By Lori Spencer

This Can’t Be Happening!

Protesters braved freezing temperatures and sleet in Dallas on November 22.

Protesters braved freezing temperatures and sleet in Dallas on November 22.

This is content based denial of free speech in a public park and at a designated historic site. Dealey Plaza belongs to history and to the American people, especially on the 50th anniversary.”

John Judge, executive director of the Coalition on Political Assassinations

 

DALLAS – In Part One of this series on the JFK 50th Anniversary, I covered a two-year battle between the City of Dallas and Kennedy assassination researchers/activists over a fundamental question. Who had the right to use Dealey Plaza on November 22: the people, or the elite? (The elite won that war, of course, but not without some significant losses in the court of public opinion.)

 

The battle was fought in the press, in the courtroom, and today it was going to be fought in the streets of Dallas.

 

All the mutual distrust and tension between these opposing forces had come to a boil, despite what appeared on the surface to be an uneasy truce made a week before the November 22 ceremonies. The City of Dallas only made these last-minute concessions to avoid what would have no doubt been an embarrassing and costly lawsuit threatened by the Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA).

 

“Half of my members wanted to go to court, and half wanted to take the mayor’s offer.” said COPA executive director John Judge. Ultimately, Judge chose the most peaceful and diplomatic solution, in keeping with the legacy of President Kennedy.

 

Even if you’re not a JFK Truther; even if you honestly think that Lee Harvey Oswald was a disgruntled ex-Marine-turned-Commie with a grudge against Kennedy and an incredibly magic bullet in his old broken-down gun, you gotta wonder. What is it about the JFK conspiracy theorists that cause the establishment so much consternation, anyway? Why is the City of Dallas – and indeed the government of these United States – so hellbent on shutting them up? Why has the mainstream media demonized and marginalized Kennedy assassination scholars for five decades?

 

Who are these people, and why are they so dangerous? Let’s meet some of them, shall we?

 

BOB GRODEN

 

Robert Groden is the top dog of JFK conspiracy researchers in Dallas. To some, he’s a hero; to others a charlatan. To city officials and the Sixth Floor Museum honchos, he’s a Really Big Pain in the Ass. In their occult secret society rituals these powerful men most likely burn his effigy and stick pins in a voodoo doll while chanting Groden’s name. More than anything, they’d love to see him take a nice, long, relaxing permanent vacation in someplace like oh, Siberia, for example.

 

Groden achieved national prominence in 1975 when he fought a legal war to obtain – and eventually air – the Zapruder film on national TV. It was the first time the public had ever seen the film. He later worked as a forensic photographic expert to the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978 and was a consultant on the 1991 Oliver Stone film, JFK.

 

For many decades, Groden has been an unofficial sort of tour guide to Dealey Plaza, talking with curious visitors and selling his self-published books, magazines, and videos about the JFK murder. Apparently the Sixth Floor Museum didn’t appreciate the competition, and asserted their perceived right to be the only dispenser of information in Dealey Plaza. So they started calling the cops on Groden, often.

 

After having him ticketed, arrested, and/or jailed an astonishing 81 times for exercising his right to free speech, Groden filed a federal lawsuit against the city this year and won. Nonetheless, Groden was still excluded from all city-sponsored “official” ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary and banished from Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22 (his birthday, ironically).

 

Noted JFK conspiracy author Robert Groden (seated) hawks his wares in Dealey Plaza on Nov. 21.

Noted JFK conspiracy author Robert Groden (seated) hawks his wares in Dealey Plaza on Nov. 21.

COPA

The Coalition on Political Assassinations, which has gathered on the grassy knoll in some form or fashion every Nov. 22 since 1964, was also banned from the site this year by the city of Dallas.

 

“They know the world press is coming and they want to do an event that controls the message entirely,” COPA director John Judge said. “They want us to be invisible to the press and the crowds.”

 

Although COPA backed down from their threatened civil rights lawsuit over access to the plaza, they did manage to gain some important concessions from the city. COPA was allowed to hold their annual moment of silence at 12:30 p.m. (the moment the president was shot) outside Dealey Plaza. Dallas officials also agreed to re-open the park to them at 2:30 p.m., after the official ceremony had ended. In return, COPA agreed they would be good little boys and girls.

 

A handful of COPA members, however, managed to obtain tickets to the city-sponsored official ceremonies in Dealey Plaza. Positioning themselves in front of the news cameras, COPA protesters said not a word to disrupt the proceedings but instead silently pointed to the grassy knoll. They all wore t-shirts bearing the late president’s image with the words “50 years in denial is enough.”

 

The official JFK 50th ceremony in Dealey Plaza, sponsored by the City of Dallas.

The official JFK 50th ceremony in Dealey Plaza, sponsored by the City of Dallas.

CTKA

 

Most of the assassination researchers (they hate the term “conspiracy theorists”) I spoke to that day still harbored hurt feelings and bitterness over their exclusion from Dealey Plaza, understandably.

 

“The 50th anniversary will really be one of the last opportunities to really get this out into the public domain,” said James DiEugenio, co-founder of the Citizens for Truth About the Kennedy Assassination. (CTKA)

 

“I really and truly believe that the Kennedy assassination was quite epochal; it had reverberations down to present day,” he says. “What has happened over time is that cynicism and skepticism have seeped down into the public at large. It has caused a lot of serious problems about people’s’ belief in government and has splintered our society.”

 

JFK LANCER

 

Over at the nearby Adolphus hotel, about 400 assassination researchers from around the country had gathered for the annual convention of their group, JFK Lancer. This year’s convention was a biggie; featuring the most eminent of JFK scholars lecturing on everything from how the late Ted Sorensen Saved the World (Really!) to the allegedly sinister connection betwixt presidential patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy, Jack Ruby, and his defense lawyer Melvin Belli.

 

Dick Russell gave an outstanding presentation about Richard Case Nagell (the man who knew too much?); Kennedy family friend Joan Mellen conducted a focus group on the Jim Garrison case against Clay Shaw, and Russ Baker brought to light new information that wasn’t included in his original “Family of Secrets” book about the Bush dynasty – including startling evidence pointing to George H.W. Bush’s alleged involvement in the Kennedy assassination.

 

JFK Conspiracy theories aren’t just for left-wingers anymore. Oh, no sir. After 50 years, this is no longer a partisan issue. When even Dick Morris comes to the same conclusion as Mark Lane — that Kennedy was murdered by a conspiratorial cabal, it’s time to put personal politics aside and face the facts of the case with an open mind.

 

Alex Jones bullhorns the police at the barricades to Dealey Plaza while broadcasting live on his syndicated radio talk show.

With ice forming on his jacket, Alex Jones bullhorns the police at the barricades to Dealey Plaza.

ALEX JONES

 

Out in the mean streets of downtown Dallas, conservative radio talk show host Alex Jones and his army of followers marched up to the barricades surrounding Dealey Plaza. For Dallas native Jones – who was born at Parkland hospital (where JFK and Oswald both died) – the Kennedy assassination has intensely personal meaning.

 

About 200 of Alex’s “infowarriors” turned out in the brutal cold and sleet to take part in the march, which was also broadcast live on his GCN Network radio show. More than a million viewers watched on Ustream as Alex confronted a thick line of Dallas police.

 

The cops remained stoic as protesters demanded entry to the public park. “Let us in! Let us in! Let us in!” they chanted.

 

The public was finally allowed access to Dealey Plaza around 1:30 p.m. Police corralled them into an area behind the first perimeter of barricades. People were still not allowed into the main area of the plaza, cordoned off behind a second line of barricades.

 

With freezing rain beginning to fall more heavily, Alex Jones and his followers marched to Houston and Commerce streets on the edge of Dealey Plaza shouting “no more lies!” and “hell no, we won’t go!” They stood firm at the barricades but did not attempt to breach them.

 

About 15 minutes later, Dallas County sheriff’s deputies began to shove those in the crowd east along Commerce, away from Dealey Plaza, to an area behind the historic Old Red Courthouse. Some demonstrators were manhandled or knocked to the ground.

 

Members of the media (including your humble correspondent) were caught up in the crush as about 30 deputies shoved the protesters back, saying they were too close to a homeland security command unit.

 

Carmen Castro, spokeswoman for Sheriff Lupe Valdez, said the protesters had to be moved because they were starting to crowd “not only private citizens who were attempting to pay their respects but also equipment that was in place for the event.”

 

According to Castro, deputies repeatedly told the demonstrators to move and to “cease their disorderly conduct,” which, she said, included “using profanity and obscenities.”

 

They were forcibly moved back when they refused to obey, she said. Deputies did not use any chemicals or weapons, and no one was injured, she said. There were no arrests.

 

During the confrontation about 15-20 Sheriff’s deputies attacked Alex Jones directly. One officer punched him in the stomach. This same group of officers followed the crowd out of the plaza, taunting and trying to provoke the peaceful protesters into violence.

 

Alpha male Alex challenged them live on the air, screaming “You want to fight? Take off your badge! Take off your uniform, punk! I’ll take you in a bare-knuckles fight if you’re a real man! Come on!”

 

“My God,” Alex said afterward. “They literally wanted to attack us. They let us into the plaza like we agreed, and then they did that to us. This is the most mentally ill, dumb thing I’ve ever seen in my life. They let us in, and then assaulted peaceful protesters. We just saw a Dallas police riot.”

 

*NOTE: The confrontation between police and protesters can be viewed on Alex Jones’ website, along with his complete on-air live broadcast from Dealey Plaza.

A Dallas sheriff's deputy is seen choking a protester at the JFK 50th. (Photo: Infowars.com)

A Dallas sheriff’s deputy is seen choking a protester at the JFK 50th. (Photo: Infowars.com)

By Lori Spencer

This Can’t Be Happening!

CBS evening news anchor Harry Reasoner holds up the grisly headline. November 22, 1963.

CBS evening news anchor Harry Reasoner holds up the grisly headline. November 22, 1963.

I once did know a President

A way down South, in Texas.

And, always, everywhere he went,

He saw the Eyes of Texas.

The Eyes of Texas are upon you, all the livelong day.

The Eyes of Texas are upon you, you cannot get away.

Do not think you can escape them

At night or early in the morn

The Eyes of Texas are upon you ’til Gabriel blows his horn.

Sing me a song of Prexy, of days long since gone by.

Again I seek to greet him, and hear his kind reply.

Smiles of gracious welcome

Before my memory rise,

Again I hear him say to me, “Remember Texas’ Eyes.”

The Eyes of Texas by John Sinclair, 1903

(the last song JFK ever heard. President Kennedy was serenaded by the Texas Boys Choir in Ft. Worth on the final morning of his life)

A huge banner bearing JFK's likeness is hoisted above Dealey Plaza on the eve before Dallas commemorates the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

A huge banner bearing JFK’s likeness is hoisted above Dealey Plaza the night before Dallas commemorates the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

DALLAS, Nov. 21 – A day before Dallas paused to observe the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, crowds already began to gather in Dealey Plaza. By early afternoon Thursday, more than 1,000 people milled about the historic murder site in downtown Dallas.

Gayle Newman, now 72, was an eyewitness to the assassination. She returned again to Dealey Plaza today with her husband Bill (who also witnessed the murder up close) and their family. “I’ve never seen so many people here at one time,” she said in genuine amazement. The Newmans are seen in assassination film footage throwing themselves upon their children as shots rang out.

People came from all over the world to Dallas for the anniversary. 43 year-old Cecile Hermier arrived Tuesday from Dijon, France. “This was my promise I made to myself when I was 13,” she said.

She has since visited JFK-related sites in Boston, Washington, Los Angeles (to research the RFK assassination), Ireland, Berlin, and finally, Dallas. She’s already been to the Sixth Floor Museum, the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff, and toured Parkland hospital to see the place where both Kennedy and his alleged assassin died.

“I love that you are not really celebrating the assassination, but his life and legacy,” she said. “I wish the Kennedy family would give some sign to Dallas that they have forgiven the city. They will not be here, but I am proud to be here.”

Indeed, no Kennedys turned up in Dallas over the weekend. Two of John F. Kennedy’s cousins – Kerry and Kevin McCarthy – were the only family members who came to mark the solemn anniversary. Both were in town to speak at the JFK Lancer conference.

59 year-old Long Beach lawyer Jeff Gold strolled around Dealey Plaza showing off his tattoos of the Kennedys (John, Jackie and Robert). He also had a poignant quote tattooed on his left forearm from JFK’s June 1963 American University speech that read, “What kind of peace do I mean, and what kind of peace do we seek?”

“There’s a mixed feeling about this — we’re commemorating a murder.” Gold remarked. “It’s both interesting and gauche. But that’s what makes America great.”

And speaking of gauche, the first thing I noticed as I looked around Dealey Plaza was road construction on Elm Street and the overwhelming stench of fresh asphalt. But this wasn’t just any run-of-the-mill fixer-up street project. The reason for the frantic last minute re-paving was to erase the “X” which has for several decades marked the spot where Kennedy was fatally wounded.

Benny Jeffery protests Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings' decision to pave over the “X” which marks the spot of President Kennedy's death.

Benny Jeffery protests Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings’ decision to pave over the “X” which marks the spot of President Kennedy’s death.

We’re heading into nut country today.”

President Kennedy to his wife Jackie on the morning of November 22, 1963

The city of Dallas’ inept – and often infuriating – management of the JFK 50th anniversary has been a hornet’s nest of controversy locally for almost two years now. The Dallas Observer’s Jim Schutze provides the most entertaining coverage of this three-ring circus, certainly. On an almost daily basis, Schutze holds mayor Rawlings’ feet to the fire and roasts city officials to a crisp with each new mind-bogglingly boneheaded decision they make.

While the mainstream Dallas press turned a blind eye to the exclusionary and illegal shenanigans city officials have engaged in over this JFK 50 thing, Schutze has stayed on the story from day one. Often he’s a lone voice in the wilderness of Dallas media. Schutze was the only reporter to cover a federal civil rights lawsuit earlier this year exposing emails and other communications proving the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza was directly involved in repeatedly jailing noted JFK conspiracy author Robert Groden (81 times, no less!) – a clear violation of his First Amendment right to free speech. Obviously, someone in power wanted Groden to shut the hell up.

The city, working hand-in-hand with Dallas’ elite old guard (most of whom are rabid Republicans, incidentally) and the Sixth Floor Museum, has done everything in its power to control the spin of how the 50th anniversary would be portrayed to the public. If a few dissenting voices got silenced, or some civil rights were trampled along the way, the city reasoned, it was all for a good cause. The official Warren Commission conclusion, and the reputation of Dallas, Texas, must be protected at any cost.

Friday was the first time the city of Dallas officially observed the anniversary. Dealey Plaza – a public park funded by taxpayer dollars – was sealed off behind barricades. 5,000 tickets were made available through a lottery, and only to in-state residents. To apply for a ticket, individuals had to give up all their personal information to the Dallas Police Department and submit to a background screening by the Department of Homeland Security. This alone kept many would-be attendees away. Too many hoops to jump through; too much of an invasion into their Fourth Amendment right to privacy.

Tight security? You bet. Police officers closed off streets near Dealey Plaza, creating a gnarly traffic clusterfuck for downtown commuters. Anyone without a golden ticket or media credentials was kept away from the plaza. Media credentialing was tightly restricted, too; only mainstream corporate media outlets were granted access by The Powers That Be. Police and homeland security officers waded through the crowds with bomb-sniffing dogs. These bad boys meant business. (Aren’t they supposed to be the good guys?)

Dallas police, county sheriffs, and Homeland Security officials hold the line outside Dealey Plaza.

Dallas police, county sheriffs, and Homeland Security officials hold the line outside Dealey Plaza.

The weather didn’t exactly offer a friendly welcome to JFK tourists, either. A powerful cold front had moved in the night before, dropping temperatures from 70 degrees to the low 30s. Brutal, gusty winds came howling out of the north. By Friday morning sleet was falling. Event organizers were expecting hundreds of people to watch the official ceremony on various jumbotron screens around downtown Dallas, but only a few dozen people braved the cold in those venues.

Like any real journalist who doesn’t swallow spoon-fed gubbermint pap and regurgitate it into a story, I chose to skip attending the city’s official shindig in Dealey Plaza. Credentials, schmedentials. Who wants to sit through a bunch of boring speeches and a naval glee club in the freezing rain, for cryin’ out loud? I hungered to talk to the riff-raff, the locals, the out-of-towners, the popo, and of course, the conspiracy buffs.

The real action was outside Dealey Plaza. That’s where I’d find the truth. Or at least, a hell of a lot more truth than I’d ever get from the mouth of a Dallas politician.

Follow TCBH’s Lori Spencer into the streets of Dallas – and directly into the fracas between protesters and police – tomorrow at This Can’t Be Happening!

JimmyPageJan2013

Page is featured in the current Spring 2013 ad campaign for John Varvatos menswear, along with Austin, Texas blues artist Gary Clark, Jr.

* This interview was originally published on October 12, 2012, prior to the release of Led Zeppelin’s Celebration Day.

Five years after their legendary reunion gig at London’s O2 arena, the biggest band on planet rock finally revealed what has been under wraps ever since: a double album/DVD with 16 songs and over two hours of Led Zep´s very best, performed at a one off event that attracted more than 20 million fans from around the world.

Celebration Day may in fact be Led Zeppelin’s swan song, but Jimmy Page says he’s just getting warmed up. Promotional appearances, interviews, and premiere screenings of the film will keep him busy globe-trotting through the fall of 2012 –  a triumphant year thus far, capped by Led Zeppelin’s receipt of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors in December.

He also talks excitedly and at some length here about his current and future projects on tap for 2013 and beyond.

Page is rather legendary for being guarded — even hostile at times — with interviewers. But as this lengthy and candid chat proves, once you get him talking about the things he’s passionate about, Page is surprisingly forthcoming and detailed in his replies. (It also helps to ask halfway intelligent questions.)

The Q&A format works best with Page: not just to ensure the accuracy of his statements, but more importantly, to eschew assigning a journalist’s own perspective on what he may or may not have actually meant.

This is therefore a raw, unedited transcript of the interview — interruptions, distractions from phone calls and hotel fire alarms, all included.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

How does it feel watching the O2 show five years after it has been taped? Were you as good as you thought you´d be – or even better?

Uhm… well, I knew we’d performed a pretty incredible concert. We’d worked towards that. That was what we had in our sights – to actually go out there and knock everybody’s socks off.

You were well prepared for it, weren’t you?
Well, well, we had, we’d had a period of rehearsing, which maybe it spanned six weeks. But it wasn’t every week, it wasn’t every week. There was maybe three days here, couple of days over there, then maybe for days. Because the thing was…

(Page looks startled as the hotel’s fire alarm starts shrieking loudly)

Just ignore that. They said it was going to happen at 11:45am this morning – for one minute only.  Obviously they haven’t told you though…
No, no, that’s pretty unbelievable, isn’t it? (chuckles) So it was over a period of time that we rehearsed. ´Cause I personally – when it was said we were doing the O2 – I said: “We’ve got to rehearse for this properly.” Because we had in the past there was Live Aid – no rehearsal really. With the drummer – hardly anything. The drummer that we were using on that.

Ah, yes. Phil Collins. I remember a 2007 interview for Yahoo! News in which you characterized it as…shambolic, was it?

Well, there were two drummers, actually, which makes it even more confusing. We came together and rehearsed with a drummer we’d never met before and then we were joined by Phil Collins, who we’d never played with before, on this great Live Aid stage. I mean, we went there with the spirit of it, but actually it was pretty shambolic.

Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham (son of late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham) reunited again at the 40th Anniversary Party for Atlantic Records at New York's Madison Square Garden. May 14, 1988.

Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham (son of late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham) reunited again at the 40th Anniversary Party for Atlantic Records at New York’s Madison Square Garden. May 14, 1988.

When I covered the Atlantic Records’ 40th Anniversary Concert in 1988, there was such incredible anticipation inside Madison Square Garden all that day. The concert had gone on for 13 hours; one legendary musical artist after another, and yet it was obvious that the majority of ticketholders were there to see Led Zeppelin reunite. Then I had the unenviable task of interviewing these fans after the show and they were just brutal, you know, saying things like, “that was horrible!” and asking “what the hell happened to Led Zeppelin?”

Well yeah, we all know the Atlantic 40th wasn’t what it could have been. And so, it was imperative that if we were going to go out there we were going to go out there and show people why we were so revered if you like. And there was such a respect and such a reputation for Led Zeppelin. There was no two ways round it. Sure, within the first of the rehearsals that we did, maybe we did three or four days, we were really already good. But: We needed to be extra special. And for a two hour twenty minute set, whatever it is, we wanted to be able to take on all the numbers and still have a sort of new character to them – without losing what really made them tick in the first place. So, when I knew we’d done a good concert, I knew it was really special.

Why was the 2007 reunion more special to you than say, the ones in 1985 and `88? Were you just more satisfied with the fact that it was better-rehearsed, or what?

It was really special for a number of reasons: Part of it, we put a lot of work into it. But also the fact that we were playing with John Bonham’s son, Jason… Jason, from my point of view, Jason had the hardest job on that stage. He was going to have the hardest job that night. And for that two hours and twenty minutes I wanted to know it myself that he felt 100 percent confident as he was going through these rehearsals with that one date in mind.

And as you know, I had an accident on the way through. I don’t know whether you know about that, do you? I broke my finger in three places. And we had to postpone. We didn´t want to cancel. So, even a broken finger wasn’t going to get in the way of this. (chuckles)

The concert was originally scheduled for November 26, 2007, wasn’t it? And you had to push it back about two weeks to let your finger heal. I can’t even imagine how you played with a broken finger after only a couple of weeks. That must’ve been a challenge.

Oh yeah. Well I’d broken my finger in three places! So, looking at it back there was still those moments: “Oh gosh”, but nobody’s going to notice. I’d notice, but… you know, so all those guitarists out there: It can be done. If Django Reinhardt… You know, I was thinking: If Django Reinhardt could do it, you know, cause he had only like two fingers, didn’t he? And a thumb basically. Mind you his right hand was exceptional. I didn’t have a right hand like that. But, you know, it was just, it was I guess the fact that music’s in my DNA helped, too. (chuckles)

But you didn’t have a theatrical or commercial release in mind at that time, did you? Of that material?
Well, it was a concert, it was a Led Zeppelin concert for me. It was an opportunity for us all to play together. And play well and stand up and be counted. And that was the opportunity to be able to do that. It wasn’t: “Let’s go and, let’s go and make a DVD.” It wasn’t that. You can tell that by the way that we’re approaching it. It wasn’t that. But: Even if it was just going to be a home movie for the people involved, it was necessary to record it. Because it was going to be mixed up on the screen, you know. But when I saw what was the original mix of the images for the back screen, and the sound of the night: yeah, it was pretty exciting, pretty exciting. But I think we’ve topped that.

Was it such a bulk of work that it took that long to finish? I mean, you basically worked on it for a year and a half or something?
Well, it was a long time that we didn’t sort of even… no, no we didn’t, we didn’t just…no. It was ages before we even got round to having a look at it.

And the big screen? Did you try to top Elton John’s Las Vegas thing? Like putting up the biggest screen in rock history?

Was it, was it? I know it had… maybe that size was a first, I don’t know. I think they call it a Stealth Screen. But it was important for something the size of the O2 to have back screen projection. In fact though, we were the first band to have back screen projection over here, in England. The very first band in 1975 when we played Earls Court. We had back screen projection for that so people at a distance could see what was going on. So ah… yeah, okay, so if we had the largest one, that’s really good. (laughs)

There was a lot of laughter and smiles during the show. Is that an indication that you felt comfy after a while? And when did that kick in? When did you know you were onto something good?

Well, we put a lot of work into it. And there were those sort of smiles during the rehearsals as well. You know, when things would work, there was a connection. There was a serious connection going on on the stage. And that’s reflected. That’s all very honest all of that, all of that emotion or whatever or jubilation. All celebration. But it’s very honest. And I think because it’s honest, people will connect a lot more with it. Cause, you know, it’s more the heart and the passion and the soul than somebody who is just going there to go through the numbers, and yes, we are making a DVD and it’ll be out next week. No, it wasn’t like that.

It does come across like something very passionate.

Yeah, yeah. One of the things that you may not know is that the… talking about that rehearsal period, and final rehearsals were done at Shepperton. And we had a production rehearsal, it was the final rehearsal. In fact, it’s the only one where we sort of went through the whole of the set – with Robert. And that rehearsal is actually going to come out in one of the packages, you know, the DVD and the rehearsal. There’s an ordinary edition of it without the rehearsal. But then there is a rehearsal, which…it’s rather interesting. Because the numbers are done in the attitude, the approach to the them is different under circumstances of that, than to the O2. And what I can say to that offsetting one thing to the other, is that every rehearsal was different in its way. And that was always the Zeppelin ethic. That even if we were doing concerts back to back, they’d always be different.

Uhm… apart of this is, you know, on the BBC Sessions that we did, there were I think it was three versions of “Communication Breakdown”. And they’ve all got a different approach to them. That’s what I mean. That sort of ethic that we had, still needed to be applicable in the current day of five years ago, whatever it is, four or five years ago. And that’s it. And that’s what we wanted to achieve so that we will be able to mutate numbers if we wanted to.

Plus, you´ve got this huge stage, yet the band stays in close proximity to one another and uses very little of the actual space. Is that going back to the jamming thing – to playing eye to eye in a tiny little room?

Yes, cause, cause we need that connection. We got to listen to each other and hear. Because it may change, you know. I might change it round and I want everyone to follow on, you know. So, that’s how that was done, you know. You needed enough rehearsal time to be confident to be able to do that without anyone going: “What’s he, what’s he doing” or whatever. Or: “What’s John Paul Jones doing there?” As opposed to: “Well, I know what this is and I’m moving with it and weaving with it.” That’s it. And that’s what Zeppelin was about in all those years ago. And that’s what we wanted to work towards, so everyone was confident with playing within the unit, to be able to do that.

What do you think if you see other bands out there, where the singer is over there and the guitar player is over there, a football field away?
Well, when they’re doing that in like sort of a stadium and stuff? Well, I mean it’s, you know, they do that. But we were, you know, we were a musical group. It was about music. It wasn’t, you know, when I had long hair I could have shook it all I wanted. Nobody’s going to see it when they’re listening to an album, are they? (laughs) So, no, no it was more about making music, and pioneering new things within it, too. Within the frame that music as it was at that time.

Also the DVD could work like a workshop for musicians, couldn’t it? Simply because the camera is capturing everything you guys are playing…I mean, for the first time, we get some actual close-up shots of you working the theramin and seeing how that’s done.

Well, yeah, personally I’d have more…

Is this meant to be musician friendly so to speak?

Well, personally I would have had even more of that close up if you like. Whether it’s John Paul Jones or Jason or myself. Because I think people are interested to know how the music is done, you know, as opposed to just hearing it. I think it’s important to ah… Well, I’ve always felt that. Certainly of the people that I’ve like from the past, my heroes if you like. I’d want to see what they were doing. I wouldn’t want the camera just to be off somewhere else when they’re doing something that’s really important. Because I wondered: “How did he do that?” you know what I mean? So, yeah, I suppose it´d apply the same ethic.

And you´re showing people that it’s not rocket science: It´s a Gibson, an Orange Amp and not too many effects, is it?

Well, it’s a bit of everything, isn’t it? I’m sort of playing around the effects. Certainly by the time it gets to “Whole Lotta Love”, and then it’s got the full works going with… Cause you’re probably doing this for a guitar magazine aren’t you, yeah? Well, there’s the guitar that changes chords by a press of a button.

That switch on the body?

Yeah, yeah. And… it had become quite an interesting sort of combination to use that with the Echoplex. And so you’ve got the Echoplex, you’ve got these sort of chords cascading around and coming back and around. The guitar has got a transperformance. Or at least the… it’s actually in a Gibson, but the whole mechanism of it was ah… it was originally called transperformance. And it’s so reliable, that guitar. I’d use that going way, way back – from the time with Coverdale/Page. I was using it when I did that. And from that point on was I always used it.

That was a custom thing, just built for you at the time?

What happened was: I heard about this guitar that tuned itself. And I thought: “Oh yeah”. I’d also heard about a bow that was like a magic bow. I saw a video of this guy doing it and I think: “He’s just messing around, he’s just sort of playing the bow and pretending it was nothing.” So when somebody said: “There was a guitar that tunes itself” – at the point of time that this was – I didn’t really pay too much attention to it until I eventually got a VHS, arrived when I was on tour. And I think it might have been in… yes, it was. It was when I was on my solo tour in 1988. Which also had Jason on drums, as you recall, which was great. But I put it on, and this guy says: “Well, this is how Jimmy Page plays uhm…” No, he plays “Rain Song” – not in a tuning. And I thought: “I never actually tried to play in the standard tuning.” And I thought: “Well, it’s really complicated isn’t it?” (laughs) And then he said: “This is how Jimmy Page plays it.” And he presses a button and the whole guitar weaves into this chord. And he starts playing and I went: “Where’s that box, where is his number?” And I was on the phone to this fellow in minutes, almost in the middle of the night. And I said: “We’ve got to get together and…”, yeah so. I’ve enjoyed that guitar. There’s that – Chaney it’s called – and I got the Whammy pedal taking it the pitch variation. And, you know, I’m having a bit of fun there. (chuckles)

And the bow? What’s the idea behind that?

Oh, unfortunately the bow was not as successful as it should have been that night (at the 02), and I’ll tell you why. Because whoever was doing the monitors thought: “Oh he’ll want to hear himself.” And they whacked up the monitors so I was getting a lot of feedback. I was fighting it. A second gig would have sorted this out. But we only had one shot, so it is what it is. But the bow, actually I used the bow with The Yardbirds. And I heard some of The Yardbirds stuff quite recently. And it wasn’t too bad what I was doing. I was really trying to, I was really trying to make music with it on… I think it’s quite successful on the… well, it’s in “Dazed And Confused” and “Song Remains The Same”. I mean, there’s some really interesting playing going on. Which isn’t just sort of making a noise. I mean, it’s really sort of quite, dare we say, orchestral. It’s definitely avant-garde, yeah. But I wouldn’t say that it came off at its best in this new film. But that’s it. You win some, you lose some. But it’s okay. It sort of works, but it wasn’t on that really high intensity rate that it has been maybe in the past. But it still works, still illustrates the point.

It doesn´t come across like that though – like there was something wrong or there were any mistakes involved…

Well, it’s not a mistake, it’s just that it was a battle with with the monitors feeding back into the guitar. And nobody seemed to understand that I wanted it turned down when I was looking. So, anyway. There we go.

After that gig and considering the enormous demand with 20 million people seeking tickets, you could have easily said: We’re going to do more shows or even a proper tour.
Yeah.

Was it Robert not wanting to be involved, or why did that not come about?

All I can say is… I mean you have to be really brutally honest about it, that at this point of time – four years ago – we would have been rehearsing for the O2. Which will come in December – December it will be five years, it’ll be five years. And so, from a concert like that you would have thought that there might have been some sort of whisper or hint about another gig over here or over there. For maybe very, very good reasons, you know, charitable cause or whatever it is. Well, there wasn’t. So, I mean that’s it. I mean, that’s all I can tell you. So if there’s a five year span I wouldn’t expect that there would be anymore concerts really.

Which is sad in a way…

Well, it is what it is, isn’t it? So under those circumstances, I could tell after three years, when it was getting in, 3 ½ years, we got to pay some attention, I’ve got to look at it and forget and just go in, in an objective way and just ah… forget about broken fingers and all the rest of it. And think, you know, going in with a really positive attitude of knowing that we did a really great show. And that Jason had played marvelously. His father would have been so proud of him. And that was the way to go in and look at the O2.

Plant, Jones, and Page in a scene from "Celebration Day."

Plant, Jones, and Page in a scene from “Celebration Day.”

But weren´t there plans to form another band with a different singer and to go on tour as well?

No. You see, what we did – doing all of the rehearsals – was not to play any new stuff. Not to get sidetracked. But we felt that all, certainly Jason, myself and John Paul Jones – cause Robert had his Alison Krauss project to, to quickly promote or manifest – it seemed the right thing to do, to go in and start playing new material and see how we were getting on. But I thought that really we should play on our strengths here. Which was the music. And we should start working on quite a lot of music. Which we had, you know, a few things together. But there were a lot of movements to bring in singers and do this that and the other, and that would have changed the character too early from what we could and were doing, do you know what I mean? All of the sudden we shift around and… but there was a lot of… I won’t say pressure, but a lot of hinting about this singer and that singer. And it was for me, it was more a question of: “Let’s see what we can really do.” And I don´t think we really got a chance to do that.

So, it would have been too early at that point?

To do what? Bring in a singer on it? No, I think we needed the material; we needed to work on the material first, and all the various sort of textures and moods that we could do. So, no that wasn’t to be either.

See everybody thought you would go on a Led Zeppelin reunion tour replacing Robert with another singer. That is obviously a misunderstanding then?

Well, look: If we’d have eventually settled on a singer, I don’t think that would have been a good idea to have done that prematurely. Of course, we would have played Led Zeppelin material. But I don’t know, it’s all hypothetical. But, you know, you want to be playing some really, really, really good new material to knock people’s socks off.

Is that ever going to happen?

I don’t think so, I don’t think so. I know that I certainly want to be… Well, let’s put it this way: This time last year I intended to be actually playing by now, in a live outfit. And out there playing concerts. (chuckles) So, that will have to be postponed now into sort of next year, tail end of next year. But I definitely want to be doing that.

With Roger Daltrey for a singer?

No, no, not Roger. Why, why, is that one of the rumors?

Roger said he would love to do something with you.

Well, we had discussed it. But for the Teenager Cancer Trust, yeah. Yeah, and I said: “You know, I’d love to do that with you, Roger”, but certainly at the time I was saying that I thought I was already going to be out there playing, you know what I mean? But although everything I’d been doing is something that’s musical, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s playing the guitar, do you see what I mean? Like, you can imagine with all of this, this relative to the O2, and there’s some other things that are going on. Like the sort of re-mastering of the catalog and this sort of stuff. It’s all stuff that is highly musical, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you could sit there and play the guitar at the same time. So I’m going to be working with musicians I sincerely hope by… well, into next year. And then hopefully surface by the end of that year.

In a new band outfit or with various guest musicians?

We’ll see what it is, we’ll see what it is.

So in a way Led Zeppelin still occupies most of your time these days?

Yeah, oh absolutely. Absolutely it just does, yeah.

Thirty two years later – who would have thought?

Yeah, really, really. But providing the things that you’re involved with – on the Led Zeppelin front – are really honorable things. And they’re things you, I, — can be proud of — everyone in the band can be proud of. And things that the fans are really looking forward to hearing, then it’s worth doing, isn’t it? And it’s essential really.

You´ve been selected for the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors in Washington later this year.

Yes, we have.

Together with Dustin Hoffman and Buddy Guy…

Oh, is Buddy Guy going to be there, too?

That’s why I thought: Are you going to jam on the occasion?

Well, they said there’s no playing. That we didn’t have to play. It doesn’t mean to say that, I don’t know… I mean, they said it’s not a playing event. So I don’t know. Buddy Guy’s absolutely marvelous, isn’t he? I saw the ah… I haven’t seen him before, but just recently I was in a club where they were playing The Rolling Stones where he comes on and starts playing. And he’s just magnificent, he always was though. He’s just such a powerful presence. Yeah. I think I just give him my guitar and let him get on with it! (laughing)

How does it feel that Led Zeppelin is still that popular after all those years – maybe even more so than in the 70’s and 80’s? Is that what you’ve always struggled for as a musician – to be recognized or even honored for your work?

Well, when the first album was done, it was definitely one hope. I’m sure everyone else in the band felt the same way – that they wanted other musicians to come up and say: “Hey, that’s a really good album you’ve got, and that’s a really good band.” But the fact is: the chemistry of Led Zeppelin is that you’ve got four – I´m going to say Robert here, I’m going to count him as a musician – four incredible musicians, individually. But the thing was that they could play as a band. And that was the difference between us and all of the others. It might be a superstar this or superstar that – we were all on top of our game. And that element of us playing together was just something else. So, I think that is one of the things that, you know, if you want to play guitar, if you want to play bass or harmony, or whatever you want to do, there’s a wonderful textbook there of Led Zeppelin.

I mean, you were all well trained session musicians, you knew what you were doing at that time, weren´t you?

I wasn’t so much a trained musician. I sort of learned as I went along.

But you were experience or weathered?

Uhm… disciplined! You had to be really good. Yeah, cause if you started messing up you wouldn’t come back. They wouldn’t invite you back. So, yeah, I managed to go through that running the gauntlet, if you like, of sessions. It was like an apprenticeship for me doing that. I learned a lot.

The opening sequence of “Celebration Day” is you arriving in Atlanta on a private jet, a police escort and two limousines in tow, and 76.000 people setting a new ticket record. How did it feel to make that transition from session musicians to rock stars? How did you handle that?

Listen, when I first went to America with Yardbirds they were still screaming in those days of the Beatles. And we played in a ice rink. This was when Beck was still in the band, and I think I still may have been on bass. Because I did bass and then I’d swap over to guitar. So we’d had twin guitars and Chris Dreja would play the bass. But it was on an ice rink. And I remember they mobbed the stage. And we had to run away. And of course, there was only this little bit of carpet to take you from the dressing room area. And slipping over and having your clothes ripped off. That’s the sort of mania thing that I can remember, having been through all of that as well. And yeah, so I remember those days as much as anything else. And I was playing in stadiums as a support band with others, with The Yardbirds as well. So I sort of knew about stadiums and I sort of, you know, I definitely paid my dues if you like along the way. So, I had a really good idea about Led Zeppelin. And at the time FM radio as opposed to the singles AM stations and all of that, ´cause they were playing whole sides of albums in those days. Which was really quite refreshing.

That would be impossible today.
Well, of course it would, yeah, yeah.

The Yardbirds featuring Jimmy Page playing in the gymnasium of Christ the King Catholic High School, Queens, New York, 1967.

The Yardbirds featuring Jimmy Page playing in the gymnasium of Christ the King Catholic High School, Queens, New York, 1967.

What does Jimmy Page listen to these days, what is he into?

(a cell phone rings)

That was a really interesting intervention by the phone. I’m still listening to music right across the board. It’s not any one thing. And I’m really pleased about that. I want to go on about a sort of an eclectic taste, but I always have… yeah, back to being a teenager even. I was always listening to all different styles of music. Even though I loved rockabilly and I loved jazz. But I also liked classical guitar, and not that I could play it. (chuckles) But I loved to listen to it. And orchestration, you know, and sort of ethnic music from various continents. Even then when I was a teenager and a session musician, I was really into all of that. And I haven’t changed, I haven’t changed. I can still be really excited by hearing some fierce rockabilly or some really authentic blues, you know. But I can still just as easily be seduced by classical music as well – whatever. So, that’s how it goes. And that won’t change, because that hasn’t changed over all these years.

Is that why you´ve played with so many different people over the years? Because you always have an open ear for new bands?

Yeah, I’ve been really lucky that I played with some magnificent singers as well, you know, in bands. And that’s been wonderful. You know, Paul Rogers – absolute superb, and he´s absolutely marvelous still. I don’t know whether you’ve heard him recently. But he’s marvelous. And to even record with Puff Daddy that was quite something else. Because I was actually going to America and I was getting asked to do autographs by black people who were coming up. And I thought: “Wow, this is, this is change. That’s really cool.” (laughs)

May I ask you how big your guitar collection is by now?
Well…

There should be a museum of stuff by now?

I’ve got a sizable collection of guitars. And if I said: “It was a hundred”, it sounds like far too many, doesn’t it? But let´s say I’ve got instruments, including bass, mandolin, banjos, a Japan banjo. Which is a sort of, it’s an instrument I found in India, which has got like typewriter keys on it. (chuckles) And it’s a really wacky thing. Yeah, anyway all various little instruments that I’ll have a, you know, I’ll have a crack on.

While your signature guitars, the Gibsons, have always been very limited editions – like 25 here, 35 there. Why is that? Are they meant to be collectibles?

Well, you know, but I wasn’t… maybe I wasn’t the first one to be involved in the signature guitars from Gibson. But I knew that the quality, cause there was one that came out in the 90s, where the quality wasn’t that good. And when I was approached to do another, one I said: “Well, the quality would have to be absolutely phenomenal”, you know. And I’ve got to say that if there was an addition of whatever, I’d say 35, they’d maybe bring over 37. And out of those there might be one, one would be awful. Maybe they put that one in just to see whether I’d notice. And another one might just have a little imperfection over here. But all the rest of them were really consistent. So, the quality was there. And ah… well, they guaranteed that it would be. And they’d certainly did deliver the quality, so.

Mind you: They just got sued for using illegal woods…

Have they? Yeah, I think I may have heard something about that. See, that’s the problem with guitars, you know: Those woods that were used back in the 1890’s (chuckles) are the woods that work. They worked for a purpose, Brazilian Rosewood and all of this. It’s what it is, isn’t it?

And 50 years later they sound even better?

Well yeah, yeah.

In what way has your playing changed over the years? Can you see a development – especially after Led Zeppelin?

Yes. Well, yes it has. Certainly at the O2 with a broken finger I noticed there was a difference. (laughs) And on the rehearsal, it’s broke a bit. So I did notice, I did notice there was a difference. But yes, I think there’s definitely a different insight into the playing. And there’s a maturity without losing the edge and the passion for it. So, you know, where there’s a solo like uhm… something from say the first album, from “Communication Breakdown”. It comes in as really, you know, it’s really roaring and there’s an aggressiveness to it. I can still play like that. And as long as I’ve still got that and as long as I can still make up music and conjure up music out of nowhere, then I’m really thankful, you know, for the gift that I’ve been given.

Meaning: There is a foundation and you could go left or right, if you wanted to?

Well, sort of, yeah. What do you mean? Playing in other sort of same picture different frame? There’s always that aspect to it, yeah.

Like using folky, bluesy or even Arabic influences?

Well, yes.

So the door is wide open?

Well, it is, it is. But it’s quite, you see, I’ve had numbers of ideas of how to sort of have a fusion with this. I’ve never… Things are so complex now – in this day and age, too, because the music isn’t quite what it used to be. It’s quite, you know, whoever you meet has got a manager and an agent and a lawyer and it uhm… Things can be quite complicated, where it sort of restricts the flow if you like. (chuckles)

Does that mean you do miss the old days and ways?
Uhm…

Just bumping into people and saying: “Hi, can we work?”

Well no, because that’s up to me to do that. That’s up to me to do that. And what I do know is that if I do any… if I do another album, then I want it to have as many sort of colors and moods as you would expect from anything that I’ve done in the past. Whether it was The Yardbirds or whether it was Led Zeppelin or whatever. And that’s because, that’s how I do it. It’s sort of a reflection of this mood or that or, you know what I’m saying?

Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones recently traveled to Berlin to accept the ECHO Lifetime Achievement Award for Led Zeppelin. March 21, 2013.

Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones recently traveled to Berlin to accept the ECHO Lifetime Achievement Award for Led Zeppelin. March 21, 2013.

Looking back on Led Zep: Is that band like a monster you’ve created or would you consider it the best thing that could have happened to you?

No, my Led Zeppelin heritage, I’m really proud of it. And I’m sure everybody else is. Because within the framework of that band everybody’s playing came on and on, songwriting, everything about it. It was such a wonderful band to be in, you know. It was a privilege to be in a band like that. But we didn’t waste our time. We really, you know, we really made the most of what we had of that creative flow, the juices that were joined. So yeah, looking at the whole of that work, I can see my guitar playing improving from the first album through to the sort of midpoint to the end. Yes, I can see a whole sort of movement and change in the approaches of this, you know, and the others. So for example, the two numbers that were supposed to be like a tip back to the past: “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “Tea For One”. Which is, it’s all within this timeframe of eleven years or whatever, but “Tea For One” and the whole approach to the way that I was playing the guitar solo on that, is chalk and cheese from the what that I’m trying to play at that time of “Since I’ve Been Loving You”. So there was a change going on even then. And that change has continued on through.

But after the break-up you had to put the guitar aside to get away from it all?
Uhm…

Because it was such an intense eleven years, as you´ve put it?

Well, yes, of course it was. What I did after Led Zeppelin was: I actually played with – I don’t know whether you know this – Alan White and Chris Squire from Yes. And ´cause I had my own studio at that point, and it was suggested to play with them. And I thought: “That’s really going to be testy.” Because Yes’ music is really good, and I know they’re really fine, I love them. So that was the first thing that I actually did after, after we lost John, and that sort of period where I didn’t play for… It doesn’t actually amount to that much time that I wasn’t playing or making music if you like, but I certainly made music then with them, and I really enjoyed that. And then after that I got the chance to do the soundtrack of “Death Wish II”, which was really a challenge. So, I was really challenging myself and just moving on. And with something like “Death Wish II”, I really had to come up with a lot of stuff. It was 45 minutes of music in a 90 minute film, that’s a lot. That’s how it all added up: 45 minutes; it was too much music in it, really. But nevertheless it was very challenging. And I had to make all of that up on the spot. So yeah, I’m good at that though.

Also there’s the release of the Kenneth Anger soundtrack. After how many years?

Well, yeah. I put it out on my website. It’s on vinyl. And ah…

As it should be?

Yeah! Yeah, and it’s the music that I, it’s not the actual mix that I sent to Kenneth Anger. Because I don’t know what happened to that. I’m not sure that it ever got sent back. But I know there’s bootlegs of it out there. But I remixed this, but fortunately I had all the effects, it’s only 8-track-tape. But I employed all the effects at the time. Cause some of them I didn’t want to try and recreate. And they would have been very difficult to recreate. So, it was just sort of putting the levels up and letting it go. So yeah, it did come out. I’m pleased that came out. Cause that’s really flirting with the avant-garde, you know. And it’s the sort of stuff you couldn’t have done that with Led Zeppelin. But I was thinking that way as much as I was thinking Rock´n´Roll.

That’s only 23 minutes of music though, isn´t it?

Yeah, and some of the stuff on the other side of the vinyl is pretty interesting, too. Yeah, there’s some interesting stuff. It´s sort of like the mad scientist at home in his laboratory. And I had the music, and then, it wasn’t, it wasn’t, I presented that music to Kenneth Anger when he asked me if I… I said: “I’ve got something.” And I´ve just doubled it up in length, and I played it to him. It was just absolutely perfect.

See what he did with it.
Yeah, yeah.

He never even used it.
Yeah, yeah. Well, that was his choice. But I do know that I had an approach. Would I like to put, would I like to put the music on the film again? And I think: “Well, no you took it off, you took it off.”

How come you weren’t involved in the London Olympics? I mean you’ve presented the Beijing thing, so I was expecting you to be a part of this ceremony, too…

I wasn’t invited. But then again, nor was Leona, was she? So, but it was terrific to do the Beijing one. Because there was only us to worry about. We didn’t have to worry about other people wanting to have more time to play and cutting down your time and all that sort of stuff. It was great. But I thought the opening ceremony was superb at the London Olympics. It was really something. We were really quite overwhelmed I think as a nation to see just how well that had been done by Mr. Boyle. It was superb, wasn’t it?

Not to forget The Who…

Yeah, yeah. That’s the closing ceremony though. I thought the opening ceremony was good. Yeah, The Who were good on the closing ceremony.

Honestly: Do you ever miss working in a band context? I mean, you had the Firm in between. You worked with the Yes guys, but you never got around to form another band…

No, I didn’t.

Because it would have been impossible in a way?

No, I just… Listen: I did a film track for Michael Winner. OK, so there’s the Anger one as well. But I did one for Michael Winner, the Anger one came first. I had the opportunity to do more soundtracks, but I thought: “I’ve done it”, you know. That’s fair enough. And actually after that then I got together with Paul Rodgers. And we did a couple of albums and quite a bit of touring. Basically yeah, I had a single out in 1965, and then… well, of course there was “Death Wish” came out as an album. And then I had a solo album in 1988. That’s sort of fair enough really. So I guess it’s time to do another solo album. But, you know, it’s ah… it’ll be a good thing to do. Sort of summing up.

Well, you’re under no pressure. You lead a good life, what else can you ask for?

Well, I like to play. I like playing live, I enjoy playing live. And that’s really important part of me. Because I enjoy the challenge of ah… is it the challenge or is it the adventure of having a set and knowing that it can change and mutate and you’re playing? Cause I’d always try and play differently every night no matter what. So that’s always something that’s fun to do. And I enjoy playing live. So, it’s time to do it. But there’s been a lot of Led Zeppelin work to be done. And to have done up to this point, and to be done as well. But after that I should do it… no, this is all studio stuff, nothing to do with any live stuff. So, you know, sort of revisiting the vaults.

So once you´re done with that you´re free, you´re off to the next thing?

Well, I just, yeah there’s a few bits and pieces to come. Uhm… and then, yeah I should be off doing solo projects. And we’ll see what I manage to pull together under those circumstances. But I had some really ambitious ideas. But actually they certainly weren’t cost effective. (laughing) But we’ll see how it all comes out. Then I’ll talk to you again about what those ideas were and how it all actually, how it finalized, the actual thinking process behind things…

Last thing for today, and I know you’re not too keen talking about this, is the heroin use of the late 70’s. I know if you are under constant pressure you seek for tools to be able to focus accordingly. Was that drug something that enabled you to work under those circumstances? And did it influence your playing in any way?

Well, I don’t want to actually pinpoint any one thing. But if you take in to account the album Presence was done in three weeks. And if you take into account that In Through The Outdoor, which is basically the last studio album – even though Coda is like a compilation of bits. But that again was done in three weeks and a bit more than that, bit more. But, you know, four weeks maximum, 3 ½ to four weeks that the element of focus would be pretty substantial I’d say. But: We don’t really want to be in a position of supporting drug use and whatever.

Fair enough.

You know, a lot of people died along the way using.

And they still do.

That’s right…

____________________________________________________________________________________

fbcoverjimmypage

Will Hillary be the first female U.S. president in 2016?

Will Hillary be the first female U.S. president in 2016?

Who Will the Candidates Be in 2016?

By Lori Spencer

Yahoo! News

 

COMMENTARY

According to recent polls, former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton would be favored by more than half of Americans to be the next President of the United States.

Hillary is already the frontrunner for her party’s nomination in 2016, although she has recently downplayed her interest in another presidential run. After stepping down from her post as Secretary of State in January 2013, the former first lady told ABC News she would like do some “reading and writing and speaking and teaching.”

But the Democratic Party likely has much bigger plans for Hillary.

David Axelrod, President Obama’s political oracle, has all but declared Hillary Clinton to be the Unsinkable Molly Brown should she decide to run in 2016.

“I think she’d be very strong,” Axelrod said. “First of all, having been engaged in a primary race with her … she is an indefatigable candidate and very, very powerful and she’s only stronger now for having four years of I think splendid leadership” as secretary of State.

“She’d be in a very, very strong position,” he added. “I think the reality of a woman getting elected the president of the United States may be an even more powerful incentive in 2016.”

A December 2012 ABC News-Washington Post poll showed that 57 percent of Americans said they’d support a run by Hillary Clinton to succeed President Obama in the oval office.

Don't count Mitt Romney out for another run in 2016.

Don’t count Mitt Romney out for another run in 2016.

Will the third time be the charm for Mitt Romney?

Twice in his political career so far, Mitt Romney has managed to flip defeats into victories.

Although he lost to Ted Kennedy in the 1994 Massachusetts Senate race, Romney soon bounced back as leader of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympics. That job led to his successful run for Massachusetts governor in 2002.

From the governor’s office, Romney catapulted to the national stage and ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. He eventually bowed out after a string of Super Tuesday losses to Arizona Sen. John McCain, but over time jockeyed himself into position to seek — and receive — the 2012 GOP nomination.

Is Romney perfectly poised to be the Republican nominee again in 2016? At this stage of the game, he certainly carries more name recognition than any other potential contender, with the possible exception of former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

The former presidential candidate hasn’t yet revealed anything about how he intends to spend the next four years, and is keeping mum on if he might run again. But given that he pulled an impressive 206 electoral votes in 2012, don’t count Romney out for 2016.

Led Zeppelin crashed the White House, the State Department, and the Kennedy Center in December.

Led Zeppelin crashed the White House, the State Department, and the Kennedy Center in December.

By Lori Spencer

Contributing Editor, This Can’t Be Happening!

 

ZEPPELIN OVER WASHINGTON

 

(Continued from Pt. I of Lori Spencer’s report from the nation‘s capitol.)

 

When Led Zeppelin attended a reception at the White House in advance of the Kennedy Center Honors, they were just as shocked to find themselves there as most everybody else was. Being personally roasted by the President of the United States — along with fellow Kennedy Center Honorees Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, Natalia Makarova, and Buddy Guy — was an experience Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page could only later describe as “surreal.”

Page, Plant, and John Paul Jones also enjoyed getting the royal treatment during a weekend of festivities in Washington, D.C., including a State Department dinner on December 1 hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former president Bill Clinton.

Secretary Clinton described the honorees as “a group of legends and icons as diverse as they are talented. We have in our group of honorees tonight a broad cross section of talent and energy from comedian to chameleon, ballerina to bluesman, and three men so synonymous with rock and roll they need no more description than Page, Plant, Jones,” Clinton said.
“Now, in my line of work, we often talk about the art of diplomacy,” she added. “I really like saying that because so many of the building blocks for art and diplomacy are the same. We have to be willing to try new things, occasionally take big risks. … So the arts and diplomacy actually do go hand in hand. They play out on world stages and reflect our common need to build bonds of understanding with others.”

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama join the 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees in the Pledge of Allegiance. John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C., Dec. 2, 2012.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama join the 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees in the Pledge of Allegiance.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C., Dec. 2, 2012.

The Kennedy Center Honors take place at the Opera House in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Honorees and their guests sit in the front of the Box Tier with the President and the First Family. In keeping with Kennedy Center tradition, the Honorees are not allowed to speak to or interact with members of the audience.

Zeppelin’s three surviving members, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page, sat down the row from President and Michelle Obama in the balcony. All of the honorees wore the Kennedy Center Honors rainbow-colored sash and medal.

Naturally, the show’s producers at CBS saved the Led Zeppelin tribute segment for last and pulled out all the stops. The Foo Fighters, with Dave Grohl behind the drum kit again and Taylor Hawkins tackling Robert Plant’s screams on “Rock and Roll.” Kid Rock did “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” (which was unfortunately cut from the CBS telecast Dec. 26) and “Ramble On.” Next up was Lenny Kravitz and his band funking up “Whole Lotta Love.”

“It was quite exhilarating to hear the different approaches that people had to the songs,” Page said later. He and his fellow Zeppelin bandmates could be seen throughout the entire tribute tapping their feet in rhythm, watching the musicians closely; genuinely intrigued by how their songs were being interpreted.

Finally, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart — two girls that grew up idolizing Led Zeppelin — walked onstage and repaid the inspiration. As the duo‘s sparse, acoustic “Stairway to Heaven” reached the song’s middle section, an orchestra joined in. Then came the 80-voice Joyce Garrett Youth Choir. The effect of so many voices singing the final chorus was overwhelmingly powerful. Tears could be seen in Robert Plant’s eyes when Jason Bonham suddenly materialized behind the drum kit, wearing his father‘s old signature bowler hat.

None of the members of Led Zeppelin had been told in advance that Jason was going to be there. They were clearly astonished — and deeply touched — when they saw him take his place onstage. Even Jimmy Page, a man not easily overwhelmed by emotion, had a tear rolling down his cheek.

Kennedy Center Honorees John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and David Letterman. John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C., Dec. 2, 2012.

Kennedy Center Honorees John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and David Letterman.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C., Dec. 2, 2012.

That moment was just one of many in recent months that Plant and Page appeared to be closer and more in sync with one another than they had been in 15 years, since their last studio album together (“Walking Into Clarksdale”). Although the pair did two solo tours together in the 1990s, John Paul Jones was not included in those creative endeavors, which deepened friction between the Zeppelin family.

Jones was invited to join them at the O2 Arena in London for the 2007 reunion, which eventually became “Celebration Day.” During their many public appearances together this fall, it was readily apparent that the trio had re-established the chemistry and friendship of years past. All seemed to be forgiven. Jones, Page, and Jason Bonham have stated quite categorically that they would be in favor of a reunion album and tour. But for the past five years, Plant has been the last holdout.

Based on the band’s renewed camaraderie and recent public comments by Robert Plant, that may be about to change.

Could it be that Plant — who always eschewed repeating the past in favor of moving forward with his own solo career — is starting to feel a bit sentimental for the days of Led Zeppelin now? At age 64, perhaps the time has finally come for one final victory lap with his old bandmates. Plant is certainly ready to talk more about it than he’s been in years.

“If anybody wants to write some new songs, I’m game,” Plant said after the Kennedy Center Honors. That’s an intriguing change of tune for the singer, who for the past five years said he was simply too busy with other projects to work with Zeppelin again.

Led Zep's Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and Jimmy Page on the red carpet at the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors.

Led Zep’s Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and Jimmy Page on the red carpet at the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors.

If Led Zeppelin returned to the recording studio and gave fans an album of new songs, would they tour?

“Who wants to be on a two-year tour?” Page exhales, rolling his eyes. “That would tire you out just thinking of it.”

” The responsibility of doing that four nights a week for the rest of time is a different thing,” Plant added.”The tail should never wag the dog. If we’re capable of doing something in our own time, that will be what will happen,”  We know what we’ve got. Que sera.”
“Expectations are horrific things,” Plant said. “To actually do anything at all together is such a kind of incredible weight. Because sometimes we were fucking awful, and sometimes were stunning.”

A Zeppelin reunion with some fresh, new material undoubtedly looks more hopeful now than ever before. But unlike their 2007 reunion concert, don’t expect an impassioned replay of the old Zeppelin warhorses. Rest assured if they do get back together in 2013, the song will definitely not remain the same.

At a Dec. 1 State Department Dinner, Kennedy Center Honorees John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and robert Plant of Led Zeppelin joke around with blues guitar legend Buddy Guy as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks on.

At a Dec. 1 State Department Dinner, Kennedy Center Honorees John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin joke around with blues guitar legend Buddy Guy as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks on.

By Lori Spencer

Yahoo! Music Featured Contributor

The surviving three members of Led Zeppelin arrived in Washington last month to be honored by the Kennedy Center — along with Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, Natalia Makarova, and Buddy Guy — but the legendary British rockers didn’t quite expect to be the center of quite so much official attention.

Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones were given the royal treatment during a weekend of festivities in Washington, D.C., including a State Department dinner on December 1 hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former president Bill Clinton.

Secretary Clinton described the honorees as “a group of legends and icons as diverse as they are talented. We have in our group of honorees tonight a broad cross section of talent and energy from comedian to chameleon, ballerina to bluesman, and three men so synonymous with rock and roll they need no more description than Page, Plant, Jones,” Clinton said.

The following night, Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page, sat down the row from President and Michelle Obama in the box tier of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. All of them wore the Kennedy Center Honors rainbow-colored sash and medal that President Obama had presented them in a White House ceremony that afternoon.

Naturally, the show’s producers at CBS saved the Led Zeppelin tribute segment for last and pulled out all the stops. The Foo Fighters, with Dave Grohl behind the drum kit again and Taylor Hawkins tackling Robert Plant’s screams on “Rock and Roll.” Kid Rock did “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” (which was unfortunately cut from the CBS telecast Dec. 26) and “Ramble On.” Next up was Lenny Kravitz and his band funking up “Whole Lotta Love.”

“It was quite exhilarating to hear the different approaches that people had to the songs,” Page said later.

(Story continues HERE.)

Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Robert Plant are finally talking about what's next...

Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Robert Plant are finally talking about what’s next…a new album, perhaps? A tour in 2013?

By Lori Spencer

Yahoo! Music News

Although they’ve been officially broken up since 1980, Led Zeppelin actually had the most triumphant year of their career in 2012.

The surviving members — Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones — regrouped last year to prepare and promote the release of their 2007 London reunion concert as a CD/DVD set and feature film (“Celebration Day“). Fans and critics responded with such praise that whispers of another possible reunion album or tour are now swirling around again.

The band was also honored by the Kennedy Center and President Barack Obama last month in Washington. As the three elder musicians sat in the balcony watching an all-star cavalcade of rock stars including the Foo Fighters, Lenny Kravitz, Kid Rock, and Heart pay tribute to them, Robert Plant became visibly choked up.

Story continues HERE.

By Lori Spencer

Contributing Editor

This Can’t Be Happening!

According to the National Archives, one item has been requested more than any other over the past forty two years; more than the Bill of Rights or even the Constitution of the United States. Yes, it's the  iconic photograph of Elvis Presley shaking hands with President Richard M. Nixon on the occasion of Presley's visit to the White House. December 21, 1970.

According to the National Archives, one item has been requested more than any other over the past forty two years; more than the Bill of Rights or even the Constitution of the United States. Yes, it’s the iconic photograph of Elvis Presley shaking hands with President Richard M. Nixon on the occasion of Presley’s visit to the White House. December 21, 1970.

It was a few days before Christmas, 1970, and Elvis Presley was suddenly obsessed with a strange notion. Not another late-night private shopping spree for Lisa Marie, or a cross-country hamburger run this time. No, what Presley had in mind was far more important: the trumpet of destiny was once again beckoning him to her siren call. It had been decided somehow in his drug-addled mind that the King of Rock and Roll should meet the President of the United States. Not next week; not next year, or in the next decade: this had to happen right now.

Within hours, and without telling anyone in his Memphis Mafia entourage, Elvis was on a red-eye flight to Washington, D.C. – alone. Before Vernon Presley could say, “has anybody seen Elvis?” (thus setting off a full-scale panic back at Graceland), Presley had arrived at the White House gates uninvited, asking to see the president.

Elvis explained to an astonished security guard that he knew the president was very busy, but that he would just like to say hello and give him a gift (a commemorative World War II .45 caliber pistol). He also bore in his hand a six-page handwritten requesting – incredulously enough –  to be appointed a “Federal Agent-at-Large” in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Once it had been determined that the letter was genuine and that this heavily armed, velvet and suede-clad man at the gate really was THE Elvis Presley, phones began ringing frantically all over the White House. “What the hell do we do with this guy?” was the question of the day. Elvis waited patiently in his three-room suite back at the Hotel Washington while the president’s men scrambled to accommodate his bizarre request.

In a staff memo fired off quickly to Nixon’s Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, the president’s Special Assistant Dwight Chapin suggested that “if the president wants to meet with some bright young people outside of the government, Presley might be a perfect one to start with.”

Haldeman scribbled in the margins of the memo, “you must be kidding.”

Nevertheless, he approved the visit, and Presley was finally allowed entry into an inner sanctum that no rock-and-roller before him had ever penetrated: the oval office.

That groundbreaking summit brought a new whiff of respectability to rock and roll music, and yet even by the early 1980′s, rock bands still weren’t exactly welcome visitors on Washington’s elite holiday party circuit. Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior James Watt memorably banned the clean-cut, all-American Beach Boys from the annual July 4th Concert on the Mall in 1983.

Watt had announced that all rock bands attracted “the wrong element,” and that the Reagan administration opted for a “wholesome” program with Wayne Newton. “We’re not going to encourage drug abuse and alcoholism,” Watt sniffed, “as was done in the past.”

Secretary Watt was apparently unaware that the Beach Boys had played the White House just a month before in June, at Ron and Nancy Reagan’s personal request. Watt later apologized to the Beach Boys after learning the Reagans were fans of the band. Reagan gave James Watt a “shoot yourself in the foot” award over the embarrassing incident and invited the Beach Boys back in 1985 to play his second Inaugural concert. The times they were a-changin’, but still…not that much.

YOUR TIME IS GONNA COME

Had you told me then – some thirty years ago during the waning years of the long, Cold War – that a Russian ballerina, a black bluesman from Lettsworth, Louisiana, and the English kings of debauch, Led Freaking Zeppelin, would be honored at the White House by the nation’s first black president within our lifetimes, I would have told you to dream on and fuck off.

But there they were: ballerina Natalia Makarova, blues legend Buddy Guy, Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones, all sitting quietly in the distinguished East Room of the White House on December 3, 2012. Unlike previous visits by Elvis Presley and The Beach Boys, these artists were not unexpected visitors or performing court jesters; they were honored guests of the president.

As I listened intently to president Obama singing their collective praises – along with their fellow Kennedy Center Honorees Dustin Hoffman and David Letterman – I could only shake my head in amazement and think to myself, “this can’t be happening!”

L to R: Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Natalia Makarova, David Letterman, Dustin Hoffman, Buddy Guy, and President Barack Obama.

L to R: Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Natalia Makarova, David Letterman, Dustin Hoffman, Buddy Guy, and President Barack Obama.

On more than a few occasions during the ceremony I saw that same “look how far we’ve come” grin spread across the faces of several attendees, including one Jimmy Page, who later called the whole experience “surreal, like a dream.”

When asked if they had ever been invited to the White House before, Robert Plant exploded in a cackle of laughter. “Naaaah, you’re joking, right?” Reflecting back in time, Plant’s face suddenly turned stoic, and a hint of bitterness crept into his tone.

“We were hardly the toast of the American political establishment back then,” Plant pointed out sharply. “Your government and police certainly were interested in us, but not for our music. But we were being questioned quite often!”

The native British band expressed great excitement (and perhaps some befuddlement) at being chosen for this prestigious award, because the Honorees are recognized for making unique contributions to American culture. Of the 178 recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors over the past three and a half decades, only one other British rock band has been chosen: The Who in 2008.

Led Zeppelin guitarist and sonic architect Jimmy Page considers the selection of Led Zeppelin in 2012 to be “a terrific honor.”

“We owe such a massive debt to American music,” Page said. “It’s a thing that definitely seduced us all to be want to be part of the music.”

“Everything that we talk about is American, from our music tastes more or less (and maybe north African and Egyptian).” Plant agreed. “Our mutual love of and absolute and total influence by American music whether its from Mississippi or Chicago in 1982 – it’s great because we’re sort of Americans but…not – of course.”

Although Plant is still a British citizen, he now lives part-time in Austin, Texas with his musical partner and lady love Patty Griffin. “I do consider myself an American in many ways,” Plant said. “Austin feels like home to me now.”

“So the fact that we get to go to this thing and meet the most dynamic and charismatic American outside of America – Obama – bar none is a great, great privilege.”

A short time later Plant, Page, and Jones were shaking the president’s hand during a White House reception preceding the Kennedy Center Honors. In a wildly mixed crowd that included celebrities such as Morgan Freeman, Lenny Kravitz and Page’s old school chum Jeff Beck, there were still plenty of old-guard Washingtonians propped up on their walkers and canes, casting disapproving glances at these gray haired, tuxedo-clad hippies actually being honored in the East Room. There goes the neighborhood, indeed.

President Obama roasted the members of Led Zeppelin in his remarks to the Kennedy Center Honorees at the White House.

President Obama roasted the members of Led Zeppelin in his remarks to the Kennedy Center Honorees at the White House.

DAZED AND CONFUSED

“It’s been said that a generation of young people survived teenage angst with a pair of headphones and a Led Zeppelin album,” President Obama said in his remarks to the Honorees. “And a generation of parents wondered what all that noise was about.

“But even now, 32 years after John Bonham’s passing — and we all I think appreciate the fact — the Zeppelin legacy lives on,” Obama proclaimed. “The last time the band performed together in 2007 — perhaps the last time ever, but we don’t know — more than 20 million fans from around the world applied for tickets. And what they saw was vintage Zeppelin. No frills, no theatrics, just a few guys who can still make the ladies weak at the knees, huddled together, following the music.”

The president’s speechwriters couldn’t resist that niggling temptation to rib the members of Led Zeppelin over their party-boy reputations.

“Of course, these guys also redefined the rock and roll lifestyle.  We do not have video of this,” President Obama quipped. “But there were some hotel rooms trashed and mayhem all around.  So it’s fitting that we’re doing this in a room with windows that are about three inches thick and Secret Service all around. So just settle down, guys…these paintings are valuable.”

·    The Kennedy Center Honors will air on CBS December 26. Part Two of TCBH’s coverage takes us to the Kennedy Center for an all-star tribute to the 2012 Honorees, and more with the members of Led Zeppelin.

 

 

 

John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, Dec. 2, 2012.John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.

John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, Dec. 2, 2012.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.

By Lori Spencer

Yahoo! News

 

Of all the many honors and lifetime achievement awards Led Zeppelin has racked up through the years, being honored by the Kennedy Center may be the one they are most proud of.

The annual award is given to performing artists who have made a unique contribution to American culture. Of the 178 recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors over the past three and a half decades, only one other British band has been chosen (The Who in 2008). Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page considers the selection of Led Zeppelin in 2012 to be “a terrific honor.”

“We owe such a massive debt to American music,” Page said. “It’s a thing that definitely seduced us all to be want to be part of the music.”

Page explained that the four members of Led Zeppelin grew up listening to American blues, rock and country artists as young men growing up in England during the 1950s and 60s, which in turn heavily influenced the sound of Led Zeppelin.

“We were accessing this music through the radio and records that we mail-ordered from the States, or that someone had managed to get somehow,” he said. “It was a major part of how we became what we were, which was musicians caught up in this whole movement of American roots-based music.”

“Everything that we talk about is American, from our music tastes more or less (and maybe north African and Egyptian).” Vocalist Robert Plant agreed. “Our mutual love of and absolute and total influence by American music whether its from Mississippi or Chicago…”

(Read the rest of the story HERE.)

 

By Lori Spencer

Yahoo! Music News

Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

All the great masters must know when to look at their artistic creation and say, “it is complete.” There comes a stage when attempting to change, enhance, or add anything more would be pointless; overkill. Perhaps the members of Led Zeppelin feel this same way now about the body of work they created as one of the world’s most influential rock bands.

The Mighty Zep’s long-awaited reunion concert at London’s O2 Arena in 2007 was the first time Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham (in place of his late father) had shared a stage since the disastrous Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert in May 1988. Considering that event – and the 1985 semi-reunion at Live Aid – didn’t exactly live up to expectations, the band certainly felt they owed their fans a debt. Or at the very least, a proper farewell.

(Story continues here.)