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Music

Robert Plant's favourite Elvis Presley song

@josephtaysom

Elvis Presley enticed Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant from the first time he set eyes on him, and ‘The King’ had an illuminating effect on his childhood. Presley’s music was an invitation into a world disparate from his gloomy West Midlands surroundings and continues to resonate with the singer today.

Decades later, the pair would be on an even pedestal following the success of Led Zeppelin, and their paths finally crossed in what was a life-affirming moment for Robert Plant. The circumstances were just as he would have wished when he was a teenager, despite that in 1974, Elvis had started to become a shadow of his former self as the years of excess had started to catch up with the hip-shaking lothario.

It was 1974, and Elvis had just played a show at The Forum in Los Angeles when Plant was invited to visit his opulent hotel suite following the concert. While the surroundings couldn’t be any more of a rockstar cliche, on the contrary, he found their conversation deep and fulfilling.

Plant later told the LA Times that he “sized up” the Memphis resident and noticed, “he wasn’t quite as tall as me. But he had a singer’s build. He had a good chest — that resonator”. They spent 90 minutes together, which Plant described as the “most illuminating and funny”. After leaving the luxurious suite, the two musicians shared a precious moment that the Zeppelin leader will cherish until he draws his last breath.

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“I was walking down the corridor,” Plant recalled. “He swung ’round the door frame, looking quite pleased with himself, and started singing that song: ‘Treat me like a fool…’ I turned around and did Elvis right back at him. We stood there, singing to each other.”

When Plant was interviewed by Charlie Rose in 2005, the American broadcaster quizzed the frontman about some of his favourite songs of all time, and Elvis was the first artist he mentioned. “‘A Big Hunk O’ Love’ (is from) just before he went into the Army in 1958. Fantastic song,” he told the host.

Plant later covered the track in 2018 when he jumped up on-stage with the local Kidderminster band, The Hayriders, at his ex-wife Maureen’s 70th birthday celebrations. Although they finalised their divorce in 1983, the couple evidently remains on strong terms. ‘A Big Hunk O’ Love’ was the final track he played on-stage with the group, and the last of three covers, following on from old-school renditions of ‘One Night With You’ and ‘Little Sister’. 

While the location is a world away from the decadent Los Angeles environment of which he and Elvis drank the night away all those years prior, Plant’s devotion for Presley seeps into his fulsome performance as he shows off his rock ‘n’ roll instincts.

See his cover of ‘Little Sister’ below.