Friday, June 24, 2005
The New Yardbirds?
Following the demise of The Yardbirds, guitarist Jimmy Page was eager to fulfill booking engagements that were committed prior to the bands breakup. Page along with respected session musician John Paul Jones bonded together to form the nucleus of a group when Page contacted vocalist Terry Reid (Super Lungs) to join the band. But Reid turned-down the offer to peruse a solo career. However it was Terry Reid that suggested the contacting of vocalist Robert Plant who's career was struggling and uncommitted at the time. Upon Jimmy Page's offer, Plant accepted to join the band and brought aboard his drummer John Bonham to seal the deal. Immediately the band jellied as a foursome and hit the road calling themselves The New Yardbirds. But it was drummer Keith Moon of the Who that laughed when he heard of a patched-together band and impersonating as The New Yardbirds and suggested that Page's idea would "go down like a led Zeppelin." Thus the bands name, Led Zeppelin.
At the time Atlantic Records was closely monitoring the UK music scene when Zeppelin scored an entrance level artist contract with the record label based upon two key elements. First, Jimmy Page had developed a reputation as the lead with The Yardbirds, a band known for avant-guard guitarist. And second was the intangible twist. Atlantic Records recording artist Dusty Springfield who was currently riding the charts with success had mentioned to Atlantic VP Jerry Wexler about Jimmy Page's impressive session work and notable reputation. But check this out. Strong rumor inhouse at Atlantic has it that Wexler agreed to have the band signed founded purely upon Dusty Springfield's suggestion and without hearing tapes of the band. If this story is true, which doesn't surprise me and based upon Wexler's musical taste and lack of appreciation towards the English rock invasion, the signing of Led Zeppelin to the record label was an absolute whim. Upon receiving strong FM airplay support and immediate retail chart success, Chairman Ahmet Ertegun quickly shuffled to arrange a photo session with himself and Jimmy Page to publicly acknowledge the bands signing.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Denmark Terminal. Drummer Al Jackson Jr. stops between terminal gates to speak with Mar-Keys Don Nix.(Circa~early 70's) This photo is puzzling as both look engaged in a serious conversation. However, my knowledge is that very seldom have either engaged in serious conversations. Two free spirits with great individual sense of humor.
Memphis in the meantime..........
Saturday, June 11, 2005
The Stax team changed directions with new leadership that didn't recognize the same visions or open door policies as with Jim Stewart. Or maybe my allegiance with Stewart was the issue. Whatever the case, I didn't take kindly to sitting on the bench. I was now being treated as if I was too big to play guard but too small to play forward. That's when Atlantic Records drafted me into their starting lineup.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Atlantic is the Cream
An enormous break-through came when Atlantic signed a white blues band from England. Former Yardbird guitarist Eric Clapton formed a power trio called Cream and linked the R&B and Jazz label into the era of the psychedelic movement. It appeared for a blues and R&B aficionado like Eric Clapton to join forces with a label rich with tradition, this was a perfect match. And indeed it was. Creams' four dynamic albums released on Atlantic were artistically creative, technically unique and excellently produced. It also brought into the forefront producers Felix Pappalardi and engineering by Tom Dowd.
Photos by Robert Whittaker and Carol Friedman.
Friday, June 03, 2005
Being invited to Atlantic Records in New York was a thrill. Upon arrival, I was trusted into the famous recording studio for a photo session for a album cover and Billboard Magazine ad. That's me top left in striped shirt with trumpet. Front and center bowing with head set is legendary producer Arif Mardin. Note background posters of (L-R) Nesuhi Ertegun, Ahmet Ertgun and Jerry Wexler.