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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

December 16, 1968 - Zep plays Bath Pavilion for a mere £75.
December 26, 1968 - First American concert at the Coliseum in Denver, CO
December xx, 1969 - Led Zeppelin are reported to have sold 5 million dollars worth of albums in the US
December 11, 1969 - Led Zeppelin are presented gold and platinum discs for their first two albums
December xx, 1970 - The band enters Island Studios to begin work on the fourth album
December xx, 1971 - The band plays a few low-key shows back in England
December 23, 1972 - The band break for Christmas holiday after a London gig
December xx, 1973 - John Paul Jones works on studio productions for Madeline Bell
December xx, 1973 - Joe Massot films Jimmy Page’s fantasy sequence at Loch Ness
December 19, 1974 - John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page jam with Bad Company at the Rainbow Theater
December 10, 1975 - Led Zeppelin play a 45-minute show with Norman Hale at Behan’s in Jersey
December xx, 1976 - Led Zeppelin rehearses for the 1977 tour
December 25, 1976 - It’s announced that Plant and Bonham will reunite with the Band of Joy for three shows in the new year
December xx, 1977 - The band minus Robert gather to discuss Led Zeppelin’s future plans
December xx, 1978 - The new album is completed quickly at Polar Studios and mixed at Jimmy’s Plumpton Studio
December xx, 1979 - John Bonham considers joining Paul McCartney’s Wings
December 29, 1979 - The band minus Jimmy Page attend the Paul McCartney And Wings Kampuchea befefit show
December 04, 1980 - Led Zeppelin issue the following statement not to carry on as a band: "We wish it to be known, that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the deep sense of harmony felt by ourselves and our manager have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were."
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