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Music

How Howard Stern "blew it" with Robert Plant

@josephtaysom

Howard Stern is a master of his craft and almost always manages to elicit fascinating answers from his interview subjects. However, things don’t always go to plan, such as when he “blew it” when Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant came to the studio.

Led Zeppelin are a band Stern adores, and he had so much he wanted to ask their frontman when he finally got the chance in 2017. However, Plant wasn’t there to speak exclusively about his former group and had a new album to promote. Although he was happy to reminisce, the singer understandably didn’t want to talk exclusively about the outfit, which had been split up for almost 40 years.

Before Plant’s arrival, Stern couldn’t conceal his excitement and was waxing lyrically about his guest to his audience. “I love this guy. I fucking love Led Zeppelin. I’ve got to talk to him about so much,” he told listeners.
They spoke about Zeppelin together for some time before Plant began to vent his frustration about the interview.

At one awkward moment, Stern asked him why he’s yet to pen an autobiography which was met with a look of befuddlement from the singer, who explained it’s because he’s still alive. He added, “Where’d you find this guy?”

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Furthermore, Plant began to semi-jokingly disregard Stern’s talent as an interviewer and said: “I thought maybe I can do something like this. I could be really absurd and ask those fucking stupid questions to people. Do you always have people in and do this?”

During an interview with the New York Times in 2019, Stern looked back upon his career candidly and admitted his conversation with Plant remains one of his biggest regrets. “There are some people who are so closed off they don’t want to go there. My biggest fault as an interviewer is I keep trying. If I don’t get to the [expletive] shot I go home and beat the [expletive] out of myself,” he admitted.

When asked to say an example, he named the Led Zeppelin singer. Stern elaborated: “I am such a fan of that guy, and I took the wrong approach. He came in, and I’m dying to ask him about Led Zeppelin. I wanted every detail.

“After a while he says something like, ‘I don’t want to talk about Led Zeppelin.’ Then I go back and back and back because I was hyperfocused on thinking that’s what the audience wanted. So in some ways I blew it with him. But some people are just open books.”

Even though Stern beat himself over the event, Plant did say before leaving the studio: “I’ve got another record coming out in three years, I’ll be back.” Judging by his final comment, the singer didn’t hate the experience, and in all likelihood, it was just the radio host being a perfectionist.

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