It was pure sex, above all. Along with Jimmy Page's ubiquitous guitar and John Bonham's powerful drums, he seemed to be the driving force in the Led Zeppelin cosmos. Their highly potent and vibrant hardrock seemed like a permanent penis to the audience of the late sixties and early seventies. And not like a little one. The boys were jealous, the girls shuddered, fainted or cheered - depending on temperament and moral disposition. It was exciting.
This sex was embodied by lead singer Robert Plant. The slim torso slightly bent backwards, one hand resting on the hip, the blond angel curls dangling above the tight bottom, a face that at one moment seemed romantic and feminine, but at the next already belonged to the arrogant lust, who insatiably craved the next best skirt. So he stood at the microphone and let his unreal high, through mark and leg moving voice be heard. He was a fantastic mix of Errol Flynn and Brigitte Bardot.
His effect was intensified by Page, a guitar mercenary of the London studio scene who had been washed away with all kinds of water, who had played with Hinz and Kunz, who, unlike most of his colleagues, had all the tricks and styles and now finally - a Frankenstein of the outgoing Sgt. Pepper era - had created his own monster in the laboratory of Olympic Studios. With the guitar he operated an orgiastic as well as imaginative and decidedly lucid musical scenery pushing, which made the blonde rooster a bit bigger, a bit more omnipotent and a bit more frightening.
Dionysus of the Rock
The effect of the frontman becomes clear when one compares the young Plant with the other rock gods of those days. Roger Daltrey from The Who was a powerful athlete who hardly ever sang about sex directly, especially not in his incarnation as blind and deaf-mute Tommy. His coarse dynamics were also filtered by the pathological intellectuality of his adversary Pete Townshend. And Mick Jagger, who already belonged to the veterans, seemed like a snobbish student next to the Plant, which was in a constant state of flux. He probably liked to stage himself as a macho man and insulted the fair femininity in his songs, but in the end he preferred to remain in the approximate position and at best indicated the act as such. Whether he actually eaten up 15-year-old girls, as he wanted them to believe in the "Stray Cat Blues", remained in the dark.
So while Jagger only flirted with the role of the sex god, Plant played it with conviction. Sexually as unambiguous as he otherwise was, at most, Doors singer Jim Morrison, who was much more neurotic, not to say manic, and who often hit his audience in the head with his obvious exhaustion. There remained singers like Ian Gillan, whose women, for example in "Child In Time" and "Fireball", were ethereal and mystical and who otherwise seemed a little pale next to Plant, as well as David Bowie. Its sexuality was less comprehensible and, on top of that, not clearly defined by gender, which caused more irritation among the audience of those years, when it wasn't exactly at home on London's Carnaby Street, in Andy Warhol's Factory or in the Garden of Eden of Laurel Canyon - at that time, people were far from as relaxed as today's chroniclers would have us believe.
Plant, in any case, was neither mystical nor vague, nor did he cast doubt on his potency or sexual orientation. He gave the libertine. This could not only be heard in "Whole Lotta Love" ("I give you every inch of my love") and in the infamous "Lemon Song", which contained the request to squeeze the singer's lemon out until the juice ran down his leg. Plant could and always wanted to, and above all he kept singing about it. Of course, he also provided the matching picture of a woman, for example in "Dazed And Confused" from the first Zeppelin album, where he tormentedly proclaims that the woman was wicked, created down below in hell, and gives the man nothing but annoyance. But even those who didn't listen very closely to the lyrics could feel the self-confident appearance of the Englishmen even in the early stages of their careers, provocatively provoking up to the pain threshold of the snobby-blown music: this zeppelin does not happen to have the shape of a phallus - it is a sensual Dionysus of rock.