Monday, 1 May 2017

Jimmy Page - The Next Generation

It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog. So a lot of catching up to do. It’s been a hectic month with one thing and another.

I write this from my premium single room in Iceland, I have come out here to promote the band and my book. Which is selling like hot cakes and getting great reviews. Amazon has already sold out of stock twice and has restocked for a third time.

It is good to have Andy back on guitar, he has been away for a month so we had Chris Cawte on guitar for London and Holmfirth. A fantastic player he is too, a big thanks for standing in.
The Borderline was really where it all began for us, and when we first performed in front of Jimmy Page, (it’s all in the book wot I wrote) and got to meet the great man after the show. In Dorking last Friday we played in front of Jimmy Page again!!! Only this time it is the son of Jimmy Page, also called Jimmy. Jimmy Page, the next generation.

Little Jimmy was at the very front all show and stayed around to greet the band, he said that his Dad had come to see us years ago and thought we were fantastic, and now his son agrees too. Nice chap actually, and looks just like his father. He was impressed with Andy's guitar playing.

We had a great little trip in The Balkans with Damir, our fourth show in Slovenia, and another packed house. It was literally one of the loudest audiences we have ever played in front of, actually deafening roar at the end of the songs. Jack, our new John Paul Jones, couldn’t quite believe it and had to take a few steps closer to the edge of the stage to get a better look.

Jack played a blinder and his solo in No Quarter is fast becoming a highlight of the set.
And a day off to explore the Dragon Bridge and the castle, Ljubljana is a beautiful city, and we had plenty of offers from locals to show us the sights. Peter is keen to add to his expanding fridge magnet collection.

So, onto Croatia, we have played here once before at a festival along with Wishbone Ash. But not in Zagreb before. The Border was closed for some reason, and 6 hour delays at the border, thankfully our local driver knows of a smaller check point and we are through with no problem.
A fantastic show and well attended. After two encores no one wants to go home and we play Babe I’m Gonna Leave You to end the night. Lot’s of well wishes appeared backstage for photos and a pick from Andy, Jack has no picks left after just 2 shows. One guys said he had been waiting for us to come there for 5 years and it was well worth the wait.

The party somehow managed to carry on back to the hotel, Andy forgetting what room he was in, at one point he was sleeping in Pete’s room, then found his way into Jacks room. Finally came stumbling into my room at 4am and fell asleep on the floor. A spanking good time was had by all.
I think we all needed to let some steam off after a stressful month.

As we are not actually in Europe anymore smoking is allowed everywhere, amazing how we get used to not smoking, in Belgrade we are treated to local dishes at a traditional Serbian restaurant. At tonight show we have promoters and agent from all over the region, and well as everyone who is, or has ever been, in a band, as well as some local TV celebrities, including the bloke who does a mystic show on the telly and his beautiful assistant, chatting to her she is very interesting and well informed on local culture and art.

The show is slightly delays due to a protest march through the city. The lights go down, the roar goes up and Bam Bam……, we blast into Good Times Bad Times. The next two and a half hours are pure magic, what a great audience and a great show. After the show I had an in depth interview with a local journo, she was very tall. And somehow again, there seemed to be a party back at our hotel!
I’m sure Jack is inviting everyone back. Anyway, as usual I am first in bed, it’s been a long day.

Anyway, here I am now in Iceland and the weather is awful, but things are looking up, there is a knock at my hotel room door, it is one of the flight attendants from the plane I came in on, she is still in uniform, though it doesn’t look exactly regulation, the skirt is a little shorter and the heels are higher, she is interested in my book apparently, well I better go then, see ya!!!!!

Saturday, 25 February 2017

What goes on tour don't stay on tour

It is available at last, my first book: Letz Zep backstage ‘What goes on tour don’t stay on tour’ I finally on sale.
And first reactions are good ‘All you wanted to know about the life of a touring band and more. Much more’ says Kris Gruber of Radio Dacorum.

The book was written on planes, trains and automobiles over the last 6 months and the odd hotel room.
The book tells the story of the bands journey from local pub gigs to some of the biggest stages in the world. From Madrid to Moscow, Lisbon to London and Barcelona to Brazil.
Tales of being ‘encouraged’ to perform at gun-point in Venezuela, had shot-guns pointed at us in Brazil. Facing a knife-wielding maniac in Morocco. Performing on amazing stages like the ancient Amphitheatre in Rhodes. The Paris Olympia Theatre and the Heineken Arena in Madrid.
What is it like to have Robert Plant turn up at one of our shows and performing in front of Jimmy Page.

From the early days of The Marquee Club and the St. Moritz Club, touring with Ozzy Osbourne and Roger Daltrey. Filled with lots of helpful advice on how to be a success in the notoriously cut-throat world of the music industry, and how to sustain that career.
Including all the amusing stories from back-stage of a hard working international touring rock band.
The book is available on presale right now:
and is flying off the shelves :D

And on general release from March 1. Or if you prefer, buy one at the shows. Then I can sign it for you!!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Hola Barcelona

Vitoria is a lovely place, historic town, wonderful atmosphere. I love just walking around the old town. Always a good gig here too, although tonight some idiot let off a pepper spray or something similar during No Quarter, I mean, who does something like that? Anyway, if the idea was to disrupt the show it didn’t work, we simply took a quick 20 minute break so the venue could open the doors and clear the air. The band went and stood outside with the crowd for photos and the like, until everybody came back into the venue again. We came back with a point to prove and performed one of the best sets of the tour so far, and a bit of a party after the show too!  Jack Paul Jones has now acquired the nickname here in Spain as El Nino Pollon.

So, onto Pamplona, another historic town, famous for the running of the bulls of course. But again, a lovely old town to walk around and sample a few local beers and tapas. After the show, we found a bar playing retro 50’s music and a few people dressing the part and jitterbugging all over the place. Got talking to a local geezer as he is the spitting image of Noddy Holder from Slade. An uncanny resemblance, he didn’t know who Noddy Holder is, but after a few rousing choruses of Merry Xmas Everybody from myself and Pete the Beat and it dawned on him of whom we refer.  However, we had to cut our interesting conversation short due to the fact that he kept farting and stinking the place out.

‘Did you just fart?’ Pete enquires of him. ‘Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiii’ he confirms with a broad Buzz Lightyear type of smile and has both thumbs up to signify his pride and delight in a job well done.
And now onto Barcelona and a few days rest to recover fully from our gas attack, I mean the pepper spray in Vitoria not Noddy Holder farts in Pamplona of course.

Being a big show we have many family and friends coming into Barca today for the gig on Wednesday. Including a star appearance for Le Chameau himself, our long-suffering guitar tech of whom regular followers of this blog will remember well, mainly for ordering a nice bowl of Nada. Nick is also the hero of my book ‘What goes on tour don’t stay on tour’ due out on March 1st.

As tradition now has it. It seems we always play in Barcelona in or around the birthday of our promoter Robert ‘Nobby’ Mills. So tonight we will dine in the famous Los Caracoles restaurant close to Las Ramblas, the area of Barcelona famous for it’s shopping, bars and restaurants. A Mecca for tourists.
Nobby is famous for prowling Las Ramblas claiming to be a ‘big player’ in from The States, Texas Long-Horn they call him, and he is carrying a heavy load. Sadly for Nobby, he has been doing this for years and everyone is wise to him now, but this does nothing to deter Nobby from indulging in his favourite pastime, namely just harassing the girls of The Ramblas who are just going about their day trying to earn a dollar.

Well, it had to happen, the rain is come!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Sad Hill

Hello from Bilbao. We had a pleasant day off in Madrid, a fantastic show too, the biggest so far, before heading off to the Basque region again.

On our drive from Madrid to Bilbao we took a detour just south east of Burgos to visit Sad Hill Cemetery, Famous of course for the final scene of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Y’know, the three-way gun fight. Filmed on this very spot in 1966, and the last of the trilogy, following a Fist Full of Dollars and A Few Dollars More, if memory serves me right. directed by Sergio Leone.

We have our own El Feo with us, I’ll leave you to decide the Good and the Bad.

The place is right band in the middle of nowhere and not that easy to find, and strangely, not on a hill either, despite the name. But still looks pretty much the same as it did in the movie. Starring Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef and Eli Wallach. It’s apparent also what a good choice of location, isolated with different panoramic views make an amazing back drop.

We spent about 30 minutes wandering around, whistling the theme tune of course, I defy anyone not to, and recreating the gun fight.

Nice to be back in Bilbao, lovely city and a great audience., and last night saw the inclusion of Achilles Last Stand for the first time on this tour. Today. We drive just 50 minutes down the road to Vitoria, the site of a huge and decisive Napoleonic battle. And another victory for Wellington, defeating a full French Marshal.

The turning point was the capture and crossing of the old Roman bridge which caused the French to be outflanked and a relatively quick victory for the British.

And yes, we are also doing some gigs, we are two weeks into the tour and with only seven shows left to go, it has flown by.

More laters

Monday, 6 February 2017

Whisper tales of gore

It’s Monday, it’s Madrid and it’s the half way mark of the Spanish tour, and everyone has been well behaved with no tales of gore to report, well, none that the band will let me publish anyway.

Last time I wrote we had an epic race against time to make it to San Sebastian for the show.

Having booked flights from Sevilla to Bilbao, Vueling airlines cancelled the flight and dumped us in Madrid instead, claiming that Bilbao airport was closed due to high winds, hpwever we got an alternative flight, from Madrid to yes Bilbao, and no the airport wasn’t closed, nor were there any high winds. A lovely day in fact. So we made the show, although the airfare cost more than the nights fee, but y’know, the show must go on.

I reckon as the flight was late anyway, Vueling lost their slot in Bilbao and needed a plane in Madrid. So our flight was biffed off.

A stint of 4 shows on the bounce, San Sebastian was followed by Santander, then A Caruna and Vigo.

All good shows and well attended, we have a few new songs in the set to go along the theme, seeing a welcome return of Trampled Under Foot.
                                                             The late nights are taking it's toll

Then a long but pleasant drive south to Madrid. Nice spot of tiffin en-route of course.

We have a couple of days off here before the show, the boys wasting no time in getting out on the town. Jack Paul Jones asking where is the best place to go for to sample the night-life in Madrid. Of a Monday night? I don’t think there will be much action, but if there is, then those boys will find it.

Myself? I’m having a night in doing me laundry. Yeah!!!! Rock and Roll Babys!!!

But also, today is a red-letter day! My book is now proofed and off to the printers and is on schedule for release on March 1st. Called Letz Zep backstage. ‘What Goes on tour don’t stay on tour’ full of amusing stories from behind the scenes of the biggest and best tribute to Led Zeppelin in the world! What? like me doing me laundry in Madrid on a Monday night? Nope, a bit more colourful than that. with tales of gore aplenty!
I’ll keep you posted
Rock on

Thursday, 2 February 2017

The rain in Spain

Hello All.

We arrived on a beautifully sunny day for a show in Murcia. Great to see so many people returning to see the band again. Then onto Grenada and for the first time a show in Cordoba, a very beautiful place. It has the second largest Old Town in Europe, complete with Roman bridge and lovely gardens. another warm day, still out in the evening in Tee Shirts, in January!
it's great to get back playing again after a 3 week winter break, Jack, the new JPJ has settled right in and is enjoying his first visit to AndalucĂ­a.
8TV, the local Andalusian TV station come to film out show in Jerez the next day. They interviewed Nobby, our promoter. Spending our day off in Gibraltar, although Nobby forgot his passport and they wouldn’t let him in.
Much to our amusement.
                                                          I need a passport to come to the UK?
After our show in Algeciras, again, so many familiar faces, oh and did they feed us? The restaurant attached to the venue was amazing and the food, and the wine, kept coming, necessitating the need for a pre-gig snooze.

Rather than drive our day off the length of the country for our show tonight in San Sebastien, instead, we had a glorious day in Sevilla, enjoying the sun and the Flamenco. We thought it a good idea to catch a flight to Bilbao in the afternoon after breakfast in Saville.
And then the rain came.
Pouring rain. torrential rain, and driving winds. And so we find ourselves still sitting at the airport when we should be sound-checking in San Sebastien. Our flight cancelled due to the bad weather.
It’s very quiet now in the terminal waiting room, I’m the only one here, everyone else has got a voucher for a sarnie and a cup of tea. Whereas, I’m frantically trying to make alternative arrangement to get the band to the show on time. At least Peter will get me a cuppa tea. Thank God it’s a late gig tonight.

11pm onstage. There is still hope, maybe we should all play a song of hope… just to make sure.

The race begins…………

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Led Zeppelin I

Is it really 48 years since Led Zeppelin released their debut album? The eponymous Led Zeppelin?

12th January 1969 was the day the world changed forever. Nothing quite like this had ever been heard before. From the staggered intro to Good Times Bad Times, those mind-blowing triplets on the bass drum from John Bonham, just pushed the urgency of the songs on to greater heights. Plants searing vocal and the full attack of the guitar solo and the die was cast.

Zeppelin had arrived.

Babe I’m Gonna Leave You clearly displays the light and shade of what was to become a Zep trademark, haunting vocal, full of angst and pain, followed by thunderous riffs to shake the listener out of his melancholy.

Leaning heavily on the blues with the songs I Can’t Quit You Baby, and You Shook Me, songs by Willie Dixon, Zep expanding the songs to a full eight minutes. Dazed and Confused debuted the eerie violin bow scraped across the strings of Page’s psychedelic Fender Tele, and the pre-punk Communication Breakdown, the world would never be the same again.

Recorded in Olympic Studios in London, close to where I live, in just 36 hours. The album was a self-funded and a commercial success. But was not well received by the music press critics. This is probably more likely to the press at the time being out-of-touch and not ready, or quite understanding, what it was that was gracing their ears. The world of music was changing and Zeppelin were the fore-runners, launching a whole new genre of harder rock music that was to dominate the 70’s.

The artwork being the Hindenburg disaster fully explains the music on the music on the vinyl record enclosed inside, magnificent and explosive, with a hint of danger. /Don't get too close!

Will we ever see such an influential debut album from an artist ever again?