OVER £200,000 RAISED FOR CANCER RESEARCH UK AT SOUND & VISION ABBEY ROAD EVENT
Last night’s Sound & Vision Event at Abbey Road raised nearly a quarter of a million pounds for Cancer Research UK.
Throughout the evening the ongoing Silent Auction saw heavy bidding on the vast array of rare framed exhibition photos lining Studio 3 featuring The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Blur, Oasis and many others. The Zeppelin attractions included a framed Neal Preston photo of Page & Plant at the Minneapolis rehearsal in 1975 and a collage of photos taken by Led Zeppelin 3 sleeve designer Zacron at the homes of the four members in 1970 which went for over £1,500.
The Live Auction than boosted the total further. A set of large framed prints of the recent Royal Mail Classic Album Covers including the Zep 4 image signed by Jimmy, Robert and John Paul Jones, sold for £12,000. A Robert Plant package which included a print of the Eddie Kramer Stargroves photos singed by Robert, a double platinum gold disc for Raising Sand and a framed Led Zeppelin 3 album sleeve print signed by Zacron raised nearly £6,000. Zacron himself was on hand to show the design on stage during the auction. A package to have a tour of the Abbey Road studios with Sir George Martin and son Giles and travel to Las Vegas to see The Beatles Love Cirque du Soliel show topped £20,000.
Heartfelt speeches regarding the charity were made by founding patron of the event Sir George Martin and Cynthia Lennon. George also reminded us we were in Studio 3 where he had conducted the orchestra for A Day In The Life, and Cynthia guided the audience through a spontaneous version of Those Were The Days. Roy Orbison’s widow also took to the stage to offer one of Roy’s favourite Gibson guitars for auction. A moving speech on stage by a recovering cancer sufferer further enhanced the sterling work of Cancer Research UK
The musical performances included a set from David Gray. Host and co patron of the event Bob Harris introduced Beth Nielson Chapman noting that Robert Plant had seen her DVD of a performance with the London Oriana Choir which led to his involvement tonight. Beth explained her own fight with breast cancer and the death of her husband from cancer before performing a moving song titled Colour Of Roses with the London Oriana Choir conducted by David Drummond, along with How We Love from her new album
Robert took to the stage flanked by Nigel Eaton on hurdy gurdy – Nigel was part of the MTV Unledded show in 1994 and Page & Plant tour in 1995.
A brief humorous hurdy gurdy run through of Stairway To Heaven from Nigel led into Roberts opening performance. This was a Scott Walker song from his 1995 Tilt album (Robert name checked Phonogram/Fontana record company man Dave Bates beforehand for having faith with that album). Farmer In The City featured a compelling vocal performance backed by the choir. The repeated refrain of ‘’Who are you twenty one, twenty one, I’ll give you twenty one, twenty one’’ sending shivers down the spine.
Robert then made reference to his trip with Jimmy to the cottage in Snowdonia all those years back laughing at the photo from that era on the auction screen behind him. He then explained how the next song had appeared on the Incredible String Band’s album Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter and acknowledged the work of Mike Heron.
The song I Bid You Good Night was part of the A Very Cellular Song track on the Hangman album. ‘’ A song ‘’said Robert ‘’We always wanted to play at the end of a Led Zeppelin show but instead we always did something loud like this (adopting rock god pose). Well now I can do it’’. The song’s gospel leanings (Robert also mentioned folk/blues archivist Alan Lomax beforehand), benefited greatly from the choir’s intricate vocal arrangement.
Finally there was a fitting Abbey Road related tribute. During the night there was much comment and support on stage for the keeping of Abbey Road as a national institution following the news it was to be sold. (‘It might make a great hotel’’ Robert quipped). Alongside Beth, David Gray and Newton Faulkner, the finale was a rousing My Sweet Lord (‘’In memory of George’’) performed in the very studios it had been originally recorded 40 years ago and on what would have been George Harrison’s 67th birthday. Bob Harris duly noted that George’s widow Olivia would have loved to have been at the event and had sent her best wishes.
With that the band and choir left the stage. Bob came back to announce the totals raised on the night and the winning bidders lined up to collect and take home their exhibition prints.
I had a quick word with legendary Zep PR guru B.P. Fallon on the way out and had a final look next door in Studio 2 where all that legendary Beatles music was made –it’s amazing how it looks much the same as it did back then.
The generous donations on the night and memorable musical performances combined to make this Sound & Vision Event sponsored by Shepperton a huge success for the Cancer Research UK charity – for further info and donations visit
As for Robert – this was indeed a unique performance backed by Nigel and the London Oriana Choir delving into the songs that as he once said he keeps ‘’in his back pocket.’’ Watching him at close proximity sing with such
mesmerizing conviction on the 35th anniversary of the release of Physical Graffiti, I was reminded of that quote from the 1975 US tour
when he said ’’By the end of the tour I felt I could sing anything’’
Well he can sing anything – from forlorn torch ballads to spiritual recitals as was once again proved tonight.
From 66 to Abbey Road and Nashville ahead. His journey continues.
February 26th 2010