NEW YORK - Rock legends Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Robert Plant — perhaps better known as the band Led Zeppelin — were recently honored at the Kennedy Center Honors, where they were introduced simply as “the best band ever.”
The three musicians sat down with Charlie Rose and opened up about the early days of the group, their intense ride to fame, and what’s next.
Jimmy Page explained that the group came together after a band he had been playing with, The Yardbirds, split up.
“So I wanted to form a group sort of from the ashes of the Yardbirds, if you like and so the search began for musicians.”
The first new member to be drafted was studio musician John Paul Jones, and then joined 19-year-old Robert Plant, and John Bonham on the drums.
And right away, the group knew they were going to make it. “It got big the minute we met,” Plant told Charlie Rose.
“Didn’t matter what happened after that ... I mean it was just like, ‘Bang, what’s that?’” Page continued.
And the band said that although the critics never quite “understood what we were doing,” they got better creatively decades to come.
All eight of the band’s studio albums landed on Billboard’s Top Ten list, six of them at number one.
“I don’t think we ever managed to supply the demand,” Page said. “The people just kept wanting to see us ... more and more. In droves.”
Despite their staggering success, Plant said at the time, “I couldn’t get over the fact that I was hanging out with Janis Joplin and people like that.”
But the band came to an abrupt end in 1980, when drummer John Bonham died.
It was a four piece band you know,” Plant explained. “It would have been impossible to actually be able to play and not see John Bonham there.”
So for 30 years, the surviving three members pursued separate careers, aside from two brief live reunions in 1985 and 1988, which were met with rave reviews by fans, but disappointed the band.
“It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t really, really good,” Page said.
In 2007, Plant, Page, and Jones took the stage again—this time with John Bonham’s son Jason on the drums—to perform one last time. The band gave a performance that did not disappoint fans ... or themselves.
“By song number three, I think we knew that ... we were on it,” Plant said.
“It was the perfect opportunity to go out there ... and show why we were who we were,” Page added.
And while the band has no plans to reunite for a tour, they’re confident in their place in rock history.
“It’s such a textbook for young musicians,” Page said, before adding, “I would say ... without being conceited here ... but yeah, it was the best band.”
For more from the in-depth interview and for a look—and listen—back at their hits, watch the video above.