Thursday, July 26, 2001

Bionic Man

On this day in 1977, as Robert Plant checked into the Royal Orleans hotel, he learned of the unexpected death of his son, Karac.

A stomach virus had caused the 6-year-old's temperature to rise, and he suffered convulsions. Though an ambulance rushed him to Kidderminster hospital, he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Robert Plant took the first available flight back to England to be with his wife, Maureen, and daughter, Carmen. Drummer John Bonham and Led Zeppelin tour manager Richard Cole accompanied Plant on the flight.

At the Birmingham airport, Plant's father handled the press. Realizing that his grandson's death was going to cancel Led Zeppelin's plans for the rest of the tour, the father of Robert Plant said, "All this success and fame, what is it worth? It doesn't mean very much when you compare it to the love of a family."

Asked how the family felt, he said, "They are heartbroken. Karac was the apple of my son's eye. He was a strong child, mischievous, bright and full of life. He had never been ill before. His death seems so unreal and unnecessary."

Just months before, the Led Zeppelin singer had spoken to a reporter about his son. "We call him Baby Austin after that Bionic Man," he said. "He knows no fear, has no anticipation of danger. I envy him."

Karac can be seen relaxing with his loving family in the opening scenes of the film The Song Remains the Same.

While Plant and his family returned to their farm in Blakeshall, Worcestershire, the remainder of the third and final leg of Led Zeppelin's 11th U.S. tour was inevitably canceled.

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