How Presence pulled Led Zeppelin back from the brink of crisis
In August 1975, Led Zep were about to begin another huge US tour – then disaster struck. But out of the wreckage climbed Presence, and an album Jimmy Page rates as one of their best
Monday, August 4, 1975: another sweltering hot afternoon on the small Greek island of Rhodes. Maureen Plant, wife of Led Zeppelin singer Robert, is at the wheel of a rented Austin Mini, Robert beside her in the passenger seat, their three-year-old son Karac and six-year-old daughter Carmen in the back seat, along with their friend Scarlet, the four-year-old daughter of Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.
Two months earlier, following Zeppelin’s record-breaking five-night run at the 17,000-capacity Earls Court arena in London, the young Plant family had set off for Agadir, in Morocco. Three weeks later they were in Marrakech where Page and his wife Charlotte and daughter Scarlet flew out to meet them. Together they took in a local festival “that gave us a little peep into the colour of Moroccan music and the music of the hill tribes”, said Plant.
From there they journeyed thousands of miles by Range Rover through the Spanish Sahara just as the Spanish-Moroccan war was breaking out. “There was a distinct possibility that we could have got very, very lost, going round in circles and taking ages to get out,” said Plant. “It’s such a vast country, with no landmarks and no people apart from the odd tent and a camel.”