Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Friday, January 5, 2018

Still coming to a bookstore near you

Last May I posted about a book I've been wrestling with since 2009, Evolution Device.  I had hoped to get at least a digital version online before now, but that hasn't happened.  What happened instead was a professional editor.

I thought the book was ready to go.  But no.  I didn't realize what I was getting into with a pro editor, because, silly me, I thought that the book was nearly ready for publication.  I thought maybe I'd just pay this editor to nitpick the manuscript and I'd be giving readings and autographing books in bookstores in short order.


The editor was kind.  She softened the critique by letting me know the book had potential  But then she identified a few plot points she didn't understand and other areas that she had questions about. 

Three pages of areas that she had questions about.

At first I was overwhelmed.  I waited a few days, then started with some of the issues that looked easiest to fix.  Was that  movie star I referred to really a star in that year?  Why did that character just disappear?  Why was I spelling Magick the way I was spelling it, and would readers understand what I meant?

Other issues were not so easy.  If they weren't fixed they could end up becoming fatal flaws.  Some of the problems had come about because I was tired of reading my own writing over and over again.  Some of it was because reading my own writing over and over again caused a kind of editing blindness.  That's when I just don't see what's actually on the page, I instead see what I intended to be on the page.

Which is why I hired a professional editor in the first place.

And the result is...

Now the manuscript is shorter because I ended the tale in a different place.  It's tighter because I corrected a point of view continuity problem that, in doing so, fixed other problems.  I took out some backstory that just wasn't necessary.  I added a couple plot twists in passing, and I fleshed out a few characters that could use the extra weight of words.

I had no idea I could do all that.  I impressed myself mightily. 

But it's not over yet

You'd think by now I'd be sick of this whole thing, but au contraire!  Just this afternoon I finished editing a print-out of the manuscript, all 345 pages of it.  It took three days.  When I was done with the last page, amazingly, I still loved my book. 

So hey, I've got a fan-base of one already!

The manuscript goes back to the editor after I've made the corrections to the digital file, probably in just a day or two.  She had told me that if I resolved the issues she had pointed out, it'd be ready for an agent.  Those words alone kept me going at the revision.  But she's a pro, she knows when to use the whip and when to use the carrot.

Once she's done with it the manuscript will be copy-edited, because I want a candidate agent and/or publisher to have a polished novel to enjoy without the distracting goofs, typos, and dumbnesses that can ruin the reading experience.

And oh, the blurb

A blurb is a description of a book in a few short paragraphs that gives potential readers an idea of what the book's about.  It might appear on a back cover or on Amazon or be sent to a book reviewer -- it's a worm on a hook to get people to buy a book (you didn't know I was a poet, did you?).  Almost a year ago in my blog post about this book, I provided a draft of a blurb, but I think this one is better.  It is, of course, subject to change.

Evolution Device
They call it a gift, but sometimes gifts are really curses.  
Eddie Edmunds was born to be a shaman to his people in remote New Mexico.  Instead he finds himself on the slippery path of fame and fortune as a rock guitarist in music-crazed London in the early 1970s.   
Eddie's gift is not what it seems.  His extraordinary skills with music are actually manifestation of a power that some would consider magic.  When Eddie inadvertently calls his Muse into physical being, Lilith must learn how to act in a human world where she has no place, and where being in a physical body is not always what it was expected to be. 
Lilith must not only be the Muse who provides inspiration for Eddie's music, but she must provide a way for him face his fears.  He must control his gift before he -- and she -- are destroyed by the wild power.  


I've also been playing with book covers, not that a publisher normally lets an author have a say in that.  Here's one I did early on that I still very much like.

Example cover for the novel Evolution Device

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Jimmy Page Academy of Achievement Interview

October 19, 2017
Jimmy Page
Guitarist and Founder of Led Zeppelin

transcribed by Lif Strand

Jimmy Page started Led Zeppelin immediately after the breakup of his previous group, the Yardbirds.

Jimmy Page:  The Yardbirds, through their last date I think the beginning of July.  And during August, I managed to find -- yeah, like the first of July or something -- during August I managed to work -- I find Robert Plant and I work with Robert Plant, I get him to my house and I play him various ideas of things that  I want to do on this album.  I had a very clear idea of what would work at that point in time with the FM radio in America that was just about getting to the point where they were playing whole sides of albums.  I realized that if you had an album that had each track almost setting up... as you listened to one track it would set up the second track.  Because it would be such a diversity upon the album of different styles and different moods that it would capture people's imagination when they listened to it.  And now we had the vehicle with the FM radio to be able to do that. So yeah I had very clear ideas of the material that I wanted to do.  And I had written Communication Breakdown.  I had the whole chart really, for Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, and yeah, so I worked with him.  It was just he and I and I played him some material I had done with the Yardbirds, like Dazed and Confused.  He recommended a drummer that was John Bonham.  I'd seen John Bonham play.  I felt him play, actually, it was quite an experience.  He was playing with a musician called Tim Rose, who wrote Morning Dew, I think he might have written Hey Joe as well, that Jimi Hendrix did.  So there were now sort of a possible three, and John Paul Jones heard I was getting a band together and called me up and said, I hear you're putting a band together, would you consider me on bass.  And I said, okay, marvelous.  Because I'd played with him in the studios in various sessions.  Robert had had a short time when he played with John Bonham, but John Bonham was off and you know,  playing around, and starting to make a name for himself outside of Birmingham.  
We had this one rehearsal in this small rehearsal room, not as large as this room, even, and we all knew instinctively from that point that that we'd never felt anything like that before.  Because it was four musical equals with this sort of communion and from that point I got everybody to come to my house and we started rehearsing and recording, and as I say, it's a very fast route, because it's Yardbirds break up in July, August rehearsals.  We're actually recording by the end of September and we've done some dates in Scandinavia, which were a handful of dates but it was good as a [ ] to play the material live and we had a set together of other material as well as our own material.  So that we could do that in front of an audience before we went into record.  So we could keep the thing really fresh but any alterations we need to make we could do rather than waste lots of time in the studio.  So the first album was done in collectively thirty hours, from the time we went in there and mixed it.  So that's pretty extraordinary.

The name of the new group was recommended by Page's friend, Keith Moon, drummer for The Who.

Jimmy Page:  It was a name that Keith Moon has mentioned some time back.  I asked him... he was talking about wouldn't it be fun called Led Zeppelin, and I asked him if we could use the name.  Because I was going to be in this band of Led Zeppelin with Keith Moon and Jeff Beck.  So yeah, when we were playing in Scandinavia we were out there as sort of New Yardbirds, as a cloak of invisibility, really, and even on the first recordings it said Yardbirds on the box, because I didn't want anybody to know what the name of the band was until we were really officially unveiled it.  That base of the album was it.  We came over to the United States, I think right on Christmas of 1968 and then we played some concerts and then we came to the west coast and played Los Angeles and the Fillmore.  What happened at the Fillmore was that we had an extra night put in and we just tore it up.  We tore it up.  The band that was supposed to be playing there didn't come, and they were just sort of jamming.  Of course we had this really hard set.  The whole of the United States got to hear about this group that now had the record out in the early part of January.  The record was being played all over the United States and it was by radio because of course there wasn't cell phones, it wasn't the internet, it was word by radio that this band was just incredible.  As we moved across the United States, by say March --  we were on the... maybe even before that -- February or March we were on the east coast and the west coast, and people were coming to see us.  It was incredible because the reception was amazing.  And it was incredible.  But here comes the interesting thing.  Was for that point onwards we were never able to satisfy the demand of people who came to see us. We were doing multiple days in cities and we would still just sell out, sell out, over all the years that we played.  So that’s pretty.  Pretty good sort of CV really. [laughs]

Led Zeppelin made their first tour of America as the tumultuous 1960s were coming to a close.
JP:  I remember being with the Yardbirds and passing the hotel where Martin Luther King had been at that time that he had been assassinated he had stayed at the hotel.  The times were so... were such an upheaval.  There was so much... with the loss of the Kennedys as well, that suddenly it was becoming a serial nature and it was so distressing for the people of the time that had so much hope.  I must say it was... there were mixed audiences, I can tell you that much.  There were mixed audiences, black and white.  You'd see the number of black people come to the concerts.  Once Martin Luther King got shot that changed.

"Did the spirit of the times affect your music?"

JP:  There had been such a positive movement, I know we can laugh about the flower power movement, but there was peace and love...was certainly something that we could all benefit by and live by, that's for sure.  The protests of the Vietnam war were profound.  Absolutely.  How it would affect it, the music was as [ ] a product of the times at that time.  As far as the music went–

At the time, I wanted to lay something which was new, in so much that there would be four super stars in the band, that they if you listen to the records you would be able to ... listen to it and them playing to them as an ensemble.... or you could listen to it and just listen to what the drummer's doing.  Or you could listen to what the guitarist is doing, or the bass, or the keyboard, or the vocals -- you can just appreciate exactly what that input is.  Because it wasn't just one super star with a collective, this was exactly what I wanted to do.  So the music would actually work at counterpoint.  And that's exactly what it was.  So it was something within the music, something really new, something for people to enjoy and connect with.  Because in those days, that's what people had, was their music.  It wasn't like things are today. They didn't have so many things to amuse them.  But music was what they really followed, and they really enjoyed.  That was their release.  Also, if they follow the band, and the band was to fragment, and one member would have a band over here and another over here, then they would follow them.  It was really.. so that was very helpful for me, because with the Yardbirds I had built up a cult audience as a guitarist, you see.

Led Zeppelin's fame grew more quickly in America than in their native Britain.

JP:  It was interesting because over here it was slow because we spent a lot of time in America.  Cause once that once that door... there was a glimmer of light behind that door.  We sort of pushed that open and went in.  You were allowed to perform and play there and be in America six months in a year but not beyond.  As you know it’s a massive continent and we spent as much time as we could to play in all manner of states.

Surviving life on the road...

JP:  Certainly within the vehicle of Led Zeppelin there was so much improvisation that was employed within the framework of a number.  And our sets went from, well, in those early days they were maybe an hour, hour and twenty minutes, to three hours, three and a half hours.  Because we were jamming and making up music there and then on the spot.  Because the thing about the band was that you would have to be listening all the time to what everyone else was doing. So if I was to take a different shift, a different route on the guitar, they'd be with you like that.  Or if Robert was going to sing... if you were going into a quiet passage and Robert would start singing something you'd be straight with him on it with something that was new, new chord structures.  It was a pretty extraordinary thing.  So there were frameworks to numbers but there were whole areas for improvisation.  So prior to going on the stage, you'd have to be very focused so that you could really--  especially if you were starting with something like, Song Remains the Same, which is pretty testy song, and yeah, you'd need to be very focused to go on and kick off with something like that.  As I may have mentioned before, you wouldn't know what was going to happen within those three hours because so many things would come up.  You wouldn't necessarily remember everything that had gone on either.  So it was pretty good.  There were so many bootlegs that I managed to listen to, with all these different concerts -- some of them really dramatically different from night to night -- to hear just exactly how marvelous we were.

Surviving life on the road...

JP:  The thing about the music was that was it.  That was the intoxicant of the whole thing.  It was something purely for the fact that if you're playing for two and half three hours, sometimes to three and a half hours,  you build up so much adrenaline from that that when you come off the stage you couldn't possibly just go home and just sort of go to bed.  So you would go out and you'd go to maybe clubs or whatever, just to sort of start stabilizing again. Really the intoxicant was the music.  There's no denying that.

"How do you take care of yourself?"

JP:  How do I take care of myself?  Well, let's see.  I don't drink alcohol.  I think that makes quite a difference because it got to the point where I was in my 50s and I thought I'm probably, I've got a good shot at getting to my 70s here.. If I... I wasn't drinking alcohol to any excess but I thought it was a good idea to stop drinking and so that's a good number of years ago now.  I used to smoke cigarettes, and I stopped drinking, cigarettes.. and so that was a bit of a sort of maintenance plan for the future.  [laughs]  Yeah.  I don't know what it was.  It's in the early, when you're in a teenager.  Well, actually people drink in a totally different way now, certainly do over here anyway, unfortunately, to what we used to drink when we were teenagers and in our twenties.  But hangovers were sort of nonexistent in that teens because you didn't really drink very much and then when maybe you were in your thirties you'd get a hangover which would go into the following morning, and as decades go by you'd go when you had a night of drinking it might even go into a second day.  I didn't enjoy that.  I didn't like the idea of either having a drink or be having a hangover and the effects of it and I just gave up on that idea.  

Led Zeppelin didn't play many concerts after 1980 but one of the concerts we played was actually ten years ago this December in 2007 at the O2.  And that was with the son of John Bonham playing the drums, and John Paul Jones himself, and Robert Plant.  That was an interesting concert because we played about two hours and twenty minutes, so it was still  in the tradition of long sets.  Not three and a half hours, but two hours and twenty minutes.  Of course you go on and you have to remember everything that you're going to do, and you also need to have those areas where you can have free improvisation, because it to have truth in spirit of what the adventure was about in the first place.  I played that totally sober.  Just as an example.


JP:  Pretty much most of the time if I wasn't touring with Led Zeppelin I would be working at home on the guitar, I'd be working on pieces of music that I would think and direct towards the next album that would be recorded when that time would come.  I had one piece of music that was an absolute epic and I'd -- overlaid bass and electric guitars -- it was an acoustic guitar piece to start with -- and the Mellotron would allow you to play the keyboard way at the time...string sections, and brass, etc.  I had this piece and it was really quite ambitious at the time.  Right at the very end of this guitar noodling, there was this phrase, and it went [sings riff] and I thought, that 's really wonderful -- all this other stuff you've got -- but that, that's really interesting.  I started to play it and I realized you could play it in this mentric fashion, it was almost a round, where it would come round upon itself.  That first phrase -- because it's back to front from the way it is on the record -- I thought if that is played over this sort of mentric riff, this cascading -- and I though at the time, brass -- it's gonna be really interesting.  It's Kashmir, of course.  I thought of that and it sort of.. the density of it and then we'll say the depth, because the density comes in something like When the Levee Breaks, which is really dense.  I visualized it with orchestra.  So yeah, I could see it and I could hear it.  I could hear it.  

I think When the Levee Breaks was groundbreaking at the time.  I think the very first album of Led Zeppelin, it changed everything, in the way people recorded.  Then they went into the world of ambient recording.  Yes. The first album was full of so many ideas that hadn't been done before.  That has to be said, that's at the top of the list, really because without the first album there wouldn't have been the second album.

The impact and influence of Led Zeppelin...

JP:  When I formed Led Zeppelin I formed it with the idea and the ethos that it was going to change music.  That's what I wanted to do. And it clearly did.  It clearly did.  It brought to the forefront these master craftsmen that were involved with that band.  The interesting part of it all is that here I am, and here I am now.  At twenty-four when I formed that band and I'm seventy-three now... the lifetime achievement of it is the fact that even from the time that that first album came out, even though I'd been a studio musician and played on countless records and albums, the amount of people I've met throughout my life since the age of twenty-four said that Led Zeppelin music has meant so much to their lives.  That's a wonderful thing, a remarkable thing.  To know that you've made a difference in people's lives. But not only that, in parallel with that, is the young musicians who have been impressed by the production techniques, by the guitar playing and the various styles of the guitar playing, by the song writing, and they've been inspired to be musicians themselves.  That's a wonderful legacy to have. To know that you've been able to do something which has made a change, something which was your hobby, something which was your passion, something which you believed in all the way through -- you wouldn't deviate from it.  The thing that you believe that you have to do is keep making an improvement for your own personal performance.  And what you can do in expanding the whole horizons of everything.  

That's very difficult to actually convey it because I think music is something that you actually... spirit--  you feel it on an emotional level as well as an intellectual level.  But in a way it needs to be -- it's good to actually hear the music to be able to give examples -- but I know, I know instinctively that the various construction that was used in the music of Led Zeppelin and the sort of... like example a song like Babe I'm Gonna Leave You, Ramble On, has got acoustic guitar and then comes into a prolonged ensemble chorus which people would refer to that as a power chorus.  Well, I know all bands in the 1980s were using that technique.  I think just the whole approach to it, the whole taste that was employed, had a lot of appreciation.

Learning by imitation

JP:  I learned from records when I was a teenager.  So I wasn't necessarily copying them, but I was learning almost like an academic.  I was learning and then was recreating what they did.  But then I started to try and do things in the spirit of what that was. Or within that Chicago movement in the 1950s, that sort of thing, the riffs that they did.  It's not necessarily copying, but people can definitely use the work that I've done, or Led Zeppelin or any of the work -- it's a textbook.  And it's a jolly good textbook at that.  See, you don't have to Play in a Day now, the book Play In A Day, you can source it on the internet.

"How did you begin playing guitar?"

JP: I guess we have to go back to when I was about twelve years old.  My parents moved house when I was about eight.  And there was a guitar that was left behind at the house.  It was a campfire guitar, the sort of cowboy one with this hole.  It couldn't be called a Flamenco guitar.  It had steel strings on it which was pretty interesting, because normally if you found one of those guitars around it might have the nylon strings.  But steel strings.  And fortunately it didn't get thrown away. So it had been there for quite a while at the house.  During that time in the fifties there had been the explosion of rock and roll with Elvis Presley and all this wonderful music that was coming from American. With the rockabilly and the Little Richard sort of music, Jerry Lee Lewis, all this wave of music.  But over here in England there was also something called skiffle, and skiffle was something that you would actually see on the television performed by a man called Lonnie Donegan.  Lonnie Donegan was quite an inspiration.  I realize now looking back -- all guitarists at that point on time -- he would be singing songs, folk songs by American musicians, Lead Belly songs, and he'd be playing on the acoustic guitar.  Remarkable performances that sort of captured everybody’s imaginations.  There was all this wonderful music coming from America but on our television screens there was this man playing an acoustic guitar -- like the campfire guitar that had been left behind at my house.  I managed to find somebody at school, there was only one other person who played the guitar.  He was actually one day on the school field playing these Lonnie Donegan songs.  I had a chat with him afterwards.  I said, I've got one of those at home.  He said, bring it along to school and I'll tune it up for you and show you a couple of chords.  So the playing guitar point came from that sort of... the intervention of the guitar, it's sort of Excalibur isn't it, basically, but also the fact that this guy shows me some chords.  I start playing because I don't stop playing from that point, even though I can only play one chord and a second chord I'm just playing all the time until I learn some more chords.  It sort of keeps going on. 

It got to the point where I was going to do a trade-up.  I needed to get a guitar that was a little more user friendly let's put it that way.  My father said, well I can see you're coming on well with this.  He said, I don't understand it, I don't understand what you're doing but I'm not going to get in the way of it.  He actually helped me get the first guitar on from the campfire guitar.  He said, providing you keep up with your academic studies, then that's fine.

Jimmy Page made his first television appearance at age 13.

JP: It was a program called All Your Own.  There was a name of the band... I've actually got the script  from the TV show and it has various things that are going to be within the show of All Your Own.  It just said The Skifflers. [laughs]  I've always said there must have been hundreds of skiffle groups in England at the time, we were just referred to as The Skifflers.  I was very, very nervous.  Yeah, I can see how nervous I m when I see that clip.  Because it was a big deal.  You're going to be on television which meant people, your school friends would say look, that's the boy who's at school.  He's always playing the guitar if he can get away with it.  In lunch break, etc.  I must say that it got to the point when my guitar was actually confiscated because I would take it to play it at during recesses and breaks.  I was so connected to the instrument, I was constantly wanting to practice on it and I'd learn more things.

The appeal of the guitar

JP: I just had a connection with it.  I clearly did.  The fact that I could actually, well, I could play a chord on it and you'd just heard this thing going on, this wonderful resonance.  It’s a tactile instrument as well.  I've always thought that guitarists... through the years the guitarists that you know in any field -- well I don't know about classical so much, but certainly within the electric guitar, we'll say -- if you had four guitarists that you know and a guitar and an amplifier there, they would come and play it.  It would sound exactly like they sound because of the tactile aspect of the instrument.  It's an incredible phenomenon but it's absolutely true.  And yet I would play it and I wouldn’t sound like any of them.  It's an extraordinary thing but it has a lot to do with this tactile instrument.

I didn't have lessons.  I learned from a book called Play In A Day.  I learned from Play In A Day and many years later I became a studio musician.  The way the notation was in Play in a Day was exactly how the way the wrote out chord charts.  Yeah, it was very useful wasn't it.
I completed my studies at school and I decided to dive right into music.  I left school and I was already playing in a group.  I was playing in a group on weekends. They were a London group.  I was living at Epson, which was some distance.  It wasn't as though I was living in London but I was head hunted out of Epson to join this band. I was still at school.  I was fast approaching my exams.  After my exams we were able to do more concerts. We were touring around, all over England.

It was a lot of fun until it got to the winter.  Our van.. we had to drive between concerts.  The heater broke in the van.  You'd come out of a very hot dance hall and go into the van. It was pretty uncomfortable. I started to get a sequence of fevers.  It was purely because I wasn't dressing properly... coming off the stage, going through winter nights.  I was getting caught up with fevers and it was coming in a serial nature.  I don’t think it was fair on the rest of the band.  
One the things that was quite interesting at that point was that the music that we were playing was in advance of what the popular taste was.  It was to catch up some eighteen months, two years later, which is quite a long time really --  the way that music was moving really, really fast.  The way that fashion, musical fashion was changing and being explored and opening up.
We were playing in town halls and dance halls and court exchanges as well, all manners of venues.  The public that would come would come along to dance, some would come to really listen intently to the music, but you were expected to play top twenty hits.  I think this reflects in the Beatles' first album because you can hear that they're doing covers in the first album.  That's clearly the sort of things that they were doing in live shows.  We were doing the Chess catalog from Chicago, so we were doing Chuck Berry songs.  Yeah, it was in advance of the musical taste of what was going on.  I'd begun come to play harmonica as well as guitar.  I was always playing acoustic guitar as well as electric.  So I became quite a sort of all round musician.  I really paid a lot of attention to the blues.  Well, you had to if you do play harmonica. 
I went to art college anyway.  I decided to make a hiatus and go to art college.  Actually I wanted to study fine art, and techniques of oil painting.  In the foundation course at that time, it was acrylic paints, it was dull paints, everything what was currently, I guess, the fashionable media as opposed to the old painting.

From art student to session guitarist

JP: I was in art college.  I didn't stop playing.  I didn't stop playing the electric guitar.  There was a club in London called the Marquee Club.  It was a very famous club.  It was an R&B club.  Rhythm and blues.  I used to go along to, on a Thursday night regularly, to see the various artists who were there.  I met somebody who had been in a previous band.  He was a piano player and singer.  He said, we could play the interval band here if you want.  I said fine.  I mean, I'd never met him to this point. I said, okay, let's do that. So every Thursday night I was playing in the interval band.  Basically what happens at that point is that somebody asked me to play on a record.  I play on this record -- because I had a pretty distinctive guitar style.  You could hear that it was a different guitar player within this recording.  I started to get lots of offers but I'm still at art college, but I'm getting lots of offers  I'm fulfilling in the evening doing these sessions and still completing my studies, pretty much like I was a few years earlier where I was doing my academic subjects.  But then we had a recess.  It might have been Easter break or whatever.  I just had so many sessions coming my way.  I was doing sessions in the morning from ten o’clock to one, two o'clock to five, and seven o'clock to ten, in multiple locations in London like EMI, Decca, Pie, Phillips -- and when it was time to go back to art college, I thought I can't really do this.  I'm not being honest.  Somebody else could use my place there.  I'm having so much fun doing these recording sessions.  They were basically... I was sitting in with groups where they... in those days what they would do they would replace the drummer because the drums would take quite a while to get a balance in the recording studio,  so they'd bring in a session drummer where they knew immediately what his sound was going to be.  I'd be augmenting the groups or sometimes replacing the guitarist.  They would ask me on certain circumstances just to play whatever you want to play.  So it was invention and improvisation.  I had a good year of doing that.  Then they eventually from these little chord charts from Play in a Day I started to get some music notation.  Basically from what was a hint, you're really in, you're really in this world, and you’re accepted and we love you here and the part you play -- because I could play so many different styles of music.  I was also being employed in that way.  So folk music, and pop music, rock and roll music, blues music.  I would play what was there.  It was pretty obvious what you had to do. But  once you had the musical notation, then I had to learn to read music very, very quickly.  Curiously enough I met somebody last night, Dr. Luke, who's a producer, yeah?  And he was saying exactly the same thing happened to him. That he was doing sessions and then he had to-- that was in America.  I would assume that he was more of a specialist player, but I was a complete all rounder.  It was really working well.  

Somebody who I met when I was twelve year old.  I had a home-made bass and he had a home-made guitar.  He was brought to my house by his sister who was in art college in Epson -- was Jeff Beck.  I'd known Jeff Beck and I put Jeff into the role of the Yardbirds. We were very, very good friends.  He would come and visit me while I was in this whole incarnation of being a session musician.  He'd invited me to Yardbirds shows.  We'd also discuss the possibility that it would be really fun if we could both play together in the band on lead guitar and have something in the style of the old big bands, like Duke Ellington, County Basie, where you had the brass sections really, really strong, and with vibrant effect.  One night we went to Oxford to I think it was the Oxford Union dance, the May Ball, something like that.  That night there was a row with the band and the bass player left the band.  They had to play the Marquee, this Marquee Club. They didn't have anybody, couldn’t work out how they were going to get to fill in on bass.  So I volunteered to play bass so that we could then mutate into this plan of having Jeff and myself on lead guitars and the rhythm guitarist would take over the bass duties.  That's what happened.  So then the Yardbirds continued on, Jeff leaves the group, I continue as a foreman.  

I must say that... I need to retrace footsteps here.  During the time that I was a studio musician it was a remarkable apprenticeship.  Because the studio discipline that was that everything is literally within seconds on the clock.  If the session was scheduled from ten o'clock to one o'clock if the second hand went beyond, then you would be in overtime.  And so you had to be absolutely precise and you had to be able to deliver all the time.  If you hadn't you wouldn't be seen again.  There'd be somebody else coming in. It was a very closed shop but I was fortunate enough to get in there.

Learning recording techniques

JP: When I was a studio musician I'd done home recordings.  Where you overlay one guitar and another, the sort of thing that Les Paul would do -- but of course it wasn't anywhere near as sophisticated as Les Paul.  I would hear things on records and think I could work out how they would be done.  But now I had the opportunity to ask engineers how things were done.  I could play records to them and say how do you arrive at that?  How is that effect done?  Is that a natural echo chamber or is it a fabricated spring reverb, or whatever.  I could ask.  I got to learn how to do microphone placings.  There's a whole science to microphone placing.  I was a producer as well.  Now I come out of that world, I'm an active musician in the Yardbirds. But having a really, really good time.  I'm starting to really enjoy myself and be able to try some of the more avant garde ideas with the Yardbirds, even like playing the guitar with a bow, etc.  
Having been a studio musician I 'd seen drummers really playing their hearts out.  They'd be in this little booth which was totally dead, so there were no sound reflective surfaces whatsoever.  It would just sound like they were hitting a suitcase. You'd see they were quite frustrated when they'd hear the drum sound even though you weren't party to hearing playbacks sometimes when you were a studio musician.  You didn't know who you were going to play with because they'd just come walking through the door.  You were a hired hand.  So you didn't really have any say.  The drummers wouldn't be able to say, wouldn't it be better if.  That wasn't necessarily your job unless you were asked to.  What I knew was that I could see what a frustrating it would be for drummers.  The drum is an acoustic instrument.  It has a tone to it.  I knew that the recordings that I loved from the past, that there was certainly an ambience that used for the drums.  It wasn't just a close mic and no ambience within the room.  Certainly with the recording of John Bonham, who was a master craftsman and a genius of drum technique.  His technique of tuning the drums, you could hear them projecting.  It was so important to be able to capture that with overhead mics.  It's not necessarily rocket science, but all of this, all of the work I had done in the studio, especially the studio discipline, it was really.. just really came out.  It was an apprenticeship.

Learning to play guitar with a bow.

JP:  This is an interesting story because the string sections really didn't like.. I mean, they'd spent years mastering their bowing techniques.  There were these people like drummers and bass players and guitarists -- I think they thought they just made a bit of a noise rather than music as they saw music.  One of the violinists came to me one day.  He said, have you ever considered playing -- they just didn't talk to the other.  It was sort of them and us -- Have you ever considered playing the guitar with a bow?  I said, well I don't think it would work because the strings are uniform but a violin is arched, or a cello is arched.  And he said, here's my bow.  Would you like to try?  I said, absolutely.  I tried it.  I could see there was massive potential.  After that I went and bought my own bow.  This fellow was the father of an actor... David McCallum.  Man From Uncle, that's it.  So he was the father of Man From Uncle.  Very cool gentleman.

An exciting post-Zeppelin performance.... 

JP:  It was on top of a bus.  A double-decker bus.  And it was in Beijing at the Olympics.  It was the closing ceremony of the Olympics in 2008.  They were passing over the baton so to speak, to London.  I was there on behalf of London.  It was myself and the wonderful singer, called Leona Lewis.  We performed Whole Lotta Love.  The full version of Whole Lotta Love as well.  It was pretty amazing to play in the stadium there, which you know is the Birds Nest.  It was immense, it was a huge stadium.  I knew it was being televised all over the world.  I knew there was just one guitarist there and there was a heavy weight on his shoulders to not mess up.  Not to mess it up for Leona or anything else.  It was marvelous.  Absolutely marvelous.  As far as doing things in your comfort zone, or not in your comfort zone... that was challenging.  And the other thing was that you had to be elevated up into the air.  And that was interesting because I had a fear of heights before doing that, but I had to take that on and have a technique that I was shown by where you could conquer that.  So I thought that was rather interesting.
Somebody took me to the Royal Garden Hotel.  We were standing on the ledge.  It was somebody who was a sort of a hypnotist, who was showing me some techniques and...  Well it worked.

As a session guitarist, Jimmy Page played with the biggest names in Britain's music scene.

JP: As a studio musician I would be brought in to augment a band.  I worked with a producer, an American producer called Shel Talmy.  You didn't know who you would... you'd just be asked to take your guitar and your amplifier to a studio and then, lo and behold, in comes a band called The Who.  I had seen the Who play at the Marquee Club.  I thought what am I doing here,  Pete Townsend's an amazing guitarist.  Actually, I'm there on the first record called Can't Explain, playing the riff in the background.  You can't hear it, but I was on it.  It wasn't necessary, because Pete was flying during his playing on Can't Explain.  You can imagine what the energy was like in that studio when that was being recorded.  Marvelous to be a part of that.

I played on some various things of the Rolling Stones in the early days in the 60s when they were producing other artists and I was a studio musician.  I played on one of their albums.  I played on the track called One Hit to the Body, which was much later.  That was in the 80s.  I played the lead guitar.

A fortunate man...

JP:  I'm very grateful.  I'm a very fortunate man to have been blessed with a gift.  Within the area of performance with that gift I have brought so much happiness to people and inspiration to people. So it's good.  I'll be passing on the baton now, like the baton was passed on at Beijing.  It'll be like a musical Olympics, won't it.

The future of music...

JP:  Well it's young musicians and the way that the whole generation and the phenomena of musicians or producers --  who aren't actually musicians, but they can process music and construct music with computers.  It's pretty extraordinary and amazing stuff.  It still comes down to the theme of the idea in the first place, in the imagination.  Imagining this and working towards it.  Being able to manifest it.  As far as the tactile instruments, the acoustic instruments, there'll always be fine musicians, there'll always be new protégées in the field of obviously classical music, trained music, but also music which is relatively untrained as well.  Yes, which is sort of almost like a folk music, because it comes from the people.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin

JP: There'll be Led Zeppelin product coming out for sure, that people haven't heard.  I'm working on that.  Next year will be the 50th year, so there's all manner of surprises coming out.  And then I have to be seen to be playing, so I better get on with it.

"Stairway to Heaven"...

JP:  There's quite an achievement to have a record released in 1971 and people still refer to the solo, and as one of the best solos of all time.  It gets voted one of the best solos of all time over all the decades.  That's pretty extraordinary stuff.  Hmmm.  I may not be able to top that, you know.  I've only got a few years left.

♪  ♫  ♪  ♫  ♪  ♫  ♪  ♫  ♪  ♫  ♪  ♫  ♪  ♫  

The creative effort necessarily begins in solitude as the idea manifests to physical form. 
Once manifest, the Work becomes a new part of All That Is.  That's why we are here: to create.
I invite you be part of the Mage Music creative effort.  Your donation of any size will help fuel the Magick.  
Your reward will unfold in time.
Thank you.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Jimmy Page at ARMS

The ARMS concerts were a series of ten fundraisers for Action into Research for Multiple Sclerosis that took place from September through December 1983.  What was planned as a one-off at the Royal Albert Hall on 20 September, became a tour of nine shows with changing line-ups across North America.

Ronnie Lane, an English bass guitarist and founding member of the Small Faces (1965-69) and the Faces (1969–73) was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the late 1970s.  In 1983 Ronnie Lane's girlfriend, Boo Oldfield, approached producer Glyn Johns with the idea of a fundraiser to benefit ARMS, a group that was treating Lane for MS.  Johns was already producing a Prince's Trust Rock Gala (a youth charity) featuring Eric Clapton at Royal Albert Hall on 21 September 1983.

At the initial ARMS show each of the star artists performed mini-setlists. The show ended with three songs that all the ARMS musicians joined in.  The third and final song at RAH, Goodnight Irene, featuring Ronnie Lane.

Eric Clapton
•  Everybody Oughta Make A Change
•  Rita May
•  Lay Down Sally
•  Ramblin' On My Mind/Have You Ever Loved a Woman
•  Cocaine
Andy Fairweather Low
•  Man Smart (Woman Smarter)

Steve Winwood with Eric Clapton
•  Roadrunner
•  Take Me To The River
•  Slowdown Sundown
•  Gimme Some Lovin'

Jeff Beck
•  Star Cycle
•  The Pump
•  Goodbye Pork Pie Hat/Led Boots
•  Hi Ho Silver Lining
Jimmy Page
•  Prelude (with James Hooker)
•  City Sirens (with Steve Winwood )
•  Who's To Blame (with Steve Winwood )
•  Stairway to Heaven (Instrumental)
•  Tulsa Time
•  Layla
•  Goodnight, Irene (with Ronnie Lane)
Michael Palin said of Jimmy Page in his book Halfway to Hollywood: Diaries 1980--1988 (p 271),
"I am tempted by a phone call from Ray Cooper to attend the first of a two-night concert in aid of Multiple Sclerosis, in which many great rock stars of the '60's, all friends of Ronnie Lane who has MS, will be appearing, including Ray [on drums]...
...But even Ray is upstaged by the extraordinary appearance of Jimmy Page, who weaves his way around the stage like a man who has been frozen in the last stages of drunkenness, before actually falling over. He sways, reels, totters, bends, but still manages to play superbly."
Note that the second night's show was a charity concert, but not part of ARMS.

ARMS concert series
During the US tour Joe Cocker took lead vocals on With a Little Help from My Friends (Joe Cocker had recorded the Beatles cover in 1968 with Jimmy Page on guitar).  Steve Winwood was unable to do the tour, so Paul Rodgers was Jimmy Page's vocalist, which led to the later formation of The Firm.

Jimmy Page's sets during the US tour included:
•  Prelude
•  Who's To Blame
•  City Sirens
•  Boogie Mama
•  Bird On A Wing
•  Stairway To Heaven
•  Layla
•  With A Little Help From My Friends
•  Goodnight Irene

Royal Albert Hall
21 Sep 1983
Reunion Arena
28 Nov 1983
Reunion Arena
29 Nov 1983
Cow Palace
San Francisco
01 Dec 1983
Cow Palace
San Francisco
02 Dec 1983
Cow Palace
San Francisco
03 Dec 1983
Los Angeles
05 Dec 1983
Los Angeles
06 Dec 1983
Madison Square Garden
New York
08 Dec 1983
Madison Square Garden
New York
09 Dec 1983

Ronnie Lane emigrated to the US for his health in 1984. Lane continued to perform and record until 1992. Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood funded his medical care while Lane was in the US because no royalties were paid from the ARMS concerts until after Lane's death in 1997.