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Credit: Andrew Smith

The singer who turned down Jimmy Page's offer to join Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin became a behemoth in rock and roll with their swaggering blues and their deep and dirty sound. The band quickly spawned an entire genre off the back of their heavy sound, and while heavy metal would go on to dominate for decades, Led Zeppelin continued to evolve under the moniker of the “world’s greatest” band. Across the stage, the group were a potent set of musicians.

Whether it was the band’s de facto leader, Jimmy Page, who was arguably the most well-rounded and talented guitarist of his generation, or the equally virtuoso, John Paul Jones on the keys. On drums, the group were emboldened by the juggernaut percussion of John Bonham and, behind the mic, was perhaps their most powerful weapon of all, Robert Plant.

Usually bare-chested and always wailing like a werewolf at a full moon, Plant embodied what it was to be a rock singer in the late sixties and throughout the seventies. It was his flowing locks, his unique style, and his unholy vocal tone that laid the foundations for a ream of copycats, all destined to never match up to their idol. But, before Plant officially agreed to be a part of Page’s new project, Led Zeppelin, another man was in line to take the mic, Terry Reid.

Reid was one of the most gifted vocalists in all of Britain during the sixties. If you doubt us, then let us point you towards Aretha ‘Lady Soul’ Franklin’s assessment of the music scene from that time: “There are only three things happening in England: The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Terry Reid.” Some proclamation from arguably the greatest singer the pop world has ever known.

Reid’s rasping vocal tone made him the adoring figurehead of the blues scene in London. As the capital became swollen with acts trying to switch out Deptford for the Delta blues, Reid became the singer du jour and was courted by countless bands such as Deep Purple. But it was the invitation from Jimmy Page that most people are interested in: “It’s a waste of time to talk about it,” Reid told the Observer. “They did really well. End of story.”

“I was asked to join a lot of bands,” he continued before refusing to continue. There’s no doubt that Reid’s career is still more than enviable. He’s worked alongside some of the true greats of rock and roll. But it also seems clear that the singer has a slight nag of regret of never taking up the offer from Page. And, when you listen to the voice of Terry Reid, you can see why, even with Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin fans may share his sentiment.

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