#OnThisDay in 1964, I arrived in New York in transit to Los Angeles as a guest of Bert Berns and his wife Ilene. It was my first time in the US. Bert was a legendary R&B producer and songwriter for Atlantic Records who was responsible for countless hits including The Isley Brothers' Twist & Shout, Irma Franklin's Piece of My Heart and Solomon Burke’s Everybody Needs Somebody. During my stay Bert took me to the legendary Brill Building and Atlantic Records where I met Jerry Wexler, Nesuhi Ertegun and Tom Dowd. When people visit America, the very first port of entry always has a lasting effect on them. It certainly did for me, feeling the energy of New York and being introduced to these musical icons. I had first met Bert when he came over to England. Atlantic Records were being distributed by Decca in the UK at the time. It was a pretty unique situation to have a producer come over from the States to work with in-house artists. One of the sessions that Bert did in London was Here Comes the Night with Lulu, which he was also to produce with Them. Lulu’s version was recorded in Decca Studios in Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead. She sings a really credible version, which is worth hearing. I played guitar on this and also did some guitar overdubs on it.
#OnThisDay in 1984, I played the Hammersmith Odeon with The Firm. This was the first of the two nights played with The Firm at the Hammersmith Odeon, London. Myself on guitar, Chris Slade on drums, Paul Rodgers on vocals, piano and guitar and Tony Franklin on hair and bass. Closer City Sirens Make Or Break The Morning After Together Cadillac Prelude Money Can't Buy Radioactive Live In Peace Midnight Moonlight You've lost That Loving Feeling Chase Guitar Solo Drum Solo Someone To Love Full Circle Boogie Mama Everybody Needs Somebody To Love
JP with his copy of the official 50th anniversary book 'Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin' published by Reel Art Press. Available now in book stores worldwide and online. For select stockists, please visit http://reelartpress.com. For your chance to feature on the official book Instagram account @ledzeppelinbook post a photo with your book and tag #ledzeppelinbook
#OnThisDay in 1972, Led Zeppelin played Green’s Playhouse in Glasgow. The venue felt like it had been in the same family for generations. It had originally been built to house vaudeville, theatrical drama, plays and musicals before it was a musical hall. By the time it had reached the 70s it had become home to a number of rock bands to feed Glasgow’s healthy appetite for rock. The playhouse gallantly showed its historic tradition with their motif displayed in the carpets that fitted the whole of the theatre and even the tea-cups for use in the dressing rooms had ‘Green’s’ written upon them, in green, naturally. It was a charming venue, unfortunately I heard that it closed in 1973 and was later demolished in 1987.
#OnThisDay 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.
#OnThisDay in 1996, I appeared on Channel V with Robert Plant. Robert Plant and I had been invited to accept an award from Channel V - India’s premier music channel - and we had won an award for longevity. The highlight of the show were to be Los Del Rios, whose Macarena song was a global hit at the time. Unfortunately at the last minute the duo pulled out of the trip as one of them had developed a sore throat; which was quite ironic considering they were going to mime. As it was, the chief dancer and choreographer of their video was to perform the song on her own. I believe this was the first time Channel V was doing this on an international level and now they had a bit of problem. They approached us to do something and of course we didn’t have any instruments and hadn’t rehearsed. It was suggested that we could mime Rock’n’Roll with Roger Taylor from Queen on drums (who was there to accept an award on behalf of Freddie Mercury) and a bass player from Goa. We agreed to it and did a quick rehearsal, I felt sorry for Channel V that they’d been let down by the Macarena boys. During the rehearsals the Goan bass player was well behaved but when it came to the show he suddenly developed a dose of Saint Vitus Dance and transformed into Billy Whiz crossed with the Flash. He couldn’t stop moving throughout the song and made it even more of a pantomime than it already was. But hey we did it and it was real good to be part of this special award show which is still being aired today.
#OnThisDay in 1985, I played in Stockholm with The Firm. After the ARMS tour, Paul Rodgers and I decided to make some music together. The Firm recorded an album and here we are on the first date of what was to be a substantial tour of Europe and the Americas. We were really looking forward to this gig. The band was good, the material was good, the audience was good. There is no doubt that there is a Swedish aesthetic and when you looked out into the audience - it was inspiring to say the least!
#OnThisDay in 1983, I played a concert in Dallas with ARMS. 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.
#OnThisDay in 1961, 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.
In May 1965, I experienced the genius of Bob Dylan at the Albert Hall. He accompanied himself on acoustic guitar and cascaded images and words from such songs as It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) and She Belongs To Me to a mesmerised audience. It was life changing. #OnThisDay in 2013, Bob Dylan played at the Albert Hall again - this was the first of three nights - when he would feature songs from his latest album Tempest and some re-arranged earlier material including She Belongs To Me and Tangled Up In Blue. It was intoxicating. I attended this concert with poet Scarlett Sabet.
#OnThisDay in 1998, Page and Plant played at the Olympiahalle in Munich, Germany, using the 'Stripped down and personal approach' on the 'Walking into Everywhere' tour. So walking into the Olympiahalle that night we played a substantial set: - The Wanton Song - Heartbreaker - What Is And What Should Never Be - Walking Into Clarksdale - No Quarter - When The World Was Young - Going To California - Tangerine - Gallows Pole - Heart In Your Hand - Babe I'm Gonna Leave You - Most High - How Many More Times (Including Down By The Seaside) - Ramble On - Whole Lotta Love (Including Who Do You Love) - Rock And Roll
#OnThisDay in 1971, I played Wembley Empire Pool with Led Zeppelin.Led Zeppelinin played the Electric Magic concert at Wembley Empire Pool in London. I went out front to hear Maggie Bells' Stone The Crows when it became apparent that the pool was frozen for an up and coming event and the seated audience were in danger of contracting frost bite. There followed a contest between Peter Grant and union officials about heating. When we played it was a foot stomping set.
#OnThisDay in 1998, I played in Milan with Robert Plant. This was my second attempt in the Page and Plant project to play Milan, after having been tear-gassed the first time with Led Zeppelin. During the morning of the show, there was a message from the festival site that it was waterlogged and they couldn’t get the trucks with our equipment in. However, the ever resourceful road crew managed to perform the near impossible and load in our equipment even though the trucks were getting stuck in the mud. When I arrived, I saw Terrence Trent D’Arby performing and he was really good, albeit a rain soaked performance. We performed our set and had an interesting communion with the inclement weather, then left Porl Thompson behind as he was to play with The Cure who were also on the bill, as we skidded and slid away from the festival site.
#OnThisDay in 1966, I played the Michigan State Fair with The Yardbirds. We played Michigan State Fair in Detroit, MI, where Dick Clark made an appearance to check in with his Caravan of Stars! This gave me an opportunity to meet Andy Warhol again, who had come to the fair to present the Velvet Underground.
#OnThisDay 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. 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 Beatles, The Doors, theatrical monologue and The B52s etc etc. You may now get the idea of Denton’s masterplan. It was an amusing idea and good to be on his show to share the humour.
#OnThisDay in 1984, I appeared with Roy Harper on The Old Grey Whistle Test. After having ascended the substantial height of Scafell Pike in the Lake District - the highest mountain in England - Roy Harper and I performed ‘The Same Old Rock’, where Mark Ellen from the BBC was in attendance, looking suspiciously like Paul McCartney. Needless to say, there had to be a duality in this because they switch from us on the mountain to the then new boys on the block Depeche Mode, a keyboard synthesiser band sitting in the comfort of the BBC studio criticising two acoustic guitar players up a mountain! To which my response was: "let's see them come up here with their battery packs and have a go!"
#OnThisDay in 1978, 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 have approached Fender to recreate my iconic hand-painted guitar. Together with the Fender Custom Shop we will release something truly special that captures it as it is, as it should be, and as it was. 50 years since the crescendo of The Yardbirds and the ignition of Led Zeppelin. Coming in January 2019.