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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

October xx, 1968 - Led Zeppelin is recorded
October 19, 1968 - Final performance as the New Yardbirds
October 31, 1969 - Led Zeppelin II is released in the US
October 17, 1969 - Bonham is thrilled to play Carnegie Hall where Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa have performed
October 23, 1970 - Led Zeppelin III is released in the US
October xx, 1970 - The press lash out at the band over the Led Zeppelin III acoustic content
October xx, 1971 - Page and Plant venture around Thailand and India after the Japan tour
October 18, 1972 - Zeppelin rehearse at the Rainbow Theater for a UK tour
October xx, 1973 - Each member performs an individual film sequence for their concept film
October 31, 1974 - Swan Song hosts a party for the launch of its UK division
October xx, 1975 - Led Zeppelin decide not to tour and concentrate on recording new material
October 20, 1976 - The Song Remains The Same premieres at New York’s Cinema One
October xx, 1977 - Jimmy starts assembling a Led Zeppelin live album from recordings as far back as 1969
October xx, 1978 - Jones and Bonham record with Paul McCartney at Abbey Road Studios
October xx, 1978 - Rehearsals for In Through The Out Door in London
October xx, 1979 - All nine Led Zeppelin albums enter the Billboards Top 200 -- no other band has ever achieved this
October 10, 1980 - A private funeral is held for John Bonham at Rushock church in Worcestershire
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