Neal Preston’s best photograph: Robert Plant catches a dove

‘I was Led Zeppelin’s tour photographer. The dove landed on Robert’s hand. Nobody else could have pulled it off without looking pretentious’

As far as I know, I’m the only person ever to be Led Zeppelin’s tour photographer. I was just 22 and knew a plum job when it landed on my lap. People often ask how wild it was, but I always say the same thing: “If you’re using ‘wild’ as a metaphor for sex and drugs, then it was wilder – far wilder – being on the road with REO Speedwagon.” Don’t forget, I’d been hired to do a job. I wasn’t there to sit around consuming unmentionables and fuck everything in a skirt.

This was taken during a gig at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. There were two cages behind the amps on stage, each containing six white doves. To be honest, I think they were probably just white pigeons but we called them doves so let’s stick with that. Anyway, Robert Plant’s a real hippy at heart, so the idea was that at the end of Stairway to Heaven, we’d release the doves and they’d fly off into the air as a homage to peace and love.

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