Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Case for Robert Plant for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

With the tragic and untimely death of John Bonham in 1980, the surviving members of Led Zeppelin disassembled and went their different ways.  But of the three that remained, Plant was the only one to carve out a successful, stand-alone career separate from Zeppelin.  Oh, Jimmy Page was here and there (even before Zeppelin), but nobody did anything close to what Plant did. 

Which got me to thinking - of those who were involved in significant groups, who were the ones that were able to go off and develop Hall of Fame type careers subsequently?  2 1/2 of the 4 Beatles were obvious.  Peter Gabriel (look for a write up on him soon) did it after his departure with Genesis.  Dave Grohl with the Foo Fighters after Kurt Cobain's death.  Beyond that, I don't think there are any others (please post up if you have some). 

But back to Plant. 

He could have easily gone out and just done a Led Zep redux, but instead his post-Zeppelin career has been steered into new waters, with occasional tips of the hat to the past.  His initial work with The Honeydrippers could not have been a bigger departure of the with which his fans had been accustomed, and that was just the start.  Pictures at Eleven and The Principle of Moments steered him firmly into Album Oriented Radio, whereas Shaken 'n' Stirred was more electronic/world. 

Fate of Nations was more old-school 60's, and No Quarter (with Page) was driven by Middle Eastern sounds.  With Dreamland, he focused on traditional blues and folks, and with Mighty ReArranger, it was back to world sounds.  His duets with Allison Krauss went to country, bluegrass and folk, and he continued that sound with Band of Joy. 

Was all of this a universal hit?  No, there were plenty of misses in this body of work.  But there were also moments of sheer brilliance - brilliance that belie that Robert Plant is just "the voice of Rock and Roll."  He's a prolific artist who has the luxury and courage to poke on the fringes of popular music for new sounds and influences.  His contributions are many, and his sell-outs few when he had the chance to do just the opposite, and be handsomely rewarded for it.  For this, and some really fabulous music, Robert Plant is worthy to stand alone in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.   

In celebration, I offer up one of the best night-driving songs ever recorded:


  1. Michael Jackson may technically qualify.

    Paul Simon, the same.

    Robbie Robertson is probably a stretch, as is Steve Winwood.

  2. Good call on MJ and Simon; both are in as solo acts. I think Robbie and Winwood will have to settle for their inclusions via The Band and Traffic, respectively. I don't think their solo careers are robust enough to get in on their own.

    Good post.

  3. I think you could also throw Don Henley into that mix.

  4. Again, Robert Plant the solo artist is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame if it uses the standards of previous inductees. But, as I stated earlier, in my opinion their standards are not good enough. Just about everybody gets in.

    Consider the 1999 inductee class. Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, and Bruce Springsteen. But, also, Del Shannon and Dusty Springfield.

    Also, the RR Hall of Fame is an incredible disappointment as a facility.

  5. House-baby,
    After reviewing the entire list of inductees yesterday, I agree that there are folks there that simply do not deserve the distinction. Your example above points that out clearly.

    But I also think you're underestimating the Tall Cool One. While not a Nolan Ryan career, I think he's better than Bert.

  6. Well, let me put it this way. If Plant was only a solo artist and never part of Zeppelin there is no way he makes the list. He might have had a good career, but not HOF level.


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