Hats Off to (Roy) Harper

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Hats Off to (Roy) Harper
Appears on Led Zeppelin III
Published by Superhype Music
Registration ASCAP 080029152
Release date 5 October 1970
Recorded July 1970 at
Island Studios, London.
Mixed at Ardent Studios, Memphis.
Genre Blues
Language English
Length 3 minutes 41 seconds
Composer trad. arr. by Charles Obscure
Label Atlantic Records
Producer Jimmy Page
Engineer Andy Johns

'Hats Off to (Roy) Harper' is a song recorded by English rock band Led Zeppelin. It is the last track on the album Led Zeppelin III, released in 1970.

Overview

The track features Jimmy Page playing slide guitar, and Robert Plant's vocals, processed through a tremolo. The song was listed on the album as 'Arranged by Charles Obscure,' which was a humorous pseudonym for Page. The song is a medley of soundbite fragments of obscure blues songs and lyrics, including 'Shake 'Em on Down' by Bukka White.[1] The song is both a tribute to contemporary folk singer Roy Harper and the influential American blues singer who recorded in the 1960s.

Roy Harper is a folk singer from England whom Jimmy Page met at the Bath Festival in 1970. He became close friends with members of the band, who invited him to perform as the opening act on some later Led Zeppelin concert tours. In 1971, Page played on Harper's album Stormcock, appearing in the credits under the pseudonym 'S. Flavius Mercurius.' In 1985, Page recorded an album with Harper called Whatever Happened to Jugula. Harper explained:

I used to go up to [Led Zeppelin's] office in Oxford Street, where Peter Grant and Mickie Most would be. And one day Jimmy was up there and gave me the new record. I just said thanks and put it under my arm. Jimmy said 'Look at it'. So I twirled the little wheel around and put it back under my arm. Very nice and all that. So he went 'Look at it!' Then I discovered Hats Off to (Roy) Harper. I was very touched.[2]

According to Page, during recording sessions for Led Zeppelin III, the band 'did a whole set of country blues and traditional blues numbers that Robert [Plant] suggested. But ['Hats Off to (Roy) Harper'] was the only one we put on the record.'[3] 'Hats Off to (Roy) Harper' begins with a strange audio snippet from the sessions which is quickly introduced and then faded out again, featuring Plant's voice and Page's slide guitar in tandem.

Led Zeppelin never performed 'Hats Off to (Roy) Harper' live in concert.[4]

Credits

Personnel
  • Musicians:
    • Jimmy Page – acoustic guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
    • Robert Plant – vocals
    • John Paul Jones – acoustic bass
    • John Bonham - tambourine
  • Production:
    • Peter Grant – executive producer
    • Andy Johns - engineer, mixing
    • Joe Sidore - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
    • George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)

References

  1. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 45. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  2. 'Their Time is Gonna Come', Classic Rock: Classic Rock Presents Led Zeppelin, 2008, p. 23.
  3. Schulps, Dave (October 1977). "Jimmy Page: The Trouser Press Interview". Trouser Press 4 (22). ISSN 0164-1883.
  4. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 45. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1.