Friday, April 26, 2002

Various news online at TBL/Web

This news originally appeared in an edition of the newsletter "On This Day In Led Zeppelin History" that mentioned a Julie Felix connection with Led Zeppelin in 1970.

Julie Felix still performs and still has Led Zeppelin connections today. In fact, she met up with John Paul Jones at two of her live appearances this year. Both were in England to support the Mines Advisory Group,

(Update: Web content from here on out is no longer available.)

Most recently, Felix and Jones performed together earlier this month at a bookstore in London. Details and several photos from that appearance can be found at courtesy of Tight But Loose. Dave Lewis had a chance to interview Julie Felix before she performed. Among the topics discussed was how Jimmy Page got to perform on her show in 1970.

This interview will be found in the next issue of Lewis' magazine, Tight But Loose, established in 1978 as the original Led Zeppelin magazine. See for subscription information.

Elsewhere on Tight But Loose's Web site, you can find the latest tour dates from Robert Plant and John Paul Jones. Jimmy Page is not expected to tour this year, but any gigs he does will be covered with the rest, at

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Chris Blackwell interview, Part 3: Fate of Nations (1991-1993) to present

This three-part interview of Chris Blackwell originally appeared in an edition of the newsletter "On This Day In Led Zeppelin History." Part one can be found here, and part two can be found here.

For Robert Plant's fourth and fifth solo albums, he used one studio band. The same band joined him on the road for two large-scale tours to support those albums. Guitarist Doug Boyle and drummer Chris Blackwell were ready to get down to business for their third studio album with Plant, but they were about to get a wake-up call. The story unfolds here in the third part of my interview with Chris Blackwell.

SS: Your band was on the road all over Europe, the United Kingdom and North America between May 1990 and January 1991.

CB: The 1990 tour was great fun, better than 1988 because it was more extreme! We were all battle hardened by then too and could take the piss out of each other. Knebworth [in June 1990] was the pinnacle, though!

SS: Did you finally get some time off after the tour?

CB: We all had about two months off.

SS: It's said that in January 1991, Robert Plant actually agreed to a full-scale Led Zeppelin reunion tour, about which he then changed his mind after 45 minutes or so. Do you remember this as true?

CB: I have no idea. He kept that side of things very quiet from us for obvious reasons.

SS: I noticed that you co-wrote five songs on Plant's next album, which turned out to be Fate of Nations.

CB: 'Calling to You' and 'Network News' were written in my studio and presented to Robert complete for him to write the melody and lyrics. The others were written by all of us, mostly in Cornwall, Wales, I seem to recall.

'29 Palms' was written in Boulder, Colorado, on the stage at the University [of Colorado]. Phil started playing the opening guitar riff, Doug joined in, and then we all sort of took it from there really! It was very hot outside that day . . . I liked Boulder! We stayed at the Boulderado Hotel (great name!).

All the tracks were written specifically for Fate of Nations. I found that my input as a writer was greater than as a player by that stage because of all the weird vibes that were going down. I played on only one track on the album, and even that was taken from a demo we'd done in Wales!

SS: Did you think the album was going to have Plant's same backing band -- Doug Boyle on guitar, Phil Johnstone on keyboards, Charlie Jones on bass and you on drums?

CB: Initially yes - there was no reason not to. But then I kept bumping into different guitarists and drummers at the studio and thought that perhaps there was something going on that I didn't know about!

SS: At those sessions, I count seven guitarists, two keyboardists, one bassist, and four drummers. Where did all those musicians come from?

CB: I really have no idea!

SS: After two albums and huge tours, was the core lineup finally over in your mind?

CB: I think we knew that it was [over] anyway by this time.

SS: When did you realize that?

CB: When we started recording at RAK studios for Fate of Nations and found various other musicians milling about - bit of a give away really!

SS: Do you remember the last straw before you were through?

CB: I would probably say the last straw was in Cornwall, where we stayed at a studio called Sawmills, writing and recording for a couple of weeks. There was a really strange atmosphere in the place (and I don't mean Doug's socks!). Robert kept coming out with these really obscure references for song ideas, and I couldn't get a handle on where he was coming from at all. Personally I wanted him to go the whole hog and do what he did eventually with Jimmy anyway, but at the time I think he was still fighting the idea. Fate of Nations turned out good though!

SS: Do you still see Plant these days?

CB: I normally pop along to the gigs when he plays in London.

SS: Did you see Plant and the Strange Sensation in London this year?

CB: I didn't see them, but good luck to him!

SS: It's been announced that Porl Thompson, ex-guitarist for The Cure, will not be on tour with the group this year. [At the time of the interview, his replacement had not yet been announced.] Might you recommend any guitarist to take his place?

CB: Doug Boyle?

SS: You play guitar. Would you be up for the gig?

CB: No! Quite happy doing what I do these days!

SS: What you do these days -- which is what is all about -- is music for television and film. In February, some of your music was recorded with a complete orchestra at Abbey Road Studios. Here's a quote from your Web site:
"Orchestral sessions are very different to Rock and Roll sessions. For a start they all turn up on time, secondly they read the stuff and play it like they've known it all their lives, and thirdly it all has to be done in an allotted time."
It sounds like a whole different world, right, Chris?

CB: It is the same but different! There are many facets to music, but it all boils down to that same emotional response thing - the power of an orchestra in full flight playing my stuff gives me the same feeling as playing Madison Square Garden with Planty! I love the different avenues I am exploring, and every day brings a new challenge and keeps me on my toes! Doing session work on the kit again too now from time to time - better than going to the gym!

Thursday, April 4, 2002

Page to co-host charity dinner, auction

This news originally appeared in an edition of the newsletter "On This Day In Led Zeppelin History."

Jimmy Page and his wife will co-host the second annual dinner and auction to benefit Action for Brazil's Children. The event will be held May 8 at the Marriott Harbor Beach Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

About 150 people were in attendance at the Tower Club on April 4, 2001, for the first dinner and auction for the ABC Trust. Among the items auctioned off was a Gibson Les Paul autographed and personalized by Page. In addition, there were other signed guitars and various items from artists including the Bee Gees and Gloria Estefan. Page won the $14,000 bid for a rare Gibson guitar from the Who's Pete Townshend.

The hardest item to sell in 2001 was a gift certificate for laser microsurgery hair removal. A Led Zeppelin fan who sat at that table said, "No one would bid on the hair removal thing, and I stood up and started bidding against myself for it. Jimmy cracked up!"

That bidder, Joe Hecht, managed to set a comical tone for the evening. "Jimmy thought it funny that I bid against myself several times," he said. "And before the final bid on the $14,000 axe, they made sure I did not want to outbid him again."

Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain presided over the 2001 auction. It was the third time that year that Page and Iron Maiden crossed paths in the name of charity. In January at the Rock in Rio music festival in Rio de Janeiro, the band presented Page with a Fender Stratocaster autographed by all of Iron Maiden.

With Page's autograph added, that guitar was sold March 14 at an online auction benefiting Casa Jimmy, a homeless shelter Page helped to establish in October 1998.

Tickets, priced at $150 each, can be purchased from:

ABC, Inc.
2400 East Las Olas Blvd.
Suite 262
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 USA
Phone: 954-537-9440
Fax: 954-337-2350