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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

February 07, 1962 - Deborah Bonham, sister to John, was born in Redditch, Worcestershire, England
February 23, 1966 - Warren Grant, son of Peter, was born.
February xx, 1969 - Led Zeppelin enters the Billboard Top 40
February 16, 1969 - Led Zeppelin wrap up their first American tour in Baltimore, MD.
February 07, 1970 - Edinburgh gig cancelled after Plant receives facial injuries in a car accident
February 28, 1970 - The band performs as "The Nobs" in Copenhagen after threat of legal action from Countess Von Zeppelin
February xx, 1971 - John Paul Jones involved in legal issues regarding a musician who shares the same name
February xx, 1971 - Overdubs for the fourth album are recorded at Island Studios
February 14, 1972 - The band is refused admission into Singapore due to their long hair
February 16, 1972 - The Australian tour begins in Perth
February 21, 1972 - Led Zeppelin: Rock and Roll b/w Four Sticks (Atlantic 45-2865) 45 single is released in the US.
February xx, 1973 - The band makes final preparations for the European tour
February 16, 1973 - The release date for Houses Of The Holy is pushed back due to some sleeve problems
February xx, 1974 - Sessions for Physical Graffiti continue
February 14, 1974 - Page, Plant and Bonham attend a Roy Harper concert
February 04, 1975 - Zeppelin perform a last minute show at Nassau Coliseum to accomodate fans after being banned in Boston
February 24, 1975 - Physical Graffiti finally issued worldwide to phenomenal sales
February xx, 1976 - Media reports that Zeppelin are due to release an album entitled Obelisk
February xx, 1977 - Robert contracts a bout of tonsillitis postponing the American tour
February xx, 1978 - Robert Plant helps produce a record for punk band Dansette Damage
February 16, 1978 - The cases against Bonham, Cole & Grant stemming from the Oakland incident are heard and all receive suspended prison sentences and fines
February xx, 1979 - Although absent from the US stage or market, Led Zeppelin rank best in many music magazine categories
February xx, 1979 - Mixing sessions for In Through The Out Door take place at Polar Studios. Rumors fly of a European tour
February 03, 1980 - Robert joins Dave Edmund’s Rockpile at the Birmingham Top Rank
February 13, 2005 - Led Zeppelin receives a Grammy for Lifetime Achievment.
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