LED ZEPPELIN - My First Ever Interview

The first music interview I ever did, in March 1969, about 14 months before I joined Melody Maker, was with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, for the Bradford Telegraph & Argus which had appointed me their pop correspondent. Coinciding with the UK release of their first album, it was only on the phone, with JP and JPJ talking to me from London, and I guess they’d been cornered by their PR and talked to a dozen or more hacks like me from the provincial press in the course of one morning.
         In the light of what Led Zeppelin would become and how they would figure in my world when I joined MM, it seems strangely clairvoyant now that of all the groups I could have interviewed in this way, it turned out to be Zep. I can’t remember interviewing any other acts on the phone, though I did stories on Joe Cocker and The Move while I was on the T&A. I hadn’t even heard their first album, and the interview was fairly slight. Led Zep’s PR had sent me a press release, but no LP, and I’d read this before talking to JP and JPJ. Of course I hadn’t a clue what they sounded like or what they would become. By the time I actually met them, backstage at the Bath Festival in June of 1970, they were massive. Later that same year they would win the MM poll for best British group, toppling The Beatles, and I remember chatting with them at the ceremony held in the Savoy Hotel on the Strand. I never mentioned how I’d interviewed them for the T&A though. 
          My short story about Led Zeppelin was published on April 1, 1969, and the only clue as to who had written it was ‘CC’ at the end. It has a rather na├»ve charm about it, and it seems I felt the need to put Led Zeppelin in quotation marks because it was such an unusual name.

The idea of individual musicians getting together to form a “supergroup” was started by Cream, who have now disbanded, but four more “advanced pop” exponents have got together with a similar idea.
         Former Yardbird and session guitarist Jimmy Page and three other experienced pop men have just finished a successful tour of the States and their new album, released only a week ago, is selling well.
         With the unlikely name of “Led Zeppelin” they specialise in progressive pop. Jimmy tells me he hopes progressive pop will catch on but unless the BBC give it air time it will be difficult going.
         “People are beginning to accept the idea of sitting listening to a group instead of dancing but there are no decent halls in this country where the audience can sit. The Albert Hal is the most diabolical place. It is acoustically useless.”
         Jimmy has scant respect for young groups with pretty faces who learn to play their guitars after their records are in the charts. “The only people they are fooling is themselves,” he says. “I know they are making money. They must know in their own minds they are just putting on a ‘con’ trick.”
         Bass player is John Paul Jones who once played with former Shadow Jet Harris when he teamed up with drummer Tony Meehan. He has also done session work with Donovan and the Stones and appeared at the Talk Of The Town backing Dusty Springfield.
         John Paul says that when Led Zeppelin started to play a number they are not quite sure how it would end up. “The number can go off at a tangent, with different tempo changes. We can improvise and it can be very interesting.”
         Of pretty groups with no musical ability he says: “If they turn out a product and the public likes, then obviously there is a demand for them. We would not appeal to the same audience and would not dream of playing anything like that.”
         The other two members of Led Zeppelin are vocalist Robert Plant and, who used to sing with Alexis Korner, and drummer John Bonham, who accompanied Tim Rose on his 1968 British tour.
         Led Zeppelin won’t be making any singles but what out for their albums on the LP charts. C.C.

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