From Memphis To The Misty Mountains
Myths & Legends By Jah Paul Jo
By the end of 1989, we had nearly the entire Un Led ED album in the can… recorded and mixed. Two of the songs, “Whole Lotta Love” and “The Immigrant Song” had already been released on Birdcage Records as 45 singles – 7″ vinyl. The intention was for the entire album to be released on Birdcage… but we would try to shop it around to labels just to see if we could get a bite (a nibble?).
The original idea for the cover of Un Led ED was to have been a Monopoly style game board. Instead of the regular properties, we would replace them with things that pertained to the group. Red properties would be Led Zeppelin influenced (Moby Dick Lane, The Lemon Street, etc); green would be reggae and yellow: ELVIS! The utilities, chance, community chest and railroads would all be based on *special* Dread Zeppelin lore. Birdcage Records commissioned the photos to be taken and those are the ones that appear on the finished game board on the album.
One of the main reasons Dread Zeppelin decided to sign to IRS Records in 1990 was their incredible art department. Head man, Hugh Brown and his assistant Fred (who started calling himself “Fred Zeppelin then – that’s the only name we knew him by), were super creative, fun and every bit as demented as we were. Perfect match.
Hugh liked the Monopoly Board idea but thought it best to use it as the inside of the CD or the back of the vinyl album with the credits. His idea for the cover blew our minds. He wanted to design something with Tortelvis’ face in the center, head completely bald with a magnetic pencil and shavings so that you could draw your own Elvis wig on him. Like the children’s toy of the sixties called “Wooly Willy.” Fantastic! Mock ups were drawn, there was a lot of excitement… then the bean counters moved in.
“Too expensive,” they said. It probably was.
Hugh went to work building the model that would become Un Led Ed. That cover actually exists somewhere as a 3D model, complete with christmas lights ringing it… I wish I had it! He also designed and created two copies of the DZ Monopoly board. Those exist somewhere, too!
I think that if IRS would have known how successful Un Led ED was to become, they would have OK’d the “Wooly Willy” cover… but now it only exists as a Hugh Brown mock-up.
“Tortelvis can’t decide on the right wig for tonight’s performance. Can you help him?”
Myths & Legends By Jah Paul Jo
Pasadena City College in the mid 1970′s was a gathering spot for musicians… and not just ANY musician. A virtual hotbed for what would later become “heavy metal.” All the Van Halens were there… Chris Holmes from WASP and Tommy (Bass) Lee of Motley Crue were there, too. Members of Armoured Saint, Stryper and (naturally) Dread Zep all put in campus time with many others.
Not many who *attended* actually had classes. Most just hung out, talked rock and roll and looked at girls. Girl-watching was particularly good in September and October, before they picked the Rose Queen. It was required that girls be enrolled in school if they were to be picked for the Rose Court… many dropped out after getting passed by. Musicians knew this and positioned themselves in the “quad” area accordingly.
PCC also had the added cache of being able to boast that Frank Zappa had attended school there… not to mention that Albert Einstein himself had dedicated our science lab. Not too bad a place to hang out!
One day, my old high school pal, Carl Jah, told me that he had met a guy in music class that had invited him to his house after school. A fellow guitarist, like-minded about music, Carl was excited to meet him and wanted to bring me along. OK… let’s go.
The first thing you noticed about arriving at Gary Putman’s house was that there was VERY loud guitar playing coming from inside. So loud you could hear it plainly from the street. We knocked on the door which was open and slightly ajar – no answer – guitar still super-loud. We bit the bullet and just walked in.
We went through the living room, past the kitchen and followed the guitar playing. In the sunken den area, Gary’s mother was sitting in a lounge chair, feet up watching a television about two feet away from her, obviously struggling to hear her show… which, of course, was impossible. In the same room (I swear!) was Gary, electric guitar plugged into a Marshall stack, I’m assuming volume on *eleven*
Here’s the best part… Completely naked.
Yep! We figured we need to be in a band with this guy. And so it was…