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At Headley Grange
Headley Grange is a three storey manor house in Headley, East Hampshire that was built in 1795 as a poor house for the local infirm and orphaned folk. In the early 1970s it became available to hire and was used as the location to record a number of classic albums. The house wasn't converted into a studio, the rooms were simply used 'as is' with the addition of acoustic screens to add a degree of separation and acoustic control. Recording equipment had to be brought in by the bands and this was usually in the form of a mobile studio. Led Zeppelin were the first band to use the place in May 1970 for tracks for the Led Zeppelin III album and hired the Rolling Stones Mobile.
In December 1970, they returned, again hiring the Rolling Stones Mobile to record the album that has since become known as Led Zeppelin IV. They had six days of rehearsal and then hired the truck for six days to record the album.
“Jimmy had the nickname ‘Led Wallet,’ and it’s true, he was a bit tight...Mick Jagger had offered us his baronial mansion Stargroves for £1,000 a week and Jimmy wouldn’t pay it. So we ended up in this 20-by-25-foot room with Bonzo playing drums in the hallway.” Andy Johns
In many ways the sound of that album has become the bench mark for rock music and the drum sound, highlighted on the track 'When the Levee Breaks' must rate as one of the best if not 'the' best rock sound ever captured. And just for good measure they completed a little number called Stairway to Heaven there.
The John Bonham Drum Sound.
John Bonham had just received a new drum kit from the Ludwig factory. He was keen to try it out but the recording room was being used for guitars so a roadie set the kit up at the bottom of the Stairwell in the large entrance hall of the house.
| The height of the three story stairwell combined with the diffuse wood surfaces of the large hallway provided a fantastic natural reverberation. The sound of the Ludwig kit being hit by one of the most powerfull drummers ever, enhanced by this wonderful acoustic, created magic. |
On hearing this, engineer Andy Johns realised that they had something special here. This was the place to record Bonham. Two Beyerdynamic M160 microphones were hung down the stairwell from the second floor, fed out into the mobile's Helios desk and heavily compressed with an Audio and Design F600 Compressor. Echo was then added from Jimmy Page's Binson echo unit.
"The big difference , in the first instance was the titanic drum sound. ” It was always an electric blues” says Jimmy, ” but I never quite knew that the minute John Bonham had set up his drum kit up in the big hall it would sound so fantastic.” Known as the Minstrel’s Gallery, the hall at Headley Grange ” was three storeys high and so it was this big cathedral like hall. And Bonham just started playing this kit that had arrived and is sounded so fantastic we went, hold on, lets do, Levee Breaks” and we tried it and incredible sound came out".
In traditional Glyn Johns method ( Andy Johns brother ) the micing up of the kit would have been sparse but normally a bass drum mic would be the minimum extra requirement of such a set up . But it was felt by all that even this wasn't needed. So there you have it, two mics!
" I remember sitting there thinking it sounded utterly amazing” So I ran out of the truck and said ” Bonzo, you gotta come in and hear this” - Andy Johns
Recorded at Headley Grange :
Led Zeppelin - Various songs from Led Zeppelin III , IV and Physical Graffiti
Bad Company - Bad Company (album inc. Can't Get Enough) - November 1973
Help Yourself - Strange Affair - 1971
Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (demos and writing only)
|Rolling Stones Mobile : Part 1|
|Rolling Stones Mobile : Part 3|
|Rolling Stones Mobile : Part 4|
|Rolling Stones Mobile : Part 5|
|Philsbook.com The Rolling Stones Mobile Part 2|