The Unusual Backstage Ritual Robert Plant Likes To Do

In the heyday of Led Zeppelin's debaucherous world tours, the band traveled with a "coke lady" who provided the drug to the band members. "She would apply the coke with the little finger of her right hand, then follow that up with a sniff of cherry snuff, and, as a final touch, she'd dab the nostrils with Dom Perignon 1966," recalled British journalist Robert Hart (via "Led Zeppelin: The Story of a Band and Their Music, 1968-80"). The band's reputation for hard partying and bad behavior before and after their shows became legendary. "It's all true," the band's lead singer Robert Plant told the music writer Lisa Robinson in 1973 (via Vanity Fair). "When we do something, we just do it bigger and better than anybody else. When there are no holds barred, there are no holds barred."

The band broke up in 1980 and Plant continued as a solo artist. As the singer got older, he found more positive ways to get ready to go on stage. Among his pre-show rituals these days are drinking herbal tea and ironing his clothes before wowing his fans. Plant has admitted it may not be the most rock 'n' roll of ways to get prepped, but it works for him. 

No diva

Even at the height of Led Zeppelin's fame in the mid-1970s, Robert Plant wasn't much for making outrageous requests before shows, unlike Paul McCartney who demands six "full and leafy floor plants, but no trees" backstage before his show, among a long list of other items (via Business Insider). "I've never really been one for diva demands," Plant told the BBC. "We were always too busy having a good time to get hung up about anything ... I've heard Keith Richards and Mick Jagger won't go on stage unless they've had a shepherd's pie. I don't go in for all that nonsense."

But Plant does request an ironing board and iron backstage. "I find ironing helps get me in the mood before I perform," he said. Back in the day, Plant was known for wearing tight bell-bottom jeans and little else, which wouldn't require much in the way of a pressing. Since then, his stage persona has changed. You'll find him in patterned button-up shirts, tees, and less body-hugging trousers. And all that requires a hot iron to remove any wrinkles.

A different path

After the breakup of Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant's musical path left the harder sound of his former band behind for new territory that explored a variety of styles from bluegrass to art rock over the decades. His latest album, "Raise the Roof," from 2021, reunited Plant with the bluegrass star Alison Krauss (they first recorded together in 2007). Plant also stopped using illicit drugs such as cocaine in the late 1970s, and he stopped smoking cigarettes in the mid-1980s. "I had a big affair with drugs," he told WNEW in 1988.

Plant said his cocaine use changed his personality, making him paranoid and possessive. And although this was more of "a psychological addiction, not a physical addiction," he believed the drug "poisons your system." He told WNEW that he "stopped and walked away from it. I was very fortunate to do that." So perhaps, like Plant's musical journey and his giving up of chemical crutches, he required a new method to get him prepped for performing in front of his many fans. And ironing provided the bonus of a crisp appearance. "It's not very rock 'n' roll, but I like to look my best going on stage," Plant told the BBC.

Herbal tea

In December 2007, the three remaining members of Led Zeppelin briefly reunited for a single concert in London in celebration of the life of Ahmet Ertegun. The founder of the band's label, Atlantic Records, had died the year before. Led Zeppelin's original drummer, John "Bonzo" Bonham, died in 1980 after binge drinking, which precipitated the band's breakup. For the reunion, Bonham's son Jason took over drumming duties. The rest of the band, by then all around their early 60s, had slowed down — at least regarding their vices. It was more about sparkling water than champagne and caffeine-free tea rather than cocaine.

"They are much older now obviously and are very low maintenance," concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith told the Daily Mail at the time. "They've asked for cups of tea. We'll have some beer and a bottle of wine for them backstage but they have said they require very little." One would assume, that besides the light refreshments, Plant requested his standard ironing board and iron. His button-up shirt looked especially well-pressed during the performance.