Remembering that time Led Zeppelin reformed to jam with Neil Young
Led Zeppelin’s 1995 induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came at a strange period for the band. The previous year saw Robert Plant and Jimmy Page reunite for live album No Quarters which then saw them go out on a successful world tour as Page and Plant.
Fellow member John Paul Jones apparently learned about the reunion of sorts in his morning paper it meant the group’s induction was bound to be interesting. Thankfully, the animosity from Jones wasn’t the talk of the town following the evening’s events, largely thanks to their wonderous set where Neil Young helped them steal the show.
This marked the first time that the three men had taken to the stage together since 1988 when they played the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary together—a disjointed performance. Later, Jimmy Page described the performance as “one big disappointment” and Plant said “the gig was foul” but this time with the addition of Neil Young things were vastly different.
Led Zep were inducted into rock’s most sacred members club by Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry who would also join the band later in the evening for the first of their two sets, with the late John Bonham’s son Jason taking up his old man’s mantle on drums.
There was one severely awkward moment during the induction when the band’s inner rift became apparent for the whole world to see when Jones couldn’t help but joke upon accepting his award, saying: “Thank you, my friends, for finally remembering my phone number.” It didn’t get the desired reaction from his former bandmates who looked like they wanted to be anywhere else in the world but there.
It could easily have been the lasting memory of the night. But it was their second set which would then steal the headlines as Micheal Lee along with the one and only Neil Young would join the band for a performance of ‘When The Levee Breaks’. It may not have been the band’s sharpest hour and it may have needed some more rehearsal time but their lackadaisical approach somehow makes seeing these two musical legends sharing this slapdash moment even more special, with Young especially looking in his element.
Towards the end of the song Plant then sings a bit of Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth’ in tribute to Young. It’s a touching moment between two behemoths of the rock world.
According to Jimmy McDonough’s Neil Young biography Shakey, the experience was of such joy for Young that he briefly considered attempting to reform Zeppelin and becoming an honorary member for a new record. Unfortunately, that never happened and we will never know whether that would have been the best thing in the world or perhaps it’s for the better for both Young and Led Zeppelin’s that it never happened.
At least we have this footage of them sharing a stage together which gives us some insight into what that album would have sounded like, watch the clip of ‘When The Levee Breaks’ below.