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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

January 09, 1944 - James Patrick Page was born in Heston, Middlesex
January 03, 1946 - John Baldwin was born in Sidcup, Kent
January 2, 1946 - Led Zeppelin Tour Manager Richard Cole was born in Kensal Rise, London, England
January 05, 1967 - Jimmy Page begins recording Little Games with the Yardbirds at De Lane Lea Studios in London.
January 17, 1969 - Led Zeppelin released in the US
January xx, 1970 - Led Zeppelin now play without support acts in order to perform longer sets
January 09, 1970 - Royal Albert Hall gig filmed and recorded for documentary that is eventually scraped. (But was recalled for 2003’s DVD)
January xx, 1971 - Recording continues at Headley Grange
January xx, 1972 - Page has a studio built into his home
January 02, 1973 - Plant’s car breaks down and Bonham and he barely make the Sheffield City Hall gig
January 22, 1973 - Led Zeppelin record a live gig at Southampton University
January xx, 1974 - Recording Physical Graffiti at Headley Grange
January xx, 1974 - The band resigns with Atlantic and forms their own label
January 03, 1975 - Jimmy breaks a finger at Victoria Station just a week before the European warm up shows
January 17, 1975 - The band rehearses in Minneapolis for the upcoming US tour. Bootleg "Johnny Kidd And The Pirates" evolves out of this rehearsal
January xx, 1976 - Jimmy contemplates the release of The Song Remains The Same film but, continues work on the soundtrack
January 01, 1976 - In Paris, Robert takes his first unaided steps since his car accident
January xx, 1977 - Rehearsals for US tour take place at Manticore Studios in Fulham
January 24, 1977 - Bonham and Plant watch The Damned perform at the Roxy in London
January xx, 1978 - Media still claims Led Zeppelin have broke up
January 21, 1979 - Robert Plant is now proud father to son Logan Romero
January xx, 1980 - Zeppelin donate Candy Store Rock to a benefit album to benefit children
January 31, 1995 - Jimmy Page escaped being knifed when a fan rushed the stage at a Page and Plant gig at Auburn Hills, Michigan. The fan was stopped by two security guards, who he knifed instead. After his arrest, he told police that he wanted to kill Jimmy Page because of the Satanic music he was playing.
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