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Band of Joy

Image copyright Kevyn Gammond

Band Of Joy

The seeds of Led Zeppelin were sowed in this Worcestershire band featuring John Bonham and Robert Plant

Band of Joy are probably best known for briefly containing half of Led Zeppelin - Robert Plant and John Bonham - and for the fact that Noddy Holder - the implausibly bewhiskered front man of Slade - was (briefly) one of their roadies.

There's a lot more to the band than the people who once played with them: they had a pioneering psychedelic light show, and their musical style was experimental.

The line up, featuring Bonham and Plant, also contained Kevyn Gammond, who played guitar for many North Worcestershire bands from an absurdly early age, and later went on to found the Kidderminster-based MAS records, a label pioneering new local bands.

Beginnings - John Combe, local music historian, writes about Band of Joy

The line up was Robert Plant – vocals, Kevyn Gammond – guitar, Paul Lockey – bass, John Bonham – drums and Chris Brown – keyboards.

Their music was experimental and part of the new counter-culture, they even had their own psychedelic light show, conjured up by local Kidderminster college student Abdul Benson.

Locally they played at Frank Freeman's, the Black Horse and the Chateau Impney.

Band of Joy

Image copyright Kevyn Gammond

In London a great gig for them was Middle Earth in Convent Garden, the home of the new 'psychedelic groups'.

They also went down really well at the famous London 'in' club, the Speakeasy.

Robert Plant in particular was picking up a big reputation for his searing vocals.

It was during this time that they recorded four tracks at Regent Sound Studios in London, including a powerful version of 'Hey Joe'.

The other tracks were 'Memory Lane', 'For What Its Worth' (a Buffalo Springfield cover) and 'Adriatic Sea View', which was later included in a compilation cassette In the Forest released by Kidderminster College, care of Kevyn Gammond.

'The Move' manager, Tony Secunda, had taken an interest in them, but it was never followed up.

New Yardbirds

In the summer of 1968, while gigging at the Boston Gliderdrome, Robert Plant had impressed Terry Reid, so he recommended him to Jimmy Page who was forming a new Yardbirds at the time.

Terry had been in the frame for the job himself but was more interested in forming his own group.

Robert left the Band of Joy and they split up - he then did some work with Alexis Korner for a while, but nothing was certain for Robert at this time.

He went into the Golden Lion in Bushbury (Wolverhampton) one night, where Walsall based Hobstweedle were playing - their drummer John Trickett had been with the Band of Joy for a short time, when John Bonham had been with Way of Life and Tim Rose.

Robert joined Hobstweedle for a few months - they were rehearsing in the Three Men in a Boat in Walsall when Robert received a telegram inviting him to join the New Yardbirds.

The band became of course Led Zeppelin - Robert recommended John Bonham on drums who joined with him.

Hobstweedle keyboard player Billy Bonham (no relation), was also picked out to join Terry Reid's new group, while Kevyn Gammond formed Mad Dog, who later transformed into Bronco, with old Shakedown friends Jess Roden and Johnny Pasternak.

From the book 'Get Your Kicks on the A456'. ISBN-0-9550482-0-6. Price £12.99. Used with the kind permission of John Combe.

If you have a story about gigs you've seen in Herefordshire or Worcester, or about meeting a rock music legend, then we'd love to hear you story, and include it in our Music Map.

last updated: 23/09/2009 at 16:13
created: 30/09/2008

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