“British Invasion” to Take Place @ Schmidy’s Tavern, Palm Desert, Saturday July 12 @ 7pm, $10 at Door
By Lisa Morgan
“I never liked to be tagged as being one thing,” Terry Reid said, in that British accent that makes every story more melodic and every quip even more entertaining to listen to. “It’s very limiting. Who’s to say you can’t do this or that because you do ‘this’.” This quote from our conversation about the wide spectrum of his many musical stylings documented with decades of recording, also sums up the very character of this resilient artist. Having had to fight for artistic freedom since adolescence, Terry Reid, throughout his musical journey that took him through seasons of sunny fame and times of wintry obscurity, has always, ALWAYS, been true to the artist within himself. Still to this day, after all the bumps and bruises in the music industry that have taken many others out, Terry Reid’s heart and soul overflow with passion for his lifelong mistress: music.
Just returning from a European tour that would exhaust a troubadour half his age, Reid has no intentions of slowing down just yet. “Retire? I can’t afford to retire,” he laughs! “The gigs are fine, and I like to play for a few hours and play all the different kinds of songs I write. Once you get on stage it’s the only peace and quiet you get. The only tiring thing is the travelin’. I think we figured out that we did 25,000 miles in England alone. I didn’t even know there was that many miles in England! It was a lot of fun. You see a lot of people you haven’t seen in years. This last tour I saw an old friend, Richy Cole an old road manager of ours who ended up with Led Zeppelin and all kinds of people. He was kind of standing back in the shadows. I turned around and said, ‘Colesy, is that you?’ It was great.” (Richard Cole: heavily involved in the rock music business from the mid-1960s to 2003, and is most famous for being the tour manager of English rock band Led Zeppelin from 1968 to 1980, and author of “Stairway to Heaven: Led Zeppelin Uncensored”). “The road gets a bit grueling, but I just enjoy it too much. Once I get out there, the pain goes away.”
The most famous and misrepresented story told about Terry during music’s most influential and significant eras to date, was how he turned down the job to lead the group that eventually became the historic music sensation, Led Zeppelin. Terry did, as is often brought up, introduce Jimmy Page to future members Robert Plant and John Bonham, but Terry didn’t exactly “turn them down” so to speak.
CVW: It seems a big story in your life is how you introduced Robert Plant and John Bonham to Jimmy Page, who eventually became super group, Led Zeppelin?
Reid: Yeah, they (journalists) always get on with it. I hate to keep saying it. I think they (Led Zeppelin) even get tired of hearing it. I try to avoid the question. It really could have gone either way…they could’ve said, ‘Why’d you introduce me to these two blokes!’ But it didn’t go that way; it worked.
CVW: When you were asked to front what was to become Led Zeppelin, did you turn them down because of contractual obligations?
Reid: Oh, it would have been Steve Marriott (Small Faces and Humble Pie) or Steve Winwood (Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith). He (Jimmy Page) was asking everyone. When you’re trying to put a band together you don’t put your eggs in one basket. The only problem was, he was asking guys with 12 number one hits and that sort of pissed them off a bit. If Steve Marriott was still around he’d have something funny to say about it. He called me up pissed off, ‘Did he ask you? The nerve he’s got!’
I was going on a tour with the Rolling Stones and I said to Jimmy, ‘Call Keith (Richards) up and tell him I’m not going on tour.’ Jimmy said, ‘Oh no! I’m not doing that!’ And, well, I wasn’t going to make that call. Fuck no! We’d already agreed; it wouldn’t look too well of me. That’d be a conversation to have on tape though…if he’d have called him. Keith, he’ll come around and shoot you in the leg! (Terry laughed). Everybody likes a good train wreck…that’s human nature. I never had a contract or anything written down with them (Rolling Stones). We’d talk on the phone, talk about the money, expenses were all paid for (cars, planes etc…) and that was the end of the story. They paid me every huge part of money that we agreed on.
CVW: So basically, you were just keeping to your verbal commitment, and nobody wanted to have that conversation with Keith Richards. How did the story get twisted?
Reid: I think what it was is, Jimmy, after Zeppelin got famous and he was doing interviews, someone asked, ‘Why Terry Reid didn’t come on?’ Well, he’d probably had enough of them asking, so he just said, ‘He turned it down.’ I didn’t turn it down. At the moment I was going on tour for a hell of a lot of money and he was not going to pay me or face Keith.
CVW: Is Keith Richard’s that intimidating?
Reid: You never know what Keith is going to say. He’s so funny! You can’t believe how quick he is. There was a reporter who asked Mick Jagger, ‘Have you had any facial work done?’ Mick said, ‘These are all laugh lines.’ So then they go and talk to Keith, and well…nobody’s going to ask Keith if he’s had any work done; he looks like Mount Rushmore. They ask him, ‘Well we know you haven’t, but has Mick had any work done? He says they’re laugh lines.’ Keith sat for a second…’Laugh lines? Nothing’s that funny.’ Another time, we were doing a gig every Monday night at The Joint for a couple of years, and Keith would turn up every now and then. We’re staggering along, Keith’s all over me. We’d had a couple, and we’re just going on about the old days, and this friend of mine standing in front of us said, ‘You know I’ve been standing here for 10 minutes and I haven’t understood a word you’ve said.’ Keith looks at me and thinks for a minute… leans forward and says, ‘And you never will.’ On the other hand, I would not piss him off. He can get really gnarly if you piss him off.
CVW: What was that tour like?
Reid: 48 cities, all over the United States. Boy did it fly. Before I knew it, I was back in London. It was like a blur.
CVW: The internet has changed the music industry dramatically. Do you think that’s a good or bad thing?
Reid: If we had then, what we have now, it would have been amazing. You always used to have the problem of distribution: Is the record company really ‘into’ the record. You could really get the smell of it depending on how many they would print. You’d say, ‘What do you mean you only printed 6 instead of 6000?’ Now the record companies expect you to make your own records, and if it picks up enough hits, the record company will come in and make an offer. They spend their days watching the internet to see what peaks.
CVW: Do you have plans on recording another album?
Reid: I’m dying to make another recording. I’m always coming up with ideas; I just keep writing. I have a stockpile of songs. I wrote one on the road and I wrote one when I got back.
CVW: What have been your favorite projects?
Reid: Seed of Memory: I did it with a good friend of mine, Graham Nash. It wasn’t like recording; it was like friends just getting together to play with music. It was a great team. Everything went as smooth as butter. Then, I looked up, and all of a sudden it was over. I also really like The River. I worked with producer Tom Dowd (Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, Cream, The Eagles, Otis Redding, Chicago, Allman Brothers etc…). When you make an album, it’s a great opportunity to work with talented people who can see what you want to do and not try and change it.
Other notable accomplishments include the song “Without Expression” by Reid and Graham Nash, from the album, “Bang Bang, You’re Terry Reid”, was recorded by The Hollies in 1968 as “A Man With No Expression” and by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in 1969 as “Horses Through a Rainstorm”, with Nash singing lead on both. In 1971, he got an invite to play at Mick Jagger’s wedding to Bianca in St Tropez. And more recently, Rob Zombie decided to put three of Terry’s songs from Seed of Memory on his film, “The Devil’s Rejects”. One thing Terry did NOT do, was appear at the infamous Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Music Festival as did The Rolling Stones, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby Stills Nash and Young. The event is famous for the considerable violence that resulted in deaths, scores of injuries and stolen cars.
A muse of sorts, floating in and out of the lives and music of some of Britain and America’s greats, Reid’s list of musical celebrity encounters and tales is endless. He has played festivals and shared stages with The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davies, Free, Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez, The Moody Collaborations of note were with Jackson Browne (still a good friend), Blues and ELP. He’s spent hours with Bob Dylan discussing music and has collaborated with countless others including Bonnie Raitt and Don Henley, just to name a few. The story of Reid’s adventures in life and music are so bountiful, it would take a second lifetime to tell them. But you can gather up the bountiful, golden pieces of his musical journey at every show. Reid says he probably talks too much, but the stories around his music are just and significant as the music itself.
Saturday’s show at Schmidy’s Tavern, accompanied by his good and trusted, exceptionally talented friends, will be a musical walk through history and an opportunity that no person who calls themselves a lover of music should miss. Schmidy’s is located at the corner of Fred Waring and Highway 111. The show will start promptly at 7 PM. Entry is $10 at the door and seating is limited to first come first serve. Terry and friends will be followed by our own local rocking blues band, Voodoo Hustlers.
Links to follow the musicians participating in the show:
reverbnation.com/meltdown1 or www.facebook.com/Meltdownclm