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LED ZEPPELIN AT EARLS COURT – IT WAS 47 YEARS AGO/FIVE GLORIOUS NIGHTS REVISED & EXPANDED BOOK/ HEATHROW AIRPORT1977/HONEYDRIPPERS 1981/ LET IT BE AT 52/LZ NEWS/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

11 May 2022 1,261 views 3 Comments


It’s that time of year again…

TBL Celebrates the 47th Anniversary of Led Zeppelin at Earls Court:

With the 47h anniversary of the first two Led Zeppelin appearances at Earls Court upon us – to get you right in the zone here is a feature that first ran in TBL issue 15. It focuses on some of the key performances on the US tour of early 1975 that provided something of an indicator to the five glorious nights that would follow in May 1975…

PRELUDE TO EARLS COURT:

Led Zeppelin’s tenth American tour kicked off in Minnesota on January 18 1975 and initially their performances were hampered due to Plant’s bout of flu and Page’s injury to his finger. The situation began to improve when they reached New York some ten gigs into the tour. For the Feb 3 Madison Square Garden date Page felt sufficiently recovered to re instate Dazed And Confused to the set. Just over a week later, Plant’s relief at finally shrugging off his flu bug was evident in a very loose and informal Valentine’s Day performance at the Nassau Coliseum. As their newly released double set Physical Graffiti hit the stores they moved up another gear. March saw they really hit their stride with outstanding performances at Long Beach, Vancouver and Seattle -eventually culminating in a memorable three day stint at the LA Forum.

Throughout those February /March dates they began to further develop the set clearly displaying points of reference in their playing that would be further explored when they returned to London to play the Earls Court shows.

So having evaluated the ’75 tour tapes, I’ve highlighted the key moments from seven performances that in hindsight, clearly provided a prelude to those five glorious nights that would follow in May 1975…

Date: FEBRUARY 14, 1975:

Venue: NASSAU COLISEUM UNIONDALE NEW YORK

Performances: KASHMIR/TANGERINE (snippet)

Bootleg Reference: NASSAU ’75 (TDOLZ)

zep 75 31

”This is one that regulars that come here know quite well…but you’ve still yet to hear the recorded version…this is a track about another of life’s journeys that never end..this time in Kashmir”

Kashmir was a new number that they were obviously itching to play live and with Plant’s voice suitably recovered they turned in a majestic Valentines’ Day performance in Nassau. Page strumming down relentlessly on the Gibson behind Bonham’s castinet like drumming.

Plant showing renewed confidence to throw in the echoed vocal naunces that became such an Earls Court trademark. Listening to this delivery re -emphasis my opinion that the best live versions of Kashmir  were all played in the year it was released on record.

Tangerine was of course a surprise inclusion at the Earls Court shows performed as a four part harmony. However perhaps they were already toying with the idea of bringing it back during the American tour. For on this night prior to Stairway To Heaven Plant let out a few lines from the long deleted Zep III stage fave. ”Measuring a summers day”…adding ”I’ve forgotten the words”. It was a brief teaser for a song that would again light up those memorable May days.

Date: FEBRUARY 28 ,1975

Venue: LOUISANA STATE UNIVERSITY BATON ROUGE

Performance: NO QUARTER

Bootleg Reference: FREEZE (TARANTURA) LED ASTRAY (SILVER RARITIES)

The May 18 and 24 Earls Court versions of the JPJ opus are amongst the very best they performed. The highlight being JP’s lengthy piano concerto that led to the loose jamming amalgamation with Page and Bonham. During the ’75 US that arrangement underwent much construction as it expanded in length. On this night in Baton Rouge Jonesy began applying for the first time that pleasing neo classical solo before Jimmy waded in with a long rambling solo. The improvisation of No Quarter would further develop later in the tour when Page and Bonham introduced an uptempo jazz tempo to the piece. This Feb 28 delivery was an early example of how the track would evolve to such huge effect a little under two months hence in London.

Date: MARCH 12,1975

Venue: CIVIC ARENA LONG BEACH CALIFORNIA

Perfomance: THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME (false start)/THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME

Bootleg Reference: TRAMPLED UNDER JIMMY’S FOOT (SILVER RARITIES)

Just to illustrate that not all went according to plan every night…. on this cooking performance in Long Beach their sheer enthusiasm got the better of them as they opened The Song Remains The Same….. only to bring it to a close some one minute in.

”Just a minute that’s it ….see you again Long Beach! Yes it happened for the first time in six and a half years…does anybody remember laugher?…. the first time we came here ..er we never seem to  get things together in Los Angeles.

OK, as I was saying. Nevertheless The Song Remains …..nevertheless,ad infinitum to the power of three re occuring..The Same!’’

They did not get it wrong a second time.

What happened next was simply the business. A speed ride through the opening track of Houses and  as Plant might put it a reoccurring anthem. It sounded great here ,it sounded great in Earls Court and it still sounded great 20 years later when Page and Plant deployed it so effectively on their 95/96 world tour. This is a Zeppelin anthem that gets less acclaim than the more overplayed Whole Lotta Love, Stairway and Kashmir -but on stage it always burnt and smouldered its way into the set. Pull it out and try it for yourselves on any night…the effect as those Houses ads read is still shattering.

Date: MARCH 19, 1975

Venue: PACIFIC ARENA VANCOUVER

Performance: WOODSTOCK (insert)

Bootleg Reference: PLEEASE (SILVER RARITIES)

”By the end of the tour I felt I could sing anything”.

Proof of that statement came nightly within Dazed And Confused. The San Francisco excerpt had long been a feature of the early part of the piece, but on this tour they began experimenting even further. Plant introducing another hippie anthem to proceedings -the Joni Mitchell pean to Max Yasgur’s farm and a hit for Crosby Stills, Nash & Young. The Zep arrangement was still built loosely on the melody employed for San Francisco-Plant bending the words to fit the structure. Against Page’s eerie minor chord strumming it became one of the most atmospheric parts of their performance. Plant’s repeated ”Back to the garden” refrain merging into the violin bow episode amongst the dry ice. The Vancouver performance was a blueprint for the equally dramatic versions performed at Earls Court run. During this part of the tour Plant also took to singing The Eagles Take It Easy and during the final LA stint he crooned a 50’s like To Be Loving  before moving into Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff. As he put it -he could sing anything…

Date: MARCH 21, 1975

Venue: SEATTLE CENTER COLISEUM

Performances:ROCK AND ROLL/SICK AGAIN/OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY

Bootleg Reference:SEATTLE SUPERSONIC (GEMA) 207.19 & 214 (COBLA STANDARD)

This Seattle show was simply one of the best gigs of their latter era.

Proximity editor Hugh Jones was there and relayed the events in a superb feature titled ”At The top of their game” in issue Vol 6 no17.

If proof was needed then this opening segment brings it all alive – as it epitomises what a potent three pronged entrance these songs really were. Rock And Roll segueing into the new sheer brutality of Sick Again with Plant teasing ”Do I look the same”, and then the opening speech followed by the ”Beginning of a dream and it starts here (R.Plant -Earls Court May*17) or on this occasion .”What we intend to do is to relive our pent uppedness on stage, and then to relieve it later on after the gig elsewhere. Now the thing is what we intend to do is to give you a cross section of what we’ve been trying to produce and write over the last six and a half years.

As you know the material varies greatly and so you will appreciate that we take it from one extreme to the other….and what better way to start than to gaze out onto the horizon and see what tomorrow may bring”

To quote Hugh Jones ”in those last few sentences Robert Plant may well have encapsulated Led Zeppelin as well as anyone ever has. The physical, the musical, the pretension and the arrogance-all backed up with music as varied and as good as his word for the next four hours”.

So the the regal intro of  Over The Hills And Far Away -the Page solo as always flickering and twisting into previously un investigated territory. Then a swirling finale with Plant crying out ”Samantha Samantha” perhaps a reference to the fun they were about to enjoy offstage as he put it And on this night in Seattle it all just burst forth with that knowing arrogance .To use that old Zep’75 maxim it all underlined the fact that it wasn’t just a case of them being the number one band on the planet…the real point in question was just how far whoever was at number two lagged behind.

Date: MARCH 25 1975

Venue: THE FORUM INGLEWOOD LOS ANGELES

Performance: TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT

Bootleg Reference: THE SEX MACHINE (LEMON SONG)

The May 24 ’75 delivery of Trampled was an incredible Page tour de force and again one of the most potent performances of their latter era. All through the US tour though, they were stretching the limits of the improvisational possibilities of this piece rendering the album version almost redundant. On this penultimate night of the tour Page, Jones and Bonham locked horns to produce a frightening barrage of noise over which Plant ad-libbed in required style. ”Give it to me, give it to me”

Nobody described the live delivery of this track better than noted US scribe Lisa Robinson when she astutely observed that ”Trampled with its Come Together like rhythm sounds as if The Beatles battled the Stones in a parking lot – and Led Zeppelin won”

Date: MARCH 27 1975

Venue: THE FORUM INGLEWOOD LOS ANGELES

Peformances: IN MY TIME OF DYING/SINCE IV’E BEEN LOVING YOU/STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN/WHOLE LOTTA LOVE/BLACK DOG

Bootleg Reference: TOUR DE FORCE (RABBITT)

The final riot night of the US tour was a mass celebratory affair with the band fully aware that with this tour they had turned adversity into triumph. From the moment Linda Lovelace cutely introduced them onstage to Plant’s parting ”We’re coming back baby” comment, this was a true prelude to what the UK was about to be served.

They even gave a hint of Earls Court fashion by introducing his Miss Selfridge cut off shirt and Page wearing the Dragon suit trousers that would become such a visual imprint of May ’75.

Their confidence was subsequently overflowing as they attacked the new In My Time Of Dying, Plant throwing in a few lines of You Shook Me.

”Anybody remember?” he asks at the end as he would a month later in SW5.

The version of Since I’ve Been Loving You was a real bonus and something sadly that Earls Court did not receive.

”A change in the programme- we were gonna do…..but this is a blues and I think this is where we first came in”. An impromptu set revision that delighted the LA audience.

A rare latter day stand alone delivery (in 1972/73 it had been segued with Misty Mountain)) recalling the majesty of Blueberry Hill at this very venue five years back. Rarely played in ’75 they ached their way through the old Zep III standard -Page’s solo as precise and inventive as that night back in September ’70.

On the home straight it was nothing less than a victory stomp. Stairway played as was the case as Earls Court as though Plant believed every word, and the final incendiary Whole Lotta Love/Black Dog medley with the added visual spectacle of that neon lit sign. Images and sounds that London would soon delight in.

Acknowledging their enthusiasm,  Plant told the final LA audience ”It’s really nice to know that we’re giving you what you are giving us because after tonight I think we’ve got three gigs in England. I don’t believe well work again for quite a long time, so this has got to be good”.

That last night in  LA  was indeed good…very good ….and Earls Court would be even better.

Dave Lewis – first published in TBL issue 15


And then… Note below the NME’s May 17 issue centre spread below compiled by the late Roy Carr and the late legendary Howard Mylett. I thought I knew a bit about Led Zeppelin until I met dear Howard…

may 17

TBL Celebrates the 47th anniversary of Led Zeppelin at Earls Court:

Turning the clock back 46 years:  Saturday May 17th 1975:

Setlist: Rock And Roll/Sick Again/Over The Hills And Far Away/In My Time Of Dying/The Song Remains The Same/The Rain Song/Kashmir/No Quarter/Tangerine/Going To California/That’s The Way/Bron-Y-Aur Stomp/Trampled Underfoot/Moby Dick/Dazed And Confused (inc. Woodstock)/Stairway To Heaven/Whole Lotta Love – Black Dog.

May 17th a dull rainy Saturday. Left Bedford around 4pm on the train and met then girlfriend Fiona (we are still in touch all these years later) in London for the long awaited return. I’d been counting the days down since March and now here we were hours from seeing and believing. We were inside the arena from around 7pm and the next hour was a slow one – I’d brought a programme and t.shirt. The programme with the illuminating text from Tony Palmer really whetted the appetite and had some amazing photos.

Finally when the stage burst into action following Bob Harris’s intro just after 8pm, well it was the moment my life switched into colour after the previous 18 years had been viewed in grainy black and white.

We had a good view high up to the right looking down towards Jimmy’s side. They were a little nervous and it was evident Jimmy was having lead trouble in Rock And Roll, but once they settled in it was all and more I’d hoped for. The video screen high above the stage was something I’d never seen at a gig before and I found myself gazing in awe at the memorable images flashing on screen- and wishing it was being broadcast on TV.  I’d played Physical Graffiti non stop since it had come out so seeing In My Time, Kashmir and Trampled played live was just awe inspiring. Tangerine was an unexpected treat as was the whole acoustic interlude. Having no idea what the set list would be  only added to the pure wonderment of seeing Led Zeppelin live before my very eyes.

Initial opening night impressions:

John Bonham’s incredible drum sound, Robert’s warm rapport with the crowd and the way he totally dominated the stage.. After this somewhat shaky start they quickly regained confidence and the new numbers from Physical Graffiti, In My Time Of Dying and Kashmir set the standard. The latter’s Eastern-sounding riff rose into a thick, booming sound that reverberated throughout the entire arena. As the tapes of the shows so vividly reveal, that booming sound was very much an Earls Court characteristic, a sound so solid that when Page laid down a chord you could practically lean on it.

EC jr2

The marathon Dazed and the laser lights shooting through Jimmy’s violin bow. By the evening’s end the early nerves had all but evaporated, to be replaced by a relaxed atmosphere which found JPJ playfully offering a few bars of The Teddy Bear’s Picnic as Robert introduced ‘Stairway To Heaven. Plant was now regularly adding the line “That’s all we got” to the final verse prior to Page’s solo. Whole Lotta Love  featured a few riffs from The Crunge prior to Jimmy’s theremin battle. An unsurprisingly nervous start but with plenty to build on.

We got back to Bedford at 2am and I was already counting down the hours to when we would be back in their company again.  There were just 18 hours to tick off.

The Led Zeppelin Earls Court experience was underway…and boy life was good…

Dave Lewis – May 2022

“Apart from The Who and The Stones I can’t think of many bands who could have put on anything like it. During moments like Trampled Underfoot it seemed the whole stage was just going to fall forward and crush everybody in the hall.” Charles Shaar Murray, New Musical Express.

may 18

TBL Celebrates the 47th anniversary of Led Zeppelin at Earls Court:

Turning the clock back 47 years..

Sunday May 18, 1975

Setlist: Rock And Roll/Sick Again/Over The Hills And Far Away/In My Time Of Dying/The Song Remains The Same/The Rain Song/Kashmir/No Quarter/Tangerine/Going To California/That’s The Way/Bron-Y-Aur Stomp/Trampled Underfoot/Moby Dick/Dazed And Confused (inc. Woodstock)/Stairway To Heaven/Whole Lotta Love – The Crunge – Black Dog.

In the morning I’d got the Sunday Observer with the colour suppelment magazine with that Tony Palmer feature in.

”Led Zeppelin bigger than The Beatles?” proclaimed the front cover. What a compliment…and a rightful accolade.

On the train at 5pm in the afternoon with fellow fan Nic and his girlfriend.

Hung outside Earls Court amongst the the programme sellers and poster stalls before the show -bought a bootleg badge which was as big as a dinner plate. Wore it with pride for years!

The second night saw them settled into the run. Over The Hills And Far Away developed into an early set template on each successive night. Loaded with rock steady authority, with Page at his most spontaneous, supplemented by  Bonham and Jones holding down the bottom line, and hinting at the rhythmic tempos they would develop for Candy Store Rock on the Presence album. Page’s double-neck guitar poses during The Song Remains The Same and would give the attendant photographers plenty of famous images while The Rain Song saw the guitarist draped in blue light, casting another memorable portrait, a solitary figure in the spotlight ringing out some sweet familiar notes. Add to that an intensive and incessant In My Time Of Dying (Plant’s ”I must have done somebody good” line resounded in my ears all the way home).

ec no quirter

The outstanding performance of May 18, though, was No Quarter as immortalised on the subsequent Red Devil vinyl bootleg. Never before had JPJ immersed himself in this showpiece with such subtlety and grace, the defining moment being the point where he came out of the classical sequence, at around 3mins 45, to play a cluster of descending notes that rippled from the grand piano and into the Earls Court air.

The acoustic section found Plant at his loquacious best, unfolding tales of the origins of Going To California (“So we went to Wales and when we got there we wrote songs about California”) and That’s The Way (“So we were sitting on a grassy bank looking across the unspoiled countryside”). Dazed And Confused was also developing its own unique Earls Court quality. Page’s delicate, melodic guitar passages leading into Woodstock remain an evocative reminder of the times that still brings on the chill every time I hear the tape 41 years on.

During Whole Lotta Love they kicked into the rhythm of The Crunge as they had done briefly the previous night but now further developed Plant’s echoed “I’m just trying to find the bridge” lines. A crunching Black Dog brought show number two to a close after some 195 minutes on stage.

We just managed to get the last train back and in for 2.30am. Two down and incredibly…three still to go!

Dave Lewis – May 2022

“In six and a half years Led Zeppelin have grown to be the biggest band in the land and judging by the excellence of their performance at Earls Court, one of, if not THE most exiting live act in the world. I guess I came on the right night. It’s difficult to describe the magic or atmosphere of that Sunday. It was one of those gigs that will remain scarred on my brain forever.”

The late Pete Makowski, Sounds.

More Earls Court Archive next week…


And sticking with Earls Court…

Five Glorious Nights –  Led Zeppelin at Earls Court May 1975 – revised & expanded edition due for publication in October 2022:

As I mentioned last week I’ve been keeping this project under wraps as Rufus Stone publisher Mark Smith and I have working towards this announcement for some months.

We are both very excited with the prospect of making the Five Glorious Nights –Led Zeppelin at Earls Court book available again –and the opportunity to make a good thing even better.

The additional 32 pages will be taken up with yet more iconic previously unseen images from this historic run of concerts.

I was also very keen for Mark to come up with a more affordable price point for the standard edition and at £59 on pre orders before August 31  it offers real value for money and provides scope for the book to reach a wider audience. There is also a metal leather limited edition of 150 copies only at £450.

Mark and I are very much looking forward to  working on this new edition in the coming months to produce the very best book we can and I will keep you updated on the progress.

Pre-orders are already coming in and here’s the link to pre order:

https://www.rufuspublications.com/rufusbooks/Led-Zeppelin


And then two years later this happened…

TBL Archive : Heathrow Airport – 45 years Gone:

45 years ago on Tuesday May 17,1977 , I awoke with the day’s mission being to hook up with the members of Led Zeppelin – and incredibly that is exactly what happened.

As this story that appeared in TBL issue 18 explains, any plans to actually go out and see them perform live in America had been thwarted by a serious lack of funds. My then wages of £22 per week earned working on the record and tapes department at WH Smith in Bedford was never going to get me to Madison Square Garden.

As a mad keen fan of just 20 years old, I knew there had to be another way to see them. With invaluable help from Unity McClean at the Swan Song office, I hatched a plan to go to Heathrow Airport to wave them off as they began the second leg of the tour.

I got the idea from all those newsreel films of The Beatles being waved off from airports by loads of screaming girls. I did not envisage too many screaming girls being there but I did think it was a relatively feasible way of seeing them.

Unity very kindly supplied me with the timings and so it was on Tuesday May 17, I set off from Bedford to achieve my quest. I stopped off at the Swan Song office to catch up with Unity. I even got involved in running a few errands – not uncommon whenever I visited. I was dispatched to the local Kings Road newsagent to buy copies of the first day’s edition of the Evening Standard. This was to check that they had carried an apology for a mistaken identity story involving a false Robert Plant story they had run with the previous day.

Unity was well pleased to find it in there and immediately biked over a copy to Peter Grant. Back in the office Unity gave me various photos to get signed. I then took the tube to Hatton Cross and boarded a bus from there to get to the terminal. Back then there was no direct tube line into Heathrow.

I arrived at Heathrow just after 4pm. A couple of Welsh fans Russ Rees and Peter Jones (who I am still in touch with) were also there. Outside the main doors John Bonham was holding court by one of the limos chatting to Richard Cole. John Paul Jones arrived wearing a union jack cardigan – it was the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year and patriotism was well high. Unity later told me Jonesy had laughed when he had seen the pics I took as the jacket had fallen to pieces soon after.

Robert kept up the royal theme wearing a badge of the Queen. Robert arrived soon after looking every inch the rock god. The first photo shows me following him across the road -Robert carrying his own luggage –  he only had to ask and I’ve gladly helped him out !

The mood was very upbeat and friendly. I talked to Robert about how the tour was going and he relayed how much they were enjoying it. A roadie came in on the conversation and Robert mentioned how much he liked Maria Muldaur’s Midnight At The Oasis song.

Robert and JPJ were more than happy to sign my photos and pose for a pic. I’m carrying the photos I took along and look at those badges – dinner plate size! I’m wearing the jacket I regularly wore for work.  I look as proud as a peacock and that’s exactly how I felt. It was just incredible to be in their company – my idols right next to me!

Robert kept on joking about Jimmy’s whereabouts as he was running late. ”Where’s Patti Page ”? he kept repeating. Jimmy arrived in a Range Rover driven by his driver Rick Hobbs. He looked a little unsteady in a white suit but soon began joking and chatting with the others. I chatted to him for a couple of minutes.

I finally left them as their flight was called around 6pm. it was an absolutely thrilling experience and I made my way back to Bedford in something of a daze. I was due to play in a Wallbangers football match that night but arrived too late -not that it mattered too much as we won 11-0!

The next day I relayed these tales to my Mum and Dad and then girlfriend Fiona. In the morning I was back behind the counter selling records at WH Smith while Led Zeppelin took to the stage in Birmingham Alabama. There’s some amazing cine film of that gig and when I watch it I always marvel at the fact that I was one of the last people to talk to them in England before they left for yet another trail blazing tour of America.

Exactly two years to the day of the first Earls Court concert, I had experienced yet another incredible occasion in their company. Like all these occasions, it enhanced my enthusiasm to follow this group and it’s music with increasing passion love and devotion.

45 years on from that remarkable experience, that passion love and devotion remains ever strong….and that afternoon in Heathrow Airport is a memory that shines ever brightly…and one of many that will be in my planned DL memories book for sure…

Dave Lewis – May 2022

Thanks to Russ Rees and Peter Jones for the photos.  


One more Robert Plant anniversary:

It was 41 years ago today:

Robert Plant and The Honeydrippers at Nottingham Boat Club…

41 years ago today on Tuesday May 12 1981, I took the train from Bedford to Nottingham for a very special gig.

In prospect was a night with The Honeydrippers at the famous Nottingham Boat Club venue.

The Honeydrippers was the ad hoc band Robert Plant formed in early 1981 with some of his Midlands musician pals. This was his way of finding a pathway out of the demise of Led Zeppelin.

Anyone who was lucky enough to see these very low key shows in the spring of 1981, will know how incredibly exciting it was to see the former lead singer in the biggest band in the world in such small surroundings – going back to his roots.

For there was, as he put it ‘’No led anything’ in this era – just a whole lot of rhythm and blues and an attempt to re- establish contact with an audience – on his terms.

This short lived venture would provide the inspiration for him to hook up with Robbie Blunt on a more serious mission of song writing that would have all roads leading to Rockfield Studios in Monmouth for the recording of his first solo album Pictures At Eleven.

Before all that, there were sweaty nights on the road and this night at the Nottingham Boat Club was just that. This was the second occasion I had seen this line up – a week back I had been at the Porterhouse in Retford and ahead in the next two weeks I would catch further shows in Pontypridd, Sheffield and Bradford. In those days if Robert or indeed Jimmy and JPJ were playing anywhere, I would do my best to be there…oh and I also saw Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Bingley Hall Stafford that month.

On this day, I was lucky enough to be in attendance at the afternoon soundcheck – it was a huge thrill to be inside the venue where Zep had performed in March 1971. Robert and the band were on great form and the gig itself was a stormer. I didn’t take any photos of this gig but I took some of the other gigs which I’ll try and dig out.

After the soundcheck, the band, crew and myself strolled on to the balcony of the Boat Club to view the gathering crowds below. In this photo taken by a fan in the crowd (I cannot recall who sent me this) the line up is:

Far left just above the parked van, long time Zep/Plant soundman and friend Benji Le-fevre, then Robert Plant in the red jacket, saxophonist Keith Evans, guitarist Robbie Blunt, drummer Kevin J O’Neal, behind him that’s me (note short lived moustache!) and to the right future Plant tour manager Rex King.

An amazing day when I was a mere 24 years old and it all happened 41 years ago today… what a memory…

Looking back, I feel very blessed to have these special moments to cherish. One of my TBL projects ahead is to produce a memoir style book to log experiences like these and many others I’ve been lucky to be involved in … more on this as it unfolds…

Dave Lewis – May 2022


Let It Be at 52:

The Beatles’ final studio album Let It Be celebrated its 52nd anniversary on May 8 – here’s my thoughts on one of favourite albums and what it means to me…

Let It Be and me…

I’ve had something of a 52 year love affair with The Beatles’ Let It Be album.

It all began way back in April 1969 when The Beatles released a new single titled Get Back. As previously chronicled, this was the inspiration for me to  get right back into music after a brief infatuation with The Dave Clark Five when I was seven years old.

James Bond, Thunderbirds, The Daleks and football took over for a while but aged 12 I was ready to tune in once again

It was Get Back that really attracted me back to music. I had heard it on Tony Blackburn’s Radio One breakfast show and repeatedly on the juke box in our local café.

I recall an advert in the NME that proclaimed it as ‘’The Beatles as nature intended.’’ What also attracted me to the record was the distinctive green Apple label design – and the B side that displayed the core of an Apple. Having been drawn to that beautiful image I was forever asking older friends to put The Beatles’ B sides on the Juke box – this is how I came to be very familiar with Don’t Let Me Down, Old Brown Shoe and Come Together –the flip sides of Get Back, The Ballad of John And Yoko and Something, the trio of singles released by The Beatles in 1969.

In September of that year The Beatles issued their Abbey Road album. An older friend bought it and I listened at his house in wonder at it’s amazing contents – not least the medley on side two.

The NME had already flagged that The Beatles next album would be titled Get Back and comprise of recordings made in early 1969 to accompany a film of the same name. This was planned to be released in 1970.

During the early months of 1970 I eagerly scanned the news pages of the NME for more news. It transpired the album and film would now be titled Let It Be and in early March 1970 the Let It Be single was issued backed with the quirky You Know My Name (Look Up the Number). The single came in an eye catching picture sleeve. I of course loved the single and the accompanying film clip of it shown on Top of the Pops.

On April 10, the Daily Mirror broke the story that Paul had quit The Beatles. The acrimonious reasons behind the split dominated the pop headlines over the next12 months. The Beatles had out grown The Beatles and as Lennon would put it – the dream was over.

However, there was one more Beatles album release and it came on May 8, 1970. Let It Be was packaged in an outer cardboard box that contained a deluxe book and the actual record catalogue number PX1. It sold for a penny less than £3.

Far too much for my pocket money but the same older friend did buy it and we marveled at that package, the book and the album’s contests. Let It Be for me sounded like a great album -with it’s off mic comments and raw playing, tender moments, jams and quirky singalongs –the informality of it all touched a chord – this was The Beatles presented in a unique way as never before.

However, not everyone was enamored with this final chapter. The NME called it a cheap cardboard epitaph. To this day I disagree with such a notion.

On Thursday June 18, 1970 I went to the Granada cinema in Bedford to see the Let It Be film. We had the day off school as Britain was going to the polls to vote in a general election that saw Edward Heath gain a shock Conservative win over Labour’s Harold Wilson.

It was also Paul McCartney’s 28th birthday.

The film was a poignant farewell – the highlight being the final footage of them performing live on the on the rooftop. I loved the film for its illuminating inside look at The Beatles at work.

Over the next few years, The Beatles Let It Be era was never far off my radar.

When I started buying bootlegs in 1972, alongside the Zep titles, I eagerly invested in The Beatles Get Back Sessions and the curiously titled Renaissance Minstrels Vol 1 , Both these albums contained various outtakes and unreleased material from the Let It Be/Get Back period.

They provided key insight to this captivating last gasp. The likes of The Walk and Teddy Boy sounding like lost jewels.

Fast forward to Christmas 1975 –the BBC screened the entire film on Boxing Day and it looked fantastic.

During that first TV showing I even listed down for my own reference all the songs that appeared during the film – I still have that hand written note as can been seen here.

The BBC screened it again four years later on Boxing Day 1979. On that occasion  my very good friend Dec taped it all on his newly acquired video recorder. When I got my own video recorder rented in 1981, Dec made me a copy of the Let It Be film – I now had all that marvelous footage at the flick of a button.

The bootleg CD explosion in the early 90s led me to many more recordings of the Get Back/Let It Be period as title after title appeared – notably a complete version of the fabled January 30,1969 rooftop gig – and the Let It Be film on DVD. I also have a bootleg of the original Get Back album as first proposed by producer Glyn Johns – complete with the intended cover of that photo of them in early 1969 at EMI in Manchester Square -re creating the Please Please Me cover shot. The 1969 image was later used for The Beatles red and blue compilations issued in 1973 (I bought both of those on the release date).

Mark Lewishon’s astonishingly detailed The Beatles at Abbey Road and The Beatles Chronicle books offered up vital accurate information of the 1969 sessions. I was lucky enough to meet Mark and attend two launches of his books inside the hallowed walls of Abbey Road Studios itself. In 1983 I also attended EMI’s The Beatles at Abbey Road presentation inside studio number two where so much of the Beatle magic had been created.

Over the years, The Get Back saga has continued to fascinate me and I’ve invested in a fair few books and magazines about the subject. The official Beatles Anthology made available some of those unreleased recordings I had craved on those bootlegs. Paul McCartney then re-invented the album by releasing Let It Be Naked – a fresh pre Phil Spector mix of the stark original versions of the Get Back/Let It Be project. I avidly soaked up that one with it’s 20 minutes of bonus recordings.

In the October 2010 issue of Mojo, they covered the final Beatles era in a superb feature. This issue was made available with an accompanying and CD vinyl album -Let It Be Revisited. This was a re imagining of the original album by a variety of artists including Beth Horton, Wilko Johnson and Judy Collins. The vinyl run came in a limited edition of 1,000 and I eagerly snapped that one up – I am always a sucker for Beatles cover versions.

I of course have various pressings of the album – notably a French pressing and the US pressing with the gatefold sleeve. Until just recently one has remained elusive.

That is the original UK release in the box set package. Very good condition copies go for over £400. Due to the flimsy nature of the cardboard and book binding, most copies are somewhat flawed. There was a very good conditioned copy sold at the local Bedford Slide record shop a while back  for £200.

In January 2019 I had a big result.

Flawed or not, I could not pass up an original Let It Be box set I came across at a Victoria Record Fair. Though nowhere near mint it wasn’t too bad. The outer cardboard box is somewhat trashed but acceptable. The Get Back book is in surprisingly good condition with no loose pages and the record is very good. This was on offer for what I consider a bargain price of £30. I managed to knock the guy down slightly and secured it for a mere £25.

Now that’s bargain and in Beatles collecting terms, one of the very best I’ve had.

So, at long last I have the original package that all those years back I marvelled and have been obsessed with throughout my 51 years of music passion.

To own it  as The Beatles put it ”as nature intended” is an absolute thrill.

It inspires so many memories of those halcyon days of 1969/1970.

Those memories are ignited every time the needle touches down and John Lennon’s plaintive cry of ‘’I did a pygmy by Charles Hawtry and the deaf aids – phase one in which Doris gets her oats’’ signals the entry of The Beatles performing Two of Us – on our way home.

In acquiring that Let It Be box set it felt like it had finally come home – and it, and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead…

Dave Lewis – May  2022


LZ News:

Here’s the latest round up from LZ News:

Upcoming events:

May 1 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival in Cheltenham, England.
May 7 – The Black Country Beats exhibition at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery, which is set to include Robert Plant’s career, will open.
May 13 – The Tunespeak competition to win tickets for Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ US tour will close.
June 1 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Canandaigua, New York and Jimmy Page and Scarlett Sabet will be interviewed on stage at Hay Festival in Wales.
June 2 – Jimmy Page will be interviewed on stage at Hay Festival in Wales.
June 3 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Saratoga Springs, New York.
June 4 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Forest Hills, New York.
June 6 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Clarkston, Michigan.
June 7 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Chicago, Illinois.
June 9 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Indianapolis, Indiana.
June 10 – Patty Griffin’s album “TAPE,” featuring a duet with Robert Plant, will be released.
June 11 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Columbia, Maryland.
June 12 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
June 14 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Cary, North Carolina.
June 16 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Atlanta, Georgia.
June 17 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, Tennessee.
June 22-26 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, England.
June 26 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at BST Hyde Park in London, England.
June 29 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at Roskilde Festival in Roskilde, Denmark.
July 1 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Hamar, Norway.
July 2 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Bergen, Norway.
July 5 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Rättvik, Sweden.
July 8 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at Cactusfestival in Bruges, Belgium.
July 10 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Royal Park Live festival in Baarn, Netherlands.
July 13 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland.
July 14 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Lucca Summer Festival in Lucca, Italy.
July 16 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at JazzOpen Stuttgart 2022 in Stuttgart, Germany.
July 18 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Sopot, Poland.
July 20 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Berlin, Germany.
August 15 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in San Diego, California.
August 17 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Santa Barbara, California.
August 18 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Los Angeles, California.
August 20 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Stateline, Nevada.
August 21 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Berkeley, California.
August 23 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Napa, California.
August 25 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Bend, Oregon.
August 27 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Troutdale, Oregon.
August 28 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Redmond, Washington.
August 30 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Salt Lake City, Utah.
September 1 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Denver, Colorado.
September 3 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Grand Prairie, Texas.
September 4 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Austin, Texas and the Black Country Beats exhibition at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery, which is set to include Robert Plant’s career, will close.
October – The expanded edition of “Led Zeppelin – Five Glorious Nights” by Dave Lewis will be published.
October 19 – The French translation of “Led Zeppelin By Led Zeppelin” will be published.
December 22 – The paperback edition of “Beast: John Bonham and the Rise of Led Zeppelin” by C.M Kushins will be published.

2022 – “Robert Plant: A Life In Vision,” a photo book edited by Dave Lewis, will be published.

Early 2023 – “A Whole Lotta Music: Life To My Ears,” the memoirs of Tight But Loose editor Dave Lewis, will be published.
2023 – The remastered and expanded 30th anniversary edition of “Coverdale–Page” will be released.

Many thanks to James Cook 

The complete Led Zeppelin News email goes out periodically. To receive it sign up here:http://tinyletter.com/LedZepNews

Led Zeppelin News Website: Check out the Led Zeppelin news website at

http://ledzepnews.com/


DL Diary Blog update:

Friday May 6:

Record Shop bags…
Here’s some of the DL collection of record shop bags including bags from WH Smith, Sound FX and Our Price – the shops I worked in and managed in Bedford from 1974 to 2003…there’s a lot of record shop history among these wonderful relics…

Saturday May 7:

Saturday is platterday – on the player some early morning Bruce …The River double album sounding mighty fine…

Saturday May 7:

Saturday is platterday – on the player some early evening Donald Fagen -his brilliant solo album The NightFly…

 

 

 

 

Sunday May 8:

Sunday sounds on CD – loading up the excellent Miles Davis & John Coltrane Complete Columbia Recordings 1955 – 1961 6 CD box set… early morning Miles…a great start to a Sunday …

Sunday May 8:

Great to have over our very good friends Steve, Anne Marie and Jenny yesterday afternoon – a splendid time was had..

Monday May 9:

Yesterday I visited the Bedford Flea Market in the market square. There were no record pickings to be had but I did indulge in this beauty as Subbuteo Table Soccer is another one of my collecting passions.
I have a fair few sets and could not resist this mid 1960s edition. Younger readers note it was the Play Station FIFA of its day and a lot simpler with its flick to kick fingertip technique.
With Steve visiting, there was an opportunity for a match. My Bedford Town FC in the red triumphed over Steve’s Bury Town in the blue – a second leg under floodlights is planned…
You gotta love Subbuteo …!

Update here:

Janet and I would like to thank you all for all the kind words and support we have received and continue to receive following her operation.
There’s been some challenges in recent weeks and more ahead but the good lady is making steady progress so far … sincere thanks again – much love from Janet and I…

Thanks for listening – stay safe and well you very lovely people…

Dave  Lewis – May 11 , 2022

Until next time…

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

Follow TBL/DL on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/tightbutloose.loose

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3 Comments »

  • Russell Mansell said:

    Hi Dave,
    I thought you may like to know The Beatles Films all four, including Let It Be were shown on the BBC in August 1976
    I believe this was Let It Be and yellow submarines second showings.

    All The Best
    Russ

  • Ralph Sidway said:

    Dave, so glad to see Janet doing so much better. You both look great in the photos! Heartfelt thoughts and prayers for her full and speedy recovery!

    Great installments on Earls Court, your 1977 experience, Let It Be, and all. As always, a delight to join you on “this wonderful live of music” and Led Zeppelin.

    Best wishes on Five Glorious Nights, and the Robert Plant book!

    Ralph
    Cincinnati OH

  • Steve Hall said:

    Hi, Dave, thanks for your reminiscences about Earls Court – brought back some memories for me as I was in attendance on the 18th May and it was a brilliant concert. Even though I’ve been to hundreds of gigs since then, I’ve yet to be at one that tops the boys in their pomp!! I’ll have to pop the “No Quarter” recording on later to take me back to being a 23yo again!

    Glad things are going good with Janet now, and the effect it’s having on you as well – you seem to more positive in your recent updates, which is a great sign.

    Take care, both of you, and stay safe.

    Cheers,

    Steve

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