My original idea for the opening tracks of ‘Houses of the Holy’ was that ‘The Song Remains the Same’ (originally called ‘The Overture’) would be a rousing instrumental introduction with layered electric guitars that would then segue into the next one, later to be titled ‘The Rain Song’.
Again there would be a contrasting acoustic instrumental movement that led to the first vocal of the album and the first verse of the song. During the routining of ‘The Song Remains the Same’, (then titled ‘The Plumpton and Worcester Races’), the half time vocal section was born and ‘The Overture’ shaped into a song. These rehearsals were done in Puddletown, on the River Piddle in Dorset.
When we came to record this on 18th May 1972 on The Rolling Stones’ mobile truck at Stargroves, the backing track of ‘The Song Remains the Same’ was played on a Fender electric 12-string, with Les Paul overdubs and standard tuning. ‘The Rain Song’ was in an unorthodox tuning on the six-string. On live shows it became a workout feature for the double neck.
‘WILL YOU FOLLOW ME’ / ‘HEAD DEATH’ WAS RELEASED BY PAUL
Today saw the 1966 release of the Dylan-esque ‘Will You Follow Me’, written and sung by Paul Bedford; a guitar-playing troubadour and street musician who was playing in London’s Soho.
It was produced in a vein of all that was apparently current at that time on the tightest of budgets, but he had a talent for writing narratives like ‘Head Death’. I lost touch with him when I joined The Yardbirds. His uncle, Brian Bedford, was in the Oscar-winning film Grand Prix.
BOBBY GRAHAM RELEASED ‘SKIN DEEP’/’ZOOM, WIDGE AND WAG’
Today sees the 1965 release of ‘Skin Deep’ / ‘Zoom, Widge And Wag’ by Bobby Graham, the legendary session drummer who had played with Joe Brown and the Bruvvers prior to his session work, which included:
- ‘You Really Got Me’ (The Kinks) - ‘Downtown’ (Petula Clark) - ‘You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me’ (Dusty Springfield) - ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’ (The Walker Brothers) - ‘Hold Me’ (P.J. Proby) - ‘Bits and Pieces’ (The Dave Clark Five)
He had been given a solo deal and his first single was ‘Skin Deep’ - a classic Gene Krupa number - and I wrote the b-side with him: Zoom was his wife, Widge his daughter and Wag their dog. Bobby died in September 2009. I miss him - he was a passionate drummer who understood his drums and how to inject energy into a session.
The footage was Bobby’s and shows the original location of Olympic Studios, previously a synagogue in Carlton Mews near Baker Street in London; it shows he and I arriving. Bobby went on to produce amongst others, The Pretty Things’ Don’t Bring Me Down and the infamous Mandy Rice-Davies, however I wasn’t invited to that session.
I intended to be in Guadalupa for New Year’s eve but began travelling rather late and ended up en route in Mexico City, where I discovered miniatures of Mezcal Tequila - complete with worm - and the pyramids of the sun and the moon.
The music by Peruvian Yma Sumac, who is probably a reincarnated Priestess of the Inca, provides the mystery and ritual just to sonically enhance the image.
The first playing I did after Led Zeppelin split up was with Chris Squire and Alan White - the rhythm section of Yes. They got in contact and said they had some material and I said I had a studio. This was the best medicine I could have had at this time and I knew that playing with them might be quite challenging, knowing the quality and precision of the music they had established with Yes. In fact, the combination of the three of us proved to be substantial. Chris had supplied bass, piano and vocals, with Alan on backing vocals and drums. Chris even had a name for the outfit - XYZ - and I believe they hoped Robert Plant would have a listen but I think he was occupied. And the party was over. However, the music that was done at this point was really good. Here is a sample of Rock & Ruin - a rough mix of something I presented to them, but their songs were more impressive.
Merry Christmas and seasons greetings one and all. A big thanks to The Youngsters for the seasonal gem ‘Christmas In Jail’. The Youngsters were fronted by Charles Everidge and this classic from 1956 was on Empire Records in Hollywood, California in the good old US of A.
I WAS RECORDING IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR AT POLAR STUDIOS, STOCKHOLM
Midway through the final week at Polar Studios in Stockholm with a few guitar overdubs and the final mixes undertaken, I was now well on the way to completing what would become Led Zeppelin’s final studio album, to be titled ‘In Through the Out Door’ — Robert Plant’s title.
I was at Little Mountain Studios engineering the Coverdale-Page album
BOYS ARE FEELING HOT TONIGHT!
At this time, David Coverdale and I were at Little Mountain Studios in Vancouver with Mike Fraser, engineering what would become the Coverdale-Page album. The music featured here is from the very first days of getting together to write at David’s home near Lake Tahoe. It’s rough and ready; vocal, guitar and drum machine with a rockabilly edge (only missing an upright slap bass). I think it reflects the joint enthusiasm for the project.
In 1965, I was asked to be on a session at Kingsway Studios, Holborn, London. It was for Donovan. One of the songs recorded that afternoon was Sunshine Superman; it was a massive hit in the UK and the US. I got to work with Donovan as a hired hand on a number of tracks on Hurdy Gurdy Man.
In June 2011, I was asked to play Sunshine Superman with Donovan at the Royal Albert Hall. It was a concert of many textures and colours, a tapestry of delights as the Sunshine Troubador showcase his illustrious career.
After the original ARMS show at the Royal Albert Hall, there was great interest from the artists involved when it was suggested that we do a short American tour. Bill Graham, with his entrepreneurial and promotional skills, magically set up a number of dates in the US. Everybody came over with the exception of Steve Winwood, whose slot was taken by Joe Cocker. I’d invited Paul Rodgers to come on the ARMS tour and he graciously accepted. We had a good chemistry onstage and that added a hell of a lot to my set. At the time I had been writing some new material with Paul, including Midnight Moonlight. It was great to see Ronnie Lane again and there was a spirit of goodwill and camaraderie between the artists that endured throughout the tour.
Music Featured: Layla (ARMS - Live in New York, 1983)
I PLAYED HOLLOWAY PRISON WITH NEIL CHRISTIAN AND THE CRUSADERS
During my time with Neil Christian and the Crusaders, the band had somehow managed to get a booking to do a concert at Holloway Women’s Prison, London. Before playing we had to go to the Governor’s office where she asked us to give our word that if we knew anyone on the inside we would keep it a secret on the outside. We played a show to the inmates who were dressed in washed out yellow, green, blue and red faded floral print dresses and wearing homemade mascara, using the charcoal from burnt matches. After the show it became evident that quite a large percentage of the women enjoyed themselves as by the time we got back to the Governor’s office we could hear the prisoners rioting. But strangely the Governor appeared oblivious to the hubbub.
AUDIO: Hall Of The Mountain King (Neil Christian and the Crusaders)
I appeared with Robert Plant on the Andrew Denton Show
On this day in 1994, I appeared with Robert Plant on the Andrew Denton Show on the Seven Network in Australia during the ‘round the world’ promo for Unledded. We incorporated some didgeridoo players to help us through a version of ‘Sun Arise’ which was a tribute to Rolf Harris. Andrew Denton was a very bright man and on his previous award winning series ‘The Money or the Gun’ each of the 26 shows had a special guest invited to do anything they wanted providing it was ‘Stairway To Heaven’ and consequently, ‘Stairway’ moved into the genres of Opera, The Doors, theatrical monologue, The B52’s and amongst others, Rolf Harris. So, for those who heard Rolf Harris’ amusing version in isolation, you may now get the idea of Denton’s master plan. It was an amusing idea and good to be on his show to share the humour.
Watch Page and Plant’s appearance on the Andrew Denton Show
I WAS PRODUCING IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR AT POLAR STUDIOS, STOCKHOLM
Polar Studios in Stockholm had been set up by Abba’s Bjorn and Benny in 1977. They were keen to have an international group record there and I was personally contacted by a representative of the studios who offered three weeks free recording time. This seemed a sound idea to go there to produce what was to become our eighth studio album - In Through the Out Door. We’d been playing around with some ideas at Clearwell Castle in Gloucestershire, UK but then went into Easy Hire, a rehearsal studio in North London, where most of the material that would surface on the album was routined.
When we arrived in Stockholm, it was well into their winter, there was heavy snow in the streets and very, very cold. Polar was a state of the art studio for its time, but not particularly ambient. It took a couple of days to get used to this. We worked on the first track that was to become ‘Ozone Baby’ and on this day ‘South Bound Saurez’ had been recorded. Juices were flowing and the recording process was now fully underway.
I PLAYED ON JACKIE DESHANNON’S RELEASE ‘DON’T TURN YOUR BACK ON ME’
Jackie DeShannon came to London and there was a session at EMI Number Two Studio to record her song ‘Don’t Turn Your Back on Me’. She was a prolific songwriter and had written ‘Needles and Pins’ and ‘When You Walk In The Room’ which had been covered by Liverpool group ‘The Searchers’.
The musical arranger was Charles Blackwell, but apparently he hadn’t transcribed the guitar riff the way she had written it and she came to grips with the guitar to illustrate how it was originally written. It just so happened that a photographer captured this moment. By the time this was released, Jackie DeShannon and I had written some songs together.
AUDIO: Don’t Turn Your Back on Me (Jackie DeShannon)