Plant notes that the cultural phenomenon that was Led Zeppelin was both a product of the late-'60s counterculture and yet also peculiarly set apart from it. Zeppelin looked the part of other hip rock bands of the day and it sounded close enough, but the band's overarching message — if there was one — was less evident.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer looks back on Zeppelin's place in music history in a new interview with AC/DC's Brian Johnson on AXS TV's Brian Johnson: A Life on the Road.
“I suppose Cream, The Grateful Dead, the white blues thing was kicking in," Plant recalls in a clip from the episode, which airs Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern on AXS TV. "And you had that great west coast thing going on with Jefferson Airplane and stuff. You had a sub-culture develop, and we kind of attached ourselves to that. We didn’t have any social statements to make. We weren’t visionaries, in that sense. But we were still — by our age at the time — still part of that huge movement of energy.”
The fact that Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, John Bonham and Plant found each other at all was "serendipity," Plant adds.
While Page and Jones were doing well at the time as studio musicians and producers, Plant says he and the drummer Bonham were just trying to survive.
"All we wanted to do was get a square meal," he added.
Check out the clip in the player below or here.
Earlier this year in an interview, Plant downplayed his work as a lyricist, suggesting he might have been overly preoccupied with fiction during Zeppelin's creative peak.
"My peer group were writing substantial pieces of social commentary," he told Planet Rock in May, "and I was willowing along the Welsh borders thinking about Gollum."
While he was proud of everything he did at the time, looking back he finds some of his Zeppelin work a bit "iffy."
This summer, on his podcast Digging Deep while talking about one of Zeppelin's most epic compositions, "Achilles Last Stand," the singer expressed misgivings about his level of musical ability compared to that of Page, Jones and Bonham.
"If you think about Led Zeppelin being a trio, really, with a kind of wedding singer stuck up the front, my enthusiasm was a good contribution. But in truth, those guys were amazing."
Photo: AXS TV