Wednesday, August 4, 1999

Robert Plant returns to the stage

The following news update appeared originally at a previous Web site of mine, "From Black Dog to Hot Dog."

Adding to the recent activity of Led Zeppelin members, Robert Plant played to a packed audience of 150 at Bishop's Gate in Shropshire, UK.

The opening act was local musician Pete Keely. Plant's set included blues-rock numbers like Donovan Leitch's "Season Of The Witch" and Tim Rose's "Morning Dew."

Zeppelin connections:
  • Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones played as session men on some of Donovan's recordings, but not "Season Of The Witch," a song which would become a concert staple for Page and Plant. The Vanilla Fudge, who toured with Zeppelin in the early days, recorded a spooky version of the song.
  • "Morning Dew" was co-written by Tim Rose, whose drummer in the summer of 1968 was John Bonham. The Jeff Beck Group subsequently recorded "Morning Dew" for their début album Truth that same year, which featured John Paul Jones on some tracks.

Tuesday, July 13, 1999

Recent activity from all three Led Zeppelin members

The following news update originally appeared on a previous Web site of mine, "From Black Dog to Hot Dog."

In the last few months, the former members of Led Zeppelin have been making headlines.

Jimmy Page

Gibson, the manufacturer of many of Jimmy Page's guitars, is opening a new London office with a private party honoring the work of Scotty Moore, the guitarist on many of the early Elvis Presley records that inspired Page to pick up a guitar, namely "Baby Let's Play House" among others.

Page is to attend tonight's party at record producer George Martin's Air Studios in North London, where the new Scotty Moore model Signature Guitar, based on Moore's original guitar choice ES-295, will make its début.

All this happens on the same day as the re-release of the 1964 Scotty Moore compilation The Guitar That Changed The World on the BMG/Razor & Tie label. Moore will play along with former bandmate D.J. Fontana (Presley's original drummer) and his band at the event.

This Page appearance comes on the heels of some other recent activity, having appeared at a charity event with the Black Crowes on June 27, and also at a Kosovo crisis benefit on June 16.

John Paul Jones

Meanwhile, news of John Paul Jones' touring later this year starts to take shape. His album, Zooma, is scheduled for release on September 13. On October 7, he is slated to appear at the Crossing Borders Festival in Holland (also appearing at the festival will be spoken word poetry music group Voices Without Restraint). Jones will make appearances in the US later in October and elsewhere in Europe throughout November. In 2000, he is expected to embark on a world tour in support of Zooma, the solo album Jones has promised for over half a decade.

This highly anticipated collection of nine songs will be his first solo album since 1985's Scream For Help soundtrack. Of the nine songs on Zooma, four are available on a promotional tape. From the reviews so far, the music on Zooma is great and reflects work Jones has done in the past. The album cover, shown at right, features the symbol that he selected in 1970 to represent himself, and it is expected that his live repertoire will include some Led Zeppelin songs.

Robert Plant

Robert Plant appears on a tribute album to the late Skip Spence, founding member of Moby Grape and Jefferson Airplane. More Oar was released July 6, nearly three months after Spence died of a longterm illness. Plant's cut of "Little Hands," recorded in January with Phil Andrews and Charlie Jones, is the slow but soulful song that opens the album. Other performers such as BeckAlejandro EscovedoMudhoney and Tom Waits grace the album covering songs that appeared on Spence's 1969 solo album, Oar. Plant was a big fan of Moby Grape as part of the booming psychedelic music scene of San Francisco bands in the late '60s. Apparently, Spence heard an advance copy of the album in the hours before his death in April.

This is the third album on which Robert has appeared recently to benefit influential musicians whose lives would shortly end due to illness; the others were Jimmy Rogers (Blues Blues Blues) and Rainer Ptacek (Inner Flame).

Thursday, April 22, 1999

John Paul Jones' solo album to be released in September

The following report originally appeared on a previous Web site of mine, "From Black Dog to Hot Dog."

Former Led Zeppelin bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones is going to release a new album this fall. September will be the month Jones' new album Zooma will be released on the Discipline Global Mobile (DGM) label.

Jones, who has produced albums for such bands as R.E.M. and the Butthole Surfers, has called the album "roaring and powerful." The multi-instrumentalist plays four-, ten-, and 12-string basses, as well as bass lap steel, kyma, mandola, organ, and guitars on the nine-track instrumental album. One of Zooma's pieces features the London Symphony Orchestra as conducted by Jones. He also arranges on the album.

Zooma is looked upon as the beginning of a solo career for Jones, which will include a planned world tour beginning in the States this autumn. But it is also a reflection of his past. He thinks of his first rehearsal with Led Zeppelin as roaring and powerful. Prior to being in Led Zeppelin, he had done arranging for such groups as The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds. He also released a solo single ("A Foggy Day In Vietnam") before his days with Led Zeppelin.

Thursday, March 18, 1999

Page and Jones accept Led Zeppelin award

The following report originally appeared on a previous Web site of mine, "From Black Dog to Hot Dog."

Jimmy and John Paul
Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones attended the RIAA's Diamond Awards at the Roseland Ballroom in New York on Tuesday, March 16. The two received an award for Led Zeppelin's fourth album which has sold 17 million copies to date.

Backstage, Page dispelled rumors of a Led Zeppelin reunion.  He said, "There are only two members here. Do you see a third?"

The Diamond Award, new this year, is given by the RIAA for albums that have sold at least ten million copies. A list of albums that were honored can be found at

Page had been in New York on the previous night for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame's induction ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria.

Monday, March 8, 1999

Page/Plant breakup rumor just that, a rumor

The following commentary originally appeared on a previous Web site of mine, "From Black Dog to Hot Dog," in reference to an earlier speculative report about a possible breakup of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. They had indeed broken up at the time, although I obviously wasn't sure and couldn't commit to saying it.

Unfortunately, I misinterpreted the information I was previously given. The rumor that Page and Plant are breaking up is nothing more than a rumor that started by some speculation that Page would ask for some time off since he is a new father. Therefore, my March 6 headline and my posts before that were incorrect. I do not think Page and Plant are breaking up now, and I think a further Page and Plant album would far exceed what Plant could do on his own.

Due to the heavy publicity I received in the last few days, the number of hits to my webpage since the beginning of the year has doubled in the course of two days. From Black Dog To Hot Dog received eight short of 300 hits combining March 5 and 6.

The old news story follows, inaccurate and speculative though it may be.

Saturday, March 6, 1999

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant may be splitting up for a while

The following appeared on a previous site of mine, "From Black Dog to Hot Dog." Given the he-said-she-said, gossipy, speculative and self-aggrandizing nature of this report, I'm not particularly proud of it 10 years later. However, the notion that Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were splitting up at the time was correct, and the speculation that Page could spend some time working on a chronological live set (including the Royal Albert Hall concert mentioned) also panned out within five years. Other aspects, not so much.

I, Steve "The Lemon" Sauer, was the first to report the breaking rumor in the Usenet newsgroup just before 9:00 PM EDT on March 4, 1999.

Najma Akhtar, the female vocalist on Page and Plant's No Quarter tour and album, and reportedly Plant's girlfriend since then, apparently told her sister that Plant is thinking of breaking up the band with Page in favor of returning to a solo career. Najma's sister told someone who frequently posts to who then later told a user of the chat room that Robert wants to quit his current band, as was reported by myself earlier.

The speculation is that Page wants to be a full-time father to his newborn son, Asher. In addition to fathering his infant son, Page may work on some outside "projects." Meanwhile, Robert will return to solo status. He has had drummer Michael Lee and bassist Charlie Jones (Plant's son-in-law as Jones is married to Plant's daughter Carmen) in his backing band for the entire decade; a change in that core lineup at this time in unforeseen.
Page and Plant had been in the public eye almost constantly since their long-awaited reunion in 1994, their first permanent combination since the breakup of Led Zeppelin in 1980. Since then, the voice and guitar of Led Zeppelin have recorded two collaborative albums and have embarked on extensive touring. The media's focus on them has dwindled since the end of their last tour in December 1998. Page and Plant have retracted from the public view, not even making an appearance to accept their Grammy award last month for their single "Most High". Plans for tour dates in Japan in 1999 have been shelved, as was the release of a Japanese CD commemorating their 1998 tour. The management team has made no reply to an invitation for the band to appear at Woodstock '99.

Plant is allegedly vacationing in India right now. He could be there with Najma, which would solidify the report.

Page and Plant's manager Bill Curbishley may want to manage The Who on another reunion tour rather than undertake another venture with the duo.
For Page, a breakup would mean two things: being a father to his new son Asher, and getting done the things he should have done long ago, some live Led Zeppelin releases. With not being tied down to working with Robert Plant, the sky is the limit.

Page's other "projects" could very well include the release of a live Led Zeppelin album, as was promised last year. Rumor has it that Jimmy Page is already in his archives remastering the Royal Albert Hall concert from January 9, 1970. Only one track from the soundboard recording has already been released by the band, and that was "I Can't Quit You Baby" which can be found on the LP Coda in 1982. The band had recorded this concert professionally for a television documentary, so perhaps even a video release is in the works.

After that, who knows, Page might even get to working on the live chronological album that he has been talking about for over twenty years.

  • "We have so much good live stuff. We've got six live concerts on tape which were good nights. We've got some ancient stuff live at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970. It's very interesting to listen to. You can compare different versions of tunes as they span the years. So a chronological live compilation is a thing I've always been keen on, but the soundtrack came out so it's been shelved for a while." — Jimmy Page, 1976

  • "It's [the soundtrack to The Song Remains The Same] an honest soundtrack live album, but a chronological live album is something I've always fancied. There's great stuff there and it takes us right up to this year. There's a winning version of 'No Quarter' from Earl's Court and from the Albert Hall 'I Can't Quit You Baby'. The 'How Many More Times' is also pretty good. It's great hearing those numbers that we'll probably never do again. We've also got numbers from Southampton University and some small clubs." — Jimmy Page, 1977

  • "It's all in the tape vaults still but it would take a long time to do it. It would be a monumental task at this point in time." — Jimmy Page, 1988

For those who fear that a Page/Plant breakup will mean not hearing Page play the guitar, it could mean something entirely different. While he is in the studio mastering tapes, he may suddenly getPresence fever, the strong urge to record himself playing guitar.

The last two years have shown that Page likes to spread himself out. His contribution to The Inner Flame (a 1997 tribute album to Rainer Ptacek), his contribution to the Godzilla soundtrack (1998), his live performance with Puff Daddy on Saturday Night Live (1998), and his contribution to The Jimmy Rodgers All-Stars' tribute album to Jimmy Rodgers (1999) are all indications that he may again become a session man.
Should Plant decide to go solo again, his rhythm section would probably remain the same: Michael Lee on drums and Charlie Jones on bass guitar. He would be out of a guitarist, so in search of a guitarist, he may turn again to Phil Johnstone who played on Robert's last solo album, Fate Of Nations, in 1993. Johnstone, Lee, and Jones already have a good rapport, having worked together not only on Plant's records but their own – Chernobyl Poppies.

Since Plant's album Fate Of Nations was arguably the best-sounding of all of his solo albums, his future work as a solo artist seems promising. He definitely still can write songs, as heard on Walking Into Clarksdale!
Should Plant go solo again and/or Page return to session work, they must keep in mind that they have signed a contract with Atlantic Records in the United States. This is a three-album deal. As of now, they have released two albums.

The third album could be the result of yet another Page/Plant reunion, or they could just cop out and release previously recorded material and call that the obligatory third album. They certainly have the material to release, given that the Japanese live CD was almost issued.

The latter of those two plans recalls what Led Zeppelin did in 1982. Since the band had signed a five-album deal and had broken up in 1980 just one album short of fulfilling their contractual obligations, Coda, an album of outtakes was released posthumously by the band.
If Plant does break away from Page, that proposes an interesting situation for Page and his former bandmate John Paul Jones. Formerly the keyboardist and bassist of Led Zeppelin, Jones is scheduled to release a solo album early this year, which will be followed by some touring of his own.

There are a few good reasons why Jones has not collaborated with his former Led Zeppelin bandmates since 1980 (except for a few one-off appearances). He has been a well-known producer of albums for rock bands such as R.E.M. and The Butthole Surfers. He has been in the studio experimenting with keyboard techniques and technology. He has appeared on an album by (and toured with) Diamanda Galas. Arguably the most musically diverse member of Led Zeppelin, Jones could be at a turning point following the course of his scheduled touring.

He may have the option to separate Page from Plant. He and Plant have not seen eye to eye over issues in the last several years, hence Jones was not invited to participate in the Unledded project. Now that Page may be on his own again, Jones could be more accepting of Page and perhaps lead to a Page/Jones reunion in some form or another.

If he forms an alliance with John Paul Jones, with Jones' production skills and Page's remastering/mixing abilities, they could have a most enjoyable chronological live album on their hands.
All of this is pure speculation, and the report has certainly not been confirmed by Trinifold, anyone of authority over the band, or the band members themselves directly. But should any of this news be true, please remember that you heard it here first.