David Letterman will have you know that Led Zeppelin is his favorite band named after a kind of dirigible.
The three surviving members of the legendary rock group — Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones – granted a rare interview on The Late Show with David Letterman last night. Dressed modestly in tones of navy, black, and brown, the media-shy trio came across as genial if somewhat diffident.
Letterman tactfully kept the conversation to familiar territory, namely, music. Page lit up when he recalled listening to Buddy Guy’s Folk Festival of the Blues with his friend and fellow Yardbird Jeff Beck. He went on to cite blues legends Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, and Muddy Waters as influences (granted, these artists were important to every band involved in the British blues-rock invasion). Plant joined his bandmate in flexing some music history muscle, highlighting the blues and rockabilly work of Canned Heat, Gene Vincent, and Brian Setzer. Watch a clip below.
The group reminisced a bit about their heyday, touching on celebrity moments like meeting Elvis in 1973 (“He had a lot of chicks”) and the demands of touring that prevented any meaningful interaction with peers like the Who and the Kinks (“We basically saw each other in airports.”) They also covered the sensitive issue of the band’s breakup following drummer John Bonham’s death in 1980 — he would have been impossible to replace, they insisted, due to his pivotal role in their freewheeling, improvisatory live sets.
Letterman made sure to mention the fact that both he and Zeppelin were honored the night before by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. When he reminded the audience that Jack Black described their music as being about “sex, vikings, and vikings having sex,” Jones responded with a sly grin, “You missed the bit about vikings having sex with hobbits.”
Though occasionally stilted, the rockers’ appearance was far more accommodating than during recent press junkets, in part because Letterman gamely avoided the contentious issue of a Zeppelin reunion. Later, The Office‘s John Krasinski rounded out the evening nicely by donning none other than a Led Zeppelin t-shirt beneath his button-down.