Yes and Zeppelin? 5 True All-Star Near-Collaborations
Quick, what's your dream supergroup, living or dead? When I was a big prog nerd, mine was Peter Gabriel on vocals and lyrics, David Gilmour and Robert Fripp on guitar, Geddy Lee on bass, Bill Bruford on drums, Tony Levin on Chapman stick, and Rick Wakeman on keys. Come to think of it, that still sounds awesome.
Photo by Jason Wolter Yes at House of Blues, February 2010
But if you're a bit more realistic than I am, did you know that some of your dreams may have already almost come true?
Yes, there's been many cases where fantasy pairings almost happened and for whatever reason just didn't. No, your bizarre desire to hear a Ratt, Tesla and Dokken supergroup never happened and stop asking for it because that's terrible. But if any of these were in your head, well, here's what could have been.
5. XYZ (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Chris Squire, Alan White)
On the subject of prog supergroups, this one actually almost happened in 1981. Page and Squire had been talking seriously about making this a thing, named because they were eX-Yes and Led Zeppelin, by all accounts a pretty lame name for an awesome band. Squire would have handled most of the writing and brought Alan White over from Yes. Page, meanwhile, felt they needed a good front man, and who better than Robert Plant?
Unfortunately, Page didn't like how proggy Squire's songs were, so he only made one practice before the group fizzled out. Plant never even got a call about it. Page and Squire took their ideas for the band to The Firm and the then-recently reformed Yes respectively. Of course, if you've heard either The Firm or Yes in the '80s, maybe we didn't miss out on much when XYZ fell apart.
4. Dave Walker in Black Sabbath
Ok, you probably didn't think of this one, but if you were a blues-rock fan in the '70s, it might not have sounded like a bad proposition. Dave Walker was a long-term member of Fleetwood Mac in their serious blues-rock days before they got Stevie Nicks and went pop. When Ozzy quit Sabbath in 1978, Sabbath hired Walker, who had been recording solo since getting bucked (get it?) from Fleetwood Mac.
They only managed to make a few recordings for what would eventually become Never Say Die. You can listen above to an early version of "Junior's Eyes" featuring Walker on vox. Unfortunately for Walker, Ozzy wanted back in when he saw the band was going on without him, so Dave was out and Oz was back in (at least until he left again the next year).