It’s interesting to see Jimmy on a stamp, check the link out below. In the interview, he disses the book by Mick Walls out that enhances and exaggerates the Zeppelin interest in the occult and Aleister Crowley. The truth will never be know, as Jimmy Page shows little interest in revealing anything. He says he gets along fine with Robert Plant, even though Plant does not want to tour. Good article!
Ever since the Beatles were passed on by Decca Records (who recovered quickly and signed the Rolling Stones), the music business is full of stories about wrong judgments from those that decide. This article is about the gatekeepers at BBC, who to their credit, accepted Led Zeppelin in the end.
The guy at Decca Records (Dick Rowe) who did not sign the Beatles ultimately went up to Liverpool to see a large variety show, and he was sitting next to George Harrison, whom he asked who was good. Harrison said “The Rolling Stones.” Rowe left the theater immediately and drove non-stop to London to sign the Stones on the advice of a Beatle.
Check this out:
This is a great article about how Them Crooked Vultures came together as a mixture of Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age.
Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones had tried to find a singer and carry on without Robert Plant, and then Dave Grohl brought John Paul Jones and Josh Homme together under a heavy veil of secrecy. So Jones went on with this project, and the rest is history.
This is a great overview of John Paul Jones, bass player for Led Zeppelin till they collapsed. I did not know he produced an album for the Butthole Surfers (a Texas band), that really shows a wide range of taste in music. It mentioned how his career post Zeppelin equals or exceeds Page or Plant in scope and quality. Great photograph of Them Crooked Vultures, a reference to the music industry. Note: Butthole Surfers had an album they called “Sympathy for the Record Industry,” obviously a slur on the Stones song that hits the music biz.
The famed Abbey Road studio will now be offering CDs just after live concerts to the fans, which is amazing. It must be quite an effort to get everything just right and then on a CD. I wonder if the bands have to sign off on it on the spot, this means there’s virtually no time to even listen to the product, wonder how that works out. The studio has come a long way since the primitive equipment used to record the Beatles, though oddly enough, they’ll never better that work.
This article below says that one of the reasons for the big success of Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin was its 8 minute length, in which DJs had enough time to smoke a cigarette. So the more addicted a DJ was, the more often it got played. Back then, you did not have the fancy digital equipment to program multiple songs, you only had vinyl. So a song that was not only brilliant, but one that allowed you to have a smoke, was huge. Jimmy Page’s brilliant lead riff at the end, and Robert Plant’s final words was no doubt the signal to stub out the butt and head back in the studio.
The song also had an intense, almost religious effect on America’s youth, to the extent it was the main song that was used for suicides. For the kids that were not really interested in church, the mystical and beautiful song was so important they made it the last music they ever heard. Little did people know that a major role in this legendary song’s exposure was simply a desire to smoke cigarettes.
An article in UFOdigest.com about John Lennon seeing a UFO contains an inaccuracy, Lennon saw the UFO from his apartment on the east side of New York City, not the Dakota. (See link below, thanks for the correction, May!)
“The late John Lennon had a close-up sighting when a UFO hovered level with the balcony of his apartment in the (famous Dakota building) where he would be shot to death a few years later as he disembarked from a car. Beckley was a friend of May Pang, Lennon’s live-in girlfriend at the time, which led to a couple of phone conversations with Lennon shortly after the daylight sighting incident. Lennon was afire with curiosity about UFOs and even gave a cursory mention to them on the last album he recorded before his death, “Double Fantasy.” Many of the readers of “The UFO Digest” will probably recall Lennon singing, “There’s UFOs over New York, and I ain’t too surprised.” ”
Pretty Vacant “The Punk Years, 1976-79.”
I’ve been reading “VACANT,” which is book of stunning photographs and blunt commentary by Londoners Nils and Ray Stevenson. Nils managed the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees, and his brother had photographed David Bowie and Marc Bolan in the early days. The time frame is particularly interesting to me, as I was in New York City in the mid-seventies on a number of occasions, watching bands, and also London in 1977 and 1980.
The book starts with fascinating English history, culture, and fashion tidbits about the scene that laid the groundwork for the punk explosion. Though he was relatively unknown to the general public, Stevenson mentions flying kites on Parliament Hill with Yoko Ono, watching a jam session with ex-Beatles and Stones members, and encountering various well-known figures. He saw Iggy Pop play a London club in 1972 and get dragged off the stage with a mike cord by a fan. I saw the same thing in 1980 at the Music Machine in North London, when somehow the cord was wrapped around Iggy’s throat, and a fan was pulling him off the stage.
Like so many people in the music industry, Stevenson attended art school at a place called Barnet, where he was eventually expelled. The burning question at the time: “what was art?” At the same time Stevenson was agonizing over the meaning of art, and clashing with professors, one of the most important punk figures of all, Malcolm McLaren, was attending Goldsmith’s Art College in London. He became involved in an organization called “King Mob,” England’s answer to the Situationists International (SI), an anarchist left wing group founded in 1957. SI claimed to speak for the working man, and its ideas dominated the French intellectual scene and radical Parisian politics that fueled the riots of 1968.
The British offshoot of SI got their name from the Gordon Rioters of 1780, who scrawled “His Majesty’s King Mob” on the walls of Newgate Prison and rampaged through London opening prisons and releasing the inmates. Funny how you don’t read much about that in English history books! The year is right around the American and French Revolutions, and not surprisingly, there was unrest in England.
SI was dedicated to the proletariat. The slogan for the group was “metro-boulot-TV-dodo,” or “subway-work-TV-sleep,” describing the life of the working class. SI said life was orchestrated at every turn and had become the “Society of the Spectacle,” and their job was awaken people and break down the illusions around them.
In 1965, the young Malcolm Edwards (later Malcolm McLaren) was drawn to the King Mob. The group was expelled by the Paris SI because they favored youth culture and delinquents like Teddy Boys and the “Ton-Up Kids” (bikers who aimed to reach 100 mph, or up to a ‘ton.’) They also loved certain tawdry aspects of American culture that the French disdained, something the lofty and superior French could not handle. So the King Mob moved on with their wild ways.
Their most dramatic event was dressing 25 people as Santa Claus in 1968, going to Selfridges Dept Store, and giving toys away to kids. They produced flyers praising Valerie Solana’s shooting of Andy Warhol, and had a hit list of artists such as Yoko Ono, Mary Quant, and Twiggy. In addition, they lauded terrorist groups like the Red Brigade and the Angry Brigade (a London organization that had bombed a department store). They published a magazine called “King Mob Echo,” which praised people like Jack the Ripper and child-killer Mary Bell, and were dedicated to disrupting society.
In his next move, McLaren said he wanted to create a fake new group that was supposed to be great, but was in fact, terrible. But the irony was that the band he created, The Sex Pistols, turned out to be quite good. Their driving rock and roll stands the test of time, matching anything by the Clash or the Ramones, and was no more or less complex than early Sun Records, actually.
In Philip Norman’s biography of Elton John, he thought the Sex Pistols had no talent, period. But they were perfect for the time and age, and quite a few musicians had a lot of respect for their songwriting and performance skills.
Stevenson’s harrowing description of his times with bands often involved massive amounts of sex, drugs and trouble with the police, occurring in sleazy dives and the mansions of the rich and famous. One piece of trivia was that Johnny Thunder and the Heartbreakers wore ties because they made excellent tourniquets, so now you know.
The story of the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees traveling to France is interesting, apparently her pert exposed breasts and swastika on her t-shirt did not charm the French, and the concerts there were marked by arrests and violence. Throughout the account are stories of constant multiple arrests by the police, from the famous Sex Pistols party on a barge on the Thames incident to Siouxsie and the Banshees being jailed outside the Rainbow Theatre. Indeed, when I was there it was hard to find out when the Sex Pistols were playing, it was kind of secret, and it was “S.P.O.T.” or Sex Pistols On Tour, for those in the know.
In the beginning, Stevenson mentions working near the notorious shop called SEX, located on King’s Road in London, in an enclave of stores called the World’s End. The owner was now Malcolm McLaren, and with his girlfriend Vivian, they became leaders in the ragged and offensive fashions exploding at the time.
Helping to fuel the London art and fashion scene was the New York City scene, and Stevenson relates friends coming back with the latest leather goods after trolling the S & M clubs and taking in the more serious and hardcore images and styles there.
McLaren ultimately formed The Sex Pistols, inspired by his involvement with King Mob and his earlier promise to create an anti-super group. His shop SEX was the equivalent of the Factory in New York City, on a smaller level, but the same radical mix of punk fashions and music and attitude were the same.
In addition, records arriving from the The Ramones, The Velvet Underground, Iggy and The Stooges, and other American groups fueled the English scene, setting the stage for the violent and crazed summer of 1977. The New York Dolls were very influential at the time, plus Richard Hell and Voidoids, and Patty Smith.
Stevenson and the others were hanging around the Roebuck, a pub that was the “local” for Led Zeppelin’s World’s End offices, not to mention Blackhill Enterprises, which was the corporation name of Pink Floyd.
King’s Road had been the epicenter of London fashion since the Sixties and earlier, with numerous shops that catered to London superstars.
“Granny Takes A Trip” was a very important store, with clients like the Faces, The Rolling Stones, and Elton John on their list, and Alkasura and Mr. Freedom, where Marc Bolan and Gary Glitter often shopped. Another place Stevenson and the others hung out was the Chelsea Drug Store, made famous by the Stones in “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” I remember how powerful it was to be in downtown London, Soho in particular, you just knew that every pavement and building around there had been saturated with the vibes of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, and countless others.
Once Stevenson mentions taking a band into Olympic Studios, famed recording facility of Beatles, Zeppelin, and other bands. He said he glumly realized the Zeppelin drum sound came from the drummer, not the studio. I guess the hatred of Led Zeppelin did not extend to their drum sound.
In 1974, he describes going to Ringo Starr’s New Year’s party to welcome in 1975. His girlfriend at the time was Marc Bolan’s ex, June Child, and she had been invited through that relationship. They rode down there in June’s Ferrari Daytona, chopping out the coke, and arrived at Starr’s house in a suburb called Virginia Water, where Elton John also lived. The first person they saw was Keith Richards passed out on the stairway, and Anita Pallenberg just stepping over him.
Cilla Black was there, and she took great offense at Stevenson’s T-shirt from SEX, which had soft porn pictures under gelatin. It may have been the famous one Stevenson spoke of, with a photo of a naked young boy smoking a cigarette, the image implying he’d just had sex. I was not sure which picture was on his T-shirt, but it was very offensive to the guests. His girlfriend was embarrassed by the T-shirt also, he said he scarcely saw her that night.
Nils describes the jam session: at midnight the stars gathered to play in Ringo’s little studio, but Keith Richard’s guitar strap kept coming undone as he swayed and struggled to keep hold of it, and Ronnie Wood was getting distracted trying to put it back on. Kiki Dee sang some inane lyrics, Eric Clapton tried to keep a choppy rhythm going, and Elton bashed away at some twelve-bar blues on the piano.
Stevenson was bored, the people were in their “thirties” and neither “glamorous or talented.” He commented on the music as “not only farcical, but the worst racket I’d ever heard.” This is kind of funny, he is managing some of the noisiest and most anarchistic racket-creating bands of all time, and to be so critical of superstars jamming in their home, ones that also had talent according tens of millions people around the world.
One part I found of interest in the book was how the term “Teddy Boys” came about. Any student of British history in the 1950’s and 60’s would know the it, the Beatles used their fashion ideas when in their teens, as did many British youth. It started when Dicky Buckles, an flamboyant ex-Scot’s guard and “aesthete,” tried to bring back the Edwardian fashions, dressing in long, tight waisted jackets, tight trousers, and flamboyant waistcoats. Some favored black velvet collars, which supposedly signified the death of the French aristocracy in the French Revolution. He was a lover of “rough trade,” and a gay element threads through this book on various levels.
Ironically, this decadent and flowery style of dress was seized on by some working class kids, and bastardized and changed in the 1950’s, and got its name when the tabloids condensed Edwardian to “Teddy Boys.” Stevenson says within this environment the seeds of all that followed in the 1960’s and 70’s were created, as rebellion with the artful use of clothes exploded in the streets.
I read in a couple of Zeppelin books of how Jimmy Page would go and watch groups like the Damned and The Clash furtively, leaving as soon as he was recognized. He stood up for punk, as did Elton John, even though Johnny Rotten (I think it was him) said that he did not have to hear a Led Zeppelin record to vomit, only see the cover. Billy Idol was roundly criticized by Pete Townsend, who later apologized, and put him their live Quadrophenia movie, where he did a great job.
By the end of 1975, Stevenson was in a lull, sales were terrible at his clothes stall, and his girlfriend caught him messing around with Miss Cincerella, a notorious LA groupie and wife of John Cale, founder of the Velvet Underground.
In January 1976 Stevenson describes being picked up by McLaren and his girlfriend (who had Chrissie Hynde) with them to go to what McLaren called “his new Bay City Rollers.” Stevenson was thinking it would be dull, but when he showed up at the Marquee, there were the Sex Pistols in all their rancid glory. Rotten was smashing mikes and cursing and spitting on the audience, and Stevenson was blown away. A footnote: McLaren rented the same practice space Badfinger used in London for Sex Pistols rehearsals.
I never knew John Bonham of Led Zeppelin had a daughter also, she’s a singer, and that Robert Plant helped get her started. I like the fact she submitted demos anonymously, sounds like she’s really good.
Fame and Fortune: Legendary Photographs by James Fortune of Rock’s Greatest Stars
By Brooke Saunders
In the late sixties and seventies, James Fortune took more than 20,000 pictures of The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, and many others, both onstage and off. His work has graced the cover of Jimmy Page’s solo CD “How The West Was Won,” Led Zeppelin’s “Mothership” CD, and a recent Who documentary. Eighteen prints are displayed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and countless coffee-table books contain his pictures, including the latest one about The Doors.
One of Fortune’s best-known images is Robert Plant holding a dove that had just landed in his hands, framed by a massive crowd at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. This became one of the most famous rock posters ever, Led Zeppelin was breaking the Beatle’s record for attendance at one concert, and a print now hangs in Plant’s home in England.
Fortune’s career began when he filmed the LA riots on Sunset Boulevard in 1966, and a picture of protesters on the roof of a bus was in publications around the world. But the first rock star shoot was in May 1967, when Fortune contacted record companies from his college newspaper, and gotten results.
“To my surprise, Elektra Records called back asking me if I could photograph one of their new bands, The Doors, at a recording session. When we arrived at Sunset Sound, we found Jim Morrison leaning against a wall staring at us, so we said hello, and entered the studio, and introduced ourselves to Paul Rothchild, their producer. As we sat down in the control room, we heard them playing back the instrumental of “I Can See Your Face In My Mind.”
Later in the session, vocals were added, relates Fortune. “Morrison wanted the lights turned down low as he sang.” The band finished, and Fortune took more pictures outside.
“Rothchild called for a break, and we went out on Sunset Boulevard, and I got a few photos of the band. I also photographed them at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and in the back of a limousine, which is the one of Morrison with a hat pulled down.”
Fortune went into the Navy from 1968 to 1969 as a combat photographer, and after returning, he got a job taking pictures for the National Association for Record Merchandising, the largest of the recording industry trade associations. For the next seven years, he photographed bands at the many events held by N.A.R.M, resulting in many of his best shots.
In 1973, a call came from Led Zeppelin’s publicist, and Fortune was asked to meet the band at the Continental Hyatt House on Sunset Boulevard. They always stayed at the Hyatt, which was jokingly called the “Continental Riot House,” because of all the wild parties. It was a familiar place to Fortune.
“The rumors you hear about Led Zeppelin’s parties there are all true, from Harley rides down hallways to staged drugged-out orgies, not to mention the secret affair between Jimmy Page and his 14-year old model Lori Maddox. Too bad there are not more photos of what went down there.”
When arriving at the suite, the band was too drunk to cooperate with the photo taking. So their large and beefy road manager Peter Grant bodily picked them up, and put them in a chair that would be best for the picture.
“I wanted a close shot that would be good for the newspapers, because there were already a lot of pictures out there with wide angles. The chair in the corner looked good for that purpose.”
In 1974, Fortune teamed up with Bob Yamasaki and One Stop Posters in Los Angeles. Over the next five years, they published ten rock and roll posters that sold over 700,000 copies.
Fortune took pictures of Paul McCartney and his family on several occasions in Los Angeles in 1975, and tells the story.
“I walked into the pool area where McCartney and his family were sitting. Then Paul came out of the pool, and held a white towel against his body in a great imitation of Gypsy Rose Lee, so I snapped a picture. As we hung around the pool, Paul’s little girl climbed out and said, “my feets are hot, my feets are hot.” I set down my camera and carried her over to Paul’s wife, Linda, who thanked me. I finished taking a number of photos there, and then I was asked to come back the next day to the Beverly Hills Hotel, and then again for another visit.”
The former Beatle ordered a half-dozen 11 x 14 prints from the sessions, according to Fortune, and was a pleasure to work with.
Michael O’Sullivan of the Washington Post wrote in 2005 about an exhibition of Fortune’s pictures, calling him a “prolific chronicler of rock royalty.” Some of the pictures he described included Keith Moon “cavorting with what appear to be topless groupies,” and a portrait of a “buff, bleeding, and not-yet-wizened Iggy Pop” after a performance at the Whisky a Go-Go in LA.
In that picture, Iggy was flipping the bird, and this classic takes its place along with rock’s most stunning and violent images, such as Jimi Hendrix setting fire to his guitar at Monterey Pop Festival and The Who smashing amps and drums.
But the prize for strangeness among the images, according to O’Sullivan, “must surely go to the artist’s photograph of odd-threesome Linda Lovelace of “Deep Throat” fame; Moon (yes, him again); and Micky Dolenz of the Monkees. Man, wouldn’t you love to hear the story behind that night?”
In 2008, Peter Skinner of Rangerfinder magazine wrote a feature story on Fortune in their July issue, and stated he was “one of the most important photographers to document the halcyon years of rock.” He went on to say “the connection, the intimacy and rapport that exude from Fortune’s images illustrate the close, even personal relationship and trust between subject and photographer. ”
In addition to invitations to some very exclusive events at galleries and openings involving his work, the job still has its perks. Recently, Fortune received at his home in Virginia a package with prints of an Eric Clapton photograph to sign, and there were Clapton’s signatures. “It was great to see that signature and add mine, and ship them out,” said Fortune.