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17 November 2021 2,032 views One Comment


Here’s all the info on how to obtain this superb souvenir of a momentous Led Zeppelin gig -all in aid of a very worthy cause..


50 years after the legendary Led Zeppelin concert at St. Matthew’s Baths in Ipswich, often described as “Suffolk’s Greatest Gig” a limited-edition poster featuring photographs taken at the concert has been published, with the profits going to the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices.

The photos of the gig  were taken by Nigel Rea, who at the time was working as a director/cameraman for a film producer based near Ipswich. The negatives remained in his attic for nearly 30 years until a bootleg of the concert was discovered which put the gig in the spotlight. At the time it was thought that no pictures of the gig existed until Nigel revealed he had taken his camera along. Some of the pictures featured on the poster have never been published before.

The band had just returned from touring Japan and the USA and the  Ipswich gig was part of their UK to  to co-incide with the release of their fourth album. Described as a very intimate gig, the swimming pool had been boarded over and the pictures show just how small the stage was for one of the world’s biggest bands.

The band are depicted at various stages during the concert with Jimmy Page playing a double-necked Gibson guitar and later playing his Gibson Les Paul guitar with a violin bow. There is also an acoustic set with the band members sitting at the front of the stage with the audience standing within touching distance of the rock legends.

The poster also has the set list from the night which changed from gig to gig. The Ipswich list features new songs from their  forth album including Black Dog and Stairway to Heaven plus and two very rare encore performances of Eddie Cochran’s Weekend and the rarely played live Gallows Pole.

This limited-edition poster costs £20 or it can also be sent by post in the UK at a cost of £24.85 to include First Class Signed For service.

It’s a superb souvenir of a momentous Led Zeppelin gig and all in aid of a very worthy cause.

Please contact if you wish to order one.

Further details can be found at

Above photo copyright Nigel Rea.

Here’s the Evenings With Led Zeppelin entry for the November 16, 1971 Ipswich gig…

It was 50 years ago today:

Led Zeppelin St Matthews Baths Hall Ipswich –November 16,1971

Some recent coverage about the gig and venue from the local East Anglian Daily Times newspaper…

More 1971 – here’s a link to a story about the November 11 1971 Newcastle City Hall gig via David Morton:


Led Zeppelin

  • Robert Plant seems to be distancing himself from “Becoming Led Zeppelin,” the upcoming authorised documentary film about the origin of Led Zeppelin. First off, he told Vanity Fair that he was only “minorly” involved in the film despite sitting for new interviews for it in 2018. Then he told Variety that it’s “very odd … to see a group of people try to bring some perspective to it now,” adding “I’m not sure it’s not just too vast to be solarized and polarized like that.”
  • Led Zeppelin published a press release on November 8 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the release of the band’s fourth album. We’ve also heard that there was a poster campaign featuring Led Zeppelin’s four symbols to mark the occasion.

Robert Plant

Upcoming events:

November 15 – Bob Spitz and Ann Wilson will discuss “Led Zeppelin: The Biography” in a livestreamed talk.
November 19 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ second album “Raise the Roof” will be released and they will perform on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”.
December 9 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Dorking, England.
December 10 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Ipswich, England.
December 13 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Warrington, England.
December 14 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Chesterfield, England.
December 16 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Birmingham, England.
December 17 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Monmouth, Wales.
December 20 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Cheltenham, England.
December 21 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Aberystwyth, Wales.
2022 – Robert Plant will go on tour with Alison Krauss and “Robert Plant: A Life In Vision,” a photo book edited by Dave Lewis, will be published.
June 26 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at BST Hyde Park in London, England.
Early 2023 – “A Whole Lotta Music: Life To My Ears,” the memoirs of Tight But Loose editor Dave Lewis, will be published.
2023 – A 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:

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

Stop Press:

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss are on the BBC One show tomorrow night Thursday November 18 at 7pm…

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raise The Roof NPR listening party link at 2pm ET:

It will 50 years ago on Sunday when I first saw Robert Plant perform live with Led Zeppelin at the Empire Pool Wembley when I was 15 years old…

50 years on he is still the main man – he was fabulous with Alison Krauss on the BBC One show tonight…

… Robert Plant & Alison Krauss special performance of Can’t Let Go from their new album Raise The Roof for the BBC One show…superb…



November 21st is always a bit of a special date in my calander year – as it was on this day back in 1971 that I was lucky enough to witness Led Zeppelin live at the Empire Pool Wembley –and as you will read, nothing was ever the same in our house after that. Over the next few days  I’ll be wading through the Empire Strikes Back Tarantura CD box set to recall the night the Wembley Empire Pool was, as the Melody Maker headline ran  ‘Zapped by Zeppelin…’

Here’s some personal reflections…

Schoolboy wonderment, Wally, Pigs and Plates at the Pool

50 years ago this week  I first witnessed the pure live power of Led Zeppelin when I attended the second Electric Magic show at the Empire Pool Wembley on the evening of Sunday November 21st 1971. I was just 15 years old –the effect would be a lasting one. Looking back one of the things that stands out from that time is that Zep had a ‘’leaders of the underground’’ stigma about them.

This was the latter period of the UK underground scene –the famous Oz obscenity trial was a only a couple of months before and on that November night there hung a heady atmosphere as London’s counter culture elite came out to see them. This feeling of being amongst the counter culture was enhanced by the presence of a large stall within the Empire Pool for Virgin Records Richard Branson’s newly inaugurated discount record retail operation. They were proudly selling the new Led Zeppelin album in that mysterious sleeve. There was also the famous Electric Magic poster on sale for all of 30p which now changes hands for upwards of a grand. I wish I’d brought more than one!

This was the night Home and Stone The Crows were the support acts and during both sets their respective guitarists took out a violin bow and briefly did a ‘’Jimmy’’ in mock respect for what would occur later. The in between entertainment was provided by the infamous performing pigs that didn’t and the plate spinner Olley Gray who also didn’t fare too well. Warm up records played by DJ Jeff Dexter included Redbone’s Witch Queen Of New Orleans and Isaac Hayes’ Shaft – both hits of the time (Page would insert the riff of Shaft into their version of Dazed And Confused the next week in Manchester.

There were frequent cries from the audience of ‘’Wally’’ a gig going tradition sparked by a roadie at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. Never around when needed, the road crew cries of ‘’Where’s Wally?’’ was taken up by the festival audience – and ensuing audiences at big name gigs such as this one.

Then it was time for the main event. Promoter Ricky Farr introduced them and it was evident how loud it was going to be from the moment Bonzo rattled around the kit and Jimmy flexed the Gibson. Then 1 -2-3-4 …Blam!

I was watching Led Zeppelin perform Immigrant Song in front of my own eyes…and nothing was ever the same again.

And nothing was ever this loud. The sheer force of the riff physically pushed me back. After the initial shock of that moment, well the rest of proceedings for this particular schoolboy were just awe inspiring. I watched it all with open mouthed wonderment.


So many vivid images remain from that first stunning exposure to the grown up music world. The immediate upturn of seeing this thing in the flesh was that my interest increased manifold. The scrapbooks became more meticulous, the hunger for knowledge about them more intense and the need to follow their every move a virtual means to an end. It was a year of waiting before they returned to the UK and I saw them at Alley Pally and then came five glorious nights at Earls Court and more. By then journalistic reporting of Zep in the Melody Maker and NME by the likes of Roy Hollingsworth, Nick Kent and Charles Shaar Murray had inspired me to put pen to paper myself and the seeds of Tight But Loose were being sown.

Ultimately it was that night back in November 1971 that sparked the insatiable belief in their music that has stayed with me ever since. It was a night of true Electric Magic and the intervening 50 years have done nothing to diminish its impact.

Back then at 15 years old, I knew I had witnessed something very special –but little did I realize that 50 years hence at aged 65, Led Zeppelin would still mean so much to me and countless millions across the world.

Then as now… they still hold the (Electric) Magic….

Dave Lewis – November 2021 

Here’s the Evenings With Led Zeppelin entry for the November 20/211971 Wembley Empire Pool gigs…

Led Zeppelin IV – 50 years gone…

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV

To mark the 50th anniversary of the release of Led Zeppelin IV here’s a TBL archive feature – first compiled for TBL issue 15 though not used at the time – it eventually appeared in the my Celebration II – The Tight But Loose Files book.

The Making Of Led Zeppelin IV – Part One:

On the evening of Saturday, September 19, 1970, the four members of Led Zeppelin took a final bow before leaving the stage of New York’s Madison Square Garden. It signalled the end of a massively successful US tour, their two performances at the Garden alone netting each of them around $30,000 – not bad for six hours work. Their second album had been a fixture on the album charts on both sides of the Atlantic, racking up sales of over a million in both territories. The previous June the group’s bill topping appearance at the Bath Festival had cemented their reputation on home soil. Readers of the then hugely influential Melody Maker had just voted them as the top act in their annual pop poll, ending years of dominance by The Beatles.

There was simply no doubt about it. Led Zeppelin were now the biggest band in the world.

Then came the backlash…

In early October their eagerly awaited new album, Led Zeppelin III, hit the stores. Its bold agenda in combining the familiar, trademark heavy rock dynamics with more acoustic textures confused both the public and press alike. Headlines such as “I… 2… 3 Zep weaken” were rife as this new direction confused and, to some degree disappointed, critics.

Though Zep III sold well initially it did not to have the across-the-board appeal of their first two albums. Never entirely at ease with the press, Page and Plant were particularly sensitive to the criticism. “The headlines are saying Zep goes soft on their fans or some crap,” remarked Plant to Record Mirror at the time. “The point is when you begin a new album you never knew how it’s going to come out.”

For Page the third Zeppelin album signalled the beginning of a new era. “There is another side to us. This album is totally different to the others and I see this as a new direction.”

Plant again: “Now we’ve done Zeppelin III the sky’s the limit. It shows we can change, we can do things. It means there are endless possibilities. We are not stale and this proves it.”

Brave fighting talk – but quite how their following would react long term to this new direction was at the time still in question. After the initial glow of success they were at something of a crossroads, making their next album crucial. Page later reflected: “With Zep III we thought we’d made a great album – in fact we knew we had. At the time, though, it was said we had started playing acoustic instruments because Crosby, Stills & Nash had just come through and we were ripping them off. I know the record company expected us to follow up ‘Whole Lotta Love’. But we never made a point of trying to emulate something we had done before.”

Sensibly they took their time in recording the crucial fourth album. To recharge their batteries manager Peter Grant refused all offers to tour over the coming months. This included turning down flat a cool one million dollars to appear on a New Year’s Eve I concert to be relayed across the world via satellite. Years later | Peter Grant noted: “I got approached for the band to perform a show in Germany on New Year’s Eve 1970 that would be relayed to American cinemas. The offer got up to a million dollars but I found out that satellite sound can be affected by snowstorms so I said no. The promoters couldn’t believe it, but it just wasn’t right for us.”

Aside from a day out in October to accept a clutch of gold discs from a Parliamentary Secretary for their part in sustaining the country’s healthy balance of exports, the group laid low.

In late October Page and Plant returned to the idyllic cottage half way up a mountain in South Snowdonia known as Bron Yr Aur. It was here that earlier in the year they had conceived many of the songs for Zep III. This return visit again found them ensconced around the open fire with acoustic guitars in hand preparing material for the next record.

They already had a backlog of completed and work-in-progress ideas, amongst them a lilting, Neil Young-influenced: titled ‘Down By The Seaside’, ‘Hey Hey What Can I Do’, a semi-acoustic country stomp and, in the same vein, a song called Poor Tom’. ‘The Rover’, then an acoustic idea with idealistic lyrics, was another song waiting to be honed. John Paul Jones had been working on a brooding keyboard piece that would later emerge as ‘No Quarter’, while Page had began demoing a lengthy instrumental track which started off tranquil but built to a crescendo. We all know how that idea flourished, initially they considered a double album, and Page even toyed with the bizarre idea of issuing the album as four separate EPs. After the Zep III backlash they were immensely keen to lay down some fresh new material.

In December they booked initial studio sessions at Island Studios. The Basing Street location was fast becoming the most in-demand studio in London and they had recorded much of Zeppelin III there the previous May. Page, though, was also looking to record on location with The Rolling Stones’ newly built mobile recording unit. “We started off doing some tracks at Island then we went to Headley Grange, a place we had rehearsed at. We took The Stones’ mobile. It was ideal.  As soon as we had an idea we put it down on tape.”

Headley Grange, a largely derelict 18th century manor house, was situated in deepest Hampshire. A three-storey stone structure built in 1795, it was once a workhouse known as Headley Poor for the aged and infirm, and in 1870 it was bought by builder Thomas Kemp who converted it to a private residence and. renamed it Headley Grange.

In the wake of the ‘getting it together in the country’ trend that acts such as Traffic had pioneered in the late Sixties, the place  began to be used as a rehearsal venue for the likes of Fleetwood  Mac and Genesis. It was Fleetwood Mac who suggested the premises to Page.

Plant reflected: “Most of the mood for the fourth album was brought about in settings we had not been used to. We were living in is falling down mansion in the country. The mood was incredible.”

So on a cold January morning early in 1971, accompanied by a handful of roadies plus engineer Andy Johns (brother of noted producer Glyn Jones who had worked on the first Zeppelin album), Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham convened on the old workhouse to set up and record material for their fourth album. Parked outside was the Stones’ mobile studio looking not unlike some vintage army intelligence unit.

Engineer Andy Johns recalled the idea behind going there in an interview with Guitar World: “I had just done Sticky Fingers with the Stones and we’d used the mobile truck on that. So I believe 1 suggested using the truck to Jimmy. We had used Mick’s house at Stargroves but Jimmy didn’t want to stay there because Mick wanted too much money. Then Jimmy found this old mansion so we brought the truck there.” They did eventually record at Stargroves the following year for the Houses Of The Holy album.

John Paul Jones has less positive memories of their stay at the Grange. “It was cold and damp. I remember we all ran in when we arrived in a mad scramble to get the driest rooms. There was no pool table or pub. It was so dull but that really focused your mind on getting the work done.”

On hand to monitor the recordings was Ian Stewart. Stu, as he was affectionately known, was a long time backroom associate of The Rolling Stones – and had even been in an early line up of the group prior to Andrew Oldham grooming the younger band members for success. Stu was an accomplished jazz and blues pianist, and his battered old upright piano was packed alongside the Zep gear in preparation for the likelihood of a jam session or two. The relaxed nature of the whole set up deemed this inevitable.

zep 1971 photo call

Early on during the warm up sessions, John Bonham began banging out the cymbal led introduction to Little Richard’s ‘Keep A Knockin”. Ian Stewart joined in the fun, adding a Jerry Lee Lewis barrelhouse piano backdrop. Jones and Page picked up the mantle, adding Scotty Moore-like guitar runs from the, golden era of Sun Records. Plant soon cut in with a vocal line, but instead of tripping effortlessly into one of the many rock’n’roll standards that they performed live on stage he screamed out nondescript lyrics built around a chorus of “It’s been a long time since I rock-‘n’ rolled”. Within minutes they knew they had something, as Page remembers: “We were doing something else at the time but Bonzo played the beginning of a Little Richard track. We had the tape running and I started doing that part of the riff. It ground to a halt after 12 bars but we knew we had something – Robert came in with the lyrics and within 15 minutes it was virtually complete.”

To be continued…

Dave Lewis


A guaranteed million seller well before release, perhaps in theory even before it was recorded, this long awaited fourth Zeppelin album is of greater importance than their controversial third LP. If Zep III gave the first indications that their music was by no means confined to power rock then this new album consolidates their expanding maturity. The eight cuts here follow through with unbridled confidence, expounding in greater details the ideas formulated on the previous album. Once again Led Zeppelin is airborne and the flight course looks very favourable. Roy Carr, New Musical Express

It might seem a bit incongruous to say that Led Zeppelin, a band never particularly known for its tendency to understate matters, has produced an album which is remarkable for its low keyed and tasteful subtlety. But that’s just the case here. The march of the dinosaur that broke the ground for their first epic release has apparently vanished. Taking along with it the splattering electronics of their second effort and the leaden acoustic moves that seem to weigh down their third album. One of the ways in which this is demonstrated is the sheer variety of the album. The got it down all right – this one was gold on the day of release. Not bad for a pack of Limey lemon squeezers. Lenny Kaye, Rolling Stones

After such a long wait one had begun to get a little worried about Led Zeppelin’s fourth album. What had gone wrong? After such a time lag and such mounting expectancy could it still be good? The answer is yes. It is brilliant. It is by far their best album to date, and has a depth and maturity to it which can only result from recording and performing experiences. It has many moods and many styles and seems far more emotionally loaded than any of their other albums – they seem to convey wisdom through experience into their music now. Caroline Boucher, Disc and Music Echo





Research by Nick Anderson:

Led Zeppelin IV was originally released in the UK on 19 November 1971 on the red and plum Atlantic label which was distributed by Polydor Records. Due to various labelling mistakes there are minute details to look out for when identifying genuine early pressings. Here is a summary of what to look out for:

1) Atlantic/Polydor 2401012 – red/plum labels, first pressing, first labels (£300)

The text “Led Zeppelin” is positioned towards the bottom of the label, below the track listing.
The “Under licence from Atlantic Recording Corpn., U.S.A” text is above the white line in the red part of the label.
Full publishing credits were omitted – only ‘Kinney Music Ltd’ is listed.
The first labels have an “Executive Producer: Peter Grant” credit.
“Misty Mountain Hop” is spelled correctly.
Side one has ‘’Pecko Duck’’ etched into the run out groove and side two has ‘’Porky’’ etched into the run out groove, which are the signature marks of English cutting engineer George Peckham. The vinyl matrix numbers are the earliest A//3, B//3
2) Atlantic/Polydor 2401012 – red/plum labels, first pressing, first labels with correction stickers (£150)

A “Led Zeppelin” sticker is placed in the top half of the label underneath the ‘Four symbols’ and above the “Atlantic Recording” credit,
A “Kinney Music Ltd/Superhype Music Inc. Produced by Jimmy Page” sticker is placed over the original Led Zeppelin, producer and executive producer credits on the lower half of the label.
3) Atlantic/Polydor 2401012 – red/plum labels, first pressing, second labels (£100)

The “Led Zeppelin” credit is printed in the top half of the label.
The “Atlantic Recording” credit is moved into the central white band.
The full “Kinney Music Ltd/Superhype Music Inc” credit is included.
The Peter Grant credit is removed.
“Misty Mountain Hop” is misspelled as “Misty Mountain Top”.
4) Atlantic/Polydor 2401012 – red/plum labels, first pressing, third labels (£65)

The fourth variant red/plum label is the same as the corrected third variant, but with the “Misty Mountain Top” misspelling corrected to “Misty Mountain Hop“.

5) Atlantic/Polydor 2401012 – red/plum labels, first pressing, fourth labels, stickered sleeve (£75)

Some corrected plum/red 2401012 fourth label pressings came with a sticker (white with red printing) on the sleeve with the Atlantic logo, K50008, audio information and record label credits. This was outstanding stock acquired by the Kinney group from Polydor and duly stickered on the sleeve with the new Kinney catalogue number – see details below

Note – the inner sleeve on all original pressings is a buff colour matt finish with flip over back. Later issues had no flipover back and for a brief time switched to white.  The gatefold outer sleeve is a matt finish – later issues have a sheen.

6) In 1969, Warner Bros.-Seven Arts was sold to the Kinney National Company. Kinney (later to be known as Warner Communications) combined the operations of all of its record labels. The following year, Kinney bought Elektra Records and its sister label Nonesuch Records, and assembled the labels into a group known as Warner-Elektra-Atlantic, also called WEA for short, or Warner Music Group. In early 1972 the distribution of the Atlantic label in the UK was switched from Polydor Records to the newly formed Kinney set up under the WEA (Warner/Elektra/Atlantic) banner. All catalogue numbers were changed to a simple K prefix and number with Led Zeppelin IV taking on the new catalogue number of K50008 with green and orange labels. Of note to collectors here is Atlantic K50008 – green/orange labels, second pressing, first labels, transitional stamper (£75)

This pressing has dual matrix numbers – both the first pressing 2401012 and later K50008 matrix numbers are included in the run-out grooves.
The ‘Four symbols’ are omitted from the label.
“Misty Mountain Hop” is again misspelled as “Misty Mountain Top”.

In the UK, a pressing plant error resulted in a few hundred pressings of Led Zeppelin IV appearing on the Asylum label. This again occurred in 1972 when distribution of the Atlantic label was switched to the Kinney stable under the WEA imprint (Warner, Elektra, Atlantic). Asylum was an offshoot of the WEA set up and most notably The Eagles’ label. Thus, Asylum Zep IV UK pressings on the K50008 catalogue number are highly prized amongst collectors and are valued at around £150.

Amongst the many worldwide pressings of Led Zeppelin IV, a handful of highly prized rare pressing variations have surfaced.


In the late 1970s, Dave Sands, a young apprentice builder working at Jimmy Page’s home, was handed a unique promo pressing of Led Zeppelin IV by the guitarist himself. ‘’I was 19 and working as an apprentice builder for a local Sussex building firm,’’ recalls Dave. In the spring of 1978, we undertook some work to build a recording studio for Jimmy Page at his Plumpton home. While we were there Jimmy gave me a t-shirt and a batch of albums. The t-shirt was from their 1977 US tour, while the albums included Led Zeppelin II (the rare pressing which has Lemon Song listed as Killing Floor), Led Zeppelin III and IV, Houses Of The Holy, Presence, The Song Remains The Same, and the first Detective album issued on Swan Song. All were on the usual Atlantic and Swan Song labels except the Led Zeppelin IV album (this appears on a plain cream label with track listing).

Jimmy’s generosity put Dave in possession of a unique Led Zeppelin IV promo pressing. This copy has the same typography and label design used for the advance US promo Atlantic pressings sent out at the time of the album’s release but, significantly, the label is a distinct yellow colour as opposed to the more common white label US promos. It comes packaged in what appears to be a mock up single sleeve. The back cover has the same design as the officially released inner sleeve with track listings. The front cover has the symbols and track listing printed on the front cover unlike the wordless standard sleeve design. The regular US white label stereo promos go for around £100, so this rare version obtained directly from Page himself is of much greater value and would easily triple in value at auction.

Another very rare pressing anomaly occurred in Canada where a unique gold and black vinyl multi coloured pressing of the fourth album surfaced a few years ago. This is almost impossible to value as it has not changed hands since it was discovered, but it is fair to assume that should it come onto the market it would be likely reach a price up to £1,000.

Rare pressings guide Compiled by Nick Anderson

Peter Grant 26 Years Gone:

Remembering the legendary Peter Grant – the man who Led Zeppelin, 26years gone on November 21,2021. Here’s a tribute I wrote for the TBL magazine issue 11 at the time…






November 16,2013: Knebworth Book launch…

It was eight years ago: 

On this day in 2013, I launched the revised version of my Then As it Was Led Zeppelin At Knebworth 1979 book at the two day VIP Musicmania Fair at Olympia, November 16th/17th.

This Knebworth book launch at the VIP Musicmania Fair was a hugely enjoyable two days.

My fellow stall holder Jerry Bloom and I set up early on Saturday morning – it was great to see faces old and new over the two days – Marc Roberty long time Eric Clapton authority and author was the first to buy the book. There were a fair few key contributors to the book in attendance including Graeme Hutchinson who compiled the bootleg discography, Phil Tatterhsall who provided the cover photo and more plus Ian Avey, Phil Harris and Ian Coleman provided their respective I Was There memories. It was also good to see Classic Rock news editor Dave Ling ,and amongst others Krys Jantzen, Julian Walker ,Michael Stendahl from Sweden, Mark Taylor, Gary Steagles, Dennis McDonnell, Lausen Blair and Mark Winslade – Mark showed me a custom made Tight But Loose badge he had made to attend the Reading Festival in 1980 –classic!

It was of course an absolute thrill to have Jimmy Page drop by at the TBL stall in between his record shopping at the fair with Ross Halfin.

Jimmy was very complementary about the book which really was a fantastic accolade to say the least – and made all the hard work of producing the book worthwhile. He posed for this photo with me taken by Ross.

I gave him a copy of the book and he asked me to sign it for him – for which in return he signed one for me (now that’s what I call a fair deal!). ”Dave – well done!, Rock on!!” was his wonderful inscription.

When he asked what number I’d like in the ‘’book number ‘’ box Jimmy took the initiative and smiling mischievously, filled it in marking it book number ‘’666’’…

Unsurprisingly, this copy of my Knebworth book personally signed and numbered by Jimmy Page is one of my most prized Zep possessions…it was some moment all of seven years ago today……

Dave Lewis, November 17, 2021.

It was eight years ago today….2:

This was the second day of the launch of the revised version of my Then As it Was Led Zeppelin At Knebworth 1979 book at the two day VIP Musicmania Fair at Olympia.

I took the opportunity to try on this rather fetching Zozo jumper a perspective buyer of the book had brought in – this is the style of jumper Jimmy wore at the 1971 Electric Magic shows at Wembley Empire Pool in November 1971 …I think he looked better on him than it did me…

DL – November 17,2021


My thoughts on…

Led Zeppelin The Biography – Bob Spitz (Penguin -Random House) 

I’ve known about Bob Spitz intention to write a major Led Zeppelin biography for a big name US publisher for a good while.

I met up with him in London about three years ago. I found Bob to be an engaging character and warmed to his initial ideas for the book. During this meet I was more than happy to provide him freely with my perspective on a number of Zep topics – strictly music related I might add – some of which he has incorporated into the finished book. I was also aware that Bob would use my previous Zep books as a source of his research – again I was happy to sanction this. No consultancy fee was involved.- I’ve been duly credited in the acknowledgements.

I kept in touch with Bob for a while but with the pandemic and lockdown  kicking in, in the last couple of years I did not hear much about the book’s progress. A few months ago, Chris Charlesworth informed me he was helping check the manuscript so I presumed the book was now completed.

This is the first major Led Zeppelin biography since Mick Wall’s admirable When Giants Walked The Earth and Barney Hoskyn’s excellent oral history Trampled Underfoot.

So the big questions are: does the world need another no holes barred account of the rise and ultimate fall of Led Zeppelin?

And is Bob Spitz the man to do it?

Well, Bob’s credentials in the biography world are impressive with major bios on The Beatles and Bob Dylan

Having met him, there is no doubt he has an excellent grasp of the working of the rock’n’ roll world and music industry and comes very well connected.

Some initial observations: Bob Spitz is an excellent writer and teller of a tale with a colourful vocabulary that brings the story alive –often compelling so.

However, by his own admission he was sorely lacking in his knowledge of the Zep story before undertaking this book. In the recent interview with LZ News he states:

“I have 20,000 rock vinyl albums in my collection and I’ll admit it to you, there’s not a single Led Zeppelin album in it. If you had asked me at the beginning of this what I knew of their music, I could have named ‘Stairway To Heaven’ and ‘Whole Lotta Love”,

“I was on the road with Bruce Springsteen during this time and so Led Zeppelin was not in our orbit,” he says. “I came to this like an empty vessel and I thought ‘I’m just going to allow the entire process to fill me up. I’m going to learn about Led Zeppelin as if I’ve never heard them before.’

There’s nothing wrong with a fresh perspective but for him to be only able to name two Led Zeppelin songs surely only added to the enormity of the task.

In that same interview Spitz is quick to dismiss the 150 (sic) previous Zep books:

“With Led Zeppelin there were about 150 [books]. I buy them all. I buy every one of them,” he says.

“The oeuvre of Led Zeppelin [books] really upsets me. It’s a bunch of fanboys, tabloid journalists who never list a source or guys who were journalists at some of the big music papers who were practically on their payroll,”

“Not only did I decide to do away with a lot of what they did, but they don’t source any of it. You read a book, like the big Jimmy Page biography that was done. Where did he get that shit? Did he make it up? Did he pull it out of a magazine?”

Fighting talk indeed.

I’m wondering if Mike Tremaglio  and I come under the fanboy catagory. If so, the very positive reaction to our Evenings With Led Zeppelin book (including accolade’s from a certain J.Page) might suggest that these particular fanboys did good…

As I expected, this is a very American view of the Zep story and unsurprisingly he is very good at describing American locations and scenes –but less so when it comes to providing a UK overview. Some of his prose is also very Americanised – for instance the use of baseball terms.

There are occasions too where he fails to give due recognition to some significant UK happenings. For example, he barely acknowledges the 1969 BBC sessions that did much to spread the Zep message in their homeland during the early days.

One of my bugbears in any biography for me is the use of first person conversations that were meant to have happened – these are not garnered from actual interviews but seem almost presumptions as to what might have been said at the time. There’s a fair bit of this conversational approach throughout the book which I find rather grating. It blurs the thin line between fact and fiction.

I also take umbrage at the flippant description of Richard Cole as an ‘East London yob.’ Rough around the edges he may have been but his undoubted ability to get the band from A to B on any given tour deserves far more respect.

As with any major work of this kind, some errors do creep in – in the case of this biography irritatingly so.

The back cover text which has a series of observers paying accolades to the book has one real clunker. A quote by Sheila Waller (author of Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon –and the Journey of a Generation’’) states ‘’Every detail, from their formation via leader Jimmy Page’s Yardbirds to their last show, in Munich in 1979.’’

Munich? 1979? Are you putting me on? Every self-respecting Zep fan knows their last show was in Berlin in 1980.

I also felt Heart’s Anne Wilson’s comment ‘’This is the story of poetry and power rape and pillage, of rock’roll incarnate’’ wholly inappropriate for such a high profile back cover statement. As the man once sang ‘’keep a coolin’ baby’’

As for there being screens either side of the stage at the Earls Court gigs in May 1975, well I can accurately report there being only one suspended high above the stage on the five nights I was there…

Oh and don’t get me started on inaccuracies in the two photo sections of which I counted ten incorrect date captions – plus a photo of Robert and Roy Harper is caption as being with Richard Cole. Bob Spitz may not have had control over the photo research but if I was the author of a book with such errors I’d be feeling a bit embarrassed.

For a big budget publisher such as Penguin to get it so wrong clearly puts the book’s credibility in some doubt. Had they have run it through me I would have spotted them of course. That did not happen.

Many readers of course may not notice but a lot of Led Zep fans who read this book will.

Nit-picking aside, let’s get to the text:

The prologue is an excellent scene setter which hones in on their triumphant fourth show at a run of concerts at the Boston Tea Party on January 26,1969. This is told from the perspective of a young fan Steve Tallarico who would soon be known as Steven Tyler  fronting his own band Aerosmith. I found it a really engaging tale.

Spitz is good on the young Jimmy Page story with notable input from Jimmy’s schoolboy friend David Williams. Jimmy’s elevation to in demand session man is concisely chronicled. He also cleverly weaves the backstories of Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham, Peter Grant and Richard Cole into the story.

Suddenly it’s 1969 and from here the story gains momentum and naturally courts plenty of controversy.  Spitz does not shy away from the often grizzly details of their off stage antics – many of which have already been noted in previous Zep bios. As they crop up they seem even more salaciously reported than before – particular the infamous mud shark incident.

Spitz makes a fair few new claims throughout the book. For example, he reports that John Bonham’s drunken behaviour on their summer US tour made Page question whether he should be replaced. He reiterates this in 1970 stating ‘’Peter Grant had had enough of Bonzo’s nonsense and was pursuing a list of drummers to see who might be available. If it had been up to G, Led Zeppelin might have gone forward with Carmine Appice,Anysley Dunbar or Cozy Powell – but Jimmy stepped in to give Bonzo another chance.’’

I don’t buy that claim at all – it’s the first I’ve been made aware of it and I’ve spoken and interviewed many players in the story. Led Zeppelin were not the sort of band that was ever going to be revolving door of members coming and going. John Bonham  had his failings but serious enough to being replaced? Personally I don’t think so.

I also find the claim about the Drake Hotel robbery a bit flimsy and I quote ‘’No less than five sources close to the band told this author that Grant had admitted to spiriting the Drake money away.” Spirited where exactly and how? No follow up evidence of this is forthcoming.

Away from the lurid moments, for a man with a distinct lack of affinity for their catalogue before writing this book, Spitz is pretty adequate on his analysis of the music.  The construction of the songs and the evolution of the albums are dutifully documented. I myself did not discover much insight here but the more casual fan probably will. There’s a neat touch of using the actual four symbols title when referencing the fourth album. However, there is another real howler on page 262. Here he claims that Sandy Denny added backing vocals to Gallows Pole and I quote:

‘’They were already studio friends, her voice and his having intertwined so harmoniously on Gallows Pole’’

Really? That is certainly not something he garnered from one of my books simply because it’s the first I’ve heard of it and is plainly wrong.

As the book progresses to the difficult post 1975, it’s something of a joyless affair –the achievements of the Presence album and Knebworth comeback are lost amidst the drugs, violence and tragedies which are reported in stark detail.

There’s little of the humour and camaraderie that existed amongst the band and entourage – something I saw for myself first hand.

So to Coda the final chapter. After chronicling the Coda album, the post Zep years are brushed through in a mere eleven pages – the story ending with the triumphant 02 reunion. This all seems a very rushed job and topics such as the Remasters, BBC Sessions and 2003 DVD releases , the Celebration Day film, the Kennedy Honours , the Stairway To Heaven v Spirit plagiarism case and the Page led reissue programme all go undocumented.

I’d also liked to have read Spitz own take on why Led Zeppelin remain very much in the present tense. Such perspective on where he thinks they stand in the musical pantheon would not have gone amiss.

While Spitz has conducted his own research and interviews, the reliance on previous quotes from a variety of sources is plain to see in his diligently produced list of reference notes. Of the 575 sources he lists, I myself am referenced over 100 times notably in the use of info from my extensive interviews with Peter Grant and John Paul Jones.


This is a thorough trawl through the Zep saga, well written, fast paced and often thought provoking. It will have its audience but it clearly has its limitations. Maybe I’m far too much a fan of their music to digest another warts and all account.

For all his undoubted writing skills, it’s evident that Bob Spitz has little passion for his subject – as he admitted and there’s no getting away from that fact given the shortcomings in some of the factual detail.

Evenings with Led Zeppelin it ain’t – lurid tales with Led Zeppelin it certainly is and if that’s the way you like to dissect this much told story, Led Zeppelin The Biography may be for you – others might conclude they have heard much of it all before …

Dave Lewis – November 17, 2021 


DL Diary Blog Update:

Saturday November 13:

Saturday is platterday –on the player celebrating his Birthday today  the brilliant Terry Reid Superlungs album –this one a US pressing on the Epic label…

Saturday November 13:

Saturday is platterday – on the player the superb Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raising Sand album in advance of the much anticipated release of the follow up Raise The Roof…





Monday November 15:

DL Box Set of the week:

I’ve been wading through some CD box sets from the DL collection to pick out one a week to play…

To kick off this week it’s the excellent Mott The Hoople Mental Train –The Island Years 1969 – 1971 box set released in 2018.

An awesome 6 CD collection with accompanying book with excellent sleeve notes from the Mott  man in the know Kris Needs.

This one will be of much inspiration in the week ahead…

Update here:

There’s been work here on assessing one or two projects ahead notably further preparation on the Robert Plant photo book  – musical salvation has been at hand as ever and the following have been on the player:

Affinity – Affinity new reissue 4 CD box set

David Bowie – Station To Station

Free  – Highway

James Taylor – Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon

Cat Stevens – Tea For The Tillermen


Joni Mitchell – Court And Spark

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss -Raising Sand

Terry Reid – Superlungs

Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin

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

Dave  Lewis – November 18, 2021.

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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One Comment »

  • Steve Hall said:

    Thanks for the review of the Bob Spitz Zep biog, Dave. I’d heard things about this from other sources and was in two minds whether to spend hard cash on it, but with all the errors and misquotes in it I think I’ll give it a miss!! I’ve got loads of other books, including all of yours, that tell their story, and their music, in a factual manner so don’t really need another “Hammer Of The Gods” type version!!
    I’m looking forward to seeing Robert in Birmingham next month, unless we go back into lockdown!!!!!!!!



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