Whole Lotta Love for Ludlow! Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant talks about his time in the town
After 40 years he remains one of the biggest rock stars on the planet – but Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant has revealed that he loves nothing more than a day out in. . . Ludlow.
The singer recently took music magazine Uncut to Whitcliffe Common, which overlooks Ludlow, for a photoshoot, followed by a tour of his favourite haunts.
And Plant, who lives near Bewdley, revealed he is a regular visitor to the south Shropshire market town – having been brought there as a small boy by his grandparents.
Led Zeppelin 1968-1980
Robert Plant is the famed frontman of Led Zeppelin with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonam.
Led Zeppelin had nine studio albums selling millions of copies across the world, which continues today.
Throughout their career, Led Zeppelin have collected many honours and awards. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2006. Among the band's awards are an American Music Award in 2005, and the Polar Music Prize in 2006. Led Zeppelin were the recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005,and four of their recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Solo career 1982 - present
On his own Robert Plant has had 10 studio albums, one live album and four collaborative albums.
He tells the magazine he comes to Ludlow about once a month and likes to visit the castle's bookshop – even nagging the staff to stock books on Owain Glynd?r, the 15th century Welsh prince who led a revolt against English rule.
Last year he even dropped in at the town's Assembly Rooms to see how it had changed since the night in 1999 when he performed there in front of just 300 people – a considerably smaller venue than the stadiums that made his name.
Plant enjoys walks around Ludlow with his dog, Arthur, a lurcher. "I like the idea of Arthur carrying down through the generations. As a sort of touchstone," he said.
He has made the area his home and spent most of his time there since September 2013.
Prior to that, he had made a base in Austin, Texas.
However, the former Black Country singer has an abiding love for Ludlow, Hay on Wye and the Welsh Marches.
"I like adventures in Soho and East London, the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and I know my way round Marrakech quite well. But I'm not a city guy," he said.
"I can never really get over the speed of the changes of the seasons. At this time in my life, I'm trying to slow it all down, slow down the movement of the seasons so I can really devour them.
"We were in Estonia and Northern Sweden recently and I could see that spring had turned to summer there and I knew that if you went seven or 800 miles south you'd be on a line where I live.
"So the season would have advanced that much more there, and I would have missed it. But what do I do? I just go slowly with Arthur over the fields."
He added: "When you go to Essouira in Morocco, or the Welsh coast… when you go to these borderlands here, get out of the car and just sit there and take it in, it's the very pulse of life.
"All the old gods are long gone but still… I don't wanna say that they're in the hedgerow because somebody will come and take me away. But there's something of the old magic that's still around.
"It's a blessed relief to be reconnected to a very familiar landscape I can read quite well. Having been around it for 65 years, you start to get the hang of it.
"Whereas the brittle, harsh limestone Texas hills were slightly hostile to me. So I came back to this. The thing is, you only need to spend a couple of minutes here. It's formidable and beautiful.
"I'm thanking all the gods that I have landed safely."
He added: "I lived as a boy in a terraced house in Tipton. It was fantastic, because the spirits there were great. My granddad and all that lot, who were all bonkers.
"My grandfather, who was called Robert Shropshire Plant, was the founder and leader of a Black Country brass band. They were a pretty serious, renowned band. They were also known as the Dudley Port Drinking Band. He played trombone, then he played violin in the orchestra pit behind silent movies, and stuff on the piano."
And, ever the musician, Plant still likes to see younger acts perform, even visiting Ludlow pubs for live music.
Last year he saw a local band called Grey Wolf play at a town venue. And they played one of the songs he sang from his collaboration with country star Alison Kraus.
"The whole pub was singing along," he said.
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