Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Reunite in Exotic Marrakesh, 1994

Wah Wah:

In 1994 Jim­my Page and Robert Plant col­lab­o­rat­ed on a new musi­cal project for the first time since the death 14 years ear­li­er of Led Zep­pelin’s drum­mer, John Bon­ham. The reunion result­ed from an invi­ta­tion to appear on MTV’s hit series Unplugged. But Page and Plant want­ed to steer clear of nos­tal­gia, so they exclud­ed for­mer Zep­pelin bassist John Paul Jones from the project and named it Unled­ded.

The result­ing album and DVD fea­ture an assort­ment of Zep­pelin songs that were rein­ter­pret­ed with the help of an Egypt­ian ensem­ble, an Indi­an vocal­ist and the Lon­don Met­ro­pol­i­tan Orches­tra, but per­haps the most inter­est­ing part of the project was a trio of new songs record­ed with local musi­cians in Mar­rakesh, Moroc­co. Those per­for­mances, shown here, were the result of a col­lab­o­ra­tion with tra­di­tion­al musi­cians of the Gnawa minor­i­ty, whose sub-Saha­ran ances­tors were brought to Moroc­co many cen­turies ago as slaves.

“We’d nev­er met the Gnawa when we went there,” said Plant in a 1994 inter­view, “but they were very patient, and smil­ing is a great cur­ren­cy.” Gnawa music is tra­di­tion­al­ly per­formed for prayer and heal­ing, and dif­fers from oth­er North African music. “They play a kind of music which is much more akin to the music of the Mis­sis­sip­pi Delta than it is to do with Arab music,” Plant said in anoth­er inter­view. “It’s haunt­ing, seduc­tive, and quite allur­ing.”

City Don’t Cry:

The Truth Explodes (Yal­lah):

Relat­ed con­tent:

Jim­my Page Tells the Sto­ry of ‘Kash­mir’

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  • Zac says:

    The part on Gnawa is close, but not quite accu­rate.

    Gnawa is the style of music, not the eth­nic­i­ty of the peo­ple play­ing it. In fact, there is no stip­u­la­tion that any one type of per­son can play Gnawa music. That hav­ing been said, the style is heav­i­ly influ­enced by the Berber pop­u­la­tion in Moroc­co (and through­out North Africa), who were slaves who found their way to free­dom by fol­low­ing the ‘nij­mat al-janub’ (star of the south).


  • Mike Springer says:

    Hi Zac,
    I’m always inter­est­ing in find­ing out about errors and cor­rect­ing them, if nec­es­sary. But in this case I don’t see your point. The Gnawa are most cer­tain­ly a peo­ple, and Page and Plant were col­lab­o­rat­ing with a few of them. I was­n’t say­ing any­thing about who may or may not play Gnawa music.

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