Robert Plant is at home when he’s on stage. With a microphone gripped in his hand and in the company of an arena packed full of dedicated fans, Plant has found his natural environment. For the majority of his life, it’s all he’s known, and it all started with the first concert he attended.
The former Led Zeppelin frontman didn’t grow up in a thriving metropolis with a constant flurry of concerts on his doorstep. Instead, he had to settle for the limited bands available to him. Unsurprisingly, the first time he witnessed live music wasn’t in opulent surroundings, but that didn’t matter to Plant, who found himself suckered into a life of rock ‘n’ roll.
It didn’t matter to Robert Plant that his first foray wasn’t an artist from the hit parade because, in the Black Country, there was nobody bigger than Dave Lacey and The Corvettes. While their success was limited to the Midlands, they were like superheroes in the eyes of Plant.
According to the Birmingham Music Archive, the group formed in the early 1960s in Stourbridge, just a few miles away from Plant’s hometown, Halesowen.
The pinnacle of their career came in 1964 when they had two tracks included on a compilation by Decca Records titled Brum Beat, which celebrated the Midlands scene, and featured many more other local bands. Additionally, they also had a single released on Phillips Records in 1965 but failed to break out of their local area. Despite them not going on to become a behemoth, their impact on Plant was significant.
In 2017, Plant appeared on BBC 6 Music and remembered watching the group as a teenager. He recalled: “At school, there was a band, in the Black Country, there was a band called Dave Lacey and The Corvettes. They were very good, and they were doing things like George Jones’ The Race Is On’ and stuff. So to be 14, at school, and go and see these guys you went into the doors of the place of maybe a youth club or maybe a ballroom”.
He added: “The doors would swing open, it’s just like a movie. The doors open and then this smell of sweat and perfume, those amazing skirts and dresses with lots of petticoats underneath. I was peeping into a world which was definitely five or six years ahead of where I was at. But I was just tantalised by it. It was just an altered state, the whole deal about the movement and music.”
A couple of years from watching his first concert, Plant had become an integral part of the Midlands blues scene. The singer quickly graduated from being a crowd member to fraternising with groups he once worshipped, like Dave Lacey and The Corvettes.