The question I get asked most of all of course, is the time Robert Plant came to see Letz Zep in concert.
We hadn’t been going long at that time, and we had started really for fun, to play the music that we loved and inspired us to pick up a guitar on the first place, and to push ourselves and challenge ourselves musically.
We only played 2 or 3 shows a year but were starting to get a buzz about the band. Our gigs were selling out, only small venues mind, couple of hundred people, but selling out none the less.
We always attracted an eclectic audience, being in London. Our guest list always had some ‘names’ on it.
On that day tho’ we were performing at The Dublin Castle in Camden Town. Good old pub with a music room in the back, and still going strong as a venue. Oh incidentally, we still hold the box office record there for the most ticket money taken to see a single band there.
I got a call from friends who were coming the gig to say they couldn’t get it, which I thought was ridiculous as I tried to explain just come into the pub and come to the back room.
They were saying it wasn’t possible so I went out to meet them. Then I understood. There was a queue outside the music room, all the way through the pub, out onto the street and continuing down the street as far as I could see.
I had been told earlier that day that Robert Plant was coming that night, but really didn’t take it serious, or actually believe he would.
We had played The Castle a couple of times before, as I said a small venue, and the bands have to walk through the crowd to get onto the stage. And once there, there is no getting off again ‘til the end of the night.
Original flyer for Letz Zep at The Dublin Castle
So, armed with sufficient beers to last the gig, we made our way to the stage and began.
Good Times Bad Times, Heartbreaker, Ramble On… then I had a chance to talk to the audience as we tuned for the next song, waffling on about blues riffs starting in the Mississippi basin and via Liverpool to Camden Town tonight.. or some such flannel.
When the door to my left opened, and the light streamed in, ‘Always someone is late’ I thought, but the silhouette stood in stark contrast the light shining from behind, and it was instantly recognisable as the Tall Cool One himself. And we both stood there looking at each other as the band started the opening riff to In My Time of Dying.
Robert gave me the thumbs up as he took a place close to the entrance and settled down to watch the show.
Obviously, his entrance was seen by all and I could see something resembling a Mexican wave of head turning towards the door, then to the person next to them to say ‘Plant is here’
The band got the message too, and each player made a bum note as they got the news as terror struck, even our rock solid drummer, Simon Jeffrey made a rare hiccup in the beat.
But the band steadied, and thankfully I had time to regain my composure during the song intro.
It is nerve wracking having a global megastar, and a man with so much musical knowledge and experience, a true legend standing there as I am about to sing one of his songs.
I knew I sang this song well, so I wasn’t a complete nervous wreck.
Planty looked attentive, and actually looked rather pleased. Soon, however, he was causing quite a buzz by being in the room, and felt it best he left.
He gave me a wave and the thumbs up again, and motioned that he would come back later.
I didn’t get a chance to speak with him that night but caught up with him soon after at the after show at his own gig in Hammersmith.
He said that he didn’t intend to make such an entrance, but the venue had changed the room around since his last visit that used to be the rear entrance.
He continued that he was interested to see ‘How he was perceived in his heyday’
He also stated that he thought we were doing a good job and if by playing his music we may inspire others to take up the guitar, or sing, then we are keeping the wheel turning, and on that basis, he gave us his blessing.
He was interviewed soon after the show for Q Magazine in which he said, ‘It was like watching myself onstage’ and ‘I walked in, I saw me’ was his comment.
When interviewed on VH1 Storytellers, he was asked about his attending the Letz Zep show, he reply, was similar to his comments to me.
‘To get where we got with our music then, and to do what we are doing now, which is a different direction,
we're always looking back, everybody's always looking back …. In Zeppelin, we looked to blues ….we looked back to get our music. And if this band (Letz Zep) by playing that music go somewhere new it's a continuum. The cycle goes on and on, and one song leads to another."
It was of course, a great honour for me personally, and for the band to have a legend such as Plant is to take the time and come and listen to our homage to a period of his glittering career.
It was definitely a turning point, the moment we all saw the potential, we were in fact a good band, a very good band, and there is serious interest in Letz Zep.
We next booked an 1100 seater theatre in Peterborough, as our first professional gig. and we had 700 people turn up.
Since then, we have gone on to tour in 40 countries on 4 continents.