Robert Plant, the golden haired and golden voiced singer for the legendary hard rock band Led Zeppelin, says in an interview on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” that he should have listened to his dad and become an accountant rather than leave home when he was 16 to live the rock-and-roll lifestyle.
“If I were to live my life again, would I have that nasty break with my family and sing for various bands before finally joining Pagey and the others to form Led Zeppelin? I think on balance what I did was a mistake and, in retrospect, I should have listened to my dad.”
Plant, 66, says his “tens of millions of dollars” is nice to have in the bank and he’s gratified to have had success with both Led Zeppelin and his later musical projects, including a popular collaboration with Alison Krauss in 2009 and the revamping of one of his earlier bands, the Band of Joy. His later albums have sold well and, all told, throughout his 50-year career in music, he’s been involved in some two dozen original studio albums and dozens of live and compilation albums totaling nearly half a billion in unit sales for tens of billions of dollars. He has been named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and was feted in 2012 by President Barack Obama after Led Zeppelin received the most prestigious artistic award in the United States, the Kennedy Center Honors.
“Ever since I was a child, all I could think of was music,” says Plant. “That caused a rift with my parents, because they wanted me to enter a more stable field, particularly accounting. But I was obsessed with American blues—Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf—and capturing the essence of those Delta blues was all I wanted to do. And I was willing to break my dad’s heart to do it. Now that I’m older, I see how misguided I was.”
Led Zeppelin, which burst onto the scene in 1968, quickly became a sensation, thrilling audiences and selling albums as fast as they could be produced. Every one of the band’s albums have gone multiple platinum, and its big single from Led Zeppelin IV, “Stairway to Heaven,” has become the defining rock ballad of all time. In total, the band and its members as solo artists have sold a billion albums worldwide, making them the most successful musical collaboration of all time even though the four original members were only together for a dozen years.
An integral part of that success was Plant’s piercing vocals and his sensual stage style. “A Led Zeppelin concert was better than sex,” says Mindy Davis, 60, of Irvine, Calif. “The music, the way Robert Plant moved and gyrated, and the way he interacted with Jimmy Page. That was my intercourse.”
John Donne, 61, an attorney in Portland, Ore., says he was obsessed with the band well into his 20s. “I loved the sonic quality of the music, the power, the sensuality of it all,” he says. “It changed my life, it was such a heady mix of aggression and softness, light and shade. They made me realize how powerful art could be.”
But today, Plant sees it differently. “The power of art to make people see the world in a new way, to change people for good or for ill, to move them in one direction or another—that’s all well and good. That’s nice. And all the sex we had—groupies throwing themselves at us, doing whatever we wanted them to do. It’s not something many people get to experience. But when I think about the good sense of what my dad was telling me to do—study accounting, get set up with a good, respectable firm, raise a family and ride the train every day to the office, make the right column of numbers total up with the left column of numbers, and live in a house—I realize he had it right. He got it. I was just a stupid kid who wanted to be up on stage prancing around like a jackass. You don’t think of your folks as cool, but I see that, of all the cool people I’ve ever known, the coolest one was the one raising me back in Staffordshire, England. My dad. Not listening to him was the greatest error of my life. I had a chance to be an accountant and I missed it.”
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The backlash to North Carolina’s anti-LGBT religious freedom law continues as Nickelback, One Direction, Insane Clown Posse, and several other bands not on tour say they refuse to play in the state until it repeals its controversial law. “If we were on tour right now, we would not play in the state in solidarity with fellow bands that are touring and taking a financial hit by not playing in the state,” sys Chad Kroeger, lead singer and guitarist with Nickelback, which last put out an album in 2014. Insane Clown Posse, a rap duo that isn’t on tour, has also announced a boycott of the state. “No way are we playing in North Carolina,” says Joseph Bruce, also known as Violent J. More.
You might have thought nothing but a trip down memory lane awaits legendary pop-rock band Journey, whose radio staples like “Lights” and “Wheel in the Sky” provided the soundtrack to today’s forty- and fifty-somethings’ early adult years. But if you thought that you would be wrong. Because WBIG in Cleveland has just released the results of its listener poll and found that Journey is the “It” band for 2015, proving that time isn’t a factor for bands that are forever cool. “It was a ‘rock-us’ competition, but our listeners left little doubt who rocks their world,” says WBIG Program Director Rex Bartlett. “Our winner got quite a bit of heat from ABBA, Styx, and Kansas, but when the dust settled, it was Journey all the way!” The band released its 14th studio album, in 2011, which rocketed to 13th on the Billboard charts. More.
The pot’s legal in Colorado but they’re smoking crack in Kansas. Embarrassed by its state’s awkward turn to the right in recent years, beloved 1970s rock band Kansas changed its name to Colorado and announced the release of its newest studio album, Thematterwithkansas, and the opening of its 2015 tour. “As much as we love our state and have always been proud to bear its name,” the band said in a statement, “we had to ask ourselves, ‘What’s the matter with Kansas?’ and our answer was, ‘Who the hell knows?!” So we moved to Colorado and now we’re a bit to the left of our old state, geographically and politically, but we think our fans will understand.” In its mid-1970s heyday, Kansas was on the top of the charts with its mix of progressive rock and virtuosic violin playing. More.
Cowed by the recent success and outpouring of affection for the Canadian rock trio Rush, music critics have largely refrained from laying a glove on the band, which first hit the music scene in 1974 and today is enjoying something of a renaissance as it basks in the success of its most recent album Clockwork Angels. But several music critics, including most prominently Adam Carter of Rolling Stone, are bucking the trend and slamming the band for its pretentious lyrics, over-wrought drumming, and, most of all, the screeching vocals of bass player and lead singer Geddy Lee. “I know it’s fashionable for one to pay one’s respects to ‘legendary’ progressive rockers Rush, but I just can’t hop onto this bandwagon,” Carter says in his blog, Rock in/Site. “No one can tell me Geddy Lee has somehow learned how to sing. In fact, I would venture to say More.
Saying their favorite band has become too commercial since it was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last April, fans of Canadian power trio Rush say it’s time to make a push for their removal. “We were instrumental in getting the band inducted into the Hall of Fame in the first place, thanks to our years of persistence, but now we see we made a mistake,” says Randy Powers, a fan from Pittsburgh who has launched a petition drive calling for Rush’s removal from the Cleveland institution. “Bobbleheads, T-shirts, refrigerators—it’s just all too much. We don’t mind the band trying to make a buck. It’s hard to do that now with people so easily downloading or streaming music on the Internet. But enough is enough.” Rush was eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame in 1999 but despite their global popularity among a core group of fans that have bought tens of millions of albums and CDs since the band released its debut album in 1974, the Rock Hall induction committee steadfastly refused to take them seriously. More.
Jason Creel of Deth Knell says he had an epiphany three years ago in a Little Rock motel and since then his relationship with Satan, the embodiment of all evil in the world, has never been the same. “Let me put it this way,” he said while sitting down for a coffee outside the Orbit Room in Toronto, where his band will be shaking the rafters tonight. “Whereas before Satan was just kind of an idea to me, an abstraction, maybe a bit of a marketing ploy, now he’s quite real and, frankly, gunning for me. I’m in His sights.” Creel says his awakening to the torments of Hell that await him after this life came after he and some fans trashed his motel room. Police were called, but luckily one of the two officers that showed up was familiar with the band and the other was a big Metallica fan, although he hadn’t heard of Creel’s band. But, in any case, they told the motel manager to work it out among themselves. More.
Acknowledging some of his tattoos are a bit rough and edgy, Greg Stent of Hell’s Vapors says he’s increasingly concerned he’ll have trouble getting a job once his music career winds down and he’s ready to get on with the work-a-day world. “I always thought I would play my music and nothing else, but that never stopped me from getting my B.A. in accounting in case things fell through in the music scene,” says Stent, who launched Hell’s Vapors with his Canton, Ohio, neighborhood buddy Alex Greel six years ago. Today, their band has a strong following in much of northwest Ohio, Iowa, and has even played shows in Michigan and Wisconsin. The band last year self-produced a CD, When Death Awaits You, which it makes available at its shows. More.
After a lifetime of making the lives of his three sons miserable, Ralph Murton got in one more dig by living to 100 while still showing no signs of slowing down. “I know my sons would like nothing more than to finally be rid of me, but if they think I’m going to let them off the hook, they’ve got another thing coming,” says Murton, an engineer who retired from Midwest Pacific Railroad in 1983. Murton says he knows perfectly well his sons think he’s a bastard, a harsh disciplinarian who seemed to enjoy punishing them for the slightest infractions when they were younger, like when Dan, his oldest son, accidentally tore his new jeans when he was in eighth grade. “They used to cringe when I came home from work, wondering if I was going to find something they did wrong,” says Murton. “Usually I did find something, because it’s not hard to find things when you have three sons.” More.
Elegant British super spy and womanizer James Bond is ditching his iconic Saville Row suits and other formal wear to sport a more casual look, an MI6 spokesperson says. “Agent 007 isn’t immune to the times,” the spokesperson says. “He understands business is conducted in an increasingly casual atmosphere and that spy craft is similarly changing. I’m not saying Bond will be stepping out of his Aston Martin in anything less than a nice shirt and maybe some khakis, but when he’s just puttering around London, Paris, or New York, you might just see him in a T-shirt and jeans. I’m not saying it will happen, but you might see that. He’s a secret agent, after all.” More.
George and Helen Murphy are pretty much over each other but they plan to stay married. “We took a vow before God that we would stay married in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, so that’s what we’re going to do,” says Helen, 48. When the two of them were married, in 1987, they kind of liked each other, although it was never clear if they were in “love.” “Neither of us dated much,” says George, “so when we saw that we kind of got along, at least most of the time, we thought, ‘This is it! I guess we’re the ones. No one else is really coming forward.’ it was kind of exciting at the time, and it seemed like it was what we were supposed to do.” More.
The English Language Institute removed “utilize” and “cleanse” from the English language today as part of the organization’s long-term plan to trim the language of unnecessary words. The words were recommended for removal by the organization’s Word Removal Committee last month and approved for elimination by the board of directors today. “We grow attached to words, so it’s never easy to say goodbye to them, even when they’re unnecessary,” says Nigel Porter, president of the English Language Institute. “But for the long-term good of our language, today’s actions were necessary and long-overdue.” According to the Institute, “utilize” has long been used as a complex variant of “use,” but it was found to have no meaning beyond “use.” More.
Saying it’s tired of sitting on the sidelines for the majority of compositions in the English language, the letter Q announced today its secession from the English alphabet and a ban on all uses of the letter Q in subsequent English compositions. The letter Q also says it’s reviewing its ties with French, German, Spanish, and other Indo-European languages, but for now, it’s willing to stay in those Latin-based languages until further notice. “For thousands of years the joke has been on the letter Q,” says the letter Q in its Declaration of Secession, delivered simultaneously to the American Library Association, the British Library, the National Library of Canada, the Oxford English Dictionary, the Webster English Dictionary, the Associated Press, and the Chicago Manual of Style. “But no more. As of today, the letter Q is not available for your use.” More.
SmartCarry™ Luggage Carts are the go-to brand of carts for most homeless people, a survey released today by Brand Trust, a business-to-business trade magazine. The magazine asked 250 homeless people in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Toronto about their brand preferences when it came to luggage, grocery, or other types of carts for carrying their possessions and just under 200 said SmartCarry™ is their cart of choice. “They last a real long time,” says Arnold Sween, a homeless person in New York City. “I’ve had mine for 10 years and it still rolls good. Holds a lot, too.” More.
BEIJING—China this week released its plan to dominate the world by 2020 and also host a summit on the overfishing of red herring in the South Sea. “This is China’s century and we are determined to assert our interests globally in accordance with our stature as the one true superpower,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a news conference here yesterday. China is the world’s largest country by population, with 1.36 million people, not counting ethnic Uighurs, and the world’s second largest economy, with a gross domestic product of $16.1 trillion. That is about $1 trillion less than the United States, although that gap is expected to close within the next 18 months because of America’s declining productivity and “black president,” the plan says. More.
For the longest time I enjoyed going on walks with my master. He would give me a call, “Buster!” and when I came rollicking up, excited about what awaited us outside the walls of our house and outside the confines of our yard, he would attach my leash and off we would go. Sometimes we would go right, which I call the “Annie Poodle Route,” because Annie the Poodle lives down that way, and I always leave my calling card by the corner of her fence (along with a million other dogs!). And sometimes we would go left, which I call the “Fred the Mean Dog Route,” because Fred the Mean Dog lives down there, and you can be sure I don’t leave my calling card by his house! More.
House budget negotiators averted yet another showdown by meeting much of the federal government’s projected fiscal year 2015 spending gap with proceeds from the sale of phone data on U.S. citizens that the National Security Agency has been collecting since 2001 under the USA PATRIOT ACT. “We know NSA’s data collection has been controversial, but at least we were able to solve a very real problem with it, and that’s to get our fiscal house in order without resorting to showdown tactics and last-minute deals,” says House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). More.
Researchers at Oxford University have bestowed upon Canada the dubious distinction of being the most boring of the six countries that comprise what’s known as the Anglosphere: Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United States. “We think it’s important that this matter be settled once and for all,” says lead researcher Nigel Clappe, lecturer in political science and demographics at Oxford University. “Up until this point, people have been identifying the most boring country based on nothing more than their own gut feeling. And that wasn’t helping anybody.” More.
Saying it’s impossible to be mad when you skip, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for leaders around the world to take up skipping, the “hippity-hoppity” gait that comes so naturally to children. “If you remember the last time you skipped, you will no doubt remember feeling frisky and carefree,” Ban said in a statement released today. The U.N. last week passed a referendum declaring the week of Dec. 18-25 World Skipping Week, which the international organization hopes will inspire people everywhere to skip rather than fight. More.
Smokers were in an uproar as CVS Caremark, the second largest drugstore chain in the United States, announced plans to stop carrying cigarettes and other tobacco products at all of its 7,600 locations by October 1. “We understand that CVS is a private company and it’s within its control to sell or not sell cigarettes,” John Beenes, president of Americans for Smokers Rights, says. “But smokers also have a right to kill themselves and CVS, in its decision to stop selling cigarettes, is infringing on that right. We will certainly fight this all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court if we have to.” CVS, based in Woonsocket, R.I., announced in February that its decision is intended in part to get other drugstores to stop selling cigarettes. “I think it will put pressure on other retailers who want to be in healthcare,” said CVS Caremark Chief Medical Officer Dr. Troyen Brennan. More.