Friday, February 18, 2011

Calling Jimmy Page: Where are you?

Editorial by Steve Sauer

Tonight, I'm remembering a time when Jimmy Page had a backing band.
I'm wearing the T-shirt I bought when I saw Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes. They played live in Camden, NJ. Note the boys in the picture appear to be playing with a Zoso symbol they've discovered! Symbolic, maybe? I'm glad to have seen Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes live. Not everybody got the chance since they never finished their tour. Jimmy Page had back problems!
OK, remember when his touring band consisted of Robert Plant on vocals, Robert's son-in-law on bass, Michael Lee on drums? For their '98 tour, it was back to a fourpiece playing primarily Led Zeppelin songs, plus a few of the Page/Plant/C. Jones/Lee originals that had appeared on Walking into Clarksdale.

A few months later, Robert Plant told Bill Curbishley not to go ahead, as planned, and book any Page/Plant shows in Japan. Robert decided to leave Jimmy. And he did; he just up 'n' left!

And what did Jimmy do? First, he went to the studio, bringing drummer Michael Lee, and laid down some new instrumentals that just needed Robert's part. Their original music needed original vocals. But Robert stayed away.

And what did Jimmy do next? He called up those two Robinson brothers from Georgia and said they should do a few shows together. They'd met before, never jammed. Page had been listening since their first album, however, so he made it happen.

So they rehearsed. These are those 1999 rehearsals with Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes. Thanks to the YouTube user who uploaded them a week or so ago! These have previously been unseen.

Note all the Zeppelin they're playing! They were essentially a cover band handpicked out of Page's preference. They must have hunkered down and listened to some old CDs before meeting up with Page.

This is them meeting up with Page, who wants to see what these boys have got.

And how are the results? See where it's working and where it's not as they attempt "In My Time of Dying."

Part 1

Part 2

Listen to them get low-down dirty on the Howlin' Wolf blues "Smokestack Lightning."

Watch Chris Robinson do some Robert Plant moves on "Houses of the Holy."

At any rate, Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes were on the road the following year, playing a few dates in New York and a few more in Los Angeles. Kevin Shirley just happened to record the L.A. Greek Theater dates and suggested afterward they release it on CD! They did.

That CD package was initially released by, which was soon to be defunct. In those days before iTunes had taken over, it was available for you to order custom-made CDs with the track listing and order of your own choosing. They'd burn 'em and mail 'em to you -- for a charge, of course. That's the improbable manner in which these CDs were marketed and sold. People would try anything in those days!

It sold so many copies that the site was down. Too bad for the people invested in, but the success of these sales was essentially lightning striking only once.

But the CDs then went to the TVT label a few months later, and they put out an expanded edition of Live at the Greek and sold it in brick-and-mortar stores. It sold well, too. And they also sold it at their concerts.

This represents one time in Jimmy Page's past that he bounced back from Robert Plant not being available anymore for touring with him. Jimmy tried only once to lure Robert back into the studio, and when that didn't work, he just found a new group with a new singer. And they went from there! Jimmy and the Black Crowes.

When else has Jimmy bounced back from Robert's unavailability? Think also: Jimmy and Coverdale ('93). Jimmy and Aerosmith (a few shows in '90). Jimmy and Paul Rodgers (the Firm from '84 to '86).

Has Jimmy bounced back anytime lately? Uh... Jimmy and Myles? No, we never heard it. Uh... Jimmy and Steven Tyler? Thank our lucky stars we never heard it!

But the point is this: What has Jimmy Page been up to? Why haven't we heard from him?

I close with this: Black Country Communion II. They just finished recording it today! Jason Bonham on drums, Glenn Hughes on vocals and bass, Derek Sherinian on keyboards, and Joe Bonamassa leaving his blues guitar comfort zone and playing straight rock music. This is something to get excited about!

And remember that Page/Crowes live album? Kevin Shirley was at the helm. He is here too. More on that in a moment.


  1. Two other notes about the picture of me.

    1. The hat I'm wearing is one I obtained Wednesday night at the Loveless Barn in Nashville, Tennessee. It is for the Loveless Cafe and reads, "Make biscuits, not war." Thanks to my friend for treating me to my first ever plate of fried chicken livers there. After dinner, I attended a live performance of the "Music City Roots" radio broadcast series.

    2. The image on the wall is from the Led Zeppelin reunion concert on December 10, 2007, one of the last times Jimmy Page has appeared onstage. The shot of the band name on the large screens in London was taken by Webb McQuiddy, who hosted me this evening while I was pounding out my thoughts. Webb saw both Robert Plant shows in Nashville last week, and he was listening to a live show by Them Crooked Vultures when I arrived at his house tonight. I didn't leave without first making sure he'd heard Black Country Communion's first album. We agreed it was sad there's been nothing new from Jimmy Page to play in ages!

  2. Has anyone heard or seen of Jimmy since Cuba?
    Sincerely worried in Vermont.


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