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Robert Plant reveals the first single he ever bought

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Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant’s experience growing up in the West Midlands was incredibly isolating. Plant only had his own company for large parts of his childhood, then music came into his life, and suddenly he was no longer alone.

The radio offered him a form of escapism that he clung to as if his life depended on it. After starting his paper round, Plant finally had a disposable income. With the small financial muscle he received working for his local newsagents, he started building up his record collection.

“Music was a panacea and a mysterious release for me,” Plant told The Guardian in 2007 about his early life. “It was otherworldly, another life outside Middle England in 1960 where it was all about endeavour, learning and making sure that all your vulnerabilities were not too evident so that you didn’t end up looking like a sobbing klutz”.

One song, in particular, provided Plant emotional support when he felt there was nobody he could turn to who would be able to comprehend his teenage heartache. “My first record was so appropriate, it was ‘Only The Lonely’ by Roy Orbison because I was so lonely,” Plant revealed to Pitchfork. “I used to carve girls names on my headboard”.

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Adding: “There was a sort of pathos that only he and I knew how badly we felt about not being loved about the mysterious girl who lived four streets down and never looked at me in the bus shelter when we were going to school”.

Plant’s love of Roy Orbison is no secret, and he’s also delved into his adoration of the singer as part of his official website. Speaking again about ‘Only The Lonely’, Plant said: “(It) was his first big hit in England. I used to do a paper round, delivering the morning newspapers, and I was already developing a love for Black American music from New Orleans and Chicago, but this one voice, along with Presley, offered me some kind of clue to what was coming next”.

The first record you buy will always stick with you, but few enjoy an appreciation with a song as Plant has done with ‘Only The Lonely’ and Roy Orbison. Initially, the singer built a kinship with Orbison because of the candid way he dissected emotional subjects, which Plant was frightened to discuss with anybody else in his life. However, his musical literacy also enabled him to realise that Orbison represented a changing of the seasons, which would allow acts like The Beatles to prosper.

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