Jimmy Page, XYZ & Yes

XYZ: eX Yes/Zeppelin

The Band That Almost Was

1980 was not a great year for rock. John Bonham died in September and Led Zeppelin disbanded in December. Yes had finally sunk despite trying to plug the leaks with Trevor Horn, and Geoff Downe (from the Buggles!), after the departure of Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman. Here’s a peek at what Yes looked like in 1980.

This Is YES In 1980

The air was heavy, dependency issues were rampant, and music was changing.
Jimmy Page was emotionally devastated, at both the death of his friend and bandmate, but also at the death of his band. Led Zeppelin officially dissolved on December 4, 1980.

The sources for this info are, for the most part, people directly involved. Chris Squire has spoken of these sessions, as have Alan White, Jimmy Page, and the engineer Stuart Epps. He also engineered the posthumous Led Zeppelin album,  Coda.

Here’s the thing with these sources. Some were from youtube and they’ve been taken down and are gone. Chris Squire’s is gone, as is (goddamn it I should have downloaded it when I had the chance) the Stuart Epps video. I read a lot of interviews, forum posts from knowledgable people (cough Steve A Jones… cough), and watched/listened to a lot of videos. Due diligence was performed.

The only tracks that I’ve seen around, in the trading circles, are from a cassette source. My recording lists 2nd or 3rd generation.

Track 1 is Mind Drive, which was used later by Yes on Keys To Ascension 2

Track 2 is Fortune Hunter, which was used later by the Firm. This one feels a lot like a Jimmy riff to me. Alan White is more straight on rocking, and Chris Squire is just laying a groove. Nothing proggy. Jimmy uses the Roland guitar synth in the background, and the b bender is all over this. He plays some pretty tight solos, which sound a lot like solos from Coda, Walter’s Walk in particular.

Track 3 is Can You See. This is all Chris Squire. I can hear Jon Anderson singing this on 90125. If it was a little brighter, and if Chris Squire wasn’t singing this (sorry, he’s not great on this). It kind of drags tempo wise. It feels like it should be just a hair faster.

This later came out in 2001 as Can You Imagine on the album Magnification.

This is a complete song, with overdubs, solos, etc. The first two tracks were more rudimentary and jamming, than finished product.

Track 4 is Telephone Secrets. This one suffers (imo) from Squire’s vocals. I can see Jon Anderson singing this, and with a little more upbeat vibe, it being at home on 90125. It actually appears on the Deluxe Edition of Drama as Song No. 4 (satellite)

Stuart Epps was Jimmy Page’s engineer, working in Jimmy’s SOL studio (formerly Elton John’s) and he ran the board for the XYZ sessions. According to him, “It was a week of sessions. It was mad.” He was there. These guys were all focused on creating good music, and I think it shows.


I only played excerpts from each track, during the podcast. Here, as promised, are the complete XYZ tracks. Enjoy.



No sooner had I posted this episode than a listener commented about a promo XYZ pen he won back in 1981, from none other than Tight But Loose magazine. I.. had no idea things progressed to the point of pen manufacturing. I am extremely skeptical that it’s an official Swan Song/Atlantic promo. I am putting my money on it being something that Dave Lewis (the TBL guy and avatar of Zep) had made up himself. They look like the cheap promo pens that small businesses have made up, plus John Paul Jones and Robert Plant’s names are on the pen. I reached out to Mr. Lewis and will update when I get word. In any case… it’s pretty damn cool!

UPDATE: They are neither official nor do they originate from Mr. Lewis. He thinks they might have been made up by

xyz sessions promo pen
The Object. 😉




The Heart of Markness Podcast: Episode 2 – The ARMS Tour: Clapton, Beck, & Page

Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck

arms tour jimmy page jeff beck eric clapton
Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck. ARMS Tour USA 1983

Steve Winwood, Joe Cocker, Paul Rodgers, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Ronnie Wood, Kenney Jones… Jesus Christ, everybody

Links from the show

This is San Francisco 12/2/83. San Fran 12/2/83 is a nice set by Jimmy. He is hit or miss on this tour, often within the same set. Remember, he may not be using heroin anymore, but he was in no way sober. This is the show from which the Goodnight Irene heard in the podcast is taken. You should watch the whole thing. It’s a shit ton of talent on one stage, and no one is being a prick.

WATCH THIS ONE. It’s not Jimmy’s best, but it’s not that bad. This show also has a killer Goodnight Irene at the end, with Jimmy, Jeff, and Eric trading solos and it’s GREAT! Watch it or the monsters will eat you. You also get incoherent Joe Cocker gibberish at the end.

This is the intro to the officially released London gig. Watch it. It shows how sweet Ronnie Lane was, and how all these huge stars really worked together to help hime. It’s nice.
The first part of the London gig. Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. Drink coffee first.

Find the rest yourself. I’m an old man.

Ronnie Lane:

Ronnie Lane was the bass player for the Small Faces (itchycoo park) and later (when they were no longer small) The Faces. The Faces were a good time, drunken rock and roll band that had Rod Stewart as its singer, and Ronnie Wood as their guitarist, both fresh from Jeff Beck’s band. Remember when the Black Crowes first came out, with Jealous Again? They were a clone of the Faces. The Ron Wood went off to become a Rolling Stone, and Rod Stewart went off to be a disco fuckhead. Ronnie Wood ended up living in a trailer on Pete Townshend’s property, having never ‘made it big’. He recorded an album with Pete, in 1977, called Rough Mix that is absolutely wonderful. Not only is a great album, it’s a great album featuring not just Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane, but Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts, John Entwistle, Ian Stewart, and a bunch more. It’s a great album that was just never promoted by the record company. It also is one of the best sounding analog recordings I’ve ever heard.  Totally listen to it.  Do it.

During the recording of Rough Mix Ronnie Lane was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His ability to play was hampered, and his already not great life got worse. He must have been a great guy, because holy shit a million huge stars came out to help him.

In 1983

One Of The Best ARMS Gigs in Great Video

The early 1980’s was a dark time for the rock gods of the 70’s. Led Zeppelin had broken up, Jeff Beck was a footnote, and Eric Clapton had turned so mellow he was like the James Taylor of guitar. Everyone had peaked and was hitting 40. The first generation of rock gods were all total has beens by the time they hit 40. This generation risked obscurity as well.

In 1983 a bunch of British rock gods gathered together to perform a series of benefit concerts, in support of Ronnie Lane. Ronnie was the bass player for the Small Faces, and then the Faces. He was a beloved musician and friend (he lived rent free on Pete Townshend’s estate), who had contracted MS and needed some help.

The bands that were represented were the cream of British rock royalty. Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts from the Rolling Stones, Ronnie Wood (from the Faces and the Stones) showed up in New York City for some songs, too. Eric Clapton from Cream, Jeff Beck from the Yardbirds and as his own bad self (also former bandmate of Ronnie Wood), Joe Cocker and his awesome keyboard player, Chris Stainton. Holy shit a lot of people. Oh yeah, The Who! Kenny Jones from The Who (and also the Faces with Ronnies Lane and Wood). Fernando Saunders on bass (Lou Reed and Jeff Beck’s bassist)… so many goods. And Paul Rodgers from Free and Bad Company. Lots of folk who all got together to help a friend.

Jimmy Page had been out of the spotlight since the death of John Bonham, and dissolution of Led Zeppelin. He was a physical and mental wreck. Drug addiction was at an almost terminal level, and the deep depression of Bonzo’s death just made everything worse. Aside from a few minor projects, or even just jams, Page was a hermit.

The word on this is that Eric Clapton was tapped to approach Jimmy and tell him to get his shit together, heroin-wise. Clapton had just himself finished rehab, and everyone else in the band(s) pretty much had their shit together (although I think Charlie Watts got in to heroin at roughly this time), except for Jimmy. So, a pep talk, some positive reinforcement, and a trip to the states, got Jimmy off the heroin. Alas he still drank like a fish and did hella blow.

Still, credit where credit is due. The ARMS tour got Jimmy to come back as a performer again. Having worked with Paul Rodgers on the US Tour for ARMS, Jimmy formed the FIRM. The Firm sucked. Yes it did. Yes it did.