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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

March 17, 1969 - A four-song performance is filmed for TV Byen in Denmark (aired on May 19, 1969)
March 21, 1969 - Zeppelin’s debut TV appearance on "How It Is"
March 25, 1969 - Filming session for the Supershow
March xx, 1970 - The band turns down many TV offers worth large sums
March 05, 1971 - Led Zeppelin started a 12-date "Thank You" tour for British fans, appearing at the clubs from their early days and charging the same admission prices as in 1968. The first show was at Ulster Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland where they played songs from their upcoming fourth album, including the first public performances of Black Dog, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California and Rock And Roll.
March 12, 1972 - Page and Plant rehearse some songs with the Bombay Orchestra
March 25, 1973 - Led Zeppelin finally release Houses of the Holy after production issues with the album cover
March 28, 1973 - Led Zeppelin released Houses Of The Holy in the UK. The album title was a dedication by the band to their fans who appeared at venues they dubbed "houses of the holy". Houses Of The Holy has now been certified 11 times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for US sales in excess of 11 million copies.
March xx, 1974 - The band decide to release a double album due to the amount of left over studio material
March 29, 1975 - Led Zeppelin saw all six of their albums in the US Top 100 chart in the same week, alongside their latest album Physical Graffiti at No.1. Physical Graffiti has now been certified 16 times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for US sales in excess of 16 million copies.
March 15, 1975 - Tickets for the Earls Court shows sellout within four hours
March xx, 1976 - Jimmy speaks with reporters mentioning the new album due out called Presence
March 31, 1976 - Presence is released
March 28, 1977 - Zeppelin arrive in Dallas, Texas to rehearse before opening the eleventh tour of the US
March xx, 1978 - Robert and John spend some time hanging around the Midlands
March 26, 1979 - Robert takes lead vocal at a Bad Company gig in Birmingham
March 04, 1980 - John Bonham makes a TV appearance on "Alright Now" with Bill Connolly
March 26, 2006 - Readers of Total Guitar magazine voted the guitar solo by Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven as the greatest guitar solo of all time. The 1971 track was voted ahead of tracks by Van Halen, Queen, Jimi Hendrix and The Eagles. On the 20th anniversary of the original release of the song, it was announced via US radio sources that the song had logged up an estimated 2,874,000 radio plays - back to back, that would run for 44 years solid.
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