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In their heyday they were the lords of excess - with vodka for breakfast and champagne for supper fueling a 24-hour party habit.

Yesterday, however, it was clear that Led Zeppelin had come down to Earth after a very long high.

Instead of the notorious "coke" lady employed on their 1973 U.S. tour to keep the rockers rocking, last night's reunion gig was more in need of a tea lady.

The band - reformed for the first time in 19 years - requested little more than a constant flow of caffeine-free herbal tea and sparkling water for their backstage dressing room.

The one-off performance by Robert Plant, 59, Jimmy Page, 63, and John Paul Jones, 61, at London's O2 Arena was in honour of Ahmet Ertegun, the late Atlantic Records founder who first signed them in 1968.

Concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith said: "They are much older now obviously and are very low maintenance. 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.

"They are extremely focused and have been rehearsing. They know that a lot of people have been waiting a long time for this gig."

The three originals teamed up last night with Jason Bonham, 41, the son of their deceased drummer John Bonham, who died after a breakfast vodka binge while rehearsing for a tour in 1980.

Perhaps aware of their greying temples both Plant and Page have put effort into their appearance as well as their playing in the run-up to the concert.

Plant has been seen working out with a personal trainer while Page was spotted leaving a London tanning salon. More than 20 million fans are believed to have applied in a lottery for one of the 20,000 seats.

Early yesterday tickets with backstage passes were still open for bids on eBay starting at £4,000.

The reunion performance was originally scheduled for November 26 but the audience was kept waiting for an extra month after guitarist Page broke his finger when he tripped over a slab in his garden.

One man, Kenneth Donnell, 25, who was not even born when the band rose to fame, paid £83,000 for two tickets in a charity auction during Terry Wogan's BBC Radio 2 show.

Last night, hundreds of fans from around the world queued up at the arena in Docklands waiting to hear classics such as Whole Lotta Love and Stairway to Heaven.

Security steward Lisa Irvine said: "I've seen people travelling from Canada, Israel and Brazil to see the group. There is such a buzz here."

Jens Nielsen, from Oslo, Norway: "I have been here for three hours.

"It doesn't matter how long I wait because I've been a fan for over ten years. I think I'm going to cry when I actually see them on stage."


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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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