Neal Schon picks Santana over Clapton

Journey guitarist explains how he almost joined Derek and the Dominos
By Peter Lindblad
Neal Schon 2012
In the position he was in, it’s hard to imagine Neal Schon refusing an offer to play with Eric Clapton.
A mere teenager, whose soulful, expressive guitar playing had caught the ear of the man known as “Slowhand,” Schon had dropped out of high school in the 1960s to follow his musical muse. This was the chance of a lifetime. Other guitarists would have given their eye teeth for such an opportunity, but fate had something different in mind for Schon.
“I had a good feeling … I don’t know why, but I had a good feeling I was going to be asked to join the Santana band, because I’d been hanging out with them,” remembers Schon. “I believe I started hanging out with [keyboardist] Gregg Rolie two to three months before I actually got in the band. And him and I would just hang and he’d play acoustic piano, and I’d play some quiet electric guitar and we’d jam. He began picking me up at high school, which I was really not into, and we’d take off and I’d cut school and we’d jam. And then we started hanging out and playing in clubs, and all of a sudden, we were working in a studio. And we’d work out in the studio 24/7 and just go in there and jam and try come up with song ideas.”
On one particular night, while the two were jamming “on some stuff that sounded like ‘Batuka’ on the third [Santana] record, and that was the beginning stages of that song, I believe,” Schon recalls Clapton walking through the door. “My jaw dropped. This was just incredible. And I was so shocked at the time I really think I just said, ‘Hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to the guy,” says Schon.
Clapton soon joined in, trading off solos with Schon. They recorded and played for a couple of hours before Clapton left. “And he said, ‘It was great seeing you guys. I’ve got a gig tomorrow.’ And he took off, so it was wild and that was it,” says Schon.
A dumbstruck Schon couldn’t believe what had happened, and he certainly didn’t think anything more would come of it.
“And then the next day, I come into the studio, and there was a note left there from him to me inviting me to play with him and Derek and the Dominos at Berkeley Community Theatre,” relates Schon, who knew Clapton’s catalog backwards and forwards. “And so, at the time, I didn’t have a license. I got somebody to drive me over there, and I managed to get there about 10 minutes before they went onstage. And I went backstage, and he says, ‘Oh, great. You got here.’ He says, ‘We’re going to go onstage and I’m going to play about seven or eight tunes, and then I’m going to call you up as a good friend, and you’re just going to sit in and jam with us for the whole rest of the night.’ And I said, ‘Great.’ I brought a guitar, and he brought me up onstage and I just went and plugged in, and his guitar tech turned the amp up to 10, and we were off.”
The night didn’t end there.
“It was really fun to play and then afterwards, he invited me to go to the hotel with him,” says Schon. “He wanted to sit down and talk, so I went and as we were talking, he was asking who I listened to, and I told him, 'Him.' And he didn’t believe me, so I picked up an acoustic guitar and I started playing note for note ‘Crossroads’ off the Wheels of Fire record. He was like, ‘Wow!’ And he gave me a really kind compliment, and at that point, he said, ‘Well, would you be interested in moving to England and coming and playing with me?’ And I was just like, ‘Whoa.’”
Caught completely off guard by the proposal, Schon wasn’t prepared to answer, “Yes,” even though he could be forgiven for accepting it on the spot.
“I had just barely moved out of my folks’ apartment and was hanging out with Gregg in Mill Valley, in Marin County, north of San Francisco,” says Schon. “And man, I said, ‘I don’t think I’m ready to move to England, although I’d love to play with you.’”
To some extent, Schon felt an obligation to the members of Santana. He’d spent about a month in the studio with them, and Schon had an inkling he’d be asked to join Santana. Fortunately, he was right.
“I also felt that Derek and the Dominos were not going to last that long,” says Schon. “It just appeared that there were some issues going on in the band that I could sense, much like an animal, you know (laughs). It was not like the best time period.”
His prediction was eerily accurate, as Derek and the Dominos, racked by drug abuse and other vices, barely held it together between 1970 and 1971, recording the album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs before the whole thing disintegrated – although a live album, In Concert, would be released in 1973.
Meanwhile, Schon did eventually land with Santana, joining the band in 1971, just in time to lend his talents to the Santana III album, helping the band forge a tougher, more rock-oriented sound.
We were really quick in the studio, everybody played live, and there were a few solos that were overdubbed,” recalls Schon. “And I usually got ‘em in one take. I remember we were in and out, and it was a great experience. Great record – I love it to this day.
What people may not know is who actually played lead guitar on one of the LP’s biggest hits, “Everybody’s Everything,” which featured horns by Tower of Power. “I actually played lead guitar on it. And Carlos played rhythm guitar and bass on that,” says Schon.
Ironically, Schon’s association with Santana was also short-lived.
“Well, during the duration that I played with the band, there were people coming and going,” admits Schon. “There were a lot of fall-outs happening. There were a lot of drug issues, and everybody was into a different thing. It got a little crazy and intense, and people were getting pissed and they’d take off and then someone would be replaced for a second.”
Even though the end was near for Schon, he did contribute to Caravanserai , an album he still loves. “’Song of the Wind’ is amazing on that, which is a song Carlos and I just winged, and I actually play the first solo on that; he played the middle solo and I played the last solo on that, and you know, it’s two chords, and we just improvised and played.” And that’s what Schon’s been doing his whole life, as he proves on his latest solo album, The Calling, out now on Frontiers Records.
Schon collaborated with former Journey band mate Steve Smith on the record, and to Smith, it was sort of like being back in Journey ... with some glaring differences.
“Working with Neal on The Calling was very similar to how we worked together with Journey,” said Smith. “We have an easy rapport, a creative chemistry and get right to the task at hand. The atmosphere is fun and we are excited about the music that we are creating. There were two main differences: With Journey we did the writing and rehearsing well before the recording of the album. That way by the time we got to the studio, we knew what we would be recording. With The Calling, Neal had four songs prepared when I arrived at Fantasy Studios. After I recorded those songs on the first day of recording we spent three more days coming up with ideas for tunes and recording them as we went, so the process moved much faster than a Journey recording. The other difference was that the team was not the five Journey band members, who would contribute ideas to the songwriting, arranging and recording process. The team was Neal, keyboard player Igor Len and me. Of course, The Calling is Neal’s album, so he took the lead and did most of the writing and arranging with Igor and I assisting with ideas and direction when needed. Neal is a prolific writer and every time he picks up a guitar, he’ll come up with some new ideas.”
And that’s something Clapton and Derek and the Dominos never got the chance to see up close.  

Book Review: If You Like Led Zeppelin ...

Dave Thompson – If You Like Led Zeppelin …
Backbeat Books
All Access Review: A-
Led Zeppelin - If You Like Led Zeppelin ... 2012
Few bands in the history of rock have a more complicated genealogy than the mighty Led Zeppelin, the pitiless thunder gods of 1970s blues-heavy proto-metal who came and conquered, before losing the seemingly indestructible John Bonham to excessive drinking and stopping cold turkey. The job of making sense of it all falls to veteran music scribe Dave Thompson, whose latest book is an immersive exploration of a tangled rock-and-roll ancestry and yet, true to Thompson’s irreverent manner and devilishly clever writing style, it’s not at all stuffy or pedantic. Even while studying both Zeppelin’s DNA and that of its vast progeny with a scrupulous eye for detail, Thompson breathes new life into what had become a dusty, lifeless history, allowing it to unfold in the most remarkably casual manner.
One of Thompson’s greatest strengths as a writer lies in making connections that not everybody sees and then weaving disparate strands of information and insight into entertaining, gently provocative prose. And although Backbeat Books' “If You Like Led Zeppelin …” has the potential to start heated arguments, it slyly eats away some of the Zeppelin mystique without thoroughly destroying it, and for that, it deserves acclaim. Thompson is practically embedded with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones in the studio as they grinded out their early session work, and when it comes to unpacking the unruly story of the Yardbirds and all their personnel changes, Thompson is the perfect guide, pointing out the not-so-obvious key events and turning points in their brief, but influential, existence. Similarly, he transports readers back to the vibrant music scenes of late-1960s England – the British blues boom drawing particular interest – that feed Zeppelin’s esoteric tastes, while never shying away from the less savory and downright despicable aspects of the band’s wilder adventures. Legendary for his anger, John Bonham, as Thompson writes, is said to have once held a man over a balcony, 20 floors from the ground, by his ankles after the unfortunate bloke made a joke about drummers. And you thought only hip-hop moguls pulled those kinds of reckless stunts.
Ah, it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, though, and this is, for the most part, a celebration of Zeppelin’s genius and what artists – including folk (Roy Harper, most of all) and blues (Howlin’ Wolf, in particular) legends – left their mark on the collective consciousness of Page, Bonham, Jones and Robert Plant. Casting his net far and wide, Thompson illuminates Zeppelin’s relationships – however slight or indirect – with everybody from Jeff Beck to Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green, 10cc and Graham Gouldman, The Beatles, John Mayall, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Fairport Convention, Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd, and Cliff Richard, to name but a few. Even bit players like Mickie Most – a minor figure to most, although many will surely recognize the name and know his place in rock history – find themselves written about extensively in Thompson’s tome, as anecdotes about the inner workings of the music business are discussed with a mixture of levity and dead seriousness.
Only 188 pages in length, “If You Like Led Zeppelin …” has more to offer than dry facts and faded nostalgia. Along with an objective autopsy of Zeppelin’s Swan Song, the vanity label they started at a time when everybody was doing it, Thompson lists his 40 favorite Zeppelin covers and surveys their TV and movie appearances – material that, while mildly interesting, seems very much like filler. Nonetheless, Thompson’s work, while far from comprehensive, is a ripping yarn, well-paced and informative. Spreading its seed far and wide, Zeppelin influenced everybody from Soundgarden to Heart, Whitesnake, the Black Crowes and all those denim-and-leather-clad hellions of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, along with countless others. In turn, Bonzo, Jones, Page and Plant had their own spirit guides from the worlds of the blues, folk and other ethnic traditions, and Thompson has tied it all together in a neat little package, recommending more than 200 other bands, records, films and other ephemera you might enjoy if Zeppelin just happens to be your cup of tea.
- Peter Lindblad

CD Review: Kamelot - Silverthorn

CD Review: Kamelot - Silverthorn
All Access Review: A-
Kamelot - Silverthorn 2012
Before taking his last breath in the classic film “Citizen Kane,” ambitious publishing magnate Charles Foster Kane enigmatically whispers, “Rosebud,” and a newsreel reporter spends the rest of the movie trying to figure out just what the devil he meant by that dying utterance. Power-metal observers may find the title of Kamelot’s latest magnum opus, Silverthorn, to be just as perplexing, because guitarist/composer Thomas Youngblood, essentially the director of this extravagant production, is being rather cryptic about its significance, leaving it to the listener to decipher it on his or her own.
A sweeping epic, as only Kamelot and Youngblood, in particular, can stage, Silverthorn weaves a haunting tale of lost innocence, heart-rending tragedy, guilty consciences, and troubling family secrets around a young girl’s death and her twin brothers’ search for resolution and salvation. Befitting the poignancy and the dramatic tenor of the story, not to mention the deeply conflicted morality and humanity of its characters, Youngblood has composed a tour de force of jaw-dropping, melodic metal grandeur that's just as awe-inspiring as the cinematic scope of Nightwish's most majestic creations, if somewhat less wintry. Meticulously sequenced so that each piece is logically and inextricably bound to the next, with new singer Tommy Karevik interpreting with clarity and stunning expression the reflective moods, emotional turmoil and thrilling action of the engrossing lyrical narrative, the expansive and mysterious Silverthorn explores progressive sonic labyrinths with childlike wonder and endures full-on invasions of classical bombast, glorious choral outbursts and churning gothic metal riffage. Out via Steamhammer/SPV, and packaged in a limited-edition box set, a doubleg gatefold LP, or the Ecolbook normal version, there's nothing subtle about Silverthorn.
In “Manus Dei,” which serves as a sort of prologue to Silverthorn, there is unease and fear in the smartly executed piano figures, that sense of impending doom enhanced by the enveloping darkness of urgent, sharp vocal violence and cutting strings. Out of the blackness, the pulse-pounding “Sacrimony (Angel of the Afterlife),” emerges, caught up in a swirling vortex of symphonic flourishes and surging guitars and breathlessly racing headlong into the heavy, pendulum swing of the more menacing “Ashes to Ashes.” Among the most impactful tracks on Silverthorn, “Torn” is fraught with tension and its release is cathartic. Immense walls of sound that they are, the title track, “Veritas” and “My Confession” are similarly cast, although the down-and-dirty, serpentine grooves that hold the grinding “Veritas” in their death grip fill a need for some much needed low-end thickness and grit – something Silverthorn otherwise lacks.
Completely over the top, even to the point where it might be wise of Kamelot to scale back on the full-blown orchestration and avoid burying the character of their songs in such lush instrumentation, the multi-layered Silverthorn is, nevertheless, a grandiose monument to Youngblood’s exacting standards with regard to arrangements, sonic quality and musicianship that dazzles. When experienced as a whole, Silverthorn’s overflowing melodies, beastly metal riffs, compelling storyline and the Rick Wakeman-like keyboard excursions from Oliver Palotai make it a fantastical sonic journey with many magnificent peaks and lovely valleys – one being the beautifully rendered “Song for Jolee,” a soft, sad little ode held together with the rather fragile thread of pretty piano and Karevik’s tender vocal treatment. An exception, rather than the rule, “Song of Jolee” is practically the antithesis of “Prodigal Son,” its swells of church organ contrasting with carefully plotted acoustic guitar surrounded by heady rushes of sound. Such is the way with Kamelot, these Floridians who seem more European than anything else. If not quite as volcanic or malevolent as the last couple of Kamelot records, Silverthorn somehow still manages to rise majestically above them, its melodies bigger than life. Now, if only Youngblood would just tell us what Silverthorn means.
-            Peter Lindblad

CD Review: Magnum - On the 13th Day

CD Review: Magnum - On the 13th Day
All Access Review: B+
Magnum - On the 13th Day 2012
If Jon Bon Jovi was belting out “So Let It Rain” in that raspy, dog-eared voice of his to a swarm of horny middle-aged housewives some New York City morning on the “Today” show, the Twitter universe would be abuzz with news of the blow-dried superstar’s newest surefire hit single. As it is, the sweeping, big-hearted anthem – one of many here – from Magnum’s latest opus, On the 13th Day, out via Steamhammer/SPV, will go largely unheard, and that’s too bad. That track and others on the exhilarating new record deserve a better fate.
The less cynical among us might actually weep openly when Magnum singer Bob Catley, doing his best Roger Daltrey impersonation, wrings out a range of emotions in delivering the line, “You know that I don’t give a damn/I’m only me, that’s who I am,” while a deluge of keyboards and guitar pours down on his proud face. It’s a song of empowerment and gritting one’s teeth as reality prepares to do its worst to a true underdog story, not so different really from John Parr’s emotional – some might say, “Cheesy” – reading of “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion).” And like that ‘80s touchstone, it doesn’t seem to fit in with what’s trendy and happening right now in music. That’s okay with Magnum; the old British progressive-metal warhorse never concerned itself with such things anyway. Even in their salad days, when Magnum’s pop-infused hard rock once had Europe all agog for the melodic fare of records such as On a Storyteller’s Night and the Roger Taylor-produced Vigilante, the band’s art-rock sensibility was a hard sell in America, the promise land for any metal-related acts of that time.
These days, it is the alliance of Catley and songwriter/guitarist Tony Clarkin that holds Magnum together, and although some might find the big emotional swings and melodic bombast of On the 13th Day a little heavy-handed – “Putting Things in Place” being a prime example of Magnum at their most overwrought – only the most hard-hearted corporate raider could fail to be moved by the working-class sentiments of “Shadow Town” and its giant chorus. An uplifting epic carried on broad-shouldered synthesizers, luxurious piano and magnificent guitar ascents – interrupted for a stretch by some elegant and agile soloing – “Shadow Town” talks of the closing of factories, greed and the misery of the poor with all the poetic righteousness and fervor of a Springsteen. And yet, Magnum will never in a million years see that kind of critical acclaim. 
Undeterred, Magnum carries on, perhaps wondering if their propensity for crafting irresistible, if occasionally trite, melodies and generating overwhelming sonic force would find sympathetic ears in Europe’s burgeoning power-metal movement. What could be more attractive to that crowd than the tumescent string movements marching through “Didn’t like You Anyway” like a symphonic army? How, indeed, could they possibly ignore the majestic phalanx of clean-burning guitars and silvery synthesizers that provide the rocket-booster thrust to the 7:20 opener “All the Dreamers” needed to drive it skyward or the street-tough, switchblade hooks of “Blood Red Laughter,” a rousing song that absolutely has Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger?”
So what if On the 13th Day seems like a throwback to the unabashedly earnest songwriting of the ‘80s. There are enough wonderfully complex piano parts, rising synth swells and clever little guitar puzzles here to appease hardcore prog enthusiasts looking for classically inspired passages and envelope-pushing musicianship, and when the spirit moves them, as it does on the relentless “Dance of the Black Tattoo” and the bitter “Broken Promises,” Magnum can swing a hammer with the best of them, slamming down heavy riffage and crunching rhythms. Indifference from the world at large may disappoint Magnum, but it’s gratifying to see them still plugging away. Maybe these underdogs will, again, have their day.
-            Peter Lindblad

DVD Review: The Doors - Live at the Bowl '68

DVD Review: The Doors - Live at the Bowl ‘68
Eagle Vision
All Access Review: A
The Doors - Live at the Bowl '68
Holding his guitar like a rifle, The Doors’ Robby Krieger takes aim at Jim Morrison. Always up for anything, the singer wanted to stage a mock execution during “The Unknown Soldier,” and Krieger went along with the gag, simulating the recoil action of a gun as Morrison fell like a sack of potatoes. Only six months had passed since Morrison’s notorious onstage arrest in New Haven, Connecticut, and he was, perhaps, beginning to feel as if he had a target on his back, put there by his friends in law enforcement. Confrontations between Morrison, The Doors and the police in the aftermath of that incident would continue, confirming his suspicions.
Unlike that surreal evening in December of 1967 when Morrison fought the law and didn’t win, he wouldn’t be hauled away in handcuffs when The Doors – feeling on top of the world – brought their psychedelic circus to the Hollywood Bowl on July 5, 1968, the concert where Morrison took that imaginary bullet from Krieger. Filmed at the behest of The Doors, it turned out to be a landmark performance for the band and the unpredictable Morrison, ever the fearless shaman and the enigmatic poet. Now, at a time when pettiness and fear seem to have the masses in their clutches and Morrison’s philosophy of liberation is but an echo from the distant past, the definitive document of that celebrated event arrives, a DVD account titled “Live at the Bowl ‘68” that cleans out the dust and the cobwebs and showcases the focused synergy and hallucinatory fervor The Doors could muster when properly motivated. Rising to the occasion, The Doors run through rousing, spirited versions of “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar),” “Hello, I Love You,” “The Unknown Soldier” and “Back Door Man” with vim and vigor, their swirling mania and spirit of adventure driving them onward and upward.
And whenever Morrison gets the itch to veer off course and journey into the unknown, whether his fellow travelers are familiar with the imagined terrain or strangers in the strangest and wildest country one could possibly hope to explore, Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore are unafraid to follow. With their own loose, freewheeling and almost alien improvisation – oftentimes emitting harsh dissonance and throwing together shapeless sonic juxtapositions – negotiating safe passage through the borderless wilderness of “Horse Latitudes,” “A Little Game” and “The Hill Dwellers,” The Doors coalesce into the more recognizable cadre of gypsy artists commissioned to paint the rich, mysterious hues and golden frames of “Spanish Caravan.” It’s as if the know just what loose thread to pull and let everything unravel, before knitting the elements back together into stronger and more vivid weavings than those captured on in the studio.
Under The Doors’ hypnotic spell, the crowd jolts bolt upright when Morrison screams, “Wake Up!” And while Morrison lashes out with terrifying invective, that trio noisily devolves and breaks apart, embodying the decay and caged-animal frustration that drives Morrison’s delivery. Then, right on cue, The Doors launch into “Light My Fire” – which, along with “The Wasp (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)” and the aforementioned “Spanish Caravan,” had been MIA previously from the film but are now part of it – with wild-eyed fury, building up to a powerful sonic orgasm of whirling organ, trampling drums and frenzied guitar. All of which leads them to the mysterious, apocalyptic visions of “The End.”
Restored to glorious effect, the audio and video of this event, one of the biggest and most transcendent events in the history of The Doors, couldn’t be more pristine. A vintage look is maintained, and the expressions on Morrison’s face, captured so artfully by the cameramen working this particular job, are priceless, although more close-ups on Krieger and Densmore, in particular, as they worked at their craft would have been appreciated. Even on that Spartan stage, so big and wide for three people intensely concentrating on their playing their parts and one snake charmer with a wry smile and a gift for making dream-like language submit to his will, The Doors – surrounded by an obscene amount of amps – seemed more gods than men. And the extra bonus features, including the mini-documentaries “Echoes from the Past” and “You had to be There,” are wonderfully informative nostalgia trips that tell the engrossing story of this occasion – as well as that of The Doors in general – in great detail, mining the memory banks of the remaining members of The Doors, the opening band The Chambers Brothers, and the Doors’ engineer Bruce Botnick in casual conversations that have the feel of barroom chats.
Unfortunately, we never do find out for sure if Morrison was on acid that night, as has been rumored over the years. Nevertheless, though somewhat compromised, the original footage is sublime, shot from angles that expertly capture the heightened tension and different moods of The Doors that June night in 1968, but never seeming intrusive or obnoxious. Quite lucid and even playful, Morrison was in rare form, and it’s apparent that the importance of this moment is not lost on him or the rest of them. And for those who worked on this new packaging, which includes fascinating liner notes culled from Botnick that read like a detailed tour diary entry from that special date in Doors lore, they recognize it as well.

-            Peter Lindblad

CD Review: Bison B.C. - Lovelessness

Bison B.C. - Lovelessness
Metal Blade Records
All Access Review: A
Bison B.C. - Lovelessness 2012
Raw energy, boiling frustration and churning riffage fuel the impossibly heavy Lovelessness, a staggeringly brilliant mess of rugged, rampaging thrash metal brought forth by Bison B.C. Unloved, they charge out of Vancouver with a messed-up head, ragged clothes and feral, throat-shredding vocals strained beyond medically acceptable limits. These skid-row noisemakers have been rejected and they respond by whipping up a frighteningly intense, incredibly visceral racket that’s every bit the measure of Mastodon’s immense rogue wave of guitars and High On Fire’s tempestuous fury.
Even as dust bowls of drums and bass blot out the sun and come flying across these sonic plains, the rich, deep tones and bug-eyed aggression James Farwell and Dan And coax from their guitars cut through the storms like giant, gleaming swords. Split into halves, the 9-minute plus “Anxiety Puke/Lovelessness” flails wildly with the racing heartbeat of a blinded fighter in a prison riot, before slowing to a menacing crawl. In the sludgy, 11-minute slog through the thick tension of “Blood Music,” Bison B.C. tramps across miles of sonic mud and meaty, barbed-wire riffs and lives to tell about it. This is trench warfare, and Bison B.C. seems to fancy it.
Bayonets fixed, Bison B.C. sneaks into “Last and First Things” and takes it by force in thrilling fashion, crazily vandalizing the place with sharpened, flashing axe work and rhythmic brutality, much as they do in the surging, slow burning “Clozapine Dream.” Theirs is a world where even the most poisonous and treacherous love is not just hard to find, it’s impossible and their lyrics reflect that hopelessness. That fact doesn’t leave them depressed; instead, it fills them destructive anger, the kind that drives men to acts of vengeance. Like bilious punk terrorists the Jesus Lizard did in the ‘90s, Bison B.C. strike out in bold, decisive ways, delivering bare-knuckled hooks that turn rib cages into kindling, all while careening around the tightest of turns as only the most daring of riff-mongering daredevils could.

Produced by the celebrated Sanford Parker, best known for his work with Pelican and Nachtmystium, the high-powered Lovelessness, out on Metal Blade, is a wild horse of an album, bucking and kicking and twisting its body of versatile dynamics to throw riders to the ground in the most violent manner possible. Breakneck, stampeding tempos suddenly downshift to monstrous stomps, and all of it is delivered with bone-crushing violence. Without a conscience, Lovelessness drags your beaten, lifeless body – offering no resistance after just one punishing listen – out into the streets to be devoured and torn apart by coyotes. Either get this album or get out of its way. 

-            Peter Lindblad

CD Review: Neal Schon - The Calling

CD Review: Neal Schon - The Calling
Frontiers Records
All Access Review: B+
Neal Schon - The Calling 2012
There actually was a Journey before Steve Perry arrived. What people forget is, originally, the band showed little interest in making the kind of bite-sized, pop-rock ambrosia found on albums like Escape and Frontiers. Writing aching, overwrought romantic ballads such as “Open Arms” and never-say-die guitar anthems like “Don’t Stop Believin’” that all tended to breathe their last after only a few minutes of life wasn’t what Neal Schon had in mind.
Coming from Santana, he imagined a collective of virtuoso musicians indulging in sprawling rock instrumentals that paid no attention to the clock. And while that went over exceedingly well in live settings, Journey’s early records – Journey, Look into the Future and Next – all floundered commercially. Journey’s record label gnashed its teeth, of course, and decided a change in direction was needed. The rest is history.
In his heart of hearts, though, Schon has always relished the opportunity to stretch out musically, and he goes further than he’s ever been before on The Calling, his jazz-tinged, progressive-rock seventh solo album. Collaborating with former Journey drummer Steve Smith, Schon mingles moods and textures like a chemist, layering guitar and bass parts – comprised of some of the heaviest riffing and wildest soloing he’s ever unleashed, as evidenced by the powerful grooves of the metallic title track – over Smith’s complex, highly technical rhythms. There are periods of combustible fury and contemplation in the string-laden “Back Smash,” a sweeping epic that features silvery waves of synthesizer and crashing guitar chords, and “Carnival Jazz” sends a barrage of ground-to-air guitar missiles into the sky over Smith’s frenetic stick work, before devolving into a jazzy rain of acoustic piano.
More exotic, but no less menacing or dramatic, the mushrooming “Fifty-Six” finds the supersonic Schon flying at unsafe speeds up and down the fret, while in the 1:15 “Irish Field,” Schon goes it alone, weaving together strands of expressive six-string fingering into a fragile, but absolutely beautiful, sound sculpture. A nod to Hendrix, “Blue Rainbow Sky” is Schon’s “Castles Made of Sand” or “Little Wing,” albeit a more expansive version of both. And then there’s “Six-String Waltz,” swinging gently to and fro to hypnotic, if somewhat predictable, effect, while the bluesy “True Emotion” is surrounded by a dark, starry atmosphere that makes one want to lie on the hood of a Trans-Am and stare into the night.
Proving, once and for all, that Schon isn’t ready to lay down his axe, The Calling combines Schon’s overdubbing wizardry with his need for organic musicianship, and Smith, along with keyboardist friends like Jan Hammer and Igor Len, provide a constantly evolving and shifting backdrop that perfectly contrasts and dances with his scorching leads. Heed The Calling and it might just make you think differently of Schon.

-            Peter Lindblad

The life and times of Randy Rhoads

A Q&A with the writer of a new biography on the guitar icon
By Peter Lindblad
"Randy Rhoads" - 2012 Photo by Neal Preston
Thirty years have passed since the death of Randy Rhoads, and for some, the shock hasn’t completely subsided. That day in 1982 when Rhoads died in a plane crash that could have easily been avoided he took a little piece of heavy metal’s soul with him.
He was beloved for having played a major role in rescuing a self-destructive Ozzy Osbourne from himself and helping revive his stalled career. Other guitarists worshipped the searing fretwork he branded into the skin of such classic albums as Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman, and yet, Rhoads wasn’t satisfied as an artist. His voracious appetite for learning everything he could about the instrument he played – and classical music in particular – burned so intensely that he was willing to throw away his newfound fame and fortune, things he never really cared about to begin with, to seek pure knowledge in the world of academia.
Everybody figured he’d return from his studies one day and unveil his masterpiece, but Rhoads never got the chance. And that is a tragedy. Gone, but not forgotten, Rhoads’ memory has been kept alive by the fans and admirers who have never stopped celebrating his unique genius. Now comes an extravagant and comprehensive new biography, simply titled “Randy Rhoads,” (available at that is sure to stoke the embers of their memories. Stuffing hundreds of rare, never-before-seen images from various stages in Randy’s life and incendiary career into more than 400 pages, “Randy Rhoads” – fashioned into a thick, colorfully rendered coffee table book – provides the definitive account of the guitarist’s all-too-brief time on this planet.
In painting their vibrant and illuminating portrait of Rhoads, writers Andrew Klein and Steven Rosen cast their nets wide, interviewing everybody from family members to childhood friend and assorted musical collaborators to compile a multi-faceted look at this legendary guitarist who was really a teacher at heart. Though it doesn’t make him out to be a saint, the exhaustively researched book – packed with details about the studio sessions that birthed his most famous works and engaging stories that reveal much about his character – is honest and sympathetic towards its subject. All of this makes for an engrossing tribute and essential reading.
Recently, Klein took time out to discuss the book with us.
What is it that makes Randy Rhoads such a compelling character, even all these years after his death?
Andrew Klein: Randy was very different than other legends who have left us too soon, such as Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn. They were amazing guitar players. Randy was an exceptionally gifted musician as well. But the strong interest in Randy 30 years after his passing is attributed to several factors.
For starters, he left us just after he made it big. It was a time when we couldn’t wait to hear what would be coming next. Sadly, he passed away and left us hanging and wanting so much more. There is virtually no video of him. This adds to his mystique. We, as fans, want so much more than we were given – more music, more video, more photos. We want more of all things Randy! We just can’t let him go. He was so charismatic. We just can’t get enough of him.
All the information that has been released about Randy prior to our book was very on the surface. There hadn’t been anything released that explored and documented who he was. Our book is filled with stories as told by his closest friends who knew him best. They introduce us to the part of Randy that we’ve always wanted to know.
His dedication to learning his instrument, even at a young age, is remarkable. What struck you most about his musical education?
Randy Rhoads with his guitars - Photo by John Stix
AK: Well, you nailed it. It was his dedication to learning and furthering himself that we find the most inspiring and remarkable. Even Ozzy was struck by this. When Randy informed Ozzy he was quitting the rock and roll lifestyle in favor of pursuing a master’s degree in classical music, Ozzy asked him to wait a little longer. Ozzy said, “One more year and you can buy your own university. You have to strike while you are hot.” Randy didn’t care about any of that. He made up his mind and nothing was going to persuade him otherwise.
There again, it’s that dedication to his beliefs that we find so inspiring. Furthering himself musically was at the top of his priority list. Anyone else would have relished in what he was experiencing. Selling out the world’s biggest arenas and stadiums got old for him rather quick. He got a taste of it and desperately wanted to move on to something else. That was Randy. He had a long list of things he wanted to accomplish.
Randy really did go his own way, dressing as he did in high school and even getting into trouble occasionally. What do you think it was that fuelled his individualism?
AK: Randy was one in a billion. He didn’t try to be different. He was born different. I don’t think he dressed that way because his goal was to be different. He wore what he wanted to wear. He used to take his first girlfriend, Jan, with him when he shopped for shoes. He preferred the girl’s shoes, and he would have her try them on for him.
Clearly, he was embarrassed to buy them for himself, and he knew he would get grief for wearing them. It didn’t matter to him. He was very committed to doing what he wanted to do. Sometimes it did get him into a lot of trouble, especially at school. He constantly had jocks wanting to beat him up. They called him names. It didn’t affect him. Randy may have been frail, but he was emotionally strong. It took more than names to rattle him. He just laughed at them.
Do you think there was anything about his childhood that prepared him for life as a metal guitar idol?
AK: Both of his parents were accomplished musicians. Despite the fact there wasn’t a stereo in his house, he grew up in a house full of music. Had he never found an Army-Navy acoustic in his mother’s closet, an instrument would have eventually found its way into his hands. It was his destiny and beyond his control. Music ran through his blood. I’m not sure any of these elements prepared him to be a metal guitar idol. Even as a child, he was on a path toward become a virtuoso musician. Randy didn’t like heavy metal music. He didn’t listen to it and he didn’t own those kinds of records. Ozzy presented him with an opportunity to further himself. Randy obviously did a great job of maturing into that role. It was a ticket out of Hollywood and onto the world’s stage. That’s all it was for him. But when he got there, he didn’t want to be there. He thought he would make a record, tour, and then resume his life where he left off. He didn’t have future plans because there were so many opportunities being presented to him. He didn’t know what to do.
He had made up his mind to leave Ozzy’s band so that he could figure it out. Sadly, we’ll never know what he would have done. What we do know is that it would have been amazing. The Diary of a Madman album was recorded 15 months before he passed away. The subsequent year he spent touring, brought him a wealth of experience, and his playing improved immensely. The height of his abilities he had yet to reach are unimaginable.
One of the really interesting portions of the book deals with the rivalry between Randy and Eddie Van Halen, and the competitive nature of the L.A. music scene. It doesn’t seem like there was any real acrimony between the two and perhaps they didn’t really have much of a personal relationship at all. How much did they influence each other?
AK: It’s hard to say given that neither have ever spoken publicly about it. The very first time Randy saw Van Halen, he took his girlfriend Jan with him. Jan told us that Randy was “devastated” after the show. Here he was, the king of Burbank. Everyone was always telling him how great he was. Then he saw Eddie and it opened his eyes and he got a major reality check. It was healthy for him. He was inspired. He thought Eddie was great. He wanted to be great also. I know they met at least four times.
Quiet Riot and Van Halen played on the same bill at Glendale College in April 1977. Quiet Riot opened, Van Halen was the headliner. Randy once approached Eddie and asked him how he was able to keep his guitar in tune without a locking nut for his tremolo. Eddie refused to tell him and said it was his own secret. Randy couldn’t comprehend because he was a teacher at his core.
He loved to help others and he was always willing to share anything he knew. He would teach anyone anything they wanted to learn. So, he was quite disappointed in Eddie’s treatment of him.
Randy Rhoads with his dog - Photo by William Hames
Randy and his good friend Lori Hollen were in the parking lot behind the Whisky loading his gear into this car. Eddie and Dave pulled up alongside of them in a white Mercedes diesel and began harassing him. Lori quickly put a stop to it and actually slapped Dave across his face. Quiet Riot’s drummer, Drew Forsyth, has said that the Eddie/Randy rivalry has been made up to be so much more than it was. He also said that Eddie used to come watch Randy play way more than Randy used to go see Eddie play. They were both great, and I’m sure there was an immense amount of mutual respect. Randy told journalist John Stix that he does a lot of Eddie’s licks live, and it kills him that he does that. But he added that it’s just flash, and that’s what the kids want to see. That’s what impresses them. He also said that it kills him because he believes in the importance of finding your own voice and style. He thought the worst thing a guitar player could do was copy someone else.
Finally, when Randy was home on break from the Ozzy tour, he decided to drive to his local music store to buy some classical albums. Randy said that when he walked into the record store, Eddie Van Halen was standing on line at the register purchasing the Diary of a Madman album. Imagine that scene. Can you imagine walking into a record store on any given day and seeing both Eddie and Randy in there at the same time?
Did Randy see Eddie as an equal? It does seem that even though Van Halen had a much larger profile nationally, music observers in L.A. didn’t see Randy as a lesser talent.
AK: There were some fans that were lucky enough to meet Randy that told him they thought he was just copying Eddie. It’s hard to say how that made Randy feel. I’m sure he didn’t appreciate it. Our Senior Editor, Peter, took lessons from Randy. Peter wanted to learn all the Van Halen songs. Randy would go home and learn the songs in his free time, just so he could teach them to Peter. I’ve heard those lesson tapes. It’s really cool to listen to. Randy charged $8 for a lesson. His students really got way more than their money’s worth. Randy thought Eddie was great. He wasn’t shy about saying so, but he hated the comparison.
In Quiet Riot, according to the book, Randy was frustrated by Kevin DuBrow’s domineering personality, and yet, it was Kevin who pushed Randy to step out of the shadows and become a star. How would you characterize the relationship between them? Could either have become the star they were without each other?
AK: Well, you can argue that one didn’t need the other to become a star. They both became stars separately from each other. But the dream was they were going to do it together. Randy and Kevin were the best of friends. Very close. Like brothers. They remained good friends even while Randy was with Ozzy. Kevin attended all the local Ozzy concerts and was invite to after-parties at the Osbournes’ house.
Kevin was domineering and Randy hated that. Randy tolerated it because he knew that that component of Kevin’s personalithy was the reason why they were so successful, locally. Those who knew Randy said that if not for Kevin, no one outside of Randy’s garage would have ever heard him play. Kevin was the driving force. Randy was not a go-getter. He just wanted to play and leave the details to others. He was also non-confrontational, which is why he put up with Kevin. It was easier for Randy to say nothing than to argue. Toward the end of 1979, Randy saw the writing on the wall. Music was changing. Disco, Punk, and New Wave had taken over. Randy and Kevin never really saw eye to eye musically. When he finally got settled in with Ozzy, he was happier because he felt he had more musical freedom. Ozzy was constantly telling him to “go out there and be the best Randy Rhoads you can be.” Ozzy wanted Randy to be a guitar hero. He wanted that explosive playing all over his records. Kevin stifled Randy and preferred poppy, catchy songs because he thought that’s what would ultimately get them a record deal.
The Starwood really launched Quiet Riot, in the same way that the Whisky propelled Van Halen to fame and fortune. What was the Starwood like back then?
AK: The Starwood was the place to be. If you liked music or wanted to go see a live band, you would go to the Starwood. The Starwood was home for Quiet Riot. Their pictures covered the walls.
When they walked through the door on off nights, they were treated like celebrities. The VIP section was sanctioned for them and they were given all the free drinks they could handle. You could go see bands play at the Starwood seven out of seven nights per week. They also had multiple rooms and stages. You could walk into one room and watch a rock band, or go into another room and see a disco band playing at the same time.
The Starwood closed in the early 1980s. Things weren’t the same anymore. Punk bands had taken over and things became violent. Neighbors were complaining. The final straw was when someone, I think a bouncer, was stabbed. That was the end of the club and the end of a very important era of music on the Hollywood scene.
There are many great photos in the book, from Randy’s childhood through his teenage years and then into his professional life. How were you able to compile such a vast assortment of images? Also, what is your favorite and why?
The famous Paul Natkin photo 
AK: The bulk of the images were donated by Randy’s closest friends. The balance of the images were licensed by the respective photographers. I contacted each one of them and told them I was compiling a book and that I’d like to license their images. As I spent time with each photographer, I was able to see not only all of their images of Randy Rhoads, but also, their images that relate to the story. For example, when I visited with Jeffery Mayer, I asked him if I could see his Leslie West and Alice Cooper photos, as I knew I would need those, too. Then there’s another guy such as Jack Lue who shot everyone. He had to utilize the assistance of a hand-truck to bring all of his photos for us to see. We were able to license additional photos from him of peripheral characters such as Nikki Sixx, George Lynch, and Chris Holmes, as well as all of his amazing images of Randy.
It’s very difficult for me to pinpoint my favorites. Randy Rhoads was incredibly charismatic. All of his photos are endearing. One thing about Randy, he always looks different. If you think about it, the majority of the photos of him were taken over a two- to three-year period. Yet, he has so many different looks. He had a very animated face with lots of different expressions, especially while he was onstage.
There’s one photo that is very sentimental to me. I mentioned this in the book, during my prologue. It is the one taken by John Stix right after he interviewed Randy. It was the first real good photo published of Randy. It was in a section called Music Gear in the back a Circus magazine.
I stared at that photo for years! When I was given the opportunity to write this book that was the first photo I sought out. John was the first person I called. There was no way I could produce this book without that photo. I was very disappointed that it was printed backwards on the 1987 Tribute album cover. I never understood if it was printed backwards intentionally, or if there was no one paying attention to detail.
In addition to the Stix image, every photo John Livzey took is stunning. And, you have to add the famous Paul Natkin photo of Ozzy holding Randy up in the air. It is probably one of the most famous photos in all of music history. It’s so amazing to me that that moment was captured on video, considering that there is virtually no video of Randy. On the rare night that there happened to be a bootleg video shot, the most famous photo ever was taken. You can watch that moment on YouTube. It was in Chicago on the “Diary” tour, during “Mr. Crowley.” When I was with Paul, I was astonished that he didn’t know there was a video of that very show. He couldn’t believe it when I showed it to him. Interestingly, at that moment, you can see a flash go off in the crowd. However, it was not Paul’s camera. He told he didn’t use a flash. So, somewhere out there, some lucky fan has his own photo that was taken at almost the precise moment as Paul’s. I asked Paul why he snapped a photo at that moment. He then went on to talk about something called “That Decisive Moment.” This is all covered in Chapter 14 of the book. Paul explains why he took that photo at that moment. It’s really interesting stuff. I really like Paul a lot. He was super kind to me.
You go into great detail about Randy’s work on both Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman in the book and the making of both records in their entirety. Do you think that people truly understand not only how big a role Randy played in the creation of those records and how innovative he was, but also how much of a salvation Ozzy and Randy were to each other at this time?
AK: Yes, I do think Randy’s fans recognize the importance of his role, without a doubt. Those who were there made sure of it. Ozzy has been telling the world for 30 years all about what it was like to work with Randy. Ozzy has said numerous times that the guys in Sabbath had zero patience.
One of the things Ozzy loved about Randy was that he was a teacher at his core. He used to sit with Ozzy and help him. Randy would find the right key for songs so that Ozzy would feel more comfortable and within his singing range. They worked out melodies together. Ozzy would hum ideas to Randy, and he would, in turn, convert those melodies into songs. “Goodbye to Romance” was created this way. When Randy would noodle or test sounds, Ozzy would say, “What was that?” And Randy would say, “What?” Ozzy would say, “Play that again” – and sure enough, songs were born that way as well. “Suicide Solution” and “Diary of a Madman” were born that way
I know Randy was a salvation for Ozzy. Ozzy was really down on his luck. He had just been thrown out of Sabbath. He was broke, constantly drunk, and basically living in squalor. Then, Randy Rhoads walked into his life. I am not so sure Ozzy was a salvation for Randy. I think Randy could take it or leave it. His arm had to be twisted to go to the audition, and when he was given the job, he didn’t want it. He didn’t want to hurt Quiet Riot and his friend Kevin DuBrow. Although they were frustrated and going nowhere, he was prepared to stick it out. He was not one to seek auditions, and I don’t think he would have quit had he never met Ozzy. So, I would have to conclude that Ozzy needed Randy way more than Randy needed Ozzy. This is evident at the end of Randy’s life. He informed the Osbournes he was quitting the band. Ozzy went crazy over this and begged Randy to stay. Randy had made up his mind and nothing was going to change it. Ozzy knew what he had. When they first got together in 1979, Ozzy would introduce Randy to people by saying, “This is Randy, my secret weapon.” When they met producer Max Norman for the first time, Ozzy said to him, “Keep everything Randy records – don’t erase anything!” Ozzy Osbourne is no dummy. He knew what he had.
The politics within the Ozzy Osbourne band and the relationship its members had with Ozzy and especially Sharon Arden really ripped things apart. How did they manage to hold it together long enough to make those two records?
AK: The band had a great relationship with Ozzy. From the beginning, they were managed by Sharon’s brother, David Arden. He managed the band well. He was very attentive to their needs. It was ultimately David’s decision to bring Randy to England. David tried to convince Ozzy to find a guitarist in London who was local in order to make things easier. Ozzy begged and pleaded and said Randy was the only one he wanted. David acquiesced and sent Randy a ticket. When the band began working, they were all very close. Ozzy used to say to them, “Here’s my hand, here’s my heart, this band will never part.” They recorded the Blizzard of Ozz album, and then they began a U.K. tour.
It was at this time that David had to resign because his daughter had been born prematurely and he was needed at home. This is when Sharon stepped in to replace him. She immediately got cozy with Ozzy and everything changed. When they revisited Ridge Farm to record the Diary of a Madman album, she became notorious for emptying everyone’s suitcases and throwing their personal belongings into the pond outside. Everyone who was there said the vibe changed when she arrived. Ozzy began divorce proceedings with his wife, Thelma, and succumbed to severe depression. He stopped attending writing and rehearsal sessions and drowned his sorrows in drugs and alcohol. The Diary album was nearly complete before the real problems began. It was during these recording sessions that the decision was made to fire Bob [Daisley] and Lee [Kerslake] in favor of younger, greener musicians who wouldn’t challenge authority. When Rudy [Sarzo] and Tommy [Aldridge] were brought in, the band was no longer called the “Blizzard of Ozz” – it had now become an Ozzy Osbourne solo project, which is not what Randy signed up for. Randy expressed his displeasure with anyone who was willing to listen. Randy was no longer happy as a sideman. Add to that, Sharon placed Randy in a very uncomfortable position between herself and Ozzy, which she chronicles in her own book. This was about all he could take. He really just wanted to leave the band and that situation and move on with his life.
Most affecting of all, of course, are the accounts of what people were feeling in the immediate aftermath of Randy’s death and those remembrances people have of that day Randy died. What specifically hit you the hardest while writing about Randy’s tragic end?
AK: It was a senseless death. Three people died that should still be here with us today. Andrew Aycock was not the monster he’s been made out to be. I interviewed his entire family and some of his friends. Yes, it was incredibly irresponsible flying at treetop level. But he certainly wasn’t trying to kill anyone.
He had a family to live for, and he was planning on starting his own charter company. Rachel Youngblood had a huge family. They loved her very much, and she was every bit a part of the Arden family. Sharon had known Rachel all her life. She took care of the entire Arden family. She was like a second mom to Sharon. And then there’s Randy. How can we possibly quantify what we lost that day? Here was a kid barely into his 25th year of life with so much promise ahead of him – so much life to live and so much music to make. He wanted to marry Jodi [Raskin], buy a house, go back to school, make solo records, take lessons and teach. He was taken from us before he could even begin his life. I can’t think of anything more tragic than that.

A real Zeppelin treasure comes up for auction

 Written By: Patrick Prince, Powerline Magazine

Fully Signed Led Zeppelin "House of The Holy" Album
Fully Signed Led Zeppelin "House of The Holy" Album
Led Zeppelin memorabilia is always hot. And Backstage Auctions, a premiere rock auction house, has a primo Zep item up for auction in their recent Rock n’ Pop Auction taking place November 3-11 (a preview is currently live).

This particular item will open any hard rocker’s eyes and is a coveted piece of memorabilia: a fully-signed Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy vinyl LP. This album, which was owned by music photographer Philip Kamin, is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a collector — since all four signatures from the band members is a rarity. The opening bid is $2500.00. And as far as condition, the album is in overall excellent condition and comes with a certificate of authenticity.

The impact of autographs on a Led Zeppelin record cover are substantial,” says Rick Barrett, one of the leading experts in all things Zeppelin, “and values go up starting with if you just had one signature — and if it was John Bonham’s that’d be the best. If it was Jimmy Page, that’s the next best. The third one would be Robert Plant. And if you just had one with John Paul Jones, it’s still nice and collectible but that’s the least valuable. And then if you had more than one signature, they go up substantially. And if you have all of them, that’s quite a piece.”

“Autograph collecting is really different in today’s world than it was in the ’70s,” Barrett continues. “John Bonham died in September of 1980 and people just didn’t collect in the same fashion, to the same degree, with the same passion and the same numbers as they do now, and certainly did in the ’90s. So fully signed pieces that are legitimate are few and far between, and they are quite sought after, quite collectible and quite valuable.”

Backstage Auctions has had many great Zeppelin auctions before, including a 2005 auction which represented legendary engineer/production, Eddie Kramer. But the auction house has never auctioned off a fully-signed Zeppelin item before.

“This is a first for us,” says Backstage Auction owner, Jacques van Gool. “We have had signed items by Jimmy, Robert and JP but we’ve never had anything signed by John — let alone something signed by all four. Led Zeppelin collectors know that a fully signed — and authentic — Led Zeppelin item is far and between, especially considering the fact that so many forgeries are in circulation. Over the years, I believe that we’ve seen more fake Led Zeppelin autographs than Beatles or Elvis Presley ones. In a weird way, that’s a testament to the demand for signed Led Zeppelin items, I suppose.”

Van Gool also adds that Zeppelin memorabilia will remain in demand, for various reasons.

“I believe there are many reasons,” says van Gool. “One being that their music is timeless. A Zeppelin songs today still sounds as good and exciting as it did 35 or 40 years ago and current generations are aware of that. And while their excellent musicianship naturally is the basis for their music, they have something that few other bands or artists have, which is that they are true icons. When your lead singer becomes the ‘image’ of rock, your drummer the ‘sound’ of rock and your guitar player the ‘hero’ to every aspiring musician around the globe, you’ve got a pretty magical combo. If — on top of that — your songs are played on the radio every day four decades after you made them, magazines still put you on the front cover and commercials and movies still use your tunes, you’re entering into a very select and elite group — Beatles, Elvis, Stones — and who wouldn’t want to own a piece of that?”

In-demand means more fans year after year. Hopefully, this also means that the members of Led Zeppelin will become more available for autographs.

“Robert Plant used to sign absolutely everything. He loved people being around him. Now he’ll sign 1-3 items,” Barrett explains. “Jimmy Page does not sign anything at all, for the most part. He just refuses. And before he would sign 1-2, depends on a good day if you could catch him. John Paul Jones is good. He will sign and always has signed.”

Backstage Auctions' - 2012 Rock 'n Pop Auction is open for bidding November 3 - 11th, but is available now for previewing the entire catalog. VIP All Access Registration is FREE and only takes a minute or two.