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Robert Plant Shares His Memories of Late Traffic Founder Jim Capaldi

Rick Diamond, Getty Images

‘Mr Fantasy, The Lyrics of Jim Capaldi’ is a new edition of the book celebrating the work of Traffic and its late founder, Jim Capaldi. At the book launch, Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant shared his fond memories of the lyricist and drummer.

“There was a carefree, poignant nature to what he was singing about,” Plant told Classic Rock, adding that he was “in awe” of Capaldi when they met as teens. Plant said he learned a lot from the drummer, and adds that even now that he himself isn’t “a spring chicken anymore,” he’s still always learning.

Plant also mused about U.K. music in those early days before their bands came to the U.S.

“There’s a site called Ready Steady A Go Go [which is] all British music from ’62 to ’66 and you can hear the naivety of what it was all about. It was brilliant,” he said. “Because when you get to America you realize how they were really doing it there … we were just trying to become like, black Americans or whatever it was, rhythm-and-bluesers.”

About Capaldi specifically, Plant recalls, “When I saw him, he was just joyous. We were surrounded by all these celebrated figures who … the spark wasn’t there. But he had the spark. And I’ve got the spark. [So when we saw each other it was like] ‘Okay, I get it.’”

Asked what’s next for Plant, he mentioned working with Grammy-winner Patty Griffin (pictured with him above), who’s toured with his Band of Joy. Now they’ve put together a new group called the Sensational Space Shifters — which his website says draws inspiration “from the roots music of Mississippi, Appalachia, Gambia, Bristol and the foothills of Wolverhampton” — and they’re currently on tour.

If you want a copy of the new edition of ‘Mr Fantasy, The Lyrics of Jim Capaldi,’ visit Genesis Publications. And be quick — there are just 900 copies, all of which are signed by Jim’s widow Aninha as well as by Plant and Capaldi’s Traffic bandmate, Steve Winwood.

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