Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plant has sung at some of the biggest venues in the world, but when he turned up to play at a charity concert in a Cotswold Church, perhaps he was building a stairway to heaven.
The rock god was one of the musicians who played at an annual fundraising concert at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in Northleach.
The concert was organised by Gordon Jackson, a musician himself and retired gardener, who pulled some strings to get the former frontman of the biggest band in the world – in its 1970s heyday- to the small Cotswold town.
He said: “I’m always hopeful when I ask someone. I had his contact detail so I sent him an email asking him if he fancied playing, and got one back within an hour saying yes.”
Of course, MR Jackson has a slight advantage than most other people organising a charity gig. He used to be a pro musician in the sixties in and around Worcester and Birmingham, playing in a band called Deep Feeling with figures such as Jim Capaldi, and Dave Mason who went to become stars in Traffic with Steve Winwood.
Mr Jackson, 71, said: “I’ve been putting on a concert since 1991, I started in Bourton-on-the-Water where I ran a youth group, and Steve Winwood has been taking part since the start. We’ve had all sorts of people, Ruby Turner has played for three years.
But the appearance by Robert Plant, alongside Steve Winwood, and Chinese X Factor winner Mary Jess, Lily and Cal Winwood and Bill Hunt from Wizzard and Tony Kelsey from The Move, brought something special, and probably unique.
Mr Jackson said: “I think Steve and Robert have talked about it, but I don’t think they’ve ever played together. Steve always says he doesn’t want to sit behind an organ for our concert, so he plays bass in the band. To be fair, he’s probably one of the best bass players you can get.
“Robert performed Nobody’s Fault But Mine, and he asked Steve if he wanted to sing a verse or two. So they duetted, I don’t think they’ve ever done that before.”
And many more people than normal got to see a fantastic evening of music from a whole host of performers.
Mr Jackson said: “We’ve had about 220 people last year, 240 the year before and the church can only seat 250. But I have an email list, and those people emailed, and the church has its network. At 410 people we decided we couldn’t let any more in, though a few did sneak in so it was well over 400 people in there. It was packed.
“Someone asked me what I was going to do next year and I said I was going to get Elvis.”
The concert raised £5,000 which, after costs, will see £1,100 each given to the church and three charities, Open Doors, The Children’s Society and Christian Aid.
Mr Jackson’s next venture is likely to be a calmer acoustic and classical concert at the Northleach church sometime at the end of the summer.