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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

May 31, 1948 - John Henry Bonham was born at Redditch, Worchestershire
May xx, 1969 - The band’s debut album enters the US Top 10
May xx, 1969 - Recording sessions for Led Zeppelin II begin
May xx, 1970 - The band works on new material at Bron-Y-Aur
May 03, 1971 - Richard Cole jams on Whole Lotta Love playing congas
May xx, 1972 - Houses Of The Holy recording sessions on location at Stargroves and Olympic studios
May 27, 1972 - Warm-up gigs kick off in Holland for an upcoming American tour
May 04, 1973 - Led Zeppelin gross nearly $250,000 for their performance in Atlanta, GA
May 05, 1973 - 56,800 attend the second show of the 1973 US tour at Tampa. This sets a record for the largest attendance for a one-act performance, previously held by the Beatlesfor their Shea Stadium show in 1965
May 10, 1974 - Swan Song Records is officially launched
May 11, 1974 - Led Zeppelin attend an Elvis concert and are thrilled when Elvis announces that Led Zeppelin is in the building
May 10, 1975 - Showco ships their PA system and video screens for the Earls Court shows from Dallas to London
May 23, 1976 - Page and Plant join Bad Company onstage at the LA Forum
May 21, 1977 - The Houston Summit claims $500,000 in damages to their venue caused by rowdy fans
May xx, 1978 - The band reunite at Clearwater Castle to rehearse
May 22, 1979 - It is officially announce that Led Zeppelin will headline at the Knebworth Festival in August
May 15, 1980 - After many revisions the European tour dates are finalized and the band is scheduled to open in Germany
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