An archive interview to celebrate the great man's birthday

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Why has it taken you so long to put your autobiography together?
Christian Parker, Shoreditch
I was doing other things at the same time! One of the things that slowed it up was knowing, say, there was a photo session in the past, in the Seventies, and knowing that there were contact sheets. Maybe the images are now with agencies, but not the contact sheets. So I wanted to get into the contact sheets, and that wasn’t necessarily always so easy to do. There were also certain photographs that I wanted to get, but I didn’t remember who the photographer was. It just took time to piece it all together. But however long it took, I knew that nobody had done an autobiography in photographs. As it goes from 13 through to 70 years of age, it’s got a whole history of a working musician. All the changes that go on are almost chameleon-like but nevertheless they’re driven by this one thing – which is a passion towards music. That was the challenge: to do something that had never been done before but which just unfolds there more you go through it.

What new projects are in the pipeline and when can we expect to hear them?
Derek Murphy, Dublin, Ireland
I’ve been involved in some other epic projects. I’ve got all the Zeppelin remasters finished, for all of the albums, so they’ll be coming out, staggered release. I also got material for a ‘what happened in this day in history’ for the website, it’s all stockpiled. So things will be coming out in healthy instalments, which then allows me to focus on musicians and music that I want to be seen to be doing next year. I hoped I could do it this year, but I can’t. It’s too much. I don’t want to have to contract musicians and then go, “I’m sorry, I’ve gotta go over to the States for a month to do some promo.” I want to start generating the passion within all of the musicians that I’m working with, and we’re going to go through like a rocket. It’ll manifest itself next year. Can I tell you anything about it? Well, I’ll be playing guitar. That we can all guarantee. And I won’t be singing. Is it song based? I want go out there and play music from all the way through. I did a solo tour in 1988. I did exactly the same thing then. You know, I’ve only had one solo album out, really. And one single in 1965. So I haven’t really tried to sort of flood the market with my own stuff! I want to get out there and play exactly what it is that I’ve got in mind here to do, including new material. But there’ll be really some good surprises in there. I think people want me to go out there and play. They know all the sort of stuff that I can do. I can play in many sorts of categories because we’ve seen that with Led Zeppelin, all the acoustic stuff, and this, that and the other. That’s exactly what I would do.

Are there any plans to release any more experimental music?
Bruce Yardley, Leeds
I tell you what is coming out which I’m really excited about this, it’s the mix that I did of Lucifer Rising but I’m leaving the guitar on it, it’s got like a 12 string, because that is the guide guitar that’s showing me where I’m going to do the overdub. This isn’t what got sent to Kenneth Anger, because I didn’t want hardly any guitar at all, there’s only a little bit of guitar at the end, guitars coming in more across it but the mix is really, really superb, I’m really proud of it. And I’ve got some experimental music that was done with bow and Theremin which is like, hang on to your seats because it really, really is something else, it’s disturbing. I’ve got like home stuff that I did at the same studio or equipment that I did the Lucifer Rising on, with that whole guitar textures and overdubs and I think people want to hear that. They want to know what it was I was doing. I’ll show you what it was like and what I was doing and you’ll see. That’s coming on the website. Vinyl.

Who inspired you to play guitar?
Maryann in California
Lonnie Donnegan inspired everyone because he made it look as though it was possible to do. But who really moved it out of just playing acoustic to electric was all those people that were playing in the 1950s, really. Initially, it was the rockabilly style guitar, Johnny Burnette Rock & Roll Trio. When you heard that it was just something that inspired you so much to want to play out of the box, because it’s so abstract the guitar playing on that. Scotty Moore’s guitar playing, Cliff Gallop, Jonny Neats, all of these people, they gave me the inspiration… If you heard them you were infected by them, if you listened to it, then you were just seduced by it. That was what was going to write the whole of the manual for use as much as anything else. Then The Beatles opened it up for bands to write and down here in the south it was the Chess catalogue more than the Tamla Motown. There was this great fusion that had gone on from rock though the blues and all that wonderful music, that Chicago blues movement, really, that went on Vee-Jay and Chess. All that stuff was so exhilarating.

  1. 1. Introduction
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