Jimmy Page had his sights set high. He wanted this new band he was assembling to make a major impact. And for that he needed a vocalist who could keep pace with his own prodigious talents on guitar as well as John Paul Jones’ masterful skills as a multi-instrumentalist and arranger. The band Page envisioned would both roar and whisper, its blisteringly powerful moments contrasting with quieter, more introspective passages. And to pull that off, he needed a singer who could carry the band through those changes.
At the time, a British vocalist by the name of Terry Reid had caught Page’s ear. But Reid was committed to tour America opening for Cream so he recommended someone else for Page to check out, a young musician from the Midlands who had an upcoming date at a college in Birmingham. Page and Jones made the journey to check him out, and Page recalls, “When I…heard him sing, I immediately thought there must be something wrong with him personality-wise or that he had to be impossible to work with, because I just could not understand why, after he told me he'd been singing for a few years already, he hadn't become a big name yet. So I had him down to my place for a little while, just to sort of check him out, and we got along great. No problems.”
The vocalist was, of course, named Robert Plant.