When you look again on the rise and fall of Led Zeppelin, you see a transparent level that marked the beginning of the decline. It didn’t observe a maniacal rage of John Bonham or one other evening of Jimmy Page residing on the sting. Instead, it started with an accident.
While vacationing on the Greek island of Rhodes, Robert Plant and his household obtained right into a horrific automobile wreck. At first, Plant didn’t suppose his spouse would survive the crash. And with out the cash Zeppelin had socked away, she wouldn’t have.
Thanks to some fast actions by Zep’s highway supervisor, a personal airplane with medical doctors aboard arrived in time to move Mrs. Plant to a hospital and save her life. But the accident had additionally left Plant in horrible form.
Confined to a wheelchair for the next months, Plant fought his manner by means of by composing Zep’s subsequent album with Page. When he wrote the lyrics for “Achilles Last Stand,” Plant was issuing his battle cry from a wheelchair.
Plant fought by means of the ache with ‘Achilles Last Stand’
In Robert Plant’s Digging Deep podcast, you hear him reference the interval by which he wrote “Achilles Last Stand.” The story actually started with the members of Led Zeppelin in search of a tax haven from mid-1975 till the identical time the next yr.
So Plant and his household deliberate a protracted journey to Morocco (and factors east and south). Indeed, the journey started that spring (“an April morn”) when “they told us we should go.” And Plant and his spouse resolved to take pleasure in it, “to live the dreams we always had.”
You can really feel Plant looking forward to these instances within the following verses. (“Oh, to sail away / To sandy lands and other days,” he sings.) But this wasn’t solely a narrative a few household making an attempt to flee excessive taxes. Plant additionally sang about epic heroes from historical instances, starting with Trojan War hero Achilles.
Somewhere alongside the best way, he connects his power making an attempt to recuperate in a wheelchair (by then in California) and get again with the legend of Albion (England) “sleeping now to rise again.” Most importantly (as all the time in Zep’s music), the power Plant brings is that of a person able to combat as soon as once more.
Plant almost crippled himself in the course of the recording of ‘Achilles’
By November, Page and Plant had completed the songs for his or her new report, Presence. After they’d met with John Paul Jones and Bonham to rehearse, they left for Munich to begin recording. And the world’s greatest rock band solely managed to get two weeks of studio time to take action.
With Page working like a madman on the report’s manufacturing — to not point out his elaborate guitar elements — on tracks like “Achilles Last Stand,” Plant channeled his sorrows and angst for the track’s breathtaking vocal. But a studio accident almost ended these recording dates.
Forgetting that he was nonetheless nursing a badly broken ankle, Plant jumped up at one level to go hear a playback within the management room. When his decrease leg crumpled beneath him, Page needed to pull him up and rush him to a hospital. (Plant fortunately made it by means of, once more.)
Less than three weeks after they’d began, Zep one way or the other completed Presence. For Led Zeppelin, it marked the band’s final nice assertion, with “Achilles” because the album’s centerpiece.
“Achilles” additionally turned a signature dwell monitor for the band. If you may have 10 minutes to spare, hear Zep play it at Knebworth in 1979. It could be as shut as a band ever obtained to epic poetry.
Also see: Why Led Zeppelin Had ‘the 6th Rolling Stone’ Play Piano on ‘Rock and Roll’