By Pat Prince
Rock stars always make for entertaining press conferences. Ever since John Lennon publicly retracted his statement that The Beatles were more popular then Jesus there are always some controversial things expected to be said, whether real or imagined.
After Tuesday’s advance screening of Led Zeppelin’s new concert film, “Celebration Day,” at New York City’s Musuem of Modern Art, the musicians — Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham — filed onstage to answer assorted (and sometimes sordid) questions from the press. The questions began innocently enough, centered around the 2007 O2 Arena concert’s reason for being: a tribute to the late Atlantic Records exec Ahmet Ertegun. But the dreaded ‘reunion tour’ question loitered like the proverbial elephant in the room.
For the most part of the conference, Jones was mostly indifferent, Page a bit cocky and Plant charming and funny. Baby Bonham was just happy to be there. It was only when that aforementioned reunion question was finally asked, did they all seem to turn into the same irate collective. What would the members of Led Zeppelin say to the millions of fans who would rather see the band reunite in the flesh, so to speak, than on film?
There was an uncomfortable silence, then a shy-like Jones leaned over to his mic. “Sorry,” he said, to a roar of laughter.
Jimmy Page finally put an end to the silliness “Look, in December it will be five years since the O2. So that’s a number of years that’s passed in-beween, so it seems unlikely even if there’s a whisper or a hint that we’re getting together to do something or other.”
But Team Goldmine wasn’t there to hear this persistent talk of fantasy. Rather, we knew Page and Plant were real-life vinyl junkies. The audio of “Celebration Day” will be coming out soon on vinyl (3 LPs, 180-gram, audiophile quality vinyl, to be exact), so the question eventually came up: Was vinyl the preferable way to listen to Led Zeppelin?
“It’s a matter of personal taste, I guess,” answered Page. “Personally, I never let go of vinyl even when CDs came on the scene. What I would recommend to you is that you don’t listen to Led Zeppelin on mp3, that’s for sure.”
Also, there was the question of their first record bought. And their last record, too.
“Actually Jimmy’s got amazing first records from when we first met,” said Plant.
“First record for me was probably a 78 of Little Richard,” Page offered.
“Johnny Burnette,” interjected Plant, about his first. “Not the Rock and Roll trio. ‘Dreamin” on Liberty produced by Snuff Garrett, with strings.”
“And the last record that I bought, was right here in the Village,” said Page, “a collection of The Raelettes. Ray Charles’ singers, which is really cool.”
That bit got Page and Plant smiling but what would a Led Zeppelin press conference be without a last ditch effort to bring up a possible reunion again. One of the last questions of the day was based on a rumor that Led Zeppelin might even play the half-time show at the Super Bowl.
“Americans are funny,” Plant concluded.