Robert Plant PhotoBORN: August 20, 1948, Birmingham, England

British hard rock/heavy metal singer Robert Plant had released a couple of singles and worked with a number of bands before he hooked up with Jimmy Page's New Yardbirds, subsequently renamed Led Zeppelin, around the time of his 20th birthday in 1968. For the next 12 years, Plant was one of the biggest rock stars on the planet. He gradually developed as a singer, branching out into other styles within Zeppelin's hard rock framework, and he blossomed as a songwriter as well.

Plant launched a solo career in 1982 with the album Pictures at Eleven, a gold-selling hit. He did even better the following year with The Principle of Moments. It sold a million copies, included the Top 20 hit "Big Log," and led to his first post-Zeppelin concert tour. Surprisingly, Plant then organized a one-off mini-album, The Honeydrippers - Vol. One, recording some rock oldies with a superstar pickup band. He faced greater consumer resistance with his third solo album, Shaken 'n' Stirred, perhaps because joint appearances with Page led an audience to desire for a Zeppelin reunion. To an extent, Plant fed that desire with Now and Zen, which sampled Zeppelin tracks and featured Page. It was another million-seller. Plant's 1990 follow-up, Manic Nirvana, went gold, and Plant's 1993 CD Fate of Nations proved another artistic high point and found Plant singing Page's name on the hit "Calling to You." The old songwriting partners had gotten together again for special occasions with Jones and drummers like Collins and Bonham's son Jason, but organized a different reunion in 1994. Plant brought in his bassist, Charlie Jones, and touring drummer, Michael Lee, to back he and Page who added a British symphony orchestra and Middle Eastern musicians for their televised No Quarter concert and CD. Despite Plant blocking Jones from participating (the two had disagreed throughout their careers), the show proved a fascinating blend of different cultures tackling Zeppelin classics like "Since I've Been Loving You" and "Gallows Pole." As the versatile Jones made a name for himself as a producer (of groups as disparate as Heart and the Butthole Surfers) as well as solo artist, Plant and Page further stirred the ashes with their 1998 studio CD, Walking Into Clarksdale.

But the quartet format (with Jones and Lee) paled in comparison to Zeppelin's similar blend of bombast and subtlety, and poor sales put Plant back at the crossroads of his 35-year career. He stayed away from recording until late 2001, when he stepped into the studio with a batch of original material and a few well-chosen covers and recorded Dreamland. Taking his penchant for experimenting with ethnic musics and blending it with a softer approach to his bluesy pop, he turn his career in another interesting direction almost 40 years into his recording career. . ~ William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide