What We Know About Steven Tyler Trying To Join The Led Zeppelin Reunion

When Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died on September 25, 1980, at the age of 32, that effectively marked the end of the iconic band. The band wasn't massive on the pop charts on account of their dislike for releasing singles, but their albums were big hits and their influence on pop culture was undeniable. They did have a few one-off reunions with Bonham's son Jason replacing his dad on drums, with the most recent one taking place in 2007, but haven't released new music or gone on a full-fledged tour since the untimely passing of "Bonzo." Much of it has to do with frontman Robert Plant's reluctance to dive back into the past. 

It's not a foreign concept for classic bands to replace their legendary frontmen with someone else late in their career. Queen did it twice, first with Free and Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers, and later with "American Idol" Season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert, though it must be noted that neither man is (or was) an official member of the band, hence the "Queen + " followed by their respective names. And with Plant balking at the prospect of going on a Led Zeppelin reunion tour with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Jason Bonham, there were rumors that another great vocalist was hoping to replace him. That vocalist was none other than Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, and while it's obvious he never actually replaced Plant, the story of his 2008 audition is quite a fascinating one.

Joe Perry says Tyler's Zep audition went down ... like a lead zeppelin

On the surface, Steven Tyler has a lot of the same tools Robert Plant has as a rock 'n' roll frontman — an ability to reach the higher notes with ease, a bluesy swagger, and loads and loads of charisma. You'd think he'd at least have a fighting chance of replacing such a legendary figure, especially since he himself has long reached iconic status. However, that was not the case at all, according to his longtime friend (or frenemy?) and Aerosmith bandmate Joe Perry.

In a 2010 interview with The Pulse of Radio quoted by The Guardian, Perry looked back on how Tyler suddenly "disappeared" one day in 2008 and how he later found out through someone else that the singer was in London, auditioning for Led Zeppelin. The guitarist added that based on what he heard, the tryout was a "shambolic" one and Tyler wasn't even that familiar with the Zeppelin discography; allegedly, he couldn't remember the lyrics of the British band's songs. As such, it wasn't too shocking when Jimmy Page and co. apparently decided to pass on the voice of Aerosmith. "Page felt really awkward about the audition, but ultimately it was a group decision," Perry added.

Tyler wasn't the only singer being considered at the time

Needless to say, Robert Plant's figurative shoes as Led Zeppelin vocalist are extremely big ones to fill. One would think that the band solely considered fellow classic rockers such as Steven Tyler, but according to Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider (via The Guardian), a much younger singer was purportedly in consideration to replace Plant back in 2008 — Myles Kennedy, then 38 years old and best known as the lead singer of Alter Bridge.

Speaking to Canada's MuchMoreMusic, Snider claimed he had access to this information because he and Plant had the same manager. "[Led Zeppelin are] saying [to Plant]: 'We're all rehearsed, we're ready to go, here's a gazillion dollars on the table,'" the "We're Not Gonna Take It" singer explained. "'If you don't do it, we're going out with this kid. And he can sing the s*** out of Zeppelin.'"

Although The Guardian referred to Kennedy as a "mysterious" talent, he had some impressive credentials. Prior to teaming up with Creed's Mark Tremonti, Brian Marshall, and Scott Phillips to make up one-fourth of Alter Bridge, Kennedy fronted the Mayfield Four and recorded two albums with the group before they disbanded. You may have also recognized him as the enthusiastic, hyper-talented fan whom Chris "Izzy" Cole (Mark Wahlberg) invites to sing onstage — and essentially replace him in Steel Dragon — during his final concert with the fictional band in the 2001 film "Rock Star."

Per Ultimate Classic Rock, there were others aside from Tyler and Kennedy who auditioned for Zeppelin, but in the end, it was mostly a chance for Kennedy to jam with one of the all-time great rock bands, as he recalled much later.

Tyler claims he was offered the job, but he turned it down

Going back to Joe Perry's claims that Steven Tyler's Led Zeppelin tryout was a forgettable, embarrassing affair, the frontman later insisted that he actually had a great audition and that Jimmy Page went as far as to invite him to join right then and there ... only for Tyler to turn down the offer because he was loyal to Aerosmith. "I looked Jimmy in the eyes... I went, 'No.' I'm in Aerosmith," Tyler said on "The Howard Stern Show," as quoted by The A.V. Club. "He's in the biggest band in the world and I'm in a band like that. I have such an allegiance to my band and I love it so much."

As for the allegation that Tyler bungled the lyrics during his audition, he told VH1 Radio Networks' Dave Basner in 2009 (via Blabbermouth) that he "got to sing every song from 'Black Dog' up and down and I'll never forget it as long as I live." Doesn't sound like a guy who supposedly couldn't get the lyrics right, but he did likewise stress that he felt his priorities were with Aerosmith.

When everything was said and done, nothing came of Led Zeppelin's apparent reunion plans. Early in 2009, Page's manager, Peter Mensch, told BBC 6 Music (per The Guardian) that there are "absolutely no plans" for Zeppelin to get back together, with or without Robert Plant as their lead vocalist. He did acknowledge that the band auditioned a number of singers, but didn't provide any names. "They tried out a few singers, but no one worked out," Mensch said. "That was it. The whole thing is completely over now."