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Atlantic Records has signed the hot new English group, Led Zeppelin, to a long term, exclusive recording contract. Although the exact terms of the deal are secret, it can be disclosed that it is one of the most substantial deals Atlantic has ever made. Agreement for the group's services was made between Jerry Wexler, Executive Vice President of Atlantic Records, and Peter Grant, manager of the group.
Led Zeppelin consists of four of the most exciting musicians performing in Britain today. They are Jimmy Page, leader of the group and lead guitarist; John Paul Jones, bassist, pianist, organist, arranger; John Bonham, drums; and Robert Plant, lead vocal and harmonica.
Jimmy Page is a former member of the Yardbirds, the group that spawned the careers of two other great musicians, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Page-joined the Yardbirds in 1966 and stayed with the group until it disbanded in the summer of 1968. Prior to joining the Yardbirds he was one of the busiest session men in London.
John Paul Jones is considered one of England's finest arrangers as well as an outstanding bass player. He is the arranger of Donovan's "Mellow Yellow", "Sunshine Superman", and "Hurdy Gurdy Man", and of the Rolling Stones' "She's A Rainbow."
Drummer John Bonham created a sensation with his drum solos while accompanying Tim Rose on his British tour in early 1968. Vocalist Robert Plant is considered one of England's outstanding young blues singers, and has been involved in singing blues since he was 15. All of the members of the group are in their early 20's.
The pulsations surrounding Led Zeppelin have intensified ever since the group recorded its first (and as yet unreleased) album, which was produced by Jimmy Page, just a month ago in London. Top English and American rock musicians who have heard the tracks have compared the LP to the best of Cream and Jimi Hendrix, and have called Led Zeppelin the next group to reach the heights achieved by Cream and Hendrix. This Led Zeppelin LP will be released by Atlantic early in January.
Led Zeppelin is the eighth British group to be signed by Atlantic during the past 24 months. The others are Cream, Bee Gees, Julie Driscoll-Brian Auger & The Trinity, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, The Marbles, The Magic Lantern, and Jimmy James C The Vagabonds.
One of Europe's foremost musicians, Jimmy Page embarked on his career at the age of 15, devoting equal time to playing with various groups while studying at a London art school.
His forte was to become session work, and the studio experience he gained from backing up such artists as Mick Jagger and Keith Richard, The Kinks and Donovan, to name a few, gave him a sound knowledge of production, put to extremely good use in the first Led Zeppelin album.
Jimmy joined the Yardbirds in 1966. His first performance with them occurred in London at less than five minutes notice when Paul Samwell Smith fell ill just prior to a performance and Jimmy offered to replace him for just that one show. The Yardbirds wanted Jimmy to stay but he refused their offer, choosing instead to return to his own busy schedule which sometimes included as many as three recording sessions a day.
However, when the Yardbirds offered him a U.S. tour, Jimmy Page reversed his decision, stating that maybe the time had come for him to start playing some of his own stuff. He played bass for that tour, and switched to lead guitar only after Jeff Beck fell out of several dates through illness.
When Jeff recovered, him and Jimmy Page played dual lead which continued after they returned to England and throughout a successful Rolling Stones tour.
Anxious to get back to his own session work, Jimmy was ready to leave the Yardbirds in 1967. But Jeff Beck quit instead and Jimmy stayed on until the entire group split to go their separate ways in the summer of 1968.
A remarkable point in Jimmy Page's career came when he produced an Eric Clapton single for Andrew Oldham's Immediate Records two and a half years ago, after Eric had left the Yardbirds. They went into the studio and cut "Witch Doctor" backed with "Telephone Blues," said to be one of the finest blues tracks ever recorded in England.
As a musician, Jimmy and Eric played together on an album titled "Blues Anytime", now a collector's item in England. Jimmy Page, the only unmarried member of Led Zeppelin, lives in a house supported by stilts in Pangborne on the River Thames. He owns a 20 foot motor launch fully equipped with an 8 track stereo tape system and has a studio in his home where he writes and the group sometimes rehearses. His house is furnished in 17th and 18th century antiques and has a huge, four poster bed.
A sought after arranger of great repute in England, John Paul Jones is the former bass player with Jet Harris and Tony Meehan, who broke away from Europe's top instrumental group, The Shadows, in the early 60'd, and found great success on their own. Today, Tony Meehan is a producer at British Decca, and until John Paul Jones joined Zeppelin the pair of them continued to work together on various recording sessions.
Like Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones has arranged and Played bass with several leading artists in the studio, his most memorable offerings being the arrangements on Donovan's "Mellow Yellow", "Sunshine Superman", "Hurdy Gurdy Man" (both the single and different tracks on the album), and for the Stones' "She's a Rainbow" and two tracks on "Their Satanic Majesties Request."
John Paul Jones played organ on the current Jeff Beck "Truth" album, and made one of his rare professional appearances playing bass for Dusty Springfield during her stint at London's Talk of the Town.
Though his brilliance as an arranger and musician brought him fame, John Paul Jones is in agreement with Jimmy Page that session work can be stultifying. The mood that he now creates in his playing, proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that he needed to make his move when he did.
Still too young to have an illustrious career behind him, John Bonham created a sensation with his drum solos while accompanying Tim Rose on his British tour in 1968.
In Jimmy Page's words, "I went to see him and couldn't believe how he was living his music. He's extremely inventive, more so than any other drummer I've heard. He does his drum solo with his hands' When he gets into a trip, the audience goes with him."
John Bonham comes from the industrial town of Birmingham. It is not the hub of British music, but in order to get his experience he played with as many groups as he could in the area and eventually joined one of the top local outfits, The Band of Joy. The Tim Rose jaunt brought John well deserved national acclaim and opened the door to the next chapter in his success story.
Married, and still living in Birmingham, John is, according to Jimmy Page, "The champion beer drinker in England'"
"Robert Plant's voice is so powerful that when the speakers broke down during our first date in Sweden, you could still hear his voice at the back of the auditorium over the entire group.
"When he records, we have to put screens around him."
Robert Plant has been into the blues as long as he can remember. While in his teens his roots were country blues, and then he moved on to city blues a la Otis Rush and Buddy Guy. However, his interpretation of today's blues is his own thing, totally different from anything heard before.
Like John Bonham, Robert hails from Birmingham and was a member of the Band of Joy, now defunct. He also played on several occasions with Alexis Korner, who fathered the blues revival in England. It was singer Terry Reid, a friend of Jimmy Page's, who suggested Robert for Led Zeppelin, and there was no need to look further.
ATLANTIC RECORDING CORPORATION
1841 BROADWAY, NEW YORK, NEW YORK 1002
AREA CODE 212 Plaza 7-6306
CABLE ADDRESS: ATCOMUSIC
Led Zeppelin began in a small, stuffy rehearsal hall, mid London, late 1968. "Four of us got together in this two by two room and started playing. Then we knew - we started laughing at each other. Maybe it was from relief, or maybe from the knowledge that we knew we could groove together. But that was it. That was just how well it was going." Jimmy Page, master guitarist, former Yardbird, was watching his thoughts, his ambitions, his concealed desires as a musician, take shape in a new supergroup, Led Zeppelin.
"The statement of our first two weeks together is our album. We cut it in 15 hours, and between us wrote 8 of the tracks. Our main problem was knowing what channel to take it along musically. Everyone in the group had such a high musical content we thought each of us would be into our own thing. But it all fell in together.
"We'll probably always be faced with the fact that individually, each member could cut his own album going in his own direction and it would be great. But all those ideas in one outfit, well, that's pretty fantastic too."
The formation of Led Zeppelin was no easy task. When it became generally known that Jimmy Page was putting a group together, he was inundated with calls from musicians all over the country. When the Yardbirds finally split up in the summer of 1968, Jimmy was ready to take bass player Chris Dreja with him into Led Zeppelin.
Chris eventually backed out of the arrangement, choosing instead to go into management.
"When I joined the Yardbirds, my main reason was to give myself the opportunity of playing my own music. Before that, my only interest was session work. I began to feel limited not being able to express myself. When I left, it was for almost exactly the same reasons. The group split because everyone began to feel the need to go in his own direction. The pity is, there would have still been great potential."
It was all down to Jimmy Page, alone, on a one man campaign to make himself heard. As a session guitarist he was, and still is, one of the finest in England, contributing his work to tracks by such stars as the Stones, Donovan, and latterly, Joe Cocker, who took the Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends" to such a smash.
"I was working on the Donovan album, "Hurdy Gurdy Man" with John Paul Jones who did some of the arrangements. He asked if I could use a bass guitarist in Led Zeppelin. John is an incredible arranger and musician. He didn't need me for a job, but he felt the need to express himself and figured we could do that together.
"Sessions are great, but you can't get into your own thing. Both myself and John felt that in order to give what we had to offer we had to have a group. He wanted to be part of a group of musicians who could lay down some good things.
"I can't put a tag to our music. Every one of us has been influenced by the blues, but it's one's interpretation of it and how you utilize lt. I wish someone would invent an expression, but the closest I can get is contemporary blues.
"I want us to be raw and basic. That was the whole thing that made the Yardbirds happen. To go into your own thing is fine, but it has to be a form of experimentation that evolves from a basic sound that everyone else knows and can relate to.
"Perhaps that's why the blues is so big. You can recognize the roots."
It took about two months for Led Zeppelin to emerge. The name was conceived by Jimmy Page when he was still with the Yardbirds and each member of the group took a shot at recording on his own. Jimmy penned "Beck's Bolero" for Jeff Beck. Today, it's a Beck standard, then, it was a track on which the Who's Keith Moon played drums. "When we were kicking around group names, I suddenly remembered Led Zeppelin which I had come up with at that time."
That, too, would have been a supergroup, but every musician to his own bag, and for Jimmy Page, it's John Paul Jones, John Bonham and Robert Plant to make Led Zeppelin an example of great music. And this is a group that won two standing ovations and two encores on their first date in London, with only six hours of rehearsal behind them.
It's the greatest trip any selection of musicians can take their audience on, the greatest feeling of being into a scene, one which America is ready and waiting for.
-By June Harris
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