“You Fat Bastard!”
UK Tour 1990 – Myths & Legends By Jah Paul Jo
My favorite spot during a Dread Zeppelin live show was the extended guitar solo by Carl Jah whilst performing “Heartbreaker.” From the earliest days of DZ, we had no idea what to do during this, Carl’s ersatz-Page guitar manifesto. The rules of staging said: get offstage… give Carl the complete spotlight. But as any who had ever seen DZ during their heyday can attest, these rules were made to be (almost always) broken.
So I decided that I would lay down, flat on my back…usually right at the spot that I was in. Sometimes I would crawl to an out-of-the-way place; perhaps try to give the illusion that I had passed out. Because the solo would happen about one third of the way into the set (by design), this would give the players – other than Carl, of course – a good chance to catch their breath. A chance to tune-up, grab a drink (or a big sandwich in some cases – I think that you know who I mean) and prepare for the second half of the show.
In my case, it was the perfect time for a meditation session. Looking up at the ultra-bright stage lights and breathing heavily from the first salvo of on-stage excitement, I would ponder my position (and usually with much amazement). Where am I? Well, let’s see… I’m lying on the floor of the best club in Los Angeles. Now I’m lying on the floor in New York. Whoaaah… now I’m lying on the floor in London, England.
The British tour was the “crown” jewel (in my mind) amidst our touring “tiara.” I kept thinking of Bono of U2 saying “…Here’s a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. Now we’re stealing it back.” Well, kids, here’s a song that we stole from Led Zeppelin who stole it from the black bluesmen of the ’50s and we’re RE-STEALING it back. And in YOUR country…. reggae style. Delicious irony.
The venerable jazz club, Ronnie Scott’s, was our first gig in the UK. It was a cozy get-together for the press and big shots of London nightlife. We were introduced by IRS chairman himself, Miles Copeland. Lots had been written about Dread Zep previous to our arrival, most notably in Kerrang!, Britain’s heavy metal “bible” – now, they were going to see if we could live up to the hype.
I think that we did.
We had a slight scare at the first REAL gig (actual paying crowd). We were greeted by a massive crowd in Brighton chanting “YOU FAT BASTARD, YOU FAT BASTARD.” I thought this to be very rude behavior and told the crowd so. Later I was informed that this was a term of endearment… that one of England’s most beloved “footballers” was greeted with this cry upon his arrival on the field. So they loved us… OK!
All in all, we made three trips to the UK. Each were sold out and special in different ways. But the first trip really sticks out in my mind. We were a (very) unknown commodity in Britain before that first trip so it was a REAL adventure. We also met a lot of very nice and helpful folks, not least being those that I greatly admired for their musical achievements: Captain Sensible and Paul Grey of the Damned, Suggs of Madness, Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks, The Stranglers, John Mayall, Steve Gibbons, Paul Simonon of the Clash, Pete Thomas & Steve Naive of Elvis Costello’s Attractions, Pete Wylie of Wah Heat!, Jimmy Page (Yep! At the “Monsters Of Rock Festival” – the one that he jammed with Aerosmith) and my personal favorite, Trevor Burton of The Move!