Former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant was presented with his lifetime achievement Grammy award yesterday (March 17) at the South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. Plant, who was unable to attend Februa

Former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant was presented with his lifetime achievement Grammy award yesterday (March 17) at the South By Southwest (SXSW) music festival and conference in Austin, Texas. Plant, who was unable to attend February's Grammy ceremonies in Los Angeles, received the trophy from Recording Academy president Neil Portnow, who was on hand to surprise the singer prior to a keynote interview.

"It's been 37 years since Led Zeppelin released its first song. It will be 25 years in October since [Zeppelin drummer] John Bonham died. Time goes very fast these days," Plant said, weighing the etched glass trophy in his hands.

In accepting Zeppelin's first Grammy more than two decades after the band's demise, he added "It's been a major part of my creative life and I thoroughly enjoyed it."

Plant then sat for more than 90 minutes of conversation, conducted by MTVN's Bill Flanagan, during which he reminisced about his Led Zeppelin days and his solo career, and talked about "Mighty Rearranger," his new album with the band Strange Sensation.

"I don't think popular music can ever stand still. It can't always be left to new musicians to print the future," Plant said.

"The intention is as strong as it was on [seminal Zeppelin album] 'Physical Graffiti,'" he said of making the new Sanctuary set and working with this band of younger musicians. "I was compelled by the power of the music to say something."

Tracing his affair with "the blue note," Plant remembered Elvis Presley as his biggest influence, which led him to dig deeply into the artist's American blues influences. "He really opened the door to my whole love of music," he said."

"I didn't know anything about the references," he said of the first time Presley's music grabbed him. "But it was all there... you ask where it came from -- it was him. He was just amazing. He was spectacular."

Plant followed the keynote interview with a midnight performance last night at the Austin Music Hall.

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