recalling how as teenagers he and Jeff Beck would listen to an album featuring Guy, Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson and other blues greats.
"Just the whole delivery and the passion and the drama, this guitar that was just out of this world," Page said of Guy's approach.
From there Letterman touched on the band's other influences, with Plant citing the late rockabilly singer Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Elvis Presley. Plant also briefly recalled the time Led Zeppelin met Elvis circa 1973.
"He had a lot of chicks," Plant quipped when asked about Presley's personality. "He got something going on."
When the host asked what it was like for the group growing up in an era of The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Kinks and others Jones deadpanned, "Were there other bands? I don't remember."
Letterman's brief follow-up about possibly meeting up with the other groups was met with another Jones quip.
"How many noes do you want? We basically saw each other in airports."
The focus then shifted to Zeppelin's 12-year career, the death of drummer John Bonham and if there was any talk at the time of Bonham's death of carrying on.
"The fact was we had the records out and then we put the songs into the set and it was almost like another beginning for, a second wind for the songs because they were changing every night with the improvisation we were putting in," Page explained. "There was no way with the amount of work and mutation that had gone on with those songs that we could say to another drummer, 'Well, can you learn this bit and learn that bit.' It just wouldn't work."
Another humorous moment came when Letterman asked how he would describe Led Zeppelin's band. Page and Plant remained quiet but Jones quickly scatted the opening notes to the band's "Immigrant Song."
After the commercial, Letterman showed two different photos, one of Page, Plant and Jones with President Barack Obama and the other a 1973 photo of the group standing near their private jet.
The conversation never turned towards the possibility of another reunion. Instead, Page talked about the performances by Kid Rock and Heart during the recent Kennedy Center ceremony and how when the band reunited in 2007 there were 20,000,000 ticket requests.
"Now in all fairness some of those requests were for matinees, but still," Letterman jokingly said.
"When you say matinee, is it the same kind of meaning that you have for a matinee," Plant asked Letterman as the innuendo drew some laughs.
The appearance went far smoother for Plant than a recent gig in South America which saw him bowled over by a stage-invading fan and a security guard while performing on stage.