50 Years Ago Led Zeppelin Had a “Dream Come True” Meeting Elvis Presley: “I Mopped the Tears Away”

Fifty years ago, on May 11, 1974, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll came face to face with three members of one of the great hard-rock bands of all time. That night, Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Bonham went to see Elvis Presley play a show at the Los Angeles Forum, then met the rock ‘n’ roll icon back at his hotel.

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The meeting of the legendary rockers came about because both Presley and the British band had the same promotion company, Concerts West, handling their current cross-country tours. Through the company, Led Zepplin were given free tickets and passes to meet Elvis after the concert.

[RELATED: Mystery Revealed: Robert Plant Has Created a Led Zeppelin Mashup]

As Plant explained in a 2005 interview with music journalist Bill Flanagan, he idolized Presley and was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet him. At the same time, Presley was curious about this band that was “selling out tickets quicker than him.”

During the concert, Presley stopped his backing band when they flubbed the intro to his rendition of Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away.” As heard in a recording of the show, Elvis said, “Wait a minute. If we could start together, fellows, because we’ve got Led Zeppelin out there. Let’s try to look like we know what we’re doing, whether we do or not.”

Plant recalled getting emotional to hear Presley acknowledge his band.

“[After] I mopped the tears away … we got the nod that we were going to meet him afterwards,” Plant told Flanagan. “And we went to the hotel. They had the entire top floor.”

Meeting Presley After the Show

The singer remembered being brought into a suite and waiting for Presley to enter the room, and how excited he was when Elvis finally did.

“The door opened and this guy came through the door and my heart jumped,” Plant said. “It was like, ‘Whoa, look at the way he moves!’ … He was so, so, so cool.”

He continued, “And he came over to us, and we stood in a circle for about two or three hours, talking. And people kept coming by from his retinue, from his entourage, thinking that he had enough. He was going, ‘No, no, no.’ We had a great conversation.”

As for what they talked about, Plant recalled discussing the root of rock ‘n’ roll music and where the blues originated.

“He still was into that whole Delta thing,” Robert shared. “You know, ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight,’ all that stuff that got him going in the first place.”

Plant’s on Presley’s Influence and His Favorite Era of Elvis’ Career

Plant also credited Presley for being the reason why he’s been fascinated by blues and roots music throughout his life. He also noted that he favored Elvis’ early music, before he was drafted into the U.S. Army and then went to Hollywood.

“I didn’t want to hear Elvis doing a Neil Diamond song,” Plant told Flanagan. “[I]t was bad enough him coming out of the Army and doing ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight,’ you know. I wanted him to stay wild, to give me all those edges, … that howl that he had.”

Reflecting again on his affinity for Presley, Robert said, “[H]e was just amazing and spectacular, and it was just that he really opened the door to my whole love of music. And because of him, and because of the choice of his material, I found out [about R&B artist] Smiley Lewis [and] … all those great singers.”

Plant added, “It was a dream come true to meet him.”

Plant Recalled Being Serenaded by Elvis at the End of the Night

Meanwhile, in 2011 interview on The Late Show with David Letterman, Plant recalled another cool part of his meeting with Presley. During his conversation with Elvis, Plant shared, he told Presley that when Led Zeppelin would do a soundcheck in an arena, he’s sometimes sing Elvis’ hit ballad “Love Me.”

Later, as Plant was leaving for the elevator at the end of the night, Presley called to him and starting singing “Love Me,” and Robert began singing the tune back to him.

Led Zeppelin Met Presley Two Other Times

Plant and his band also met Presley two other times. Not long after the feet meeting, Led Zeppelin visited Elvis at his home, Graceland, in Memphis, and stayed overnight.

Their final meeting with the King took place in 1977, the year Presley died. It happened by chance on the tarmac of the Baltimore/Washington airport, when both artists’ private jets had landed there around the same time, as Presley and Led Zeppelin were playing concerts in the area.

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