Written by Paul Rees. Published by Harper Collins 2013.
What makes a rock star? If the Beatles can be said to have defined "Pop" music during the 1960s, then surely Led Zeppelin defined "Rock" music as we know it today.
Like it or not, Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway To Heaven' remains one of the most played records ever and is regularly voted as the top rock song of all time. For those who don't know, it was co-written by Robert Plant who also sung the lead vocal as front-man of that legendary band and who also happened to be from West Bromwich.
The "Black Country" located to the West side of Birmingham, was also home to Led Zeppelin's drummer John "Bonzo" Bonham, thus making the area famous for producing one half of what many claim as "One of the greatest and most influential bands of all time!" Accolades aside, Hollywood's 'Sunset Strip' must have seemed light years away to a young Robert Plant and John Bonham as they struggled vainly to make it in local bands during the mid 1960s. Yet within a year, after hooking up with guitar-star Jimmy Page and bass guitarist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, they found success beyond their wildest dreams.
So, what does make a rock star you may ask. 'Robert Plant - A Life' is the first book dedicated to telling Robert Plant's life story rather than just another book about Led Zeppelin. It details his early days growing up and at school, his discovery and love of American blues music, his first failed attempts to make it as a singer, and then his ultimate rise to stardom. The book continues Robert's life through both career triumph and personal tragedy along with Led Zeppelin's demise and his on-going journey as a solo artist.
Robert Plant's early West Midlands bands are mentioned in some detail, including 'The Delta Blues Band', 'Black Snake Moan', 'Crawling King Snakes', the mod-styled 'Listen' (with whom Robert made his first recordings), and the legendary 'Band Of Joy' line-up that also included John Bonham. However, it was keyboard-player Bill Bonham's Walsall-based group 'Obs-Tweedle' that Robert Plant was in at the time of his discovery by ace session player and Yardbirds' guitarist Jimmy Page. And the rest is history as they say.
Paul Rees is an acclaimed music writer whose work is published in a variety of well-known newspapers and magazines. Paul was editor of the music publications 'Kerrang!' and 'Q Magazine' for 12 years and as such interviewed hundreds of famous musicians. 'Robert Plant - A Life' is based on Paul's own interviews of Robert Plant along with personal accounts from many others who knew him, from his early days, up to the present time. Those interviewed from the 1960s "BrumBeat" era include Gary Tolley, Stan Webb, Dave Pegg, Laurie Hornsby, Bill Bonham, Jim Lea, Trevor Burton, and John Crutchley to name but a few.
The book is well over 300 pages but by the time you're halfway through, you've only reached the part where Led Zeppelin ends and our hero begins his solo career at the ripe old age of 32! There's lots more to come though, with all the ups and downs of Robert's solo projects, and his well-deserved status as one of the best rock vocalists of all time. Is it only coincidence that both Noddy Holder and Rob Halford are from the very same area? Maybe it's something in the local beer.
Anyway, Paul Rees has done a fantastic job of pulling all this together and believe me, you will find it hard to put this book down once you start reading. 'Robert Plant - A Life' is well recommended for all fans of Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin, and in fact for anyone who wants to know the answer to that question "what makes a rock star?"