This news originally appeared in an edition of the newsletter "On This Day In Led Zeppelin History."
All three surviving members of Led Zeppelin are said to be working on new recording projects, something fans of the group should be used to hearing for some time now. However, a point that will be easier to prove is that at least two of the former members of the group will be playing concerts this summer. The news of upcoming concert events seems to put Jimmy Page back onstage for the first time since a couple of one-off appearances 2002, this time alongside a couple of faces that popped up more often during his music career of over 45 years than did that of P. Diddy.
Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation are already fresh off some completed concert engagements in Italy, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland that have taken place over the past few months. More live dates by the band will follow throughout the continent throughout August or later.
Page, who has not played regularly since he sustained a back injury while on tour with the Black Crowes in 2000, has two concerts lined up over the next few months. Some newly recorded Page guitar work is expected to be released on an album this September, while his past remarks that he would be undertaking another new project remain elusive.
John Paul Jones, in a message on his official Web site posted in February, thanked his fans for their patience while he readies what will be his third solo album since 1999. It is one he claims to have been working on since 2004, just after he last embarked on a concert tour – that being with an all-star bluegrass band called Mutual Admiration Society. Jones' February message also recounted some more of his recent one-off concerts, and he said he would take some time off from the solo project to produce a record for an all-female folk string ensemble he met two years ago, called Uncle Earl.
While announcements from the Page and Jones camps are so scant, tour plans from Plant and the Strange Sensation are high in frequency. Despite the rumors of a North American tour, there has been no announcement as such. The group was on the road for several months last year, including in the United States, in support of the album Mighty ReArranger. The Strange Sensation has committed to a number of festival dates throughout Europe that will keep them busy touring for the next several months.
The few dates apparently lined up for 62-year-old Page this summer will pair him up first in June with Plant, and second in August with Roy Harper, who was a constant touring companion with Led Zeppelin in the 1970s. There is also the possibility of Page sitting in with Jerry Lee Lewis of "Great Balls of Fire" fame this August.
Just days before Plant and the Strange Sensation played their first show this year, the music world suffered the loss of prominent guitarist Ali Farka Toure, who died in his home country of Mali on March 7 after a long bout with bone cancer. Plant was a fan of his music, and the two played together in Mali at the Festival in the Desert in January 2003.
Plant's most recent live appearance, a concert tribute to Toure, took place on May 4 in Milan, Italy . Also playing the event was Tinariwen, a group Plant has called in recent years as one of his favorites worldwide. However, at the time of the show, Plant was said to be suffering from the flu and a throat infection. As a result, he limited his singing to only one number: a version of "Win My Train Fare Home" performed with the members of Tinariwen and Strange Sensation bandmates Clive Deamer, Billy Fuller and Justin Adams. He also played guitar on a few other songs.
Plant is among artists scheduled to appear June 23 at a benefit concert for another of his musical heroes: Arthur Lee, the singer and songwriter behind the group Love, who is reportedly battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Lee has undergone three weeks of chemotherapy and faces possible surgery. Plant's Web site says Lee's medical bills already top six figures. "I'm really glad to be able to do something for him, you know, raising funds and stuff because I don't think he's got any health insurance," Plant said this weekend during an interview on DJ Johnnie Walker's BBC Radio 2 show. All proceeds from the concert will go to Lee's medical expenses.
Plant spoke briefly in this interview about his appreciation of Lee and his contemporaries from San Francisco and other West Coast hotbeds of late-1960s psychedelic music. "I must have been about 17 when I first heard 'The Castle' and his version of 'Hey Joe,'" he said, referring to songs from the first two Love albums, released in 1966 and 1967. Love's next opus in 1967, Forever Changes, is routinely mentioned as Plant's favorite album of all time, and it provided him with a pair of songs he often covers in concert – "A House Is Not a Motel" and "Bummer in the Summer."
The Arthur Lee benefit concert is set to take place at the Beacon Theatre in New York. Besides Plant, other performers on the bill, according to Plant's Web site, are Love member Johnny Echols, the Ian Hunter Band, David Johansen of the New York Dolls, New York-based songwriter Garland Jeffreys, and Alec Ounsworth of indie-rock band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. (Tickets to Beacon Theatre events are normally sold online by Ticketmaster and by the venue box office, although the concert has not yet been listed at either site.)
For now, Plant's next concert is set to take place today in England, at a benefit by the RD Crusaders. In addition to Plant, the RD Crusaders concert lineup is to include Roger Daltrey, drummer Richard Desmond, Lulu, Greg Lake, Russ Ballard, Zoot Money, Simon Townshend, Steve Smith, Nick Newall, Nicky Lambourne, Steve Balsamo and Margot Buchanan.
Richard Desmond formed the RD Crusaders in 2003, and the group has raised over 1 million British pounds for charity since then. Proceeds from the May 9 show benefit the Evelina Children's Hospital Appeal and Camp Simcha. The hospital appeal project aims to raise 10 million pounds through this concert and several other events.
Both Plant and Page are among artists slated to appear on June 30 in Montreux, Switzerland, at a special tribute show for Ahmet Ertegun. The Atlantic Records cofounder will be one month short of turning 83. It is unclear whether Page and Plant will play together.
The Ertegun tribute concert takes place as part of the Montreux Jazz Festival, which was the setting of the set Page and Plant last played together, on July 7, 2001. Then, the two collaborated on a set that included the first-ever performance of Led Zeppelin's "Candy Store Rock," paying tribute to the Sun record label that first made the names of rockabilly legends Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis famous in the 1950s.
A new album by Lewis, called Redemption, is slated for release in September, and it will feature Page sitting in on a new rendition of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll." Both Lewis and Page are scheduled to appear at the Rhythm Festival in England this August, so it is not unreasonable to assume that the former Led Zeppelin guitarist could show up to play during the Jerry Lee Lewis and the Killer Band's festival set on Aug. 6.
Page is being mentioned as a guest of Roy Harper's, who will perform at the Rhythm Festival on Aug. 5. According to promotion for the event, Harper is to play his 1971 album Stormcock, which includes Page on a 12-and-a-half-minute song called "The Same Old Rock." (Page's role was attributed on the album sleeve to the pseudonym S. Flavius Mercurius.) David Bedford, who provided the orchestral arrangement for the song that closes Stormcock, is also listed on the bill as involved with Harper's August festival set.
Harper, after whom Led Zeppelin named the blues medley featured at the end of Led Zeppelin III, included Page on the songs "Bank of the Dead" and "The Lord's Prayer," both from his 1973 album Lifemask, as well as on the song "Male Chauvanist Pig Blues," separate versions of which were included on Harper's 1974 albums Valentine and Flashes from the Archives of Oblivion. In 1984, the two released a collaborative album called Whatever Happened to Jugula?, which they supported with a handful of festival dates. A London concert in 2001 honoring Harper's 60th birthday provided fodder for a rumor that Page would pick up a guitar; Page attended the event but did not grace the stage.
For a complete listing of upcoming concert appearances from Plant and the Strange Sensation, visit Plant's official Web site. To stay up-to-date on the latest happenings from Jones, visit his official Web site. Page is without an official Web site to call his own, but the Led Zeppelin fan site Tight But Loose does a fine job of keeping up with his news as well as that of his fellow former bandmates.
There's been talk that Plant said the Strange Sensation is working on another album, so consider that three separate projects are potentially forthcoming from the surviving members of Led Zeppelin, forcing the history of this group ever onward.