Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Tony Franklin recalls The Firm's final concert

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

Fretless bassist Tony Franklin speaks with Lemon Squeezings about the Firm's final concert on May 28, 1986. (See also his previous interview, a longer one touching on other work with Jimmy Page in The Firm and previously with Page in Roy Harper's band.)

SS: Tell us about the Firm's last concert.

TF: That last show was wild! The audience was electric. I think the show had to be stopped at one point as the audience was pushing forward so hard that people were in danger of getting hurt! They may have been the loudest audience on the tour. At one point I remember somebody throwing a basketball shoe towards me on the stage. It was funny because I was like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car. I was transfixed. And before I knew it ... BOOM! it hit me square in the chest and knocked me back a few feet! Still, I didn't miss a beat! Ha ha! Fond, fond memories. And what a great send-off to a great band.

There are always mixed feelings at the end of any tour ... from sadness that the great "adventure" of the last few months is coming to a close ... and relief that's it's over ... with the prospect of going home and having a break from the craziness.

I don't think that any of us in the band thought that this would be our last ever show as The Firm. There was certainly no talk of it ... Maybe some of the guys had an idea that this was the end, but I didn't. It's probably just as well.

Firm bassist Tony Franklin prepares solo album

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

Tony Franklin, who played bass with Jimmy Page and Roy Harper in 1984 and joined the Firm for the next two years, has asked me to share his latest news with you. He writes:
"I'm adding the finishing touches to my album, and am surging to get it completed in the next couple of weeks. I'm very excited about the progress. It's heavy, grooving, good songs, and I'm working with an amazing singer called Scott Kail. Aside from him having a great voice, he and I connect really well. It's rare and special. I'll keep you posted."
Franklin's Web site is www.tonyfranklin.com, and he is involved in a discussion group in his honor.

Monday, May 20, 2002

Robert Plant launches official Web site, promises U.S. tour

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

Robert Plant's recording label registered www.robertplant.com for an official site on May 8. The site is now in place, and Plant's studio version of "Darkness, Darkness" is available in its entirety. It's seven minutes and 27 seconds long.

New tour dates have been posted, with some good news for those of you in California. A May 17 announcement at the site said to watch for an update "in the next few weeks."

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Plant to debut new guitarist on tour this month

This news originally appeared at the Web site for the newsletter "On This Day In Led Zeppelin History."

Robert Plant is to begin touring later this month with a revised lineup of his band, the Strange Sensation. Guitarist Liam "Skin" Tyson of the Liverpool band Cast, has joined, replacing the outgoing Porl Thompson, formerly of the Cure.

"At the moment I can't commit to the touring side of the band," Thompson told Lemon Squeezings in one of two e-mails received March 14. He articulated the point in another e-mail two months to the day, writing:
"Due to other projects and family commitments, I am unable to do the tour. So the band have drafted in 'Skin,' the guitarist from the band Cast, to take over. They sound great in rehearsals, and I wish them lots of love and luck with the tour."
When Thompson confirmed in March that he would be replaced on the tour, he commented:
"This was a hard decision to make as there is a good vibe between us all, but it was never my intention to get back into a full-time band situation, and this had always been said from the start."
He said that he hopes to carry on with Plant in the future. He told Lemon Squeezings in March:
"We have talked about doing some unusual type gigs and things together and some more recording at some stage, but as to when and where -- ?"
No further comment on that was available.

Plant's upcoming tour (see scheduled dates below) is set to commence with three dates in Portugal on May 22, 23 and 25. Some concerts and promotion in the U.K. in May and June are expected to include a London concert date later to be announced and a May 31 homecoming for Tyson in Liverpool, England.

In July, Plant will begin headlining some shows in the United States. The first of these is currently slated for July 20, where promoters at Cadott, Wisconsin's Rockfest say Plant will top the bill on the third of the festival's four nights.

The majority of Plant's tour dates after that are to be as a special guest opening for the second and third legs of the Who's U.S. tour in July, August and September. This will include a four-night stand at New York's Madison Square Garden July 31-Aug. 4, with a night off on Aug. 2.

Thompson said May 14 that Plant's tour will continue "on into winter," a statement he articulated with an exclamation point.

Plant's new album is expected to be released in the United Kingdom on Monday, June 24, and in the United States the following day. His seventh solo effort will be called Dreamland, according to the most recent reports. Previous reports had pegged the name as Head First.

The album will have some new original material but will mostly consist of cover songs recorded in 2001 with the previous lineup of the Strange Sensation. Tracks will include revamped versions of 1960s classics like "Hey Joe," the Youngbloods' "Darkness, Darkness," and "Morning Dew."

The latter is expected to be released as a single, which would precede the album release by one week.

The new album will be Plant's first for Universal Music Group.

Plant's most recent solo album was in 1993, called Fate of Nations. However, he has since collaborated with Jimmy Page to write and release the 1998 album, Walking into Clarksdale, which earned them their first Grammy award with the single, "Most High."

Plant's Strange Sensation is made up of new guitarist Liam "Skin" Tyson and four other musicians: Justin Adams on guitar and an African stringed instrument known as the gimbre, Charlie Jones on bass guitar, John Baggot on keyboards and Clive Deamer on drums.

Tyson joined the band in 2002 after the album was recorded. Porl Thompson described his own guitar sound on the album as "over loud" and "uncontrolled."
Europe & U.K. 2002
  • Wed 5/22 Lisbon, Portugal Aula Magna
  • Thu 5/23 Lisbon, Portugal Aula Magna
  • Sat 5/25 Porto, Portugal Coliseum
  • Thu 5/30 Bangor, England Bangor University
  • Fri 5/31 Liverpool, England Liverpool University
  • Mon 6/3 Isle of Wight, U.K. Isle of Wight Festival
  • Monday, June 17: New single, "Morning Dew," to be released
  • Monday, June 24: New album, Dreamland, to be released
U.S. headliners 2002
  • Sat 7/20 Cadott, Wis. Rockfest
  • Mon 7/22 Milwaukee, Wis. Eagles Ballroom
With The Who 2002
  • Fri 7/26 Mansfield, Mass. Tweeter Center
  • Sat 7/27 Camden, N.J. Tweeter Center
  • Mon 7/29 Hershey, Pa. Hersheypark Stadium
  • Wed 7/31 New York, N.Y. Madison Square Garden
  • Thu 8/1 New York, N.Y. Madison Square Garden
  • Sat 8/3 New York, N.Y. Madison Square Garden
  • Sun 8/4 New York, N.Y. Madison Square Garden
  • Fri 8/23 Auburn Hills, Mich. Palace
  • Sat 8/24 Tinley Park, Ill Tweeter Center
  • Sun 8/25 Noblesville, Ind. Verizon Wireless Music Center
  • Tue 8/27 Grand Rapids, Mich. Van Andel Arena
  • Wed 8/28 Columbus, Ohio Polaris Amphitheater
  • Fri 8/30 Holmdel, N.J. P.N.C. Bank Arts Center
  • Sat 8/31 Wantagh, N.Y. Jones Beach Amphitheater

Saturday, May 11, 2002

Steve 'The Lemon' Sauer graduates from college

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

I'll feel like I'm on the top of the world in a few hours at my graduation ceremony, now that I've finished four years of study at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Alert: Virus targeting Led Zeppelin fans

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

I hate having to say this, but please be aware of viruses in your e-mail. My friends at TBL/Web issued a virus alert within the past few hours (see http://www.linwood.demon.co.uk/news.html for details) (Web content no longer available). It seems a recent strain has infested the e-mail accounts of Led Zeppelin fans! In the past few hours, I've received unwanted files in my e-mail from Zeppelin-related addresses, including from my very own!

In closing, this newsletter does NOT send files, and you are not at any greater risk of receiving a virus by being a subscriber. But if you receive an unwanted file, delete it right away to avoid possible harm. Sorry for the interruption.

Friday, May 3, 2002

Promoters withdraw John Paul Jones appearance

This news originally appeared at the Web site for the newsletter "On This Day In Led Zeppelin History."

The only U.S. concert date to which John Paul Jones has been linked so far this year was retracted this week without any explanation provided.

The Web page for the Lakefest in Sheboygan, Wis., has removed its reference to Jones performing at the festival on Aug. 17 at 6:15 p.m.

This unheralded change occurred within a day after Lemon Squeezings expressed concern that the information originally at that Web page was inaccurate, given an e-mail received from Jones' manager.

Richard Chadwick of Opium (Arts) Ltd. informed Lemon Squeezings on the morning of April 29 that the Lakefest Web site was wrong to write that Jones would perform on that date. "I don't know where it came from or how they got hold of it," he wrote in an e-mail.

Lakefest promoters have still not responded directly to a Lemon Squeezings inquiry.

No future concert dates for Jones have yet been announced, although the multi-instrumentalist and singer is expected to tour this year in support of his second solo album, The Thunderthief. The CD was released on the Discipline Global Mobile label.

Wednesday, May 1, 2002

John Paul Jones's manager discredits promoted tour date

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

John Paul Jones' manager has told me that a U.S. festival concert planned for later this year should not currently include Jones on the bill.

Current promotion says Jones is scheduled to appear Aug. 17 at the Lakefest on the shore of Lake Michigan. He is to play at 6:15 p.m. between an opening set by John Sebastian and a headlining appearance by Jethro Tull, the festival's Web site states.

However, Richard Chadwick of Opium (Arts) Ltd. informed me that the festival's information is inaccurate. "I don't know where it came from or how they got hold of it," he told me.

As of press time, Lakefest promoters have not yet responded to my inquiries.

Jones' manager has not announced any upcoming tour dates.