He’s the greatest Irish rocker you’ve never heard of!
For the last thirty three years a former league of Ireland goalkeeper, who turned pensioner this year has been the front man for the worlds biggest Led Zeppelin tribute band Led Zepagain who regularly play to crowds of over 10,000 people.
David ‘Swan’ Montgomery starred in goal for his home town club, Drogheda, in the 1974/75 season and was good enough to have scouts from Manchester United and Chelsea come knocking on his door.
But in 1979 a mate played him tracks from a Led Zeppelin album and the gloves were off, to be replaced by a guitar.
Based in Hollywood for almost thirty years, Montgomery recalls, ‘Could I have made it at football, possibly, I was good but whether I was good enough is another thing, the scouts did check me out but nothing ever came of it, and locally there was a lot of politics involved in the game it was who you knew rather than how good you were.
‘I did play for Drogheda so perhaps that was my level, I have no regrets with the way things turned out apart from the fact I am a Chelsea fan and back then Peter Bonetti was the best goalie around in my opinion so yeah I’d love to have got a chance there’.
Music gradually replaced shot stopping, but before departing Ireland Montgomery created a unique record locally.
‘I was a real hippy, long hair bell bottom trousers that sort of thing and to this day I am the only act to be banned from two different venues in Drogheda because of the crowd I was attracting.
‘I headed for London and was with a group there which was doing well when I got a call from a band called Carrera who were just about to sign a record deal in the States when their vocalist had a breakdown so they needed a singer in a hurry and I got the gig’.
He’s been in America since and was offered the Zepagain role shortly after arriving.
It’s seen him portray Zeppelin’s lead singer Robert Plant, and, naturally enough, he’s been mistaken for his alter ego, most famously before a show in Argentina.
‘We arrived in the airport and saw a few people starting to look at us which was nothing unusual, but the next thing word got out that Zeppelin were in town and the numbers started to grow, then from nowhere security arrived grabbed us and rushed us into a fleet of cars which took us to the hotel.
‘As all this was happening I was trying my best to explain we were only a tribute band and not the real deal but the language barrier was too much so we just went along with it.’
Montgomery took the name ‘Swan’ because as he explains, ‘Everyone in the rock scene in Hollywood where we are living has a stage name and I based it on the old Irish story the children of Lir’, and admits he was caught off guard one night when members of the real Zeppelin arrived at a show.
‘Jimmy Page turned up at a gig we were doing in the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard. He met with us after the show and admitted he was impressed, he actually said “ You must have studied us very closely as you are as close to the real deal as is possible. You play like your inside the music and not just performing it”.
‘ I have also met Robert Plant on numerous occasions and we were also invited by the band to come see them perform at the O2 Arena in London for the reunion in 2007 .
‘Led Zepagain is world wide phenomenon, we travel and perform regularly in Japan South America Canada Europe Russia, Ireland , Kosovo, Bosnia, Germany, Poland and many other places so yes we are still touring regularly.
‘I’ve played Drogheda with them which was a real buzz bringing my life as it is now back to my roots.’
Despite having turned sixty five this year Montgomery has no plans to take it easy.
‘There is also another side of me in performing outside of Robert Plant as I have a solo career which I write my own music in the world music style. I am writing a show at the moment called OGHAM it’s about the Celtic alphabet which I bring to life on stage while performing all original music due out in 2021
‘ I have no intention of retiring anytime soon I will go on as long as I possibly can as long as I still can go out there doing what I do and even more so still breath in my lungs .
‘I believe life is supposed to work out the way it’s going to I’ve been very happy and blessed in my position with my profession and I think if I was supposed to be a famous goalkeeper then that would have been the net result and I would have been one but my destiny was to be a musician and I’m very happy with the way it’s turned out.’.