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XYZ Interview with Alan White, 1993

by Mike Tiano of the Yes mailing list

Q: One of the less known periods in your career was your involvement with XYZ. Yourself, Chris and Jimmy Page. How did you and Chris link up with him?

AW: I met Jimmy quite a few times because he lived pretty close to Chris, he lived in the same area. We used to meet at parties in London and all that kind of stuff and basically Chris called me on day and said," Jimmy wants to go and play in the studio kind of thing", so we all just turned up one day and started playing and it started sounding pretty good. We got the engineer in there and they started putting down the XYZ tapes as it were.. Quite a lot of it was stuff that I'd been writing with Chris and we had, I think it was like four, five, six songs. I don't know if that's out in the black market yet.

Q: I don't think so...I've never heard of them--

AW: I think the only two cassettes that exist is, that outside of the master tapes, is I've got one and Chris has got one, but Chris says he can't find his now, but I do have a copy of it at home.

Q: Do you think that the band had real potential?

AW: Oh, it was sounding pretty good, there was some interesting music. It was really different, it was like Zeppelin meets Yes kind of stuff, it was real odd.

Q: Was it always a trio or was Robert Plant ever involved at any point?

AW: It was a trio, and Jimmy kept calling Robert saying how great is was and he should get involved but Robert thought (the music) was too complicated. He came and listened to it and I think he thought it was too complicated; or else there could have been the kind of a Yes Zeppelin band at that time. I think that kind of either frightened a lot of people off at that time or it was a too-good-to-be-true kind of thing. But the management thing got involved and they really screwed it up and it just all went haywire, that's what really dissipated the whole thing.

Q: So it was the management, or was the band behind it as well?

AW: Pretty much the management, but I think Robert was very iffy about it, he thought the music was too complicated, he was more of a rock 'n' roll wailer kind of thing. We were doing things in (taps out five beats)...there's one thing that we did that was kind of a lick that I wrote at home one day it was like almost like a military type thing put in a odd time signature that built up into this really orchestrated kind of piece of music...and it was all in 7/4 time so I think when Robert heard 7/4 it was like, "What am I getting myself into here?" So...

Q: That's not rock 'n' roll.


Here is part of a Chris Squire interview talking about the XYZ project back in the early 80's with Page and Plant

Q:I understand that "Mind Drive" from Keys 2 is largely based on a piece you and Alan White workedon with Jimmy Page in the early 80s.

CS: Uh, yes, that's right. [in a surprised tone of voice] Who told you that?

Q:The rumor is that copies of the original version are circulating on Led Zeppelin bootlegs in Japan.

CS: So, that original version is out there. Hmm. Yeah, it sounds very similar, apart from the fact that Jimmy Page isn't playing on our version of it. [laughs] But I wrote the thing in the first place - the chords and everything. Jimmy just played my chords. But I suppose it's interesting to compare the two versions.

Q:What can you tell me about the sessions that resulted in it?

CS: There was a period when Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes had been in Yes in the 80s. We had done the Drama album and toured America on that, and that's also when John Bonham died around the summer of '80. So, after we got back from touring, Jimmy [Page] moved and bought a house in England near the house I was living in. So, we became neighbors and got together. He was obviously pretty depressed about John Bonham's death for awhile, and I kind of helped him out of that by saying "Let's try to do some new music" and that's really what happened.

Q:Is it true that you were planning to form a band with Page and Robert Plant called XYZ, standing for "Ex-Yes and Ex-Zeppelin?"

CS: Yeah, that's right. It was gonna be myself, Alan White, Jimmy [Page] and Robert [Plant]. Page and Plant are of course now playing together, but at the time, Robert wasn't ready to jump back into it. He was feeling the loss and wanted to go his own way. But of course, 18 years later, he's doing what we could have done then. At the time, Yes was in a kind of sabbatical period. [laughs] Geoff Downes and Steve Howe started the Asia project, so Alan and I were gonna work with Jimmy and Robert. But Robert never completed the equation, so that's when we went back into the reformation of Yes with 90125, which was probably the best thing to have done.

Q:What was it like to work with Page during that period?

CS: Uh, very stony. [laughs] There was a lot of drinking etcetera involved, I remember. Umm, yeah. [laughs and pauses] Let's leave it at that shall we?
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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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