Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Undivided harmony

On this day in 1980, the three surviving members of Led Zeppelin announced their decision to retire the group.

This first public statement of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones after the death of John Bonham on Sept. 25 clarified their position on calls to carry on without him. A press release summed up their feelings in these 48 words:

"We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend, and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were."

Each member of Led Zeppelin went his own way, retreating for a time from the public eye. Plant shied away from singing and considered going into teaching. Within two years, Jones did begin teaching, leading an electronic composition course. Page retreated from music for a time, and even the sight of his guitar painfully reminded him of his loss.

The three of them avoided playing Led Zeppelin's music for years. Page addressed his own feelings on the subject in an Ireland On-Line article published yesterday: "After John Bonham's death I spent 15 years not even wanting to think about Led Zeppelin."

Fifteen years is an obvious exaggeration, as those 15 years included every Led Zeppelin reunion show until the one scheduled to take place this Monday in London, as well as the remastering of the band's entire catalog as supervised by Page.

"But I also have difficulty thinking it's all over," Page continued. "Now at least one concert is planned and I'm incredibly
happy about that."

For reflections bringing this story up to date in the days immediately preceding the one-off Led Zeppelin reunion concert in December 2007, see the second part of this post, "Could undivided harmony recur?"

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