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January 7th, 2009 By mbreen | Music | Posted In: Music News

Led Zep Reunion: Who Should Supplant Plant?

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Rumors of a Led Zeppelin tour have been floating around since the band reunited for a one-off show in England in 2007. Every week or so a "reliable source" has announced it was a sure thing, only to be followed by official statements that singer Robert Plant has no interest. 

The latest word comes from Zeppelin's manager Peter Mensch, who says the musicians are having fun without Plant and want to find a singer, tour and possibly even record.

Led Zeppelin has always been admirable because the members held up their word that they weren't "Led Zeppelin" without all the original members, presumedly some sort of spoken or unspoken pact the band had made. Now, Jimmy Page and John-Paul Jones seem ready to go out on the road with a band that resembles those "Temptations" or "Platters" oldies acts that play casinos and state fairs while — often at best — featuring only the cousin of one of the original members.

But principles seem to die hard with classic rockers once they hit their twilight years. Almost every big band one thought as recently as 10 years ago had no chance of getting back together have done exactly that. It's one thing to get the original band back together, though (something impossible for Zeppelin, though Bonham Jr. is certainly one hell of a drummer); it's a true legacy besmirchment if it's anything less than that. They'd be one guitarist walk-out away from being Zoso: The Realest Zeppelin Tribute Band Ever.

I say cheese it up and blow it out — do a "Led Zeppelin Revue." Twenty Zeppelin classics sung by 15-20 different singers. The Doors did a TV special with this technique, dragging out contemporary singers to play their hits Morrison-less. Ian Astbury of The Cult did the best and got to tour with the band. One would hope Plant would appease his bandmates by the time they found one permanent replacement and rejoin.

A while back, Gigwise.com did a list of the 10 singers who shouldn't replace Plant. Here are my suggestion on who should, split into two categories — "Plausible and Fitting" and "Awkward but Interesting." I nominate them all to hit the road with One Half of Led Zeppelin.

Plausible and Fitting

1) Chris Cornell. He can hit the notes. He's got some stage presence. Seems kind of like a douche, though. Not that that has ever disqualified a Rock Star from anything.

2) Rob Halford from Judas Priest. Can hit the notes. Rides a motorcycle onto the stage. Need I say more?

3) Joey Belladonna from Anthrax. Can hit the notes. Responsible for one of the greatest Metal mullets of all time. Never underestimate the power of attention-grabbing hair in Led Zeppelin. I saw the Page/Plant tour a few years ago and found myself wishing Plant would at least put on a Goldie Locks wig.

4) David Coverdale. Probably the best Plant wannabe on the planet (and at least in the Top 100 of Plant impersonators). Has played with Page before. Knows all the songs (and probably all the stage moves). Might bring Tawny Kitaen to roll around on the hood of his car (which awkwardly would be parked in a parking garage behind the arena). Would probably hurt Robert's feelings.

5) Gary Cherone of Extreme and, for a minute, Van Halen. He's got the replacement experience. And, uhhhhhhh …

Awkward but Interesting

1) Aretha Franlkin. Want to really get under Plant's skin? Hire the best living singer in the universe. She'd do a kick-ass "Going to California." Not sure if the "Squeeze my lemon til the juice runs down my leg"-type lyrics would work though.  

2) Shane MacGowan of The Pogues. I might actually pay the outrageous ticket prices to see that one.

3) Ashley Dupree, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer's favorite prostitute, er, "escort"/aspiring Pop singer. If you're going to go down like a lead balloon, go down like one that's drenched in gasoline, set on fire and stuffed full of poisonous snakes.

4) T-Pain. Come on — how cool would it be to hear "Stairway to Heaven" sung with pitch-correcting AutoTune on full blast? At least as cool as hearing "Wind Beneath My Wings" being sung by squished kittens.

5) Chuck Cleaver of Wussy/The Ass Ponys. Robert Plant used to shout out non-sequiturs like "Does anyone remember laughter?" on stage and wrote lyrics about The Lord of the Rings and "the winds of Thor." Chuck Cleaver is just as likely to talk about bowel movements and bad TV shows and has written songs about his Grandma's hobby of making clohespin ducks, Fun Fur cats and crazy yarn and beer can hats. Obviously, this would be a big step up for the band.

Who else?

UPDATE: Today (Jan. 8) from Music Radar:

Despite published reports indicating otherwise, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham have abandoned plans to record and tour together.

MusicRadar spoke exclusively with Peter Mensch, Jimmy Page's manager, who stated categorically, "Led Zeppelin are over! If you didn't see them in 2007 [when they played a one-off reunion at London's O2 Arena], you missed them. It's done. I can't be any clearer than that."

Singers auditioned, "no one worked out"

 
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