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“I knew Jimmy and John Paul as session musicians from Olympic. And then, of course, they had did done their first album Zeppelin album and were successful. They’d started doing some tracks for Led Zeppelin II, and they were all over the place – some things were done in London, some were on the road; they had this huge trunk of tapes. I got a phone call from their office in New York: ‘The boys are in town, and they want to know if you want to help put this record together.’
“We went in the studio and cut a whole bunch of tracks. We did a lot of overdubs, including on some of the existing tracks they had. We mixed the whole thing in two days at A&R Studios in New York. That was nothing in those days – I mixed Are You Experienced in one day.
“Jimmy Page was very demanding. I use the comparison to Jimi Hendrix – both very demanding, very clever and on top of their game. They knew what they wanted to hear. Page even more so – because of his experience as a session musician, he was directing everything. This was his deal; he was the creator of the whole concept.
“That’s not to say he could have done it without the other musicians. Having the best drummer in the world and probably the world’s greatest rock bass player – one who was also a superb arranger and a master of many, many talents, like keyboards – that was key. You couldn’t imagine Led Zeppelin without the component parts; each component made the whole. And Robert Plant – you couldn’t put together a better rock dynasty than Zeppelin.
“The echo in Whole Lotta Love was a mistake – it was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. We were in the middle of the song, and it comes to the break – ‘Woman…’ And you hear another one – well, one of the other vocal tracks was breaking through because we were using this funky old console. It wouldn’t allow me to turn the vocal off; I couldn’t get rid of it. Page and I looked at each other at the same time, and we grabbed a knob and threw a shitoad of reverb on it. We laughed and said, ‘Let’s leave it.’
“That is a classic example of leaving the damn mistakes in, because you never know where it’s going to lead you. It was a mistake; it wasn’t supposed to be there. But because of Page’s creativity and my being on the same page as him – no pun intended; I can’t believe I just said that! – it’s now part of rock history. I tell this in my lectures to audio students: ‘Leave the damn mistakes in.’ People with Pro Tools are using it as a weapon to kill all bloody creativity. Let it all hang out and be hairy.”