On Minimation, we comb through the archives of legendary New York radio station WNEW-FM and animate interviews with legendary rock artists. In this 1988 interview, Robert Plant talks about the then-current crop of bands who seemed obsessed with copying Led Zeppelin.
Back in 1988, pop-metal ruled the airwaves and MTV. Nearly all of these bands would cite Led Zeppelin as an influence, and even if they didn’t, well, it was pretty obvious. Whitesnake — a band led by former Deep Purple frontman David Coverdale — always wore their Zep influences on their sleeve, but their ’88 hit “In the Still of the Night” with its violin-bow guitar solo seemed to veer on parody. Newcomers Kingdom Come were accused of outright ripping off “Kashmir” in parts of their hit “Get It On.”
And while imitation (or possible copyright infringement) could be seen as the most sincerest form of flattery, Robert Plant was not impressed. Or rather, he barely noticed them. “A lot of those people are great musicians, and the bands make good records,” he says in this ’88 interview. “Or, so I’ve been told.” Ouch!
At the time, Plant was promoting Now and Zen, which saw him nodding towards his history with Zeppelin more than he had previously had done in his solo career. Jimmy Page guested on two songs, one of them being “Tall Cool One,” which sampled a number of Zep classics. But he was more interested in what was considered “college rock,” or alternative music, of the day: he cites R.E.M. and Hüsker Dü as favorites (at the time, he would also often cite the Cure and Let’s Active as other bands he respected).