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Humble Pie
03-04-2008, 04:10 AM
West Midlands Sunday Murcury, March 2nd 2008
How Led Zeppelin legend almost sang for Slade


By Paul Cole
IT is the unthinkable - Led Zeppelin rock legend Robert Plant leading Black Country chart heroes Slade into action, bellowing "Mama Weer All Crazee Now!"
But it so nearly happened. Instead of singing Zeppelin classics such as Stairway To Heaven and Whole Lotta Love, Plant could have been the voice of Cum On Feel The Noize and Merry Xmas Everybody.
A new book reveals that the Kidderminster-born superstar was considered as the frontman for Slade.
It also tells of:
* the time the Led Zeppelin star was BOOED offstage;


* how he worked in WOOLWORTHS when he was hard-up, and

* why his pet cats are named TIPTON and DUDLEY.

The Slade connection was back in 1968 when the group was still called The N' Betweens, and had yet to find fame and fortune. At the time, Plant was between jobs on the stairway to stardom.

Someone suggested the young blues-rocker would make a good frontman for the band, backed by guitarists Dave Hill and Noddy Holder, bassist Jimmy Lea and drummer Don Powell.

Noddy had been working as a roadie for Plant, helping to set up his stage gear.

Powell recalls: "We all thought that Robert had such a unique voice, and was a great frontman.

"But our tour manager said: 'You don't need anyone else - Nod can do the job!'"

The rest is history. Walsall warbler Noddy Holder smashed pop records as he took Slade to the top of the charts for a sensational string of mis-spelled hit singles.

The Zeppelin star's worst gig was one he played with Band Of Joy, which also featured drummer John Bonham.

Bassist Paul Lockley recalls: "We were mistakenly booked into a working men's club up North. It was the sort of place where all the people play bingo, and when a band comes on, they want comedy.

"They thought we were a comedy band - Robert Plant & The Band Of Joy!

"It's a working men's club, it's dinnertime, you've had a few pints and you want to watch a comedian, a ballad singer or a stripper. We didn't dare play any of our heavy blues.

"We played some simple rock tunes, hoping people had heard them before, but it was an audience of older people in their 50s, 60s or 70s. We didn't even finish our set."

The unofficial book, titled Robert Plant: Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page & The Solo Years, also reveals some of the Black Country jobs Plant, now 59, took to make ends meet.

They included a stint at Woolworths in Halesowen, described as "mind-numbing and tedious", and laying Tarmac on the roads for construction firm Wimpey for which he earned "only a few tuppences an hour".

He worked as a production control manager in a steel factory but got the sack after a mix-up. "I ordered enough steel to keep three factories going for about a year," he admits ruefully.

Plant took classes in chartered accountancy at Kidderminster College but dropped out. After trying out all his best Elvis Presley moves in his bedroom, he joined a series of bands.

They included the Delta Blues Band, Sounds Of Blue, The Crawling King Snakes, The Tennessee Teens, Listen, Band Of Joy, Hobbstweedle and finally The New Yardbirds, the group that became Led Zeppelin.

And he even cut his hair when record giant CBS tried to launch him as a solo singer in the mould of Engelbert Humperdinck and Tom Jones - an ill-fated venture that resulted in three flop singles.

Author Neil Daniels reveals that throughout his high-flying career, Plant has remained true to his Black Country upbringing and the support of his Wolverhampton Wanderers football idols.

"His working class background is important to him," says Daniels. "He even named two of his cats Tipton and Dudley!"

Deja Vu
03-04-2008, 05:10 AM
Wowza.

duskyjewel
04-11-2008, 03:45 PM
Now that I never knew. And here I thought I knew a whole lot about both Slade and Zeppelin. Something new everyday. cheers:beer: