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When rock bands break up there is usually only one winner.

John Lennon was the moptop who mopped up the plaudits, while Paul McCartney was left with pipedreams of glory. And sappy Pipes Of Peace.

Led Zeppelin authority Mick Wall says this maxim is also true of the ground-breaking heavy metal outfit.

Mick has interviewed all the living members of Zeppelin on numerous occasions, knows their colleagues and friends, and has now written a meticulously researched biography, When Giants Walked The Earth. The man who knows Zepp best claims Black Country blues belter Robert Plant has a future as long and splendiferous as his hair.

But lead guitarist Jimmy Page isn't so fortunate, and is a shadow of his former self, who finds it impossible to leave the pomp of the past behind.

"Robert is exactly where he wants to be," says Mick. "He no longer needs to have anything to do with Led Zeppelin and is in charge of his own destiny.

"More so than Paul McCartney, more so than Mick Jagger, more so than Roger Daltrey. Plant has really pulled it off."

The West Bromwich singer's current position in the music industry is largely due to Raising Sand, the hit album he released last year with country singer Alison Krauss, which was followed by a world tour.

But Plant, 60, also made the news in late 2007, thanks to a one-off reunion gig in London with Led Zeppelin.

Since then, rumours have abounded that he would team up with his other band mates for a full-blown tour of America.

Mick says that is highly unlikely.

"Anybody who has seen those wonderful shows Robert's done with Alison Krauss knows he is so happy, so enjoying what he's doing on the stage," he argues.

"The music he's playing at the moment has so much meaning for him, far more than singing old Led Zeppelin songs that he first sung when he was in his 20s."

Mick says there is another important reason while Plant won't be zooming off with the Zepp – the old gang are grumps.

"It's far more fun working with Alison than working with people like Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones," he says.

"They can be fairly joyless people at this point. Really hard work, very uphill.

"Everybody has got their own manager. Everybody has their own agenda."

Mick has particularly harsh things to say about Page, even though he was once very close to the guitarist.

The two fell out when Mick decided to write his book about Led Zeppelin.

Initially, the rock writer attempted to persuade his old friend to get involved.

But Page refused and has even threatened to sue over the contents of the book. "It has been made plain through mutual friends that I've burned my bridges with him," says Mick.

"But you know what? I'm 50 now.

"When I was 30, 35, even 40, it was very important for me to keep those doors open with Jimmy.

"But now it's far less important.

"I've had 20 years of talking to him and I don't really need to talk to him again.

"I know him almost too well. They say familiarity breeds contempt. I don't think it's turned into contempt by any means, but the novelty wore off a long time ago."

Mick believes Page should follow Robert Plant's lead, and start making fresh music which reflects the interests and anxieties of a man in his mid-60s.

However, he assumes this won't happen, because Page remains obsessed with getting Led Zeppelin back on the road.

Mick even claims Page – who is infamously passionate about the writings of the late Midland occultist Aleister Crowley – has squandered his immense talent and now rarely plays guitar.

"Not because he's brooding over the works of Crowley," says Mick. "These days he's far more likely to have a remote control in his hands.

"From what I've heard from mutual friends, he just sits watching football on the telly. Tragic, really."

* When Giants Walked The Earth is published by Orion, priced £20.


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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

November 21, 1968 - Robert becomes a father to a baby girl named Carmen Jane.
November 09, 1968 - Robert marries Maureen in London. Their reception is a performance at the Roundhouse in London
November xx, 1969 - Tempers flare over Atlantic in the UK wanting to release singles
November xx, 1969 - Recording for Led Zeppelin III begins at Olympic Studios in London
November xx, 1970 - Plans are in motion for a Yardbirds reunion
November 08, 1971 - Finally after much anticipation, Untitled is released
November xx, 1972 - Houses Of The Holy is mixed and completed
November 10, 1972 - Led Zeppelin sell out 120,000 tickets in one day
November xx, 1973 - Initial recordings for Physical Graffiti commences at Headley Grange
November 04, 1973 - Led Zeppelin finalize the purchase of Headley Grange to be their new corporate headquarters
November xx, 1974 - The band makes plans and rehearses for the tenth North American tour
November xx, 1975 - Led Zeppelin records Presence in a mere 18 days
November xx, 1976 - Led Zeppelin book into Ezyhire Studios to rehearse new material for an upcoming tour
November 04, 1976 - The Song Remains The Same movie premieres in Europe
November xx, 1977 - Jimmy dispells rumors of Led Zeppelin’s break up
November 06, 1978 - Led Zeppelin purchase and ship new gear to Polar Studios to begin work on a new album
November 10, 1979 - Led Zeppelin and their entire entourage attend an ABBA concert
November 07, 1980 - The band meets with Peter Grant to announce the retirement of Led Zeppelin
November 29, 1999 - The RIAA announced that Led Zeppelin were only the third act in music history to achieve four or more Diamond albums, a Diamond album being awarded for accredited sales of more than 10 million units in the US.
November 01, 2007 - An announcement was made that Jimmy Page had fractured his finger on his left hand after a fall in his garden and the reunion show would be postponed to December 10, 2007.
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