Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Baroque and Berserk

Ol' Roy Harper - hats off to him - is on a bit of a publicity push at the moment. I've been listening to his stuff recently, and even - gasp! - buying some! Yes, in the 21st Century I've paid money for music! Via his web site so he actually gets some of it!

From one article, "Cult Fave Roy Harper Reintroduces Himself to the US", I learned that he is recovering from prostate cancer, but will consider touring again, plucky man.

And that there are reissues:

While Harper's musical style and lyrics may account for the lack of greater mainstream acceptance, his name and voice are probably familiar to rock fans. Led Zeppelin recorded the song 'Hats Off to (Roy) Harper' from 1970's 'Led Zeppelin III,' and Harper sang lead on 'Have a Cigar' from Pink Floyd's 1975album 'Wish You Were Here.' Now his distinct music is being reintroduced to Americans through the recent reissues of his earlier studio albums: 'Flat Baroque and Berserk' (1970), 'Stormcock' (1971) and 'What Ever Happened to Jugula?' (a collaborative album with Jimmy Page, 1985).

There's another, much longer, article at Popmatters, Hats Off: An Interview with Roy Harper

It says he's in his seventies and was born in 1941, so it must be being published in the future... or my math is crap. It's a full career retrospective and includes a little on my heroes, e.g.

Yet while Harper never achieved mega-rock star status, the people he hung out with did. Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, David Gilmour all were close long-time friends. In 1970, Led Zeppelin recorded the tribute “Hats Off to Roy Harper” and put it on the folk-leaning, III. Harper remembers how he heard about the song.

“I went up to see them in their office, and Jimmy handed me the record, and I was like ‘Oh, new record ...’ and twirled it around a bit and said, ‘Yeah, that’s great.’ And I gave it back,” he says. “[Jimmy] he handed it back to me, and said, ‘Well, look at it then.’ And I sort of realized I should be looking at something else. And then, of course, I saw it, and I said, ‘Oh, dear ...’”

Harper says he’s still in touch with friends from the old days, and had just attended Robert Plant’s 60th birthday. Still the gap between their success and his was large. Was that ever difficult?

“Well, you can imagine, being a multimillionaire and all of that ... the level on which I operate is nowhere near that,” he admits. “Automatically, they have completely different lives from me. Although I must say that particularly Robert does his absolutely level best to keep his feet on the ground and stay in touch, constantly. Robert actually does his best all the time. Not that the others don’t. But after so many years, after so much life experience, people do become separated, you know?”

I can imagine that. I've lost touch with a lot of friends from the seventies, and I don't even have the being-a-multi-millionaire excuse.

The long article is well worth a read.

If you feel an inkling to buy Roy Harper albums, do visit his own website, www.royharper.com . You can buy the them there and have the satisfaction of knowing he'll see the sales and not just a royalty check 18 months down the road.


1 comment:

Steve Sauer said...

If the long Roy article were published in the future, he would have just attended a later birthday of Robert Plant's after his 60th. So it's not that the article was published in the future. That leaves the possibility that your math is crap. Let's just leave it at that.

I'm surprised Lifemask isn't mentioned in the long article. Jimmy Page was on that too! I love the pseudonym under which Jimmy contributed to Roy's Stormcock, also not mentioned in the article: S. Flavius Mercurius. I suppose (and maybe it's already been confirmed) the name change was due to contractual obligations -- and yet John Paul Jones is listed as himself for his own contribution to Roy's HQ, on which he plays bass with David Gilmour and Bill Bruford (supergroup, anyone?).


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