The Rolling Stones came into Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant’s life when he was a confused teenager, unsure about his place in the world. With life questions swirling through his brain, the band reassuringly made him feel an overwhelming sense of belonging.
Plant was only 15 when The Stones released their debut single, and it remains one of the most cherished items in his record collection. Although he lived in the West Country rather than London, Plant was an early adopter of the group. Additionally, he was in attendance on their first major nationwide tour, a performance that duly dazzled him.
At the time, The Rolling Stones had only released their cover of Chuck Berry song ‘Come On’. It had been a minor hit in the UK but hadn’t caused hysteria. Nobody expected the band to go on to achieve what they have done over the last 60 years, and back then, they were just another promising blues outfit.
One person who did fall in love with the single, however, was Robert Plant, and over the decades, those feelings have only intensified. During an appearance on BBC Radio 2’s Tracks Of My Years, the Led Zeppelin founder even named it one of his favourite songs. “You probably may have realised that in my early history as a singer and a recording artist, and the adventures that I had in the music game, I was really drawn and obsessed by the music of Chicago and Mississippi and the Delta blues,” he told the BBC’s Ken Bruce.
Plant continued: “I think on the English music scene, one of the main forerunners and purveyors of this music bringing it to us as early teenage kids was the Rolling Stones”.
Referring to ‘Come On’, Plant said it was “just the beginning of their great career promoting and perhaps giving us inspiration for country blues and [the] blues of North America”.
In the same interview, Plant also looked back at the first time he saw them live on a package tour in 1963 when The Stones supported Bo Diddley and Little Richard. The tour marked one of the first occasions that The Rolling Stones stepped out of their comfortable London surroundings and challenged themselves by bringing the blues to a string of provincial towns over Britain.
“We were all leaning towards that music. But nobody really had it down. I think in those days, The Stones were bringing the stone down the mountain. So that was really special,” Plant remembered.
Remarkably, just a few years on from Plant being a wide-eyed teenager in the crowd at their show in the Midlands, he’d be fronting Led Zeppelin and rivalling The Rolling Stones for their crown.