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Robert Plant and North Mississippi Allstars at Royal Studios

Robert Plant dropped by Royal Studios on Saturday to cut harmonica tracks for the North Mississippi Allstars. Allstars Luther and Cody Dickinson had thought their new album was all but done, when they found themselves in town at the same time as the former Zeppelin front man and blues aficionado. The Dickinson brothers had opened a few dates for Plant in recent years and had talked about getting in some studio time.


Cody Dickinson, Lightnin' Malcolm, Robert Plant, Boo Mitchell, and Luther Dickinson - Royal Studios 2013

"It was unexpected," said Boo Mitchell, owner of the storied Royal Studios and a man not easily star-struck. Royal Studios is famous primarily for recording Al Green's hits under the direction of Boo Mitchell's father, the legendary producer Willie Mitchell. The house rhythm section, known as the Hi Rhythm section, backed tons of soul hits and is legendary in its own right.

There are few musical stars as accomplished as Plant. Led Zeppelin's Untitled album has sold a reported 37 million copies. Still Plant was moved by the experience of working at Royal.

"We let him use Al Green's mic," Mitchell said. He dug the sound and the fact that we haven't changed anything. He had a fabulous time."

They worked on two tracks and were joined by Lightnin' Malcolm on bass.

Both Plant and the Allstars had gigs that night. Plant played at the Live at the Garden series and the Allstars at the Recording Academy Memphis Chapter's 40th Anniversary at the Levitt Shell.

"It was funny, Plant missed his sound check and Cody and Luther did too," Mitchell said.

The session got off to a wobbly start.

"About 4 my phone rings," Mitchell said, cutting to a British accent. "'Is this the studio? This is Robert. I need another harmonica.' He said he had dropped his into some Indian incense."

A harp was found and to great effect.

"He should play harmonica more than he does. He is a bad ass harmonica player," Mitchell said.

From: Memphis Flyer

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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

March 17, 1969 - A four-song performance is filmed for TV Byen in Denmark (aired on May 19, 1969)
March 21, 1969 - Zeppelin’s debut TV appearance on "How It Is"
March 25, 1969 - Filming session for the Supershow
March xx, 1970 - The band turns down many TV offers worth large sums
March 05, 1971 - Led Zeppelin started a 12-date "Thank You" tour for British fans, appearing at the clubs from their early days and charging the same admission prices as in 1968. The first show was at Ulster Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland where they played songs from their upcoming fourth album, including the first public performances of Black Dog, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California and Rock And Roll.
March 12, 1972 - Page and Plant rehearse some songs with the Bombay Orchestra
March 25, 1973 - Led Zeppelin finally release Houses of the Holy after production issues with the album cover
March 28, 1973 - Led Zeppelin released Houses Of The Holy in the UK. The album title was a dedication by the band to their fans who appeared at venues they dubbed "houses of the holy". Houses Of The Holy has now been certified 11 times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for US sales in excess of 11 million copies.
March xx, 1974 - The band decide to release a double album due to the amount of left over studio material
March 29, 1975 - Led Zeppelin saw all six of their albums in the US Top 100 chart in the same week, alongside their latest album Physical Graffiti at No.1. Physical Graffiti has now been certified 16 times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for US sales in excess of 16 million copies.
March 15, 1975 - Tickets for the Earls Court shows sellout within four hours
March xx, 1976 - Jimmy speaks with reporters mentioning the new album due out called Presence
March 31, 1976 - Presence is released
March 28, 1977 - Zeppelin arrive in Dallas, Texas to rehearse before opening the eleventh tour of the US
March xx, 1978 - Robert and John spend some time hanging around the Midlands
March 26, 1979 - Robert takes lead vocal at a Bad Company gig in Birmingham
March 04, 1980 - John Bonham makes a TV appearance on "Alright Now" with Bill Connolly
March 26, 2006 - Readers of Total Guitar magazine voted the guitar solo by Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven as the greatest guitar solo of all time. The 1971 track was voted ahead of tracks by Van Halen, Queen, Jimi Hendrix and The Eagles. On the 20th anniversary of the original release of the song, it was announced via US radio sources that the song had logged up an estimated 2,874,000 radio plays - back to back, that would run for 44 years solid.
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