There’s “no point” releasing Led Zeppelin live recordings because the band’s surviving members “don’t all agree” about them, according to Jimmy Page.
Page spoke to Uncut Magazine for its its May 2022 issue. In the interview, Page confirmed the December LedZepNews report that Led Zeppelin has been working on an official exhibition, but revealed that the project has ended because the band members disagreed about that as well.
When asked whether Led Zeppelin has considered holding its own exhibition, Page said that “there was something at one point. But all the members and people around the band couldn’t agree. I was much happier doing my book and the exhibition with the Met.”
LedZepNews broke the story in December that Led Zeppelin’s surviving members along with John Bonham’s widow Patricia Bonham registered a business in the UK in 2018 as part of a plan to hold a Led Zeppelin exhibition, potentially using the name “The Led Zeppelin Experience.” Now it seems that has been scrapped.
Later on in the Uncut Magazine interview, Page was asked about plans to officially release Led Zeppelin live recordings.
“Obviously, there is source material that could come out – but it seems the band don’t all agree so there’s no point,” Page said. “I’d rather do my own stuff.”
Page also told Uncut Magazine that he hopes to continue his solo career. “I have got ideas and projects in mind – several possible things I could do – but I won’t discuss them, because if you give one sentence of something that might turn into a lengthy project then people start asking when it’s coming out,” he said. “I keep my cards close to my chest with what I am doing, because I don’t want to let the fans down.”
Page and Plant both spoke about plans to release Led Zeppelin music in the past
Page has spoken in multiple interviews about his hopes to release archival Led Zeppelin music.
In 2017, Page hinted that recordings would be released in 2018. “There’ll be Led Zeppelin product coming out, for sure, that people haven’t heard,” he told the Academy of Achievement, “because I’m working on that. Next year will be the fiftieth year so there’s all manner of surprises coming out.”
In February 2018, he told Planet Rock Magazine that “there’s a recording that’s another multi-track that we’ll release. It’s so different to all the other things that are out there. It’s another view compared to How The West Was Won or The Song Remains The Same. I’m looking forward to people hearing that.”
In that interview, Page said he planned to continue releasing Led Zeppelin material over the next 10 years. “There’s a lot of stuff to come out, a number of releases,” he said. “I’d like to say that they’ll be coming out over the next 10 years. There’s more to come for sure.”
Asked around the same time about potential Led Zeppelin releases, Robert Plant was less committal. “There’s a lot of stuff rolling around,” he told The Toronto Sun. “It’s a bit like water in the bottom of a paddle boat.”
Page again mentioned plans for Led Zeppelin releases in an interview with Sirius XM that was broadcast in December 2018. By that point, it sounded like the plans were more uncertain.
“I’ve always got things in mind and I always think of things as a sort of schedule of releases over a period of time. I’ve never been, actually, any different. And, obviously, I would have ideas of things or projects which could go ahead, but, you know, it all takes time,” he said.
“Who knows what may come further on down the line? I’ll leave it … I don’t know. So I can’t really say at this point,” he added.
In the end, no Led Zeppelin live recordings were released for the band’s fiftieth anniversary. Instead, Led Zeppelin released a seven-inch vinyl single for Record Store Day in May 2018 that featured previously unreleased studio mixes of “Rock And Roll” and “Friends”.
Led Zeppelin hasn’t released any live music since the band released The Complete BBC Sessions in 2016, which included a bonus disc of previously unreleased radio session and live recordings.
The 2018 remastered release of the live album How The West Was Won managed to remove two minutes and nine seconds of audio of Led Zeppelin performing “Whole Lotta Love” after Page cut the “Hello Mary Lou” section of the medley that was present on the album’s original 2003 release.
What was Jimmy Page planning?
There has been speculation that Page’s plan to release live Led Zeppelin material may have included soundboard tapes of the band’s 1971 Japan tour. Snippets of those tapes emerged through unofficial bootleg labels in recent years, potentially as a side effect of Page digging out the tapes and considering them for an official release.
Snippets of soundboard recordings of the band’s September 28 and September 29, 1971 shows in Osaka, Japan began to emerge in July 2016 when bootleg label Empress Valley released the soundboard tape of “Black Dog” from September 28, 1971.
That was followed by “Immigrant Song” from the September 29, 1971 performance in February 2018 and then “Stairway To Heaven” and “Friends” from that show in April 2018. A more complete version of the September 29, 1971 show was released in October 2018.
Finally, an expanded version of the soundboard tape of the September 28, 1971 show was released in January 2020.
Who is holding up live releases?
Page’s comments blaming the surviving band members for holding up plans to release live Led Zeppelin recordings are likely to spark speculation about who exactly is causing the disagreement.
Clearly Page is keen for tapes to emerge, leaving Plant and Jones as the remaining culprits.
Some clues may be found in an episode of The Vinyl Guide podcast released in August 2021 that interviewed photographer Ross Halfin, a close friend of Page.
During the interview, Halfin was asked by host Nate Goyer whether there are good quality unreleased live recordings in Led Zeppelin’s archives.
“Yeah, Led Zeppelin have the tapes,” Halfin said. “The band have the actual master tapes.”
“There’s the live in Japan 1971 that’s never come out. There is Southampton 1973 that has never come out. They have stuff and then I think the original idea was Jimmy was always going to do a live album and call it Early Days and Latter Days which became a greatest hits [album].
“I’m curious to see if Led Zeppelin ever put anything else out,” he added. “I’m surprised they haven’t put out the Albert Hall on vinyl because they have the tapes of that. And there’s always the Southampton 1973 warm-up show, that hasn’t come out. I’d love to hear the Japan 1971 they have complete from the Budokan.”
Halfin said that he’s aware of the location of Led Zeppelin’s master tapes of the band’s 1971 Japan tour, lending credibility to the theory that Page may have tracked them down when considering them for an official release.
“Led Zeppelin went to Japan and they were going to record them for a live album,” Halfin said. “And Led Zeppelin said ‘let’s listen to the tapes and we’ll pick the stuff’ and basically kept the tapes. So I don’t know where … actually I do know where they are.”
Halfin was asked why the band hasn’t released more live recordings. “It has to be agreed by all of them. It’s the same as Pink Floyd, it’s a band agreement and you’ve got certain band members that think it interferes in their solo career,” he said.
Halfin’s claim that Led Zeppelin live recordings aren’t being released to avoid interfering with a solo career seems to point the finger squarely at Plant, whose solo career has thrived in recent years with multiple solo albums and tours along with his recent album and a planned world tour with Alison Krauss.
By contrast, Jones’ solo career has consisted of various short term projects and live performances along with plans for an opera which has yet to be staged. Jones told Mojo Magazine in its December 2018 issue that he “can’t be arsed” to record a new solo album.