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Welsh Rock Music

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Welsh Rock Music

Led Zeppelin

Bron-Yr-Aur, meaning hill of gold or breast of gold in Welsh, is a cottage a couple of miles outside Machynlleth in the southernmost part of North Wales, right down at the tip of the Snowdonia National Park, in some beautiful surroundings.


It was 1970, after the release of Led Zeppelin II and the tour which supported it that they went to Bron Yr Aur. By this time they were massive, and that album had sold well, featured as it did tracks like Whole Lotta Love and Ramble On. It had gone to number one in America and it was the time at which they were getting a lot of attention from the US groupie scene - Pamela Des Barres and the GTOs.


A quiet spot in Wales was a great and productive change for Robert Plant and Jimmy Page who went there in 1970, accompanied by Plant's wife Maureen, Page's girlfriend (the French model Charlotte Martin) and two of their roadies.

Page has said about their time there, "We took our guitars down there and played a few bits and pieces. This wonderful countryside, panoramic views and having the guitars... it was just an automatic thing to be playing. And we started writing."


The songs that were written there, or at least developed, included Friends, Stairway to Heaven, That's The Way and Bron-Y-Aur Stomp which appeared on 1970's Led Zeppelin III. Bron-Y-Aur Stomp was misspelled on the tracklisting but never corrected. Over The Hills And Far Away and The Crunge appeared on Houses Of The Holy, Poor Tom from Led Zeppelin IV and three songs from Physical Graffiti: The Rover, Down By The Seaside and Bron-Yr-Aur.

Rockfield Studios
2003 celebrated the 40 year anniversary of our recording studios.

In 1965 Rockfield was acknowledged to be the first residential recording studio in the world. The now famous studios have played host to many of the world’s biggest artists - Rush, Oasis, Iggy Pop, Nigel Kennedy, Simple Minds and in 1975 was the primary studios used by Queen for the recording of the greatest pop record of all times ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. As well as having a successful recording studio, Rockfield has also had a successful record label with such artists as Dave Edmunds, Hawkwind and Budgie to name a few.

History of Welsh Rock
Despite the dominance of two names in Welsh pop during the 1960s -Tom Jones & Shirley Bassey - the hills and valleys were alive with the sound of pop throughout the country.

Shirley Bassey
The best known Welsh performer in the early 1960s was Shirley Bassey. Since the 1957 release of her debut single, The Banana Boat Song, she'd been a hit performer, and she was about to be joined by another giant of popular Welsh music. October 1964 saw the release of her performance of Goldfinger, the theme to the James Bond film.


Just four months later, in February 1965, Tom Jones burst onto the scene with the number one hit It's Not Unusual. The instant classic was to become Tom's trademark, and heralded the beginning of an enduring career.


On the other side of the Atlantic, a Welsh performer was taking music into hitherto uncharted territory. As a founder member of The Velvet Underground, John Cale would prove to be one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.


In the latter part of the 60s pop music changed, with R&B and rock becoming more fashionable. Amen Corner came from Cardiff, and scored their first hit in July 1967 with Gin House Blues. Their biggest sellers were the following year's Bend Me Shape Me and 1969's (If Paradise Is) Half As Nice. The latter hit marked the first time a Welsh group got to number one in the UK chart.

Mary Hopkin
Two acts from Wales had connections to those giants of 1960s music, The Beatles. The first was Badfinger, who formed in 1968, were championed by Paul McCartney, and signed to Apple in 1969.


The other was Mary Hopkin. Born in Pontardawe, Mary released several Welsh-language albums before an appearance on Opportunity Knocks caught the attention of Paul McCartney.


He signed her to Apple and produced her first single, the traditional song Those Were The Days. It reached number one in Britain and America; Mary was just 18 years old at the time.


Other acts from Wales with their roots in the 1960s include Swansea's Man, Dave Edmunds and Meic Stevens, all of whom are still going strong today. And the Sain record label, founded in 1969 in Cardiff by Dafydd Iwan and Huw Jones with a £500 loan from businessman Brian Morgan Edwards, provided a launchpad for many burgeoning talents and quickly became Wales' leading record company.


But perhaps the best thing about Welsh music in the 60s was that so many artists would go on to further and greater success in the 1970s and beyond...

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