The 1980 death of drummer John "Bonzo" Bonham at age 32 marked the end of the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin. After 12 years laying the groundwork for hard rock and heavy metal to come, relentless touring, and developing a reputation for mayhem, excess, and alleged abuse, surviving members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones decided to go their separate ways, stating, "We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the deep sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were."
In the decades that followed, each went on to tread a unique musical path, occasionally reuniting with former bandmates. Read on to see where the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers have been and where they are now in their mid- and late seventies.
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Page and Plant reunited in the 1990s.
Five years after their final concert in Berlin, the group reunited—with Phil Collins and Tony Thompson awkwardly on drums—in 1985 for the monumental Live Aid concert. They reunited again in 1988 for the 13-hour Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary Celebration, this time with Bonham's son Jason on drums. However, the surviving members of the band maintained that a more permanent reunion out of the question in the absence of Bonzo. For this reason, it came as a shock to fans in the mid-'90s when MTV successfully approached Page and Plant for its Unplugged series.
The result was the 90-minute Unledded special, which featured an ensemble of Egyptian musicians as well as the London Metropolitan Orchestra, followed by the album No Quarter: Unledded, both in 1994. To keep things fresh, they recorded across Morocco, Wales, and London, incorporating local musicians—while also notably leaving out bassist Jones. Page and Plant went on to tour together in 1995 before stepping into the studio for 1998's Walking into Clarksdale and briefly touring throughout the end of that year.
John Paul Jones had an eclectic career in music.
Following the band's dissolution, Jones, now 76, returned to Devon, where he had recently moved with wife Maureen Hegarty and their three daughters. In the decades that followed, he has enjoyed a varied career as a performer, arranger, and producer. After a stint teaching electronic composition, Jones scored the 1984 film Scream for Help (with assistance from Page on two tracks). He spent the next 10 years producing albums for artists including Heart and arranging for Cinderella, Peter Gabriel, and R.E.M.
Returning to recording in London, he released his first solo album, Zooma, in 1999, followed by The Thunderthief in 2001. Through the early 2000s, he toured with King Crimson and as part of Mutual Admiration Society. He appears on two tracks of the 2005 Foo Fighters album In Your Honor and joined a Bonnaroo Superjam with Questlove and Ben Harper in 2007. In 2009, he formed the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures with Dave Grohl and Queens of the Stone Age member Josh Homme, releasing a self-titled album and touring through 2010. Now residing in West London with Hegarty, Jones has continued to perform with various artists and compose on a diverse set of instruments including lute and mandolin. In 2019, he formed a new group, Sons of Chipotle, with Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen.
Jimmy Page has collaborated with David Coverdale, Diddy, and others.
Founder and guitarist Page (pictured above left with Rolling Stones member Ronnie Wood) has also stayed musically active, if never driven to surpass what he produced with the band. In the early '80s, he briefly joined rock supergroups XYZ and The Firm and helped score the second two Death Wish films. In 1988, he released the solo album Outrider and, in 1993, collaborated with Whitesnake's David Coverdale to release the blues-tinged platinum album Coverdale–Page.
Other musical ventures have taken the form of guest spots, including on Plant's Now and Zen solo album and alongside the artist then known as Puff Daddy in the "Kashmir"-sampling Godzilla soundtrack song, "Come with Me." The band's unofficial archivist, Page has also devoted himself to digitally remastering their catalog. Aside his work as a musician, he has also co-founded a guitar amp line and been a founding patron of Action for Brazil's Children, a charity begun by second wife Jimena Gómez-Paratcha.
These days, Page collaborates with Scarlett Sabet, an actor-turned-poet he began dating in 2014 shortly after telling her, "Your poems cut like a knife" per a 2020 Tatler profile. The two made headlines in 2015 when their multigenerational age gap (he's now 78 to her 33) became public. In 2019, Page produced Sabet's spoken word album Catalyst, which also features photography by Scarlet Page, his 51-year-old daughter. The couple now live together in Page's Gothic revival Tower House in London.
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Robert Plant has produced a rich catalog of music as a solo artist and collaborator.
Following Led Zeppelin, lead singer and self-proclaimed "golden god" Plant, now 74, worked to find his own sound, telling Rolling Stone in 1988 that his aim was to "establish an identity that was far removed from the howling and the mud sharks of the '70s." He transitioned to being a solo artist with his 1982 album Pictures at Eleven, followed by 1983's The Principle of Moments, which featured his biggest solo hit, the drum machine-backed "Big Log." Over the next 35 years, he would put out another nine studio albums exploring his "musical wanderlust" across vast territory, most recently melding genres and global sounds with the band The Sensational Shape Shifters on Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar (2014) and Carry Fire (2017).
Plant has also taken his sonic exploration to a number of side projects, starting with the early '80s blues and R&B nostalgia project The Honeydrippers, which included Page on guitar tracks. In 2010, Plant revived the name of his pre-Zeppelin project Band of Joy, touring and recording an album focused on '60s rock and folk alongside singer and then-girlfriend Patty Griffin. (Plant never remarried after divorcing the mother of his first three children, Maureen Wilson, although a subsequent affair with her sister Shirley produced a son.) He has been collaborating professionally with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss for years; the pair won six Grammys in 2009 for their album Raising Sand and reunited with producer T Bone Burnett in 2021 for a second collaboration, Raise the Roof. Currently, Plant sings and plays harmonica with an acoustic band, Saving Grace, formed in 2019.
A lifetime of music behind him, Plant launched the podcast Digging Deep in 2019 to "delve into his back catalogue to revisit a track from this remarkable history to tell stories of inspiration, collaboration and intervention." Still, he promises he won't be putting pen to paper in an autobiography, saying to Classic Rock magazine, "I know too many things, and when I finally depart this mortal coil I don't want my family to think that I was some kind of weirdo. So I keep it hid."
Don't expect to ever see a full reunion.
Decades later, the band remains embedded in both cultural memory and headlines. In 2020, they emerged victorious in a long-running suit claiming that the opening to "Stairway to Heaven" was plagiarized. Meanwhile, the 2007 Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert, their final public reunion, holds the Guinness World Records title for the highest demand for tickets for one music concert. On the less positive side, an unsparing 2021 biography brought back to light the band's excesses and alleged abuse of the often very young girls and women in their orbit during their heyday.
Regardless of continued interest in the band, fans waiting for a reunion tour need not hold their breath. Getting the band back together isn't a priority for Plant, who told the Los Angeles Times earlier this year, "Going back to the font to get some kind of massive applause—it doesn't really satisfy my need to be stimulated." There may be some potential in the studio, however; Dolly Parton recently said she may try to get Page and Plant to perform on a rock album of her own.