The ARMS Charity Concerts were a series of charitable rock concerts in support of Action into Research for Multiple Sclerosis in 1983. The first (and initially planned to be the only) event took place at the Royal Albert Hall on September 20, 1983, with subsequent dates occurring in the United States, with slightly different lineups of musicians.
Royal Albert Hall ARMS Concert
The idea for hosting the concert was envisaged by Ronnie Lane, ex-bassist for Small Faces and Faces, himself a casualty of multiple sclerosis. The concert was billed as The Ronnie Lane Appeal for ARMS and featured a star-studded line-up of British musicians, including Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Steve Winwood, Andy Fairweather Low, Bill Wyman, Kenney Jones and Charlie Watts. The concert was particularly notable in the fact that it was the first occasion on which Clapton, Beck and Page, each a former lead guitarist for The Yardbirds, had performed together on stage.
The set list for the ARMS Charity Concert Video was as follows:
Andy Fairweather Low
Steve Winwood with Eric Clapton
The complete show lasted just under three hours and included Wonderful Tonight, Hound Dog, Best That I Can, Wee Wee Baby and Bombers Moon.
Clapton, Beck and Page each performed sets, with Andy Fairweather Low and Steve Winwood also performing songs. Clapton, with Fairweather Low, Bill Wyman, Chris Stainton, percussionist Ray Cooper, Kenney Jones, James Hooker, Steve Winwood and Fernando Saunders performed a selection of blues and rock numbers. Jeff Beck's set consisted largely of instrumental rock jazz-fusion numbers, though he did (to both the surprise of his fellow musicians, the audience, and indeed, himself!) perform his 1960s hit "Hi Ho Silver Lining". Jimmy Page's set was made up, first, of three numbers taken from the Death Wish II music he had put together for director Michael Winner earlier that year. The set ended with an instrumental version of "Stairway to Heaven", which evoked a great cheer from the audience. Prince Charles and Lady Diana were in attendance seated in the Royal box in the upper level.
After Page's set, the entire cast of musicians gathered on stage to perform "Tulsa Time", a blues rock/country number from Clapton's album Backless, and then "Layla". In each number, Clapton, Beck and Page each shared lead guitar duties, and, notably in "Layla", each performed a different, and unique guitar solo.
At the concert's end, Ronnie Lane appeared on stage. Expressing thanks not only to the audience, saying that what had been achieved was 'terrific', he also thanked 'all the boys on the stage too', and then led the musicians in a rendition of "Goodnight Irene".
U.S. ARMS Concerts
The ARMS charity concert proved so popular with both the audience and the musicians that the decision was taken to perform a further nine concerts in the USA. The US dates included Joe Cocker, who notably sang lead vocals on "With a Little Help from My Friends", and Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page each shared lead guitar duties on the "Stairway to Heaven" instrumental. While Ronnie Lane appeared in New York, he did not appear at all of the US dates. They played in San Francisco at the Cow Palace December 1 through 3, 1983 for three sold out shows. Also, Steve Winwood was unable to do the American shows and Paul Rodgers was now playing in Page's set. (They later formed The Firm together.)
A VHS video (no longer on sale or in circulation) exists of the Albert Hall concert. A DVD is now on general release. On "Rita Mae" and "Cocaine", Clapton can be seen playing a Gibson Explorer rather than his famed Stratocaster Blackie that he used on all other numbers apart from "Everybody Oughta Make a Change", "Goodnight Irene" (an acoustic number) and "Tulsa Time" on which he used Brownie - the 1956 sunburst finish Stratocaster most famously used on "Layla", and later best known as the world's most expensive guitar when sold for $450,000 on June 24, 1999. A YouTube video with all the show is currently available here: