Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page remembers an abandoned early-1980s supergroup with two members of Yes in a new Rolling Stone interview, saying they had “good synchronicity.”
Page was at loose ends after the tragic death of Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, while Yes bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White were on a break following the band’s Drama album and tour. They met, Squire told us in a separate interview, at a Christmas party and began work on some new songs.
The proposed supergroup was to be called XYZ, as in eX-Yes/Zeppelin. Their early 1981 sessions were produced by Gus Dudgeon, of Elton John fame.
“I had great respect for the music of Yes, how precise it was,” Page tells Rolling Stone. “We got together. They had some interesting stuff. It was challenging for me, but I got there. I had some material I brought to them. It was good synchronicity.”
The most notable result of this failed project can be found on the 2001 Yes project Magnification, which included an update of the XYZ collaboration “Can You See,” which by then had been renamed “Can You Imagine.” The Squire-sung track was part of Yes’ first album with full orchestra since 1970’s Time and a Word.
Ultimately, Squire told us, XYZ’s early momentum was slowed by their inability to find a lead singer.
Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant was approached, Squire says, but “it was too early for him — and that’s really why it didn’t go any further along that route. It was too early for Robert to think about a new project, so we kind of put it on the back burner. And it’s stayed there,” he told us, laughing.