Dark Ages - 1965
At the end of 1966, the call of the advertising world took the third brother into the family business, so without Owen, the group decided to disband. Kevin McNeil reformed the Mods in Hamilton, enticing Clive to join him for a short while, before Clive moved to England where he became a roady and eventually road manager for Led Zeppelin. Meanwhile the Campbell's advertising business turned into a very successful international venture.
Later Mods lineup: Neil Reynolds, Wayne Reynolds, Kevin McNeil, Clive Coulson, John Bisset
Thanks to PlanetPage
From Mojo magazine in 2000:
"They had promised themselves a break when they got back from America. Bonham and Jones went home to sort themselves out. But Plant was restless, and called Page about a remote cottage near Machynlleth, Gwynedd, which he remembered fondly from a childhood holiday. Page liked the idea. A surprise, maybe, but before Led Zeppelin's year of five-star suites he had been an inveterate solo traveller in India, America, Spain and elsewhere. Both a loner and a natural group leader, he once said: "Isolation doesn't bother me at all, it gives me a sense of security."
So, in late April, they set off for Bron-Y-Aur ("Bronraar"), hoping to recover some closeness with each-other - an echo of their first extensive meeting when Plant spent several days at Page's Pangbourne home playing records and talking music. But they did take along roadies Clive Coulson and Sandy Macgregor to take care of domestic matters.
The cottage was accessible only via muddy farm tracks. It had stone walls, no electricity, and no running water. "It was freezing when we arrived," recalls Coulson, now a beef farmer in his native New Zealand. "We collected wood for the open-hearth fire which heated a range with an oven on either side. We had candles and I think there were gaslights. We fetched water from a stream and heated it on the hot plates for washing - a bath was once a week in Machynlleth at the Owen Glendower pub."
Who did the chores then?
"Me and Sandy were the cooks, bottlewashers and general slaves. Pagey was the tea man. Plant's speciality was posing and telling people how to do things," Coulson laughs and then, lest anyone takes his Kiwi sarcasm for gospel, corrects himself. "No, everyone mucked in really. I wouldn't take any of that superior shit. They were wonderful people to work for, normal blokes, they weren't treated as Gods. Although Pagey was two people, one of the lads and the boss. And I'm not sure who got the job of cleaning out the chemical toilet..........."
They drove the tracks, walked the hills, met a biker gang of local farm boys and a bunch of volunteers restoring an old house (Page said, sorry, he'd never played guitar so he couldn't join in on Kumbayah.) They took evenings "off" at the pub and talked country matters with the farmers. Page even bought some goats and had Coulson ferry them up to Bolskine House (the mind boggles) in a Transit. This amply offset the truculence of a local butcher who snarled at them in Welsh and hacked their fillet steaks to mince.
With Page strumming and Plant tootling a harmonica, the songs came - songs which, according to Page, "changed the band and established a standard of travelling for inspiration, which is the best thing a musician can do." They wrote the rudiments of material that fed into their repertoire for years afterwards, sustaining the acoustic element: Over The Hills And Far Away (Houses of The Holy, 1973), Down By The Seaside, The Rover, Bron-Y-Aur (Physical Graffiti,1975), Poor Tom (Coda, 1982), and possibly others, as well as three songs which appeared immediately on Led Zeppelin III, That's The Way, the Neil Young-influenced Friends and Bron-Y-Aur Stomp.
Begun the previous autumn as Jennings Farm Blues, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp's hoedown knees-up captured the arcadian idyll they craved. Momentarily eschewing sex and Vikings, Plant sang to his dog.
Bron-Y-Aur was a strange thing for the two young stars to do, but it worked. "The great thing was there was no motion." Plant said later, "just privacy and nature and the beauty of the people there. [As a lyricist] I'm finding myself now. It's taken a long time, a lot of insecurity and nerves and the "I'm a failure" stuff." Of his relationship with Page, he said that "in the beginning I held myself a long way off from him", but now the barriers were coming down, as Page later confirmed to writer Ritchie Yorke. "Living together at Bron-Y-Aur , as opposed to occupying nearby hotel rooms, was the first time I really came to know Robert"
A cosmic and enriching experience for the roadies too, then?
Coulson guffaws. "Not really. It was a job for us. Me and Sandy were just totally fucking bored."
February 2006 - Led Zeppelin tour manager Clive Coulson passed away this week. A colourful character, Coulson was directly responsible for forming Bad Company, uniting Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs, Boz Burrell and Simon Kirke, and goes down in history as the only man to share vocals onstage with Robert Plant during a Led Zeppelin concert. A native of New Zealand, Coulson made an early name for himself as a singer on the Australian Rock circuit, working with latter day Rainbow and Ozzy Osbourne bassist Bob Daisley in the band Mecca. A single featuring Coulson, by the band Dark Ages, is noted for being the rarest and most expensive Australian 7" single to date. Journeying to the UK, Clive scored a job with Led Zeppelin's larger than life manager Peter Grant and quickly rose through the ranks to become Grant's right hand man. Coulson handed over tour management of Led Zeppelin to Richard Cole and concentrated on assembling and managing Bad Company. Under his reign, the band, signed to Zep's Swan Song imprint, scored massive commercial success in the USA. Clive Coulson's last service for Peter Grant was to act as coffin bearer for the big man's funeral in 1995. In later years, Coulson relocated back to New Zealand, where he bought coastal property in Raglan. He died of a heart attack. Coulson leaves a wife and son, the latter's godparent being Robert Plant.
Thanks to Knebby
This Month in