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Steve 'The Lemon' Sauer of Lemon Squeezings: Led Zeppelin News filed this report a few minutes ago.
The elusive third chair was brought out to the stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater for today's "Late Show," to accommodate the Led Zeppelin threesome of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. The standard two-chair setup returned for the interview with actor John Krasinski of "The Office," an unabashed Led Zeppelin fan who, as it turned out, was sporting a Swan Song logo T-shirt underneath his dressy outfit.

Audience coach Eddie Brill said he was psyched that Led Zeppelin was going to be on the show. Krasinski said he was working as an intern for "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" the time Page appeared on the show with the Black Crowes, and he recalled what it was like behind the scenes of a TV show with such a huge star as Jimmy Page. Fraternizing with guests was grounds for immediate dismissal, he said, adding that backstage tonight he was basically unable to speak coherently to Page for fear of babbling and/or pissing his pants.

When the CBS Orchestra played the trio onto the stage to the strains of "Rock and Roll," Robert Plant came out first, shook Dave Letterman's hand and took the empty seat farthest from Dave. Page was next out, and when he went to take his seat in the middle, Jones was left with the one closest to Dave, and it looked like there was some confusion over the seating arrangement. All matched in their black outfits, although Plant traded in his black shoes for some tan cowboy boots.

Letterman started things off by asking if Led Zeppelin had received awards like the Kennedy Center Honors, prompting a brief one-word answer from John Paul Jones followed by a lengthy roll of the eyes. Dave appeared to be grasping at straws for ways to relate to the musicians, and Jones even made a witty remark after a few of Dave's vein attempts: "How many 'no's do you want?" Plant, the only one who'd sat solo on Letterman's couch before, joked it was good Jones was sitting closest to Dave. Dave got one back at Jones, saying the placement wasn't best for everybody concerned.

Jimmy Page, sandwiched between his former bandmates, spoke early in the interview, picking up on a question from Dave about Buddy Guy, who'd also been an award recipient. Dave asked if Buddy was an influence on all of them, and Jimmy said indeed he was, referencing by name some of the other blues musicians he and Jeff Beck used to watch Buddy Guy playing with when they were all young. The names Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf were easy for Dave to pick up on, but Page's mention of Sonny Boy Williamson threw the host a curveball. Dave , "Sonny Boy ... Williams?" Robert shot a look of disgust toward the crowd, as if to say, "Can you believe this guy?"

Dave may not know old blues musicians well, but he named off a few of the most obvious choices for British rock bands from the same era as Led Zeppelin: the Who, the Rolling Stones and the Kinks. Dave listed off a few of these bands and asked if they would ever jam together back in the day. The answer was a surprising no, until Robert clarified that while he and John Bonham were touring the "big top," the other two guys were studio cats and did indeed get to work with those groups. Plant interestingly went not for an anecdote about stealing milk bottles off of people's front steps but said Bonham, in those days, was stealing cars. Dave kept the humor going by asking if this came up at all when being vetted for a Kennedy Center award. Dave also asked Paul Shaffer his opinion on whether the same musicians who were influences on British musicians similarly affected American musicians. Paul said British musicians had turned on to American music that wasn't popular here first and, through their innovation, made it popular here.

If it's a really enlightening question and answer session you were hoping for, it wasn't there. Dave concentrated on the award ceremony and how they felt listening to others play their music back. Jimmy complimented Kid Rock, and Dave kept on naming other performers who had been on the scene to get their reactions. The mention of Jack Black seemed to make Plant chuckle. Even worse, the mention of "Stairway to Heaven," which they performed at the Kennedy Center Honors, made Plant jeer once again. Either he didn't like the performance, by a choir and an orchestra and Jason Bonham on drums, or he was just once again reiterating his disdain for the song.

For something visual, Dave displayed two photos on his desk. The first was less than 24 hours old and showed the three of them meeting with President Obama. Perhaps Dave was hoping the photo would elicit some comments once the crowd's applause subsided, but it really didn't. Dave moved on to the second photo, the famous shot from 1973 with the band posing in front of the Starship. This provided Dave with a subject to which he would refer often throughout the rest of the interview, about not needing to have your shirts buttoned up fully when flying on your own aircraft. Dave turned it into a running gag that went over well with the audience. One line that left a few heads scratching came from Plant when he asked Dave if "matinee" means the same here as it does in England. The way he related it had sex written all over it.

Dave recalled something Jack Black said about Led Zeppelin the day before, that their music is about sex ... and Vikings ... and Vikings having sex. The host asked if this was correct. While Page laughed, Jones added that some songs were about Vikings having sex with hobbits.

In one of the more mundane questions Letterman has ever uttered, he asked their musicians how one could sum up Led Zeppelin's sound in a 10-word sentence. Plant didn't jump at the ready with a response, nor did Page. It took Jones to break the silence, mimicking the opening riff from "Immigrant Song."

Dave mentioned that Page and Jones had not been on the show before. He invited them back but did so almost as a group invitation. Imagine, Led Zeppelin's surviving members making a habit out of forcing Dave's third chair out of retirement!

To Dave's credit, he did ask whether the 1980 death of "the drummer" -- the name John Bonham obviously not on the tip of his tongue -- made them think about continuing with somebody else on drums. To the surprise of nobody there, the answer was no. Jimmy Page pounced on it, saying it would have been unfair to tell another drummer, "Here, learn these parts."

Lastly, Dave didn't ask why these guys aren't reforming -- or if, in fact, they secretly were. He could have broached the subject easily by suggesting, "Look, all three of you are here now, and you're musicians. Forget about reuniting in the future. Why the hell don't you play us a little something right now, for God's sake?" But alas, 'twas not to be. Instead, the studio and home audiences were treated to a musical performance by the waif-like British singer Paloma Faith, her elaborate orchestra and stage configuration, and her multicolored hair.

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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

March 17, 1969 - A four-song performance is filmed for TV Byen in Denmark (aired on May 19, 1969)
March 21, 1969 - Zeppelin’s debut TV appearance on "How It Is"
March 25, 1969 - Filming session for the Supershow
March xx, 1970 - The band turns down many TV offers worth large sums
March 05, 1971 - Led Zeppelin started a 12-date "Thank You" tour for British fans, appearing at the clubs from their early days and charging the same admission prices as in 1968. The first show was at Ulster Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland where they played songs from their upcoming fourth album, including the first public performances of Black Dog, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California and Rock And Roll.
March 12, 1972 - Page and Plant rehearse some songs with the Bombay Orchestra
March 25, 1973 - Led Zeppelin finally release Houses of the Holy after production issues with the album cover
March 28, 1973 - Led Zeppelin released Houses Of The Holy in the UK. The album title was a dedication by the band to their fans who appeared at venues they dubbed "houses of the holy". Houses Of The Holy has now been certified 11 times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for US sales in excess of 11 million copies.
March xx, 1974 - The band decide to release a double album due to the amount of left over studio material
March 29, 1975 - Led Zeppelin saw all six of their albums in the US Top 100 chart in the same week, alongside their latest album Physical Graffiti at No.1. Physical Graffiti has now been certified 16 times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for US sales in excess of 16 million copies.
March 15, 1975 - Tickets for the Earls Court shows sellout within four hours
March xx, 1976 - Jimmy speaks with reporters mentioning the new album due out called Presence
March 31, 1976 - Presence is released
March 28, 1977 - Zeppelin arrive in Dallas, Texas to rehearse before opening the eleventh tour of the US
March xx, 1978 - Robert and John spend some time hanging around the Midlands
March 26, 1979 - Robert takes lead vocal at a Bad Company gig in Birmingham
March 04, 1980 - John Bonham makes a TV appearance on "Alright Now" with Bill Connolly
March 26, 2006 - Readers of Total Guitar magazine voted the guitar solo by Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven as the greatest guitar solo of all time. The 1971 track was voted ahead of tracks by Van Halen, Queen, Jimi Hendrix and The Eagles. On the 20th anniversary of the original release of the song, it was announced via US radio sources that the song had logged up an estimated 2,874,000 radio plays - back to back, that would run for 44 years solid.
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