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Why did Robert Plant lose his voice?

AdrianDAdrianD Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 103
edited January 2014 in Vocal Health and Wellness
Just curious if anyone knows why/how Robert Plant lost his vocal range?   Ken said he was quite pharyngally spread all the time in a webinar I had watched.


  • david1552david1552 Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 74

    Apparently he had a vocal chord surgery for unexplained reasons in late 1974.  He also was stupid enough to smoke cigarettes until the late 1980s. You can't really sing like the wild man Robert was - and hope to get away with it.  Coupled with insufficient rest, booze and cigarettes - a vocal short circuit was inevitable.  But incorrect singing technique certainly played a part - if Robert only had a vocal coach...

    (Text taken from another forum...)

  • AdrianDAdrianD Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 103

    Interesting. I have always wondered about this.  Thanks David!
  • Ken TamplinKen Tamplin Administrator, Moderator Posts: 446
    After Robert underwent throat surgery, he did not rehabilitate his voice. Instead, he drank and smoked (everything) like most rock stars do.

    This took its toll and cost him his voice.
  • david1552david1552 Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 74
    Besides booze & cigarettes Robert Plant said in an interview 2004 that he never warmed up his voice...
  • AdrianDAdrianD Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 103
    hah what a trooper.
  • david1552david1552 Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 74
    edited April 2013
    I think it's really sad to see all these great singers destroying their voices. I saw Corey Taylor a couple of years ago (Slipknot and Stone Sour singer) and he was probably halfway through the tour and he couldn't sing like he used to do and that's probably because of all the screaming he does... it sure hurts to hear his screaming and I don't think that's going to have an positive impact on his voice in the long run... Axl Rose in Gun's 'n Roses, he had to struggle to sing his old songs... I saw Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) 1992 and even though he sang his/their songs in their original key his lack of proper vocal technique took it's toll. But when I heard Dan McCafferty in Nazareth sing This Flight Tonight, Hair Of The Dog & Love Hurts I was pretty amazed that he still could sing them like it was 1975 again :) Steven Tyler in Aerosmith still sings absolutely amazing!! Biff Byford in Saxon still sings like a god!

  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,353

    I saw Led Zeppelin live 3 times.  Each time an explanation was given, "Oh, you should have been there last night!" and supposedly Robert had blown his voice out on the high parts of all of the songs in the previous night's performance.  Out of three live performances I saw back in their heyday, he could barely hit ANY of his high notes, the ones you were waiting for him to hit. .

    It was evident from their 3-piece (instrumentally) live sound that they could never match their album overdubs.  Don't get me wrong, they were still a very powerful band, but the sound of their albums depended heavily on studio layering of tracks. Bonham and Page's solos were dynamite, and they were the epitome of the phrase "not bad for a 3-piece".  In order to compensate for the lack of filler, they would play the entire concert at the sound pressure level of a 747 taking off inside the arena.

    That said, Plant's current level of his voice is much less robust than it was even when I saw him with a "blown"" voice from the "night before".   The moment above at 55:00 to 55:20 doesn't make up for the 55 minutes leading up to it and the time after.  Nothing against Robert, he's a great artist and was once a powerful singer with a huge range.  If he had taken better care of his voice and his body, he could still have a good chunk of his old voice to this day.  Let that be an encouragement to us all to listen to Ken and avoid the temptations of strain and vocal abuse.

    You want to be able to sing for as long as you live!



  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,353
    edited July 2014

    Listen to him here.

    What a difference a year makes:




  • TrineTrine Enrolled Posts: 269
    But no matter what happened to his voice, I LOVE Robert. I went to his concert a month ago here in Bergen, Norway. I understand very well that he is not interested in a reunion with Zeppelin. Why should he when he does new erxciting things? It was magic! He sang some Zeppeling songs, in a much lower key of course, he sang them his way, and he sang a lot of other things. He used musicians from Africa with instruments that took me straight to the desert in a faraway fime. I don't care that he blew his voice long time ago. He has the spirit and the feeling and the ability to reach the audience's hearts and souls. But don't do as he did, please. Just do as Ken says ;-)
  • CliffJayIOCliffJayIO Member Posts: 2
    Highmtn, just came across this post. To say that Plant didn't sound good live isn't exactly accurate. The issue is that he lost the top of his vocal range (for many reasons, many his own fault as you pointed out) pretty early on--right in the midst of Zeppelin's hayday. His voice was majorly in decline by the end of '72, and the final nail in the coffin was singing with a full-blown flu in Sheffield, January '73. After that the high part of his range was permanently gone. You can hear it in the Song Remains the Same, which was recorded at least a year too late (and there were overdubs in it--the reality was Plant's voice was worse than it sounds there).

    Highmtn, given that you said Plant's voice was bad everytime you heard them, I'm wondering if your first Zeppelin concert was '73 or later. By then Plant's voice was toast.
  • CliffJayIOCliffJayIO Member Posts: 2
    The reality was he was losing some power and range from the beginning. Although '70-71 is often considered Plant's vocal peak, if you want to hear him with the most unbelievable amount of range and power (although arguably less polished than 70-71), check out this link below. Particularly, check out the vocal acrobatics at 47:17 and again at 48:50. Wow... Compared to what he sounded like from '73 onwards, it's like listening to a completely different singer here:

  • MonaroMonaro Pro Posts: 8
    Plants voice was constantly changing. I've listened to to the timbre of his voice very carefully, and its a bit different in 69, 71, 72 (How the west was won) but as everyone mentions, changes dramatically in 73. 75 was a small change as was 77 again.

    There was another big change for their last studio album, in through the out door. (check knebworth live 1979 as well), this era lasted till about 1985. It's characterized by an almost shouty rasp but very very pingy. Its kinda my favorite era of plant, its not all over the place but still very tonally powerful. Check out this from 1981 https://youtube.com/watch?v=QibiJtk10s8

    Then something massive happened again, (perhaps on the 1985 tour) that would change his voice forever and its been pretty much the same more or less since then. Basically he started sounding breathy and old. Lost his ping, and couldnt bring his tone forward- as if his vocal folds couldnt close. I always wondered what exactly happened in between the Principle of moments (1984) album and Now and Zen (1987). Maybe someone here can guess whats going on?

    Check out how much his voice changed from 1984

    To 1987


    Now ive seen Robert hit all the right notes in some page and plant shows in the 90's but that isnt really the issue, the timbre of his voice is just very different.
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