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Bob Lefsetz interview with former Atlantic president Jerry Greenberg

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Great interview! I never knew that Atlantic signed Jimmy Page & JPJ... before Plant or Bonham had even joined the band. I also never knew that Dusty Springfield was the person who got the ball rolling by telling Jerry Wexler that Page & JPJ were putting a band together. That has to be the greatest visionary move by a record exec in the history of signing a band...a band that really didn't even exist yet? That was a bold decision by Wexler, kinda boggles the mind if you think about it.

Thanks a lot Sam!

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^ Not even a chance! Also, this makes me really realize  just how fortunate Plant & Bonham were to be recruited into a band (that wasn't a band) with Page & JPJ already signed  with Atlantic Records...with full artistic control? Not only could that happen today, but I'm 100 percent sure it had never happened before, or since. That must have been some crazy pressure before they actually jammed together for the first time for all of them. However, that pressure seemed to instantly disappear with a quickness. This brings to mind my favorite JPJ quote:

"As soon as I heard John Bonham play, I knew this was going to be great, somebody who knows what he's doing and swings like a bastard. We locked together as a team immediately." JPJ

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Posted (edited)

This certainly refutes the Peter Grant version of how the band began.

Edited by Strider

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, blindwillie127 said:

Whats Peter Grants version? Refresh my memory please 

That the first album was already recorded on Jimmy's dime and Peter and Jimmy shopped the tapes around to the labels for the best deal.

But obviously if Atlantic had already signed Jimmy and JPJ before the band was even together, there was no album recorded before being signed.

Edited by Strider

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Two options here: 1) everything we thought we knew about the band's origin is wrong, or 2) Jerry Greenberg's memory is faulty.

No offence to Jerry, but I'm going with 2). It'd place the signing in early August '68, not November!

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19 hours ago, Strider said:

That the first album was already recorded on Jimmy's dime and Peter and Jimmy shopped the tapes around to the labels for the best deal.

But obviously if Atlantic had already signed Jimmy and JPJ before the band was even together, there was no album recorded before being signed.

Looks like Wexler was a little off. I think this explains how and most importantly 'why' the actual "signing" happened the way it did:

In a 1990 interview, Page said that the album took only about 36 hours of studio time (over a span of a few weeks) to create (including mixing), adding that he knew this because of the amount charged on the studio bill. One of the primary reasons for the short recording time was that the material selected for the album had been well-rehearsed and pre-arranged by the band on Led Zeppelin's tour of Scandavia in September 1968. As Page explained, "[the band] had begun developing the arrangements on the Scandinavian tour and I knew what sound I was looking for. It just came together incredibly quickly.

In addition, since the band had not yet signed their deal with Atlantic Records, Page and Zeppelin's manager Peter Grant paid for the sessions entirely themselves, meaning there was no record company money to waste on excessive studio time. In another interview, Page revealed that the self-funding was to ensure artistic freedom: "I wanted artistic control in a vise grip, because I knew exactly what I wanted to do with these fellows. In fact, I financed and completely recorded the first album before going to Atlantic ... It wasn't your typical story where you get an advance to make an album – we arrived at Atlantic with tapes in hand ... Atlantic's reaction was very positive – I mean they signed us, didn't they?"

So, Atlantic 'secured' a deal with Page & JPJ before there was a full band. The actual finalizing/signing of the deal didn't happen until the band was formed, did a tour of Scandanavia as the New Yardbirds, changed name to Led Zeppelin, recorded an album and presented it to Atlantic in finished form...on their own dime. All of this done in this manner in order to prove to Atlantic that they were worthy of "full creative control" along with the confidence in Page being the producer of the band. Thats some seriously shrewd/savvy business sense right there. Of course you need the goods in order to pull it off, and they sure as hell did!

Still, can you imagine Atlantic's Jerry Greenberg securing a deal with Page & Jones non-existent band and then a few months later they show up with Led Zeppelin I  mastered and ready to go? Pretty F'N crazy! 

 

 

 

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11 minutes ago, blindwillie127 said:

Looks like Wexler was a little off. I think this explains how and most importantly 'why' the actual "signing" happened the way it did:

In a 1990 interview, Page said that the album took only about 36 hours of studio time (over a span of a few weeks) to create (including mixing), adding that he knew this because of the amount charged on the studio bill. One of the primary reasons for the short recording time was that the material selected for the album had been well-rehearsed and pre-arranged by the band on Led Zeppelin's tour of Scandavia in September 1968. As Page explained, "[the band] had begun developing the arrangements on the Scandinavian tour and I knew what sound I was looking for. It just came together incredibly quickly.

In addition, since the band had not yet signed their deal with Atlantic Records, Page and Zeppelin's manager Peter Grant paid for the sessions entirely themselves, meaning there was no record company money to waste on excessive studio time. In another interview, Page revealed that the self-funding was to ensure artistic freedom: "I wanted artistic control in a vise grip, because I knew exactly what I wanted to do with these fellows. In fact, I financed and completely recorded the first album before going to Atlantic ... It wasn't your typical story where you get an advance to make an album – we arrived at Atlantic with tapes in hand ... Atlantic's reaction was very positive – I mean they signed us, didn't they?"

So, Atlantic 'secured' a deal with Page & JPJ before there was a full band. The actual finalizing/signing of the deal didn't happen until the band was formed, did a tour of Scandanavia as the New Yardbirds, changed name to Led Zeppelin, recorded an album and presented it to Atlantic in finished form...on their own dime. All of this done in this manner in order to prove to Atlantic that they were worthy of "full creative control" along with the confidence in Page being the producer of the band. Thats some seriously shrewd/savvy business sense right there. Of course you need the goods in order to pull it off, and they sure as hell did!

Still, can you imagine Atlantic's Jerry Greenberg securing a deal with Page & Jones non-existent band and then a few months later they show up with Led Zeppelin I  mastered and ready to go? Pretty F'N crazy! 

 

 

 

Yes. Which makes it all the sadder when you compare the cocksure, fire-blazing Jimmy of those days with the dithering, reticent Jimmy of today. The Jimmy who says he wants to play but seems to find any reason not to.

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26 minutes ago, Strider said:

Yes. Which makes it all the sadder when you compare the cocksure, fire-blazing Jimmy of those days with the dithering, reticent Jimmy of today. The Jimmy who says he wants to play but seems to find any reason not to.

Ok, but how is that relative in any way to this Jerry Wexler interview? 

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1 hour ago, blindwillie127 said:

So, Atlantic 'secured' a deal with Page & JPJ before there was a full band. The actual finalizing/signing of the deal didn't happen until the band was formed, did a tour of Scandanavia as the New Yardbirds, changed name to Led Zeppelin, recorded an album and presented it to Atlantic in finished form...on their own dime. All of this done in this manner in order to prove to Atlantic that they were worthy of "full creative control" along with the confidence in Page being the producer of the band. Thats some seriously shrewd/savvy business sense right there. Of course you need the goods in order to pull it off, and they sure as hell did!

Still, can you imagine Atlantic's Jerry Greenberg securing a deal with Page & Jones non-existent band and then a few months later they show up with Led Zeppelin I  mastered and ready to go? Pretty F'N crazy!

I'm still quizzical about this. Page & Grant both said they kept the interest of Warners' Mo Ostin & Epic's Dick Asher & Clive Davis going, to bid Atlantic up. Why do that if there was already some kind of pre-agreement?

I'm willing to believe Atlantic had signed something that said they would get "first look" at whatever JP & JPJ + others came up with. But that isn't "securing a deal" necessarily. Superhype Co wasn't established till that October, so who did Atlantic do the deal with in August before they'd even played a show, RAK? Not saying Jerry's wrong, but it doesn't fit the official timeline. Where's Steve A Jones when you need him?!

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Posted (edited)
51 minutes ago, 76229 said:

I'm still quizzical about this. Page & Grant both said they kept the interest of Warners' Mo Ostin & Epic's Dick Asher & Clive Davis going, to bid Atlantic up. Why do that if there was already some kind of pre-agreement?

I'm willing to believe Atlantic had signed something that said they would get "first look" at whatever JP & JPJ + others came up with. But that isn't "securing a deal" necessarily. Superhype Co wasn't established till that October, so who did Atlantic do the deal with in August before they'd even played a show, RAK? Not saying Jerry's wrong, but it doesn't fit the official timeline. Where's Steve A Jones when you need him?!

I'm not SAJ, but here's my take on it. Atlantic was the brass fucking ring, and when they call and say we want to be part of what you are doing, why look any further? Keeping up interest in other labels before a deal has been signed makes perfect business sense to me. Also, I believe the Atlantic deal was signed on November 11th, and anything before that was a verbal agreement. 

 

1968_ny_2.jpg 
Photo: November 11, 1968

 

Edited by blindwillie127

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Is it possible that Page and Jones were indeed signed but not as recording artists but as solo individuals who would work for the label as session players?

 

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3 hours ago, blindwillie127 said:

Ok, but how is that relative in any way to this Jerry Wexler interview? 

I was merely answering your question at the end of your post by noting the contrast by which Jimmy operates today.

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17 minutes ago, hummingbird69 said:

Is it possible that Page and Jones were indeed signed but not as recording artists but as solo individuals who would work for the label as session players?

 

That is a good point. Very possible.

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1 hour ago, hummingbird69 said:

Is it possible that Page and Jones were indeed signed but not as recording artists but as solo individuals who would work for the label as session players?

 

That’s the impression I always had too. We all know the story Grant and Page have stated, and the earlier picture shows that the band wasn’t signed until they floated the tapes to Atlantic, etc. after LZ I was recorded.

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