XYZ (band)

XYZ was the name coined for a projected 1980s supergroup. The name XYZ is derived from eX-Yes-&-Zeppelin as the group comprised of ex-Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, along with ex-Yes members Chris Squire (bass guitar, vocals, keyboards) and Alan White (drums).

Sessions

Formed in the wake of both Led Zeppelin's drummer John Bonham's untimely death in September 1980, and the split within Yes, the project was first formulated by Squire, wanting to continue to explore ideas from the Drama sessions with new musicians. Squire first discussed his ideas while at a Christmas party attended by Page in December 1980. Page who had recently moved house near Squire, liked the idea, and with drummer Alan White on-board the band's nucleus was established. Page believed the band needed a strong vocalist and sought out former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant — Plant did attend one XYZ rehearsal at New Pipers, in Virginia Waters, Surrey, on 28 February 1981, but decided not to join the group citing his aversion to the complexity of the material. Without a firm commitment from Plant, and contractual issues on who should manage the group (Peter Grant or Brian Lane), the project was suspended indefinitely shortly thereafter. Unofficially, Squire reported that he has demo tapes of songs that Alan White, Page, and himself were involved in. Former Episode Six and Ian Gillan Band keyboardist and vocalist David Lawson rehearsed with XYZ, and Syn guitarist Steve Nardelli was also present, but did not record any material with the band. Multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones was also rumoured to have been involved but later denied this in an interview in the 1990s.

Originally the band rehearsed at Chris Squire's home studio at New Pipers, in early 1981, before recording at the Sol studios in Berkshire, in April 1981. The engineer for the sessions was Stuart Epps. Since 1994, a number of bootleg tracks have surfaced. They are believed to have been sourced from tapes stolen from Jimmy Page's house at Cookham, Berkshire, in 1987. These consist of four tracks: two instrumentals (the riff from one of which was used on the Firm's 'Fortune Hunter'; the other was later used in a drum piece on Yes' Union tour and then incorporated into their 1997 song 'Mind Drive'), plus vocal numbers known as 'Telephone Secrets' (aka 'Telephone Spies'; previously attempted by Yes as 'Song No. 4 (Satellite)' during the sessions for Drama and included on a re-release of that album) and 'And Do You Believe It?' (or 'Can You See?'). This latter track was recorded by Yes in 2001 under the title 'Can You Imagine' on Magnification. It is quite possible other songs were also attempted and recorded but nothing further has been released publicly.

Breakup

With XYZ's future now in limbo, Squire, White, and Lawson recorded a Christmas single called 'Run with the Fox', in October 1981 at New Pipers, before forming Cinema, with guitarist Trevor Rabin and keyboardist Tony Kaye. Rabin initially attempted to rework the XYZ material along with his solo songs for the new group. Cinema went on to become a reformation of Yes with the addition of singer Jon Anderson, and the recording of the album 90125 in 1983. It is unclear what, if any, of the XYZ material made it to 90125, but White said in a 2008 interview that 'those were the beginning of some songs that ended up on the next Yes album any way.'

In 1984, Jimmy Page joined Yes on stage, playing 'I'm Down' during a concert in their 9012Live tour at Westfalenhalle in Dortmund, Germany.

Bibliography

  • Case, George (2009) Jimmy Page: Magus, Musician, Man: An Unauthorized Biography. Rev. edn., Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-0-87930-947-3 (OCLC 244058456).
  • Chambers, Stuart (2002) Yes: An Endless Dream of '70s, '80s and '90s Rock Music: an Unauthorized Interpretative History in Three Phases. Burnstown: General Store Publishing. ISBN 978-1-894263-47-4 (OCLC 50670370).
  • Morse, Tim (1996) Yesstories: Yes in Their Own Words‎. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-14453-1 (OCLC 243845523).
  • Welch, Chris (2003) Close to the Edge: The Story of Yes. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-7119-9509-3 (OCLC 223904506).

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