Why Robert Plant Nearly Quit Music For Good

In 1977, Led Zeppelin was on top of the world. They had released seven chart-topping studio albums and were on tour in the United States. When they arrived in New Orleans at the end of July, however, lead singer Robert Plant received a pair of telephone calls that would put an abrupt end to the tour, and almost an end to the incendiary performer's music career. "The first phone call said his son was sick," tour manager Richard Cole told Express. "And the second phone call, unfortunately, Karac had died in that time." Plant's son Karac was just five years old when he died of a stomach virus. 

The band immediately canceled the tour and Robert rushed home to be with his family. The loss devastated Plant, whose father said at the time, "Karac was the apple of Robert's eye. They idolized one another." It was a watershed moment for Robert, and he seriously considered leaving what was at the time the biggest band in the world. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Plant said, "I lost my boy. I didn't want to be in Led Zeppelin. I wanted to be with my family." He also said the moment sobered him up. "I stopped taking everything on the same day. The most important thing to me is my family and when I got off my face, I found it difficult to be all things to the people that meant a lot to me."

John Bonham and Jimmy Page convinced Robert Plant to stay in the band

In addition to quitting drugs, Plant was seriously considering quitting music altogether. He told GQ in 2011 that he almost packed in his microphone for a ruler, considering switching over to the "far more honest and wholesome" profession of teaching and "putting the ego away in the closet." But ultimately his bandmates would convince him that the world wouldn't be the same without Robert Plant screeching in its ear. Initially, it was his drummer and best friend, John "Bonzo" Bonham, who was there for him in that difficult period. In an interview reported by On Stage Magazine, Plant remembered how Bonzo helped him: "During the absolute darkest times of my life when I lost my boy and my family was in disarray, it was Bonzo who came to me."

He said that although the other two members of Led Zeppelin — bassist John Paul Jones and guitarist Jimmy Page – lacked the proper "social etiquette" necessary "to console," it was ultimately his guitarist's influence that kept him from leaving the band. "Jimmy Page kept me from doing it," he said in a 1975 interview posted to the Led Zeppelin Official Forum. "He said: without me, the band's nothing. He wanted me to take a break until I feel ready for playing again." It was at that moment that he realized that his bandmates were more than mere business partners. "We are real friends," he said.

The loss that Led Zeppelin couldn't survive

The support of his friends helped Plant overcome the death of his son, but another loss a few years later would turn out to be too much for the world's biggest rock band. Plant and Bonzo had been playing music together since they met as teenagers, and the two wrote the hit song "All My Love" together in homage of Karac. Robert had actually brought John into the group when he was offered the gig wailing for Zeppelin, and he's now considered by most fans of the genre to be the greatest rock drummer of all time.

But his role of keeping the beat and the band together came to a tragic end when he died by asphyxiation after excessive alcohol consumption on September 25, 1980. According to UPI, the coroner found that Bonzo had consumed over a quart of vodka during a 12-hour binge before choking on his own vomit after falling asleep. Zeppelin would never recover from the loss. They broke up that year and have not recorded new music since.

Although John's son Jason plays drums, and has played a few shows with Plant and the others, his dad was irreplaceable. According to Something Else Reviews, Plant told Jason, "I love you to bits, and you play absolutely amazing. But John was the drummer in Led Zeppelin, and John was part of me and Jimmy and John Paul. We shared something very, very special."