Chemistry of Zep:
I think it was that we were really seasoned musicians. We had serious roots that spanned different cultures, obviously the blues. I was
seduced by R&R as a teenager and that's what made me want to play. From then I discovered the blues and country blues, folk
musicians, then folk with Arabic and on and on. I was gobbling it all up, then it just came up as the music that you heard.
Influence of Blues:
As far as the blues, it just captured them hearing Chicago blues. When the Stones first started they were doing really good
interpretations of Muddy Waters songs and all that Chess catalog. They weren't the only ones of course. Down in the south (London),
that's what was going on. Then you had the Beatles in Liverpool with Please Mr. Postman , and it really wasn't the same deal as what
was going on down South, but it got very popular and changed what was going on. It wasn't so much, for me, their music, but the
fact that they wrote their own songs and all of a sudden they opened the door for any band that could write songs. I started doing
studio work. That's the big change they made on the music scene.
Longevity of Zep:
The honesty of the music and the delivery and the passion of it. We went in and recorded exactly where we were at that point in time.
I think because of the quality of musicianship of the band has given it the longevity. I thought the music would endure, I didn't think I
would.. I always thought I'd be dead by 30 then dead by 40 and on and on. Now I'm 55 so I didn't even die at 50.
I always believed in the music we did and that's why it was uncompromising. The first album then the second album had Whole Lotta
Love. When the record company heard the third album they said 'where's the WLL?' And of course there wasn't one. There wasn't a
Stairway to Heaven on the fifth because we went in and recorded exactly where we were at that time.
I don't think the critics could understand what we were doing. It's a good example to go back to the WLL syndrome. The second
album was recorded on the road, we started before we came to the (US) touring. We did some cuts here at Atlantic (Bring it on Home).
It had all the energy of being on the road, that urgency. We'd been touring for two years solid. Once you see the door open, you kick it
open and go right in. We took full advantage of touring to get our name and mission across. We had a break after that period and
Robert and I went away and were in a cottage with no electricity. We had battery recorders and were writing in a more mellow way so
when the third album came out as mellow music, they couldn't understand what it was all about. So, you see it was a product of where
we were at that point in time. And so I guess reviewers put on an album once and unless they caught something they could relate to
from a previous album... of course they couldn't understand it - you just got successively worse reviews as the albums went on because
they went totally over people's heads. It seems funny now that Stairway had a one-line review in one I remember. It got to be amusing
after a while because they just couldn't understand what we were doing, which is always good isn't it.
Zep Heavy Metal?
It's the whole light and shade of the band. When you say heavy metal it the intensity of the riffs, really. There's some majestic music
like Kashmir - some music that can really caress, like Ten Years Gone.
Playing with Puff Daddy:
It was a really good thing to do that Puff Daddy thing and gave me such a focus. We were touring at the time (with Page/Plant) and it
was a really good thing to do and he was great to work with as well.
Is this Early Days/Latter Days a Greatest Hits Compilation?
In a way, yes. There was the original vinyl, then it was remastered into CD - we put out a four-CD box set. That's so long, years ago.
It just seemed to be good timing to put out what is almost like a greatest hits. But to put out a greatest hits on one CD was totally
impossible, I just couldn't do it. The best compromise was to put out two CDs - Early Days - which is what it is - and Latter Days. It
chronological; the first goes up to the fourth album. The second one will come out in early 2000 and will have the rest of the albums. I
didn't pick them out of a hat... (laughs). I thought it was a fair summing up of those albums.
Communication Breakdown Video on Early Days CD (from Sweden TV '69):
Communication is us actually miming to it (from Sweden TV). Everything around from that time is live, like in Denmark or somewhere
(referring to the Danish TV performance). It looks like they're stoned but they're not they're absolutely flabbergasted by what's going
on because they've never seen anything like it. So this one is a time that we lip-synched it, so we're having a whale of a time and being
silly and having a lot of fun. It's in context to put it on here because it's lip-synched, so it's a little bonus.
Recording 1st album:
I think it comes out to 36 hours - I know that because I had to pay the bills. It wasn't like we went into there for 36 hours non-stop,
but we paid for 36 hours of studio time. We had a chance to air the songs onstage in a small tour of Scandinavia. It gave us a change
to know the number before going in the studio. JPJ and I were veterans in the studio so we had all the discipline. John Bonham and
Robert had been in the studio before for a couple of things. It wasn't like anyone was going in there for the first time. Everyone got
swept away by the energy of it.
Bands today take so long to record:
It baffles me a bit because the album Presence was done in three weeks - fully recorded and mixed. In Through the Out Door was
done in three weeks, so I can't see why people have to take so long to do an album. Presence is quite a technical album. I don't know
why people take two years to do an album. I wouldn't have the patience for it - I'd get fed up. That's why you hear about people doing
an album and taking two years to record it - and it's stale.
Page on John Bonham:
Almost the moment he died, they put him in Playboy as one of the greatest drummers, which he was - there's no doubt about it.
There's never been anybody since. He's one of the greatest drummers that ever lived. You only have to hear a live performance to see
the way he could approach things and his imagination was far beyond any other drummer that I've ever played with.
Performing Live in Zep:
The funniest thing is I listen on some of those bootleg albums, and I remember on two tours I wasn't playing with one finger at all
because I'd done damage to it. One time I'd ripped it on a fence or something, another time I got it crushed. So when I hear a wrong
note, I think wait a minute... But, I wouldn't have the nerve to do it now.
Everybody else had a support band. As we went on it was difficult, just like what we were talking about with the running order (of
Early Days). It was so difficult to take numbers out when we had a new album, so we just kept adding new material. The set got longer
and longer and longer to the point where we we doing three hour sets.
Role as producer in Zep:
You try to have a democratic thing, but I think it's an accepted thing that Jimmy was a producer then. For instance, the the BBC
Sessions I did all the editing, so it goes without saying.
Would you ever remix Zep catalog?
Across the albums I'd hear something and say - that's too loud, or not loud enough. But people get immersed in them and they hear
them as they are and they don't need to be messed with. I'll give you a strange example of this: when I was learning from the records
as a kid, like on Ricky Nelson numbers - you'd hear half the solo then they'd apply the echo. I'd listen back to them and they weren't
nearly as pronounced as I thought they were and it came as a shock. That's how much I'd gotten into the records. Even though it was
only a mono record, it opened up and was massive - I could hear every little nuance. I think people who are really into Zeppelin records
feel the same way and it's not a good thing to do.
Recording When the Levee Breaks
The curious thing about Levee, I had the riff and sequence of it and that's about all. Robert had a guide vocal to it. We tried it in two
studios and it didn't sound good. If a number didn't work, we'd just move on and try the song the next day. We were working in
Headley Grange with a mobile truck. Bonzo had one drum kit in the room we were recording, and a second kit - I think a new drum kit
- was set up. He started playing there and I went hold it! because there was this massive sound. I said let's mike up the kit and let's
start and we started with When the Levee Breaks, as far as I remember. Around this big massive drum sound, the whole thing just
settled into what it was, then of course all the overdubs came on, backwards echo and all this sort of stuff.
Did You Write Material before going in the Studio?
I always felt if we were going in to do an album, there should already be a lot of structure already made up so
we could get on with that and see what else happened. I always had a lot of material - it speaks for itself for
the first album, but all the way through. I thought it was also important to see what would happen organically
as well. For instance, on Rock and Roll... Is that on there? (asks interviewer)... good, it should be (laughs), we
were recording something else - I can't remember what it was at the time and John Bonham just started
playing the opening bars of Keep A Knockin', by Little Richard - the drum intro. I heard that and just started
playing what you know as the riff of Rock and Roll. We got through the first twelve bars and said let's stop
and listen to this . The other song just got totally forgotten about & we did Rock and Rock, all in a matter of
Possibility of releasing live Zep material?
Well, we've got live material from 1970 going right through to Knebworth, which was the last concert in England. The 1970 show is
the Albert Hall so we're doing the first album stuff and some of the second album. That's pretty good and we've got live tapes to go
with those as well. It's the sort of project that would be interesting to do. There's always been talk of doing something at one point. I
thought it would be a good idea to put out a live chronological deal, something like this (Early Days) but in line with the footage. But at
another point in time it'll be let's just do the Albert Hall and that would be good. It's a really good concert, before some of the songs
got too long.
Playing with the Black Crowes:
It was proposed that there was going to be a concert in London at a place called the Cafe du Paris to raise money for these projects
and safehouses in Brazil, for the street children (June '99). I'd been involved with the charity, but I didn't have a band. I played there
the year before, with Robert for another charity so I couldn't ask them to do it again. Also, they wanted to get other bands. There was
a suggestion, I think it was Ross Halfin who said it would be great if you did that with the Crowes - The Crowes! That would be
absolutely fantastic. I contacted them because it was the same time they were doing Wembley and they said they'd love to do it.
Because they said they'd do it, we now had 'Jimmy Page with the Black Crowes' instead of Jimmy Page with nobody, other bands
came onboard - Stereophonics, Roger Taylor from Queen. Steve and Joe from Aerosmith came down and we did some numbers. It
was a really good. I did Dazed & Confused as an instrumental. It was such a fun evening. It was really as a result of them coming
onboard that this whole charity thing managed to manifest. So, an idea was then proposed to me: We've got the Roseland Ballroom
and Greek Theatre, would you like to do something with the Crowes? So I jumped at it. We had a big party ever since. I'm really gonna
miss it when we stop. They're such lovely guys and so committed to rock and good music. Plus, they can really play Zeppelin, which
isn't easy to play.