Thursday, November 7, 2013

Robert Plant: A Life by Paul Rees

Picking up the new Robert Plant biography, Robert Plant: A Life, I couldn't help but hope that some of the riddles of Robert Plant's life would be answered. Plant has always been a bit of an enigma, and a book that unravels some of the questions of plant's life would be welcome. I am, sadly, still waiting for such a book.

Item: Robert plant's divorce. In 1983, between the release of Pictures at Eleven and The Principle of Moments, Plant and his wife of 14 or 15 years divorced. Maureen had been Roberts wife through all the turmoil of the led Zeppelin years, now as Robert was kicking off his solo career, the marriage was done. A major piece of the puzzle of your subject, a significant story. You have to give it a chapter, no? Half a dozen pages at least, correct? How about, 4 paragraphs, two of which document a holiday Maureen took without Robert:
It's against this backdrop (the release of Principle of Moments) that Plant's marriage came to an end. He did not join the family on holiday that year, asking his former assistant, Dennis Sheehan, to take care of things in his place.

"We went to the island of Madeira," recalls Sheehan. "I took Maureen, Carmen, a friend of Carmen's from school, and Logan. I didn't get into any kind of conversation with Maureen, but I realised were in the middle of splitting up and t hat this was the defining break. We didn't do very much. I hired a car, but it's not the most exciting place."

"I suppose i was there to be a father to the kids and to make sure Maureen was OK. I guess Robert felt that as i was a family man myself and having children, I'd be responsible enough to look after them and also be discreet."

The divorce as finalised that August, the same month that plant began his first solo tour. He wasn't alone in that respect. Both Jeff Woodroffe and Robbie blunt were also going through divorces.
Ah well, then, thanks for the information. The pattern repeats itself at other times as topics that deserve some detail, gets short shrift. For instance, did plant ever date Canadian singer Alannah Myles?
He (Plant) never commented... on rumours linking him with the Canadian singer and former model Alannah Myles...
If Plant's never discussed it, then I guess there's no way for a biographer to know.

As well as topics that get too little detail, some details offered are simply wrong. Ree's has Jimmy Page moving to guitar in the Yardbirds after Jeff Beck leaves, not sharing guitar duties with Beck for a period before beck leaves. On the other end of Zeppelin's career, he has Peter Townsend playing at the O2 arena at the 2007 Ahmet Ertegun Foundation tribute concert.

For all that, Robert Plant: A Life is a well written, easy reading book. It moves along at an easy pace and should be readable for most readers over a weekend. It is not, as might be judged by the first part of this review, a bad book, it is simply not as good as it could be. It would make an excellent gift under the tree of any Led Zeppelin or Robert Plant fan.


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