On Feb. 26, 1995, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant made the dreams of more than a few Led Zeppelin fans come true by kicking off their first-ever world tour as a twosome.
We know what you’re wondering: if they weren’t (yet) willing to reunite as Led Zeppelin, what led these two rock gods to instead opt for a tour as a duo?
To answer this question, we must look back to 1994, when Plant was offered the opportunity to do an MTV Unplugged performance, which in turn led to a conversation about inviting Page to take part. As far as who instigated the conversation, Page said that he was contacted by Plant’s management and invited to see Plant perform in Boston;when Page showed up in Boston, Plant was surprised to see him there.
Oh, who cares how it came about? All that matters is that they decided to get Unplugged together...or should we say Unledded?
In August 1994, Page and Plant taped a trio of performances - one in London, one in Wales, and one in Morocco - and melded the best bits together to produce No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded, which proved so successful as a television special that it was promptly released as an album just in time for holiday gift-giving. Even better, the lads were getting along so swimmingly that they decided to take their show on the road, which brings us to today...or, rather, to 1995, when they kicked off their tour at the Pensacola Civic Center in Pensacola, Florida to a rapturous reception.
From there, Page and Plant surprised fans yet again, this time by joining forces with engineer Steve Albini to record a new studio album, Walking Into Clarksdale, which took 35 days for the guys to record and five months for Albini to record and mix. Released in April 1998, the album debuted at its chart high of No. 8 and spawned a No. 1 Mainstream Rock single with “Most High,” a song which subsequently went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance.
Unfortunately, Walking Into Clarksdale would not see a follow-up: despite its success, not to mention the fact that Page had already started writing songs intended for another LP, Plant just wasn’t interested.
Page’s reaction to this, per his 2005 interview with Uncut, was perfectly Page-y (“That’s fair enough”), but to offer a bit more insight into Plant’s position, he said, “I felt kind of marooned. We were still surrounded by the protective shield of who we were, and it meant we were playing big arenas around the world. I knew I had to get back to playing clubs...”
While we haven’t managed to get any more material under the Page and Plant name, there’s still no reason to think that we couldn’t one day seem them recording in that capacity once more. Until then, though, we can still look back on this brief career detour that brought the two of them together again.