How does Robert Plant feel about Grunge Rock and Nirvana?

Grunge, a subgenre of Rock and Roll popularized by Seattle bands in the late 1980s and early 1990s, is considered to have “killed” Heavy Metal music at the time because it was the most successful musical genre in the mainstream media. At the time, Robert Plant, formerly of Led Zeppelin, was experimenting with other musical genres in his solo career.  Over the years, Plant discussed Grunge and groups such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam. He even noted the similarity between a Zeppelin song and “Given To Fly” by Pearl Jam.

How does Robert Plant feel about Grunge Rock?  In 1995, Robert Plant gave his opinion on Grunge in an interview for the television documentary “History Of Rock N’ Roll” (transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage). He stated, “Punk came out in England, and that was the last time anything truly significant occurred in England. Or originated in England to affect anyone. You are aware that Punk stated, “We are sick of Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, and Led Zeppelin.” And said, “let’s listen to street music.” What occurred in the United States in 1991 was that you finally got your own punk scene.  Interestingly, Plant’s solo album from 1990 was titled “Manic Nirvana.” The album’s title, however, had nothing to do with the band Nirvana.

Robert Plant’s comments about Nirvana. In 1998, the American alternative magazine Ray Gun promoted an interview between Dave Grohl, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant. Grohl inquired if the members of Led Zeppelin liked Nirvana. Plant responded, “Well, to me it made a lot more sense than a lot of the alternative music, the 99.9% of everything that was just empty rebellion without any real commitment or conscience. I thought it was quite potent. There is, however, a sense of impending doom surrounding everything new and reactionary to such a degree, due to an excess of one kind or another.”

“Because we had been through that, my heart bled for it. We lost Bonzo (John Bonham). We lost many people in the area. You begin to self-destruct whenever you become engrossed in something that is incredibly pervasive, powerful, and purposeful.  The leader of the Foo Fighters commented on Plant’s response that the Nirvana members could never have imagined that something as tragic as Kurt Cobain’s death could occur, and Plant responded, “Yeah, but it was out of your control. It occurred to us. The stature and overall condition of our success lacked a map at the time. Prior to that time, rock ‘n’ roll as a form of entertainment had reached a limit beyond which no one was aware. As it expanded before us, we were terrified. We had no idea what was happening.”

Robert Plant notes the similarity between Led Zeppelin and Pearl Jam songs. In a 2015 SiriusXM interview with Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, Robert Plant made a joke about the similarities between Pearl Jam’s “Given To Fly” and Led Zeppelin’s “Going To California.” When asked about originality during a Q&A session, the musician responded, “Absolutely essential. Outside of talent, craft, experience, and whatever else you develop as an entertainer, repetition is a terrible companion. You are aware that entertainers tend to repeat themselves frequently. I mean, how often have you performed “Going to California”? I am sorry. Whatever your song’s title may be.”  McCready laughed and then recalled the night Plant attended a Pearl Jam concert in Sweden, where lead singer Eddie Vedder mispronounced “Given To California” as “Given To California.” “When you visited us in Sweden, we performed the song. He (Vedder) probably dedicated it to you, thanked you, and stated, “Given to California.”  Plant responded, “It’s fortunate that he had some dancing girls backstage after the performance to alleviate the tension. We’re all mature. So we all agree that this is acceptable. I did not receive a check in the mail or anything similar.”

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