This Day in ’81: Yes with Plant & Page? No, but almost!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
This Day in Music

37 years ago this month, Chris Squire, Alan White, and once-and-future Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page laid down some demos for a band that never really came to fruition, but if you think that lineup is perfect for a “oh, what might have been” conversation, just imagine if they’d successfully swayed Robert Plant to be the band’s lead singer, as it looked like they might on this day in 1981.

“Yes was in a kind of sabbatical period,” Squire explained to Mike Tiano of the Yes mailing list. “Geoff Downes and Steve Howe started the Asia project, so Alan and I were gonna work with Jimmy and Robert. 

“Jimmy kept calling Robert, saying how great it was and he should get involved,” White told Tiano. “He came and listened to it, and I think he thought it was too complicated, or else there could have been the kind of a Yes-Zeppelin band at that time. I think that kind of either frightened a lot of people off at that time, or it was a too-good-to-be-true kind of thing. But the management thing got involved, and they really screwed it up, and it just all went haywire, that’s what really dissipated the whole thing.”

Squire summed it up slightly more succinctly: “Robert never completed the equation, so that’s when we went back into the reformation of Yes with 90125, which was probably the best thing to have done.”

It’s also worth recalling that Page might not have been the best of all possible collaborators during that time frame anyway, given that he was clearly still dealing with his grief over Bonham’s death.

It sure was close to happening, though. Boy howdy, was it close. Like, to the point where – as we mentioned in the opening paragraph – the Plant-less incarnation of XYZ actually recorded demos for some of the songs. 

“You can find them on YouTube,” Squire told Noise11 in 2012. “They were only demos. Nothing was ever finished, but somehow they got snuck out of the studio by some engineer or somebody at some point. They are not finished demos if you track them down. They are quite exciting. It is worth having a look for them if you are interested.”

We can’t in good conscience embed videos for these songs, of course. Instead, we’ll just say that Squire’s right, and we’ll leave it at that.