Monday, June 21, 2010

Yardbirds bassist Chris Dreja drops Zeppelin bombshell; Auditions spurred opinions 'Bonham was an absolute must-have; A little iffy about Robert'

Chris Dreja, the original Yardbirds rhythm guitarist turned bassist turned rock photographer, has spoken out recently about his involvement in the transition from the Yardbirds to Led Zeppelin. When his bandmate in the Yardbirds, guitarist Jimmy Page, was auditioning prospects for the new rock group that turned out to be Led Zeppelin, Dreja was literally along for the ride.

He accompanied Page and their manager, Peter Grant, to the auditions of singer Robert Plant and drummer John Bonham over the summer of 1968. In a new interview to be broadcast this week on Carol Miller's "Get the Led Out," Dreja reveals that only one of those two musicians was a certainty upon the audition. (Disclosure: I work as a consultant to the show and its website.)

"John Bonham was an absolute must-have. A little iffy about Robert," says Dreja, who shared the ride with Page and Grant on the way back from both auditions. Listen to a minute's worth of the interview here.

Shown at right is the 1968 photo Dreja took of the newly formed Led Zeppelin lineup that appears on the back cover of the band's first album.

Dreja continues to tour with a modern-day version of the Yardbirds. Shown at left is a publicity shot taken of the 2005 lineup, featuring Dreja at right and founding drummer Jim McCarty at second from left. Dreja's interview for "Get the Led Out" was conducted earlier this month at the conclusion of the band's American tour.

The 60-minute "Get the Led Out" episode with Dreja's interview airs at 8 p.m. Eastern tonight on New York's Q 104.3 FM and streams online at at that time. The show also airs at various dates and times this week in more than 70 other markets. Click here to find a station near you broadcasting "Get the Led Out."

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