Robert Plant: A Life

( 3 )

Overview

The front man of Led Zeppelin, one of the biggest and most influential rock bands of all time, Robert Plant defined the very notion of what it means to be a rock god.

But Plant's legacy stretches far beyond Led Zeppelin. Robert Plant: A Life is the story of the forces that shaped him: from his boyhood in England's Black Country to the ravaging highs and lows of the Zeppelin years; from his relationship with Jimmy Page and John Bonham to the solo career that today has him ...

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Robert Plant: A Life

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Overview

The front man of Led Zeppelin, one of the biggest and most influential rock bands of all time, Robert Plant defined the very notion of what it means to be a rock god.

But Plant's legacy stretches far beyond Led Zeppelin. Robert Plant: A Life is the story of the forces that shaped him: from his boyhood in England's Black Country to the ravaging highs and lows of the Zeppelin years; from his relationship with Jimmy Page and John Bonham to the solo career that today has him producing some of the most acclaimed work of his career. Rock journalist and editor Paul Rees, who has in the past interviewed Plant at length, paints a rich, complex portrait of a man who was only nineteen when he changed the face of rock 'n' roll.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/11/2013
The mystique surrounding 65-year-old Robert Plant—a man who reimagined the role of rock star while in Led Zeppelin—makes it nearly impossible to write the singer's first comprehensive biography, and an unauthorized one at that. British veteran music journalist Rees attempts to find a balance between the man, the myth, the music, and the darkness, but he ultimately delivers a piece of general reportage with intermittent moments of drama and clarity. The one-time editor of Kerrang! and Q magazines gleaned details from other books and articles, as well as his own previous conversations with Plant and many of Plant's former classmates, band mates, and tour mates—some who weren't afraid to speak candidly and critically. Even as a mischievous English grammar-school student, Plant had the talent and looks that eventually propelled him to self-described "golden god" status. He sang in regional bands before guitarist Jimmy Page recruited him for a new group that became Led Zeppelin. Groupies, drugs, and tragedy followed as Zeppelin's legend grew. The band dissolved after drummer John Bonham's death in 1980, and Plant reemerged as an ever-evolving solo artist who kept his distance from Zeppelin, rarely reuniting with his former band mates. This book is billed as the singer's definitive story, but that will remain untold until Plant writes it himself. Agent: Matthew Hamilton, Aitkin Alexander Associates. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
2013-11-13
By-the-numbers biography of the shaggy rocker. Unfortunately, former Q and Kerrang! editor Rees hits nearly every rock-bio cliché. As his yarn opens, we find an aging Plant, frontman of Led Zeppelin, world-weary, "the weight of history pressing down upon him; the burden of all the demons he had come here to put to rest at last." Then the perfunctory career review begins: Midlands boy grows up in a bombed-out, gritty industrial landscape, the child of music-loving (but classical music, mind you) parents, hears Elvis--and, more to the point, Bill Haley and His Comets--and is turned into a faux American. As Rees rightly notes, Plant, initially known in Britain as the hippie's hippie, is a shrewd and bookish fellow who refuses to be pinned down. He made his fortune as a singer of heavy rock, but, as folk-rock idol Roy Harper says, "Robust Planet" was smart not to do the same old rock thing in the 30-odd years post-Zep, instead searching endlessly on the musical horizon for the next thing to do. (The current next thing is a blend of Middle Eastern and Americana, a pleasingly contradictory sound.) Plant, who at 65 "is now eligible for a bus pass and a state pension" in Britain, is a serious enough musician to warrant a serious biography, though perhaps it's payback for thudding anthems like "Kashmir" and "Immigrant Song" to have a life story clotted with thudding prose along the lines of "His path was set," "In many respects 1965 was to be a pivotal year," and "He heard the screams, smelt the sex and sensed the power that could be bestowed upon the man with the microphone." For die-hard fans only. Zeppelin fanatics will want to turn to Stephen Davis' hoary Hammer of the Gods (1985), which, though covering only the band and not Plant's solo decades, isn't as painful to read.
MOJO
Rees informs and entertains . . . leav[ing] few stones in Plant’s life unturned.
Q Magazine
Anyone seeking insight into Robert Plant as a man and musician will find it here.
Dave Lewis
Particularly enlightening on Plant’s formative pre-Zep years in the Midlands, A Life puts the singer’s eclectic career into clear context.
—MOJO
Rees informs and entertains . . . leav[ing] few stones in Plant’s life unturned.
—Q Magazine
Anyone seeking insight into Robert Plant as a man and musician will find it here.
-Dave Lewis
Particularly enlightening on Plant’s formative pre-Zep years in the Midlands, A Life puts the singer’s eclectic career into clear context.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062281388
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/22/2013
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 224,275
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 1.27 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Rees has written about music for more than twenty years. He has interviewed everyone from Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, and Madonna to Bono, Take That, and AC/DC. His work has appeared in many publications, including the Sunday Times Culture, the Telegraph, the Independent, and the Evening Standard. He was also editor of two of the UK's most successful and long-standing music publications, Q magazine and Kerrang!, for a total of twelve years. He lives in England.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 28, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    An important bit of information is missing from this book's desc

    An important bit of information is missing from this book's description, which is that it's an unauthorized biography. Robert Plant refused to take part in the writing of this book. Consequently, the content is absent any insight into his thoughts, emotions, and motivations in both his career and his personal life.

    The first few chapters track Plant's childhood, but this is told from the perspective of outsiders and long ago school friends. While interesting, conclusions reached are strictly supposition. The rest of the book mostly tracks his recording career, his life story told in terms of his musical evolution. 

    For the most part, everything here is lifted from old interviews, articles, and books already published on Led Zeppelin. The author did not speak to anyone close to Plant for this book, including his surviving band members. If you've read a good book on the band (not Hammer of the Gods), then you probably already know most of what's written in this biography. 

    I didn't feel there was much effort to supply readers with depth. Early in the book, the author states that, since Plant is not a musician, he has difficulty expressing what he wants musically to the band. Later, we find him strumming the tunes on a guitar. As a fan, I know that he does now play guitar, though I don't think he did early in his career. I have no idea when he picked up the instrument. The author apparently doesn't know either, and he made no attempt to find out or clarify such a simple fact. 

    Another problem I have with this book is that there are at least a couple glaring factual errors. The most prominent of these is the author's claim that Plant's son Karac died at the age of seven. He was, in fact, five years old when he died. Another oddity comes with Plant's youngest son, Jesse. The author claims his birth mother is shrouded in mystery, despite most everyone knowing his mother is the sister of Plant's ex-wife. 

    I grew up loving Led Zeppelin, and have followed Robert Plant's career since. I was excited to see a biography had finally been written about him, and was hoping for something that would go deeper than his sexcapades and the turmoil of the Zeppelin days. In that respect, this book is a disappointment. What we have is more a chronology of events, rather than a biography. Still, Robert Plant remains a powerful figure in the musical world and I'm happy one author has finally attempted to commemorate that journey.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 23, 2013

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    Posted February 21, 2014

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