From the very moment Led Zeppelin found fame towards the back end of the 1960s, the industry has seen many bands try to emulate their formula to varying degrees of success. Most have failed to impress Robert Plant, but there’s one group he called an embodiment of Led Zeppelin I.
Over the years, Plant has made enemies for this very reason. Most notably, he publically lambasted Whitesnake vocalist David Coverdale and commented: “There was a time, years ago, that I tried to mimic Elvis Presley,” he said. “That’s quite acceptable. But David Coverdale’s nearly my age. He is of my genre, even if he was in a lot of substandard groups. Really, you shouldn’t do it to your own gang, you know. When I aped somebody, they were so remote, it was like they were millions of miles away.”
However, as he’s grown older, Plant has begun to view other bands carved in Zeppelin’s image as a form of flattery. What upset him about Coverdale was they were from the same generation, and he viewed the Whitesnake frontman as completely unoriginal. Things escalated when his imitator teamed up for a collaborative album with Jimmy Page, which riled up Plant further.
Greta Van Fleet is the most recent example of a group that has moulded themselves on Led Zeppelin, and Plant holds no ill feelings towards them. They are a throwback to a bygone era of heavy rock, and although they’ve played down the influence of Zeppelin, the inspiration is impossible to deny.
In 2018, Plant broke his silence on the group, and rather than give them the Coverdale treatment; he endorsed them. “They are Led Zeppelin I,” the former Led Zeppelin frontman said. Furthermore, he described Josh Kiszka as “a beautiful little singer,” although Plant did then playfully add, “I hate him.”
Plant was then asked what he thought about Kiszka’s “huge voice”, to which he replied: “Yeah, and he borrowed it from somebody I know very well! “But what are you going to do? That’s OK.”
While Plant made some off-colour remarks about the group, they came from a positive place, and Greta Van Fleet were gratuitous about his kind words. Guitarist Jake Kiszka said: “I saw that. I think for all of us it’s another of those humbling, honourable moments. When we’re with Elton John or so many others we brush paths with, those individuals are legends we grew up listening to on the radio.”
Adding: “To have them talk about us is really inspiring. That re-jolts us, and kind of gives us credibility that what we’re doing isn’t being unseen or unrespected. With the Led Zeppelin comparison, we’re humbled with the references and honoured by the affiliation.”
However, bassist Sam Kiszka was more hesitant and said: “Even with people like Robert Plant, I try to keep other peoples’ opinions out of the way. That’s just a life thing except when you’re doing this it gets exemplified by a trillion.” Although Kiszka did go on to concede, “To be honest, I would take that as a compliment because that’s a great, great record.”
Listen to ‘Highway Tune’ by Greta Van Fleet below, and conclude for yourself whether it would slot in on Led Zeppelin I.