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Peter Grant Tape Recorded Interview up for auction

Zep Hed

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A collection of three original cassette recordings which total 3 hours and 19 minutes consisting of interviews between Peter Grant, former manager of Led Zeppelin and Ray Coleman, former editor of Melody Maker. The interviews were conducted in November 1988 at Peter Grant’s home in Sussex. They were carried out for a book that Peter was intending to publish in conjunction with Ray but the project never reached fruition, the interviews have remained unpublished to this day. They gave a fascinating insight into Peter Grant’s introduction into the music business: from his employment as a door man at the 2is Coffee Club in London, to his acting career in various films in the late 1950s and then on to working for Don Arden (“…who owes me 1800 quid to this day!”) and finally through to his time with the Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin.

As may be expected, the most interesting parts of the interviews relate to Led Zeppelin and the group’s beginnings. Some of Peter’s comments on the topics covered are listed below.

  • On the end of the Yardbirds: “They (The Yardbirds) split up in May 1967 when there was a huge row between the band… At the last moment a gig had come in for the Image Club in Miami, it was for $5,000…I thought they should do it... We were in a Holiday Inn… They all said ok. (But then) Keith Relf and Jim McCarty said ‘No way’... Jimmy was very pro-doing it, Chris Dreja went along with it…They all wanted to jack it in…In my unlegal mind I wrote a letter which they all signed which gave the right to use the name The Yardbirds to Jimmy…So he could hire who he wanted to…The least I could do was to secure the name for Jimmy…I wasn’t backing Jimmy because he was the best brain in the band or the best musician, I was backing it because I thought it was the right thing to do…So that was the end of The Yardbirds.”
  • On the beginning of Led Zeppelin: “I remember Jimmy comes up to the office to see me about something…we were in Oxford Street by the Saville Theatre where Eppy used to hold those Sunday night concerts... I said to Jimmy, ‘What are you going to do? Are you going to go back to sessions…?’ He said ‘I’d like to form a completely new band’… At that time I’d been fortunate enough to see what was happening in America as far as what was called Underground…Jimmy was very heavy into getting a blues type band together…I said to him ‘What about a producer? They didn’t hit it off with Micky (Most) at all, wasn’t his sort of thing…’Who do you fancy as a producer?’ Jimmy said ‘Well I wouldn’t mind having a go at it myself. If you can get me a deal. I’d like to be the producer and do the first album. If I make a mess of it, you can think about getting a producer’.
  • On Led Zeppelin’s first album and his search for a record deal for the group: “We did the album in a very short space of time, could have been 10 days…Anyway, we made the album and Jimmy and I went over with a couple of acetates of it and we played it to (Jerry) Wexler, he tried not to look too excited but he was completely, obviously, blown away… Atlantic was the label to be on…Warner Brothers….? Mo begged me to let them have it, I thought no, I’m really committed.”
  • On Led Zeppelin’s first gig at the Fillmore East: “Iron Butterfly were the biggest heavy metal group in America. They were giants. I was sure in my mind that Led Zeppelin could slaughter Iron Butterfly…they went on and just slaughtered it. They did five encores!...5 encores!”
  • On Led Zeppelin as an album band: “It was never going to be a singles band…We never put out a single here…F*** the BBC. I’m not getting involved in that machinery. No single, no TV or anything. We’re not gonna do it…It was albums only. Never going to be a TV band, we knew right from the start…couldn’t capture it.”
  • On Zeppelin’s success: “There was never any, sort of, big headedness or being difficult (amongst the group)…There was always a tremendous sense of humour…it always ended up in a laugh. In ’77 we were staying in the Plaza and we played 6 nights in Washington…by that time the security became so tight that it affected the band very much. It tended to put everybody in little boxes…trapped in little boxes…. I remember it was in November 1975…. and (between) John Paul Jones and Robert it wasn’t strained but, you know… not musical snobbery… We were in Musicland Studios in Munich and I was in the front of the cab and Robert had had that accident and he was still in plaster and all that. He was behind with the lyrics on the ‘Presence’ album…John Paul Jones and Robert Plant were in the back of the cab. We were on our way to the studio, a remark comes up (from Robert to John Paul Jones) ‘I’m behind on my lyrics’, John Paul Jones says ‘It doesn’t really worry me’. Robert says ‘It should do’. John Paul Jones says ‘It doesn’t bother me I haven’t listened to the lyrics on the last 3 albums.’ He went …‘Ok that’s not very nice’…Pretty heavy… but John is a very dry person.”
  • On Robert Plant: “Robert always wanted to be leader of the band. Bonzo used to have a wonderful thing he used to say to me. He’d say ‘Look Robert, all you’ve got to do is be out in front of us looking good and we’ll worry about the music. Just get out there and do your bit and wiggle about!’ ”
  • On Allen Klein: “I remember he owed me $12,000. I was over in New York, I went to see Allen I’d heard all these stories, I don’t care, straight into the office, across the desk, ‘Where’s my $12,000?’ Marty Machet, his lawyer, came rushing in. I slung Allen back in his chair and said ‘I’m not leaving the office until I get my $12,000’.”
  • On the Robert Stigwood and Don Arden Story: “I knew about Stiggie hanging out of the window…I was there…He (Don Arden, music promotor) had him by the ankles hanging out of the window…Stiggie’s trousers were up to his knees…little ginger hairy legs… And in the middle of all this Don (Arden) turns to me and says ‘For Chrissakes don’t let me drop him, Pete!’ ”


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The sample quotes relating to Zeppelin are not particularly new.  Generally the same stories.  Its interesting how Peter and the band were so closely guarded in their comments throughout the years.

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I do hope the content becomes publicly available. Even though most if not all of these stories have been told in various ways through the years, Peter Grant as a storyteller is second to none and there are relatively few audio recordings.

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