Robert Plant Stole Fuel to Be in Band With John Bonham

Robert Plant recalled the moment he met John Bonham and how the encounter led to trouble with the police.

The future Led Zeppelin bandmates were both active on the gig circuit in the Black Country region of England in the early ‘60s. In a recent interview with Rick Rubin on the Broken Record podcast, Plant said he was fronting local group the Crawling King Snakes when Bonham introduced himself.

“He said, ‘You’re OK … but you’d be a lot better if you had the best drummer in the world behind you,’” Plant remembered. “And I said, ‘Well, OK, I know that you’re good – but where do you live?’ He told me, and I said, ‘Oh, you can’t join our group because we can’t afford the gasoline to go and pick you up and drop you off!’” He added that the solution was “a bit of thievery”: “I got caught by the police for sucking fuel out a gas tank just to keep [the new lineup] going.”

You can listen to the interview below.

Asked by Rubin if there had been any thought of Led Zeppelin continuing after Bonham’s death in 1980, Plant said, “As a four-piece band, what are you going to do? I don’t know how any band – any group of people – could [continue without] 25 percent of the driving wheel.”

He also noted that the “magnificent” drummer could cause problems if he became bored onstage. “When he was tired of an idiom within a song, he’d go into waltz time for a minute, and just look at me and laugh!” Plant said. “He got fed up, I remember, somewhere in New York. He just got up and walked through his drum kit. ‘That’s it – I don’t wanna do that!’ And we switched quickly to ‘Going to California’ or some acoustic song while somebody lured him back onto the riser!”

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