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JOHN BONHAM CELEBRATION III REDDITCH MAY 27 REPORT/HAPPY BIRTHDAY BONZO 75 AT 75/CELEBRATION DAY CONVENTION IT WAS 32 YEARS AGO/ SGT PEPPER AT 56/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

1 June 2023 834 views One Comment

My thoughts on the John Bonham Celebration III event in Redditch – Saturday, May 27 2023:

A day of mixed emotions…

I made an early 8am start to reach Redditch from Bedford via train, a journey that lined up as follows: Bedford to Kettering, Kettering to Leicester, Leicester to Birmingham and then Birmingham to Redditch. The various changes went well and by 11am I was in the excellent Vintage Trax record shop in Redditch run by organisers Rose, David and her sister Teresa.

The weather was sunny and warm and I met my fellow Zep/TBL  comrade Andrew Pepworth by the John Bonham Memorial and it was over to the venue. This was situated by the shopping centre – a large cutaway area with a canopy. It quickly filled up.

Everything was looking great however, the proceedings were marred by a  very unfortunate incident. Just as the live music was about to get underway at 1pm the event director Rosemary Sidaway had a bad fall. It was very unnerving to witness and poor Ros had to be taken to hospital for hip surgery. It was so heart breaking that after all the effort she has put in to creating what was an excellent day Ros and her husband David had to miss it all.

I have to say I was well shaken by what had happened ( it spurred memories of Janet’s fall in December 2019) as were many of the event team but we all knew Ros wanted the show to go on

Under these difficult circumstances the event carried on and it’s to the credit of the organising team including Gemma and Lar and Neville that it did so very successfully.

The first couple of acts on were playing under the duress of the ongoing aftermath of the Ros accident who was positioned near the stage. Both did an admirable job under difficult circumstances.

Ritchie Dave Porter & Debra Susan’s enthusiastic blues rock carried a fair few influences as Ritchie turned in a few impressive Hendrix and Page licks.

Sundance were firmly in the blues rock mode and were getting into their stride when their set had to be interrupted. This was due to an ambulance and paramedics arriving to attend to Ros who was then driven away to hospital.

Sundance were followed by the Ceri Justice Band. Ceri did much to lift the mood with a set that included pleasing covers of Jolene and Walking the Dog.

In between the band changeovers ,there were a series of interviews with musicians  and people associated with John Bonham’s early days. Highlights for me included original band of Joy member Paul Lockey and Jim Simpson an early manager of Black Sabbath’s career. I was interviewed about my association with John and Zep and the Bonham family through the TBL magazine and books. I took along several photographs to illustrate a few of my experiences.

The always excellent CODA performed a hugely enjoyable semi acoustic set. That’s The Way Friends, Gallows Pole amongst the highlights and they closed with a rousing Rock And Roll. Taxi For Jesus followed and were another highlight.

As ever at events like this the camaraderie to be had being amongst fellow fans was truly inspiring. It was great to meet and chat to many fellow fans including Chris Beer, Mark Halliwell, Mike Bowen, Chris Maley and John Maley to name but a few. Unbeknown to me Chris had arranged for Russ Rees to attend – Russ and I go way back and I haven’t seen him for 48 years.

Catching up with various fans took me away from the action for a while and I sadly missed Vincent Flatts Final Drive and Eric Bell who I know went down very well. The closing act Led Into Zeppelin were excellent with impassioned vocals and great musicianship. The ensured the day on a high.

Summary:

All in all, despite the shock of Ros’s unfortunate accident, the event was a big  success and those in attendance thoroughly enjoyed this mix of great talent paying tribute to the memory of John Bonham and celebrating his 75 birthday -and also raising crucial funds for the West Midlands Teenage Cancer Trust.

Over the years Ros and David and the the John Bonham Memorial Friends team  have done so much to shine the spotlight on John’s Redditch roots. For this event special thanks go to Gemma, Lar, Neville and Teresa who worked tirelessly to keep the show on track.

So, a day of mixed emotions but ultimately the John Bonham A Celebration III event proved to be a triumph over adversity…

​Ros has been in touch and his having a hip replacement this week.  Our love and thoughts are with Ros for a speedy recovery and to all her family and husband David.

Dave Lewis – May 30 2023.

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On the occasion of John Bonham’s 75th Birthday – May 31, 2023…

Wednesday was John Bonham’s 75th Birthday…

I love this photo – it may not be the sharpest image but for me, it captures the joyous spirit of John Bonham in full flight during Kashmir. It’s taken at Knebworth of course and frames the screen shot of Bonzo as it was being relayed on the backdrop screen by the video cameras. John Bonham’s total commitment to making it all tick over those two nights was pivotal to the success of that comeback. They all knew they had a lot to lose if they did not step up to the mark. As Robert reflected years later ” One or two of us might have been struggling at that point but Bonzo still had it.’’.

His performances on August 4 and 11 were exemplary and as you will read on below, were amongst his finest. John Henry Bonham…forever missed and forever loved….Happy 75th Birthday….

Dave Lewis – May   

JOHN BONHAM: AN APPRECIATION – 75 AT 75 – THE TBL BIRTHDAY PLAYLIST:

Greatest Beats – Percussive Perfection – 75 Examples of the John Bonham Drum Craft

Tuesday May 31, 2022 is John Bonham’s 74th Birthday. The intervening years since his untimely death at the age of 32 in 1980, have only enhanced his reputation as the outstanding rock drummer of all time.

To quantify that statement and in celebration of his life and legacy, what follows is a listing of 73 of his most notable performances.

It’s continually evident how integral the percussive element was to the overall impact of Led Zeppelin’s unique sound.

This was well apparent at the 02 reunion -clearly Jason Bonham’s understanding and contribution to that ethic was a key factor in the overwhelming success of that night.

It was his father of course who first laid down the template – the following listing highlights the varied aspects of his playing – from snare drum stampedes, though hi hat syncopation, jazzy interludes and sheer brutal power – it was this percussive talent that was at the heart of the group from the very start.

As with any celebration of their music, it’s designed to point readers in the direction of the 75 selections that span the man’s entire career. So be ready to be overawed once again by the sheer inventiveness of this very special musician.

For John Bonham at 74, this is his greatest beats…and percussive perfection…

Notes about this listing: The 75 selections are presented in chronological order of their year of recording – for the studio inclusions that means not necessarily the year they were released (ie in the case of Physical Graffiti recorded 1974 released 1975). The list covers John Bonham’s entire recorded career from the first Band Of Joy demos in 1967 through to the final performance on stage with Led Zeppelin on July 7, 1980 – it also hones in on performances  on the Companion Audio Discs of the Jimmy Page produced reissues released during 2014/5/6.The commentary tracks his ongoing prowess and periodically clocks the appropriate points of percussive perfection to be heard amongst the various examples of his vast percussive skills.

So air drumming at the ready….

For What it’s Worth Band Of Joy (1967)

Hear It: Robert Plant – Sixty Six To Timbuktu (Atlantic)

Hey Joe – Band Of Joy (1967)

* The earliest recorded remnants of the teenage Bonham with the Band Of Joy and fellow Midlander one Robert Plant.

Robert Plant said: ‘’You can hear Zeppelin in there. Bonzo’s doing a lot of those drum figures and fills which were quite popular with drummers like Carmine Appice all that virtuoso drumming. It was like ‘’Here I am everybody: somebody get me in a really big band quick -I want to get away from Plant!‘’

Hear it: Robert Plant – Sixty Six To Timbuktu (Atlantic)

Jim’s Blues/George Wallace Is Rollin’ In This Mornin’ – PJ Proby (1968)

* Enter The New Yardbird and his speed king foot pedal is heard for the first time with his new band mates on this PJ Proby session just prior to the recording of  the first Zep album.

Hear It: Your Time Is Gonna Come /The Roots of Led Zeppelin (Castle)

Good Times Bad Times (1968)

*From the dramatic two beat opening, John Bonham puts the whole kit through it’s paces. That pioneering use of bass drum triplets heralded the arrival of a very special drummer.

Jimmy Page said: ‘’In terms of John’s playing, a big point of reference is Good Time Bad Times. He’s playing brilliantly on everything else but this is right out of the norm – playing a bass drum pattern that no one else has ever heard.’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin (Atlantic)

Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (1968)

* The noble art of percussive dynamics as Bonzo alternates from cymbal crashing crescendo to hi hat swing.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin (Atlantic)

How Many More Times (1968)

The drama of the intro as he plays off John Paul Jones’ walking bass lines is a masterclass of jazz inspired percussion.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin (Atlantic)

Sugar Mama (Mix) (1968)

*To quote from my review of Sugar Mama when it first appeared on the Coda reissue, in 2015 – ”Then there’s drummer John Bonham – long time friend of the aforementioned Plant and drafted into this new line up at the recommendation of the singer who had performed in the Band Of Joy with him. John had more recently forged a reputation touring with Tim Rose – Jimmy Page duly checked him out at a Tim Rose gig in Hampstead the previous July and saw the immense percussive potential. That potential is all over this track, most notably from 1 minute 23 to I minute28 -in that space of time, Bonzo as he will become known, delivers one of those seemingly impossible bass drum shuffles that will became a unique part of the Led Zep sound.”

Hear it: Coda Reissue –  Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic/Swan Song)

Pat’s Delight (Live Fillmore West 1969)

* Before Moby Dick, Bonzo’s live solo outing was known as Pat’s Delight affectionately named after his wife. On this early live rendition from the April 27 Fillmore West show in San Francisco ,you can clearly trace elements of the soon to be recorded Led Zeppelin 11 solo.

Hear It: Kozmic Blues (Beelzebub bootleg)

Communication Breakdown ( BBC Session 1969 )

* This take from their first John Peel session cut on March 3 1969 sizzles along -and Bonzo’s right at the heart of it.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 2 minutes 22 seconds the point were it veers off and the drummer free falls across tom tom and snare of the much employed maple Ludwig kit.

Hear It: The Complete BBC Radio Sessions (Empress Valley bootleg)

How Many More Times (Live BBC Playhouse Theatre 1969)

* An early live fave of course with that stimulating Gene Krupa inspired jazzy opening.

John Bonham said :‘’Gene Krupa was the first big band drummer to be really noticed. He came out and played the drums much louder than they ever had before. People didn’t take notice of drums until Krupa came along’’

Hear It: The Complete BBC Sessions (Atlantic)

Whole Lotta Love (Rough Mix with vocal)  (1969)

Nearly four decades on this track has lost none of it’s originality or power. One of one of their most potent studio moments and perhaps Bonzo’s best studio performance.

On this welcome alternate take from the 2014 reissues there’s no cough at the intro and straight to the riff. Where the chorus should come is a wonderfully disorientating moment because there is no chorus! Equally startling is the middle section which is devoid of the later overdubbed backwards echo effects. Instead, there’s sparse use of tympani and some neat rim shots from Bonzo. The whole mix has Bonzo right upfront enabling to him shine on this track like never before.

Clock the percussive perfection: Where else but that battering ram snare roll at 2.24 that leads into where Jimmy’s solo normally kicks in – but not on this occasion…

Hear It: Led Zeppelin II reissue Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic)

Ramble On (1969)

* The pitter patter of bare hands against drum dominates throughout.

John Bonham said: ‘’You get a lovely little tone out of the drums that you couldn’t get with the sticks. You get an absolute true drum sound because there’s no wood involved’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 2 (Atlantic)

Moby Dick (1969)

* The drum solo to play to those that claim they don’t like drum solos. A veritable Bonham stickfest.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin II (Atlantic)

La La (Intro Outro Rough Mix) (1969)

A newly discovered instrumental for the 2014 reissue, this is  a brilliant piece of Page wizardry with Jones keyboards to the fore initially all supplemented by Bonzo’s speed fast playing. He is in there  tearing along and then on into yet another time signature switch as it slows to a bluesy feel and then a step on the wah wah for a scintillating Hendrix like finale.

Clock the percussive perfection: At 1.05 just prior to Jimmy’s switch to acoustic – Bonzo kicks in at lightening speed across the kit.

Hear it: Led Zeppelin II Reissue Companion Audio Disc)

Good Times Bad Times/Communication Breakdown (Live at The Olympia 1969)

*A short lived set opener that combined the instrumental intro of Good Bad Times with a frantic Communication Breakdown.

Clock the percussive perfection:  At 00.39 when John leads them into the into of Communication Breakdown with a storming barrage of snare and tom tom attacks.

Hear it: Led Zeppelin reissue Companion Audio Disc) 

Wailing Sounds – Lord Such & Heavy Friends (1969)

* A rare session for the outrageous Sutch. Note Bonzo’s two beat snare drive that dominates the track – a tactic that he would later repeat notably on the live Over The Hills And far Away arrangement and Candy Store Rock on Presence

Hear It: Your Time Is Gonna Come -The Roots of Led Zeppelin (Castle)

We’re Gonna Groove (Live at The Royal Albert Hall 1970)

* Simply Devastating. From the moment Bonzo warms up the kit through the frenzied opening and ride cymbal onslaught. Definitive John Bonham.

John Paul Jones said: ‘’I’ve seen all three James brown drummers stand around him at the Newport Festival in disbelief wondering how one guy does what all three of them did’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Music Vision)

I Can’t Quite You Baby (Live Royal Albert Hall 1970)

* A wonderfully atmospheric performance from the glorious Royal night of Albert thankfully all captured on film.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Music Vision)

Moby Dick (Live at The Royal Albert Hall 1970)

* Yes seeing is believing – superbly restored for the 2003 DVD this is 15 minutes of sheer percussive brilliance. Bonzo clatters, rattles, shakes and bangs his way into percussive immortality.

John Bonham said: ‘’My son Jason plays. I’ve got a kit made to scale for him. He’s got a great sense of time- even when we go out in the car he takes his sticks to bash on the seats. Before the end of Led Zeppelin I’m going to have him onstage with us at the Albert Hall’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Music Vision)

Immigrant Song (1970)

* Marvel at how he drives this tremendous opening track  with a forceful full on percussive attack. The pace here is just relentless.

Hear It : Led Zeppelin III (Atlantic)

Friends (1970)

* In which Bonzo forfeits the sticks for the bongos, and has no trouble in keeping up with JPJ’s relentless string swirl.

Hear it: Led Zeppelin III (Atlantic)

Since I’ve Been Loving You (1970)

* Proving there’s no sin in omission, Bonzo’s sparse incisive back beat allows the rest of them to build the tension. The opening two minutes are just masterful.

Clock the percussive perfection: 48 seconds in with that positively nuclear cymbal crash over Page’s Gibson squeals and Plant’s instinctive shout of ‘’Oh!’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 3 (Atlantic)

Out On The Tiles (1970)

* Not for nothing did he have a joint song writing credit for a performance of sheer explosive power.

Clock the percussive perfection: At 2.35 as the long fade out kicks in with Bonzo flailing around the kit – all deftly panned in stereo splendour.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 3 (Atlantic)

Gallows Pole (1970)

*Again that sense of  light and shade dynamics is applied to this tradition tune in a manner only they could muster.

* Clock the percussive perfection: The tension builds and then blam! John Henry is in at 2.04 to gallop amongst the gallows.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 3 (Atlantic)

Poor Tom (1970)

* An invigorating New Orleans jazz straight eighth shuffle opens and carries the track throughout. An absolute masterclass of controlled percussion.

Hear It: Coda (Swan Song)

St Tristans Sword (rough mix) (1970)

This three way instrumental work out from 1970 is built around a totally invigorating bass and drum pattern – the bass and drum syncopation between JPJ and Bonzo is just outstanding. Bonzo putting to good use his best New Orleans shuffle ala Poor Tom. This was one of the finds of the whole reissue series and yet another prime example of Bonzo pushing the percussive boundaries beyond the norm.

Hear it: Coda Reissue –  Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic/Swan Song)

Bring It On Home (Live at LA Forum 1970)

*One of the all time great Zep live performances.

* Clock the percussive perfection: From 6.25 as Page and Bonzo lock horns in a classic guitar and drums battle.

Hear It: Live On Blueberry Hill (Trade Mark Of Quality bootleg)

If It Keeps On Raining (When the Levee Breaks Rough Mix) (1970)

* This is a simply sensational initial run through from November 1970 with a totally alternate laid back swampy feel, slightly faster in tempo to the original. Robert’s vocals have a sparse low register echoed scat singing element to them, adding to the almost soundcheck run through quality of the piece. It certainly has a total groove of its own with incessant bass line from JPJ, Bonzo’s drumming funky as hell with a distinctive snare drum sound

Hear it: Coda Reissue –  Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic/Swan Song)

Rock And Roll (1971)

* Guaranteed to cause severe outbreaks of air drumming from the moment that cymbal crashing intro commences.

*Clock the percussive perfection: It has to be that final flurry at 3.25. The most concise percussive statement ever committed to tape.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 4 (Atlantic)

Black Dog (1971)

* To paraphrase a Jason Bonham album title, this is clear case of the disregard of time keeping. Simple in it’s execution -nigh on impossible to copy -John is totally locked in to the rhythm with JPJ.

John Paul Jones said: ‘’Musically we were very proud of our capabilities. The empathy we had when we played was always incredibly exhilarating, but then I was fortunate. I was playing with the best drummer Id ever known – and I’d know a lot’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 4 (Atlantic)

Misty Mountain Hop (1971)

* Clock the percussive perfection: From 3.55 to 4.01 as Bonzo strikes up a magnificent drum roll and the whole affair drifts off into the psychedelic sunshine. ‘’I really don’t know..ohoh ohoh.’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 4 (1971)

Four Sticks (1971)

* Yet another remarkable percussive statement. Bonzo tears along with a four stick attack clicking the rims of the drums in the process. Innovative and totally infectious.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 4 (Atlantic)

When The Levee Breaks (1971)

* The remake – one drum kit, one stairwell, one microphone over the banister…a thousand samples…and the greatest of beats.

Robert Plant said: John always felt his significance was minimal but if you take him off any of our tracks, it loses it’s potency and sex. I don’t think he really knew how important he was‘’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 4 (Atlantic)

Heartbreaker (Live at Berkeley 1971)

A classic live performance as recorded on September 14 1971 and immortalized on the Going To California bootleg.

Clock the percussive perfection: At 5.04 the moment Bonzo re enters after Jimmy’s virtuoso guitar solo. The power of his pummelling even for him is just immerse…

Hear it – Going To California TMQ Bootleg double album

Immigrant Song (Live in Osaka 1971)

Another classic live performance as recorded on September 29 ,1971 at the Festival Hall Osaka – available again on the More Comedy Less Work 4 CD set.

Clock the percussive perfection: From the moment Bonzo’s shouts ”Louder, louder” and crashes into the intro and locks right in with Page and Jones – a perfect example of the way he drove the rhythmic machine…

Hear it – More Comedy  Less Work  4 CD TARC Bootleg set

No Quarter (Rough Mix with JP keyboards -overdubs -no vocals) (1971)

Another standout highlight from the 2014 reissue. A December 1971  instrumental mix with JPJ piano very prominent, theremin effects and the drums crystal clear. This is a clear case of Bonzo allowing the feel of the song to breath – as was so often the case – it’s not what he plays  but what he doesn’t play that provides the air between it all.

Clock the percussive perfection: At 3.58 when he comes in out of JPJ’s solo to add a subtle hi hat shuffle – the right effect at the right time…

Hear It: Houses Of The Holy Reissue Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic)

Don’t Freak Me Out – Jimmy Stevens (1972)

In April 1972  John took time out to contribute two tracks to this Maurice Gibb produced album by English singer songwriter Jimmy Stevens. He was billed on the album under the name Gemini. On this title track of the album recorded at Morgan Studios, John adds some suitably strident percussive weight to a bluesy stomper – throwing in the bass drum triplicates at will…

Hear it: Jimmy Stevens – Don’t Freak Me Out (Atlantic)

The Crunge (1972)

* Talking of which – the boys get off on the good foot and Bonzo applies a ridiculous 9/8 time. Could anyone do The Crunge..? John Bonham evidently could…

Hear It: Houses Of The Holy (Atlantic)

Walters Walk (Rough Mix) (1972)

This vocal less rough mix only heightens Bonzo’s driving of the rhythm – it’s a relentless groove

Clock the percussive perfection: From 2.28 when the riff kicks back in and Bonzo tears along with it right to the fade…

Hear It: Houses Of The Holy Reissue Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic)

D’yer Ma’ker (1972)

* Less reggae, more 50’s fun time led all the way by Bonzo’s huge upfront wide screen playing -leading to a deserved lead song writing credit.

Hear It: Houses Of The Holy (Atlantic)

The Rover (1972)

* First tried for Houses, it’s eventual release three years later was well worth the wait. Bonzo’s snare drum torrents subside for Page’s melodic embellishments.

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

Dazed And Confused (Live at LA Forum 1972)

* A 25 minute tour de force with Bonzo in the middle of it all guiding them through early stabs at Walters Walk and The Crunge in the process.

Hear It: How The West Was Won (Atlantic)

 

Happy Birthday Dear Bonzo/Heartbreaker (Live LA Forum 1973)

* A fantastic sequence – ‘’John Bonham! John Bonham! John Bonham!’’ exclaims R. Plant on the night of John’s 25th birthday. Then it’s the obligatory ‘’Happy Birthday To You’’ and a comment of ‘’Far out’’ from Plant. Bonzo’s intro to the old live warhorse Heartbreaker is just that.

Hear It: Bonzo’s Birthday Party (Trademark Of Quality bootleg)

The Rain Song (Live Madison Square Garden 1973)

* More controlled dynamics.

Clock the percussive genius: From 5.59 after Robert’s ‘’But I know that I love you so’’ line. Bonzo is all across the tympani right though to the final flurry on the gong.

Hear It: The Song Remains The Same Soundtrack (Swan Song)

No Quarter (Live Madison Square Garden 1973)

Clock the percussive perfection: From 9.01 as Bonzo plays behind Jimmy’s wah wah solo displaying a hi hat syncopation favoured by the likes of 70’s funkateers Sly Stone and Tower of Power

Hear It: The Song Remains The Same Soundtrack (Swan Song)

The Ocean (Live Madison Square Garden 1973)

* Totally uplifting. This is mid period Zep in all it’s unchained unabashed carnal glory. Via the DVD we can vividly see Page playing not only to an ocean but right off the drummer’s cues and shouts. Absolutely joyous.

Hear It: The Song Remains The Same Soundtrack  2007 reissue (Swan Song)

Kashmir (Demo 1973)

* Heard in it’s purest form – no overdubs, no vocals – just Page, Jones and Bonham driving the riff on and on.

Hear It: Brutal Artistry (Midas Touch bootleg)

Everybody Makes It Through (In The Light) Early Version/In Transit) (1974) 

A totally different work in progress arrangement with John Paul Jones’ Elizabethan harpsichord keyboard sequence being later replaced by the drone links.  Very much a Headley Grange mix with live drumming. Some elements of this version were retained for the re make  –notably Bonzo’s drum parts and Jimmy’s guitar melody.

Clock the percussive perfection: The closing moments from 5.42 to 6.29  with John Bonham’s relentless drum fills are some of the very best applied to any Led Zeppelin track.

Hear It: Physical Graffiti Reissue Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic)

The Wanton Song (1974)

* Classic machete Zep. Again it’s John Henry steadying the ship as Page’s angular riffs take hold. It’s that rock steady beat that keeps it all in line.

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

In My Time Of Dying (1974)

* Perhaps their most intense and brutal studio performance – and it’s Bonzo constantly underpinning it all.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 7.12 and those four military barrages of power shared by Bonham and Page before Robert comes in with the line ‘’And I see it in the streets’’

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

Trampled Underfoot (1974)

* Journalist Lisa Robinson commented at the time ’’It sounds like The Beatles battled the Stones in a parking lot, and Led Zeppelin won.’’ Yet another example of their diversity.

John Bonham said: ‘’When we first ran through it John Paul and Jimmy started off the riff and we thought it was a bit souly for us. Then we changed it about a bit. It’s great for me – a great rhythm for a drummer. It’s just at the right pace and you can do a lot of frills.’’

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

Kashmir (1974)

* Now in it’s full splendour and yet another masterful Bonham contribution. There’s no doubt that the economy in his playing gave the song it’s vastness.

Robert Plant said: ‘’A lot of Kashmir was done to Bonzo. He was a real thrifty player. It was often what he didn’t do that made it work.’’

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

Sick Again(1974)

Another one he relentlessly drives alone from beginning to end.  The swing remains the same…does it ever…

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

Over The Hills And Far Away (Live Earls Court 1975)

* Always a live favourite – the studio version was merely the starting point for this particular tangent within the framework.

Clock the percussive perfection: From Plant’s shout of ‘’Acapulco gold’’ at 2.35 as Bonzo drives the rhythmic experiments of Page’s solo with a two hit snare run not dissimilar to that employed on Candy Store Rock

Hear It: To Be A Rock And Not To Roll (Watch Tower bootleg)

In My Time Of Dying (Live Earls Court 1975)

* The brutality of the studio version carries though to the live performance and as can be seen in close up on the DVD. Bonzo’s bass kick was all important here.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Music Video)

Bron Yr Aur Stomp (Live Earls Court 1975)

* The good vibes of the time perfectly encapsulated. Bonzo’s the star as he leads them on a merry dance, contributing backing vocals and even castanets.

John Bonham said: ‘’I enjoyed those concerts. I thought they were the best shows we‘ve ever put on in England. I thought the video screen was really worth doing. You could get close ups you would never be able to see normally at a concert’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Home Vision)

Achilles Last Stand (1975)

* The chemistry of all four perfectly in sync to pull off perhaps their most inventive composition.

Clock the percussive perfection: So many to choose from – how about 1.17 and the first fill ,then again at 2.29 and another burst of power, or there’s the point at 4.08 when the first machine gun rally with Page kicks in.

Hear It: Presence (Swan Song)

Royal Orleans (1975)

* Bonzo cleverly plays against the riff with a funky edge on another of his co compositions.

Clock the percussive perfection: 1.56 and the interjection of bongos with the main drumming. A deft touch.

Hear It: Presence (Swan Song)

Hots On For Nowhere (1975)

* As Charles Shaar Murray noted, what the Glenn Miller orchestra would have sounded like had they been a murderously heavy four piece rock band. This one swings along with some incredible fills.

Clock the percussive perfection. At 4.01 through to the finish as he clatters around the spiralling Page runs.

Hear It: Presence (Swan Song)

10 Ribs & All/Carrot Pod Pod” (Reference Mix) (1975)

So Jonesy did take the piano out of the flight case for the Munich recordings – it’s emergence on the 2015 reissue throws a new light on what had previously thought to be an  18 day frenzy of guitar, bass and drums arrangements.

Mournful, forlorn and reflective, it creates a beautiful atmosphere. Jimmy drifts in at 2mins 39 with some minor descending electric strumming, quite possibly courtesy of the Telecaster B bender. Behind all that there’s an acoustic guitar – all very autumnal and Ten Years Gone- ish. Then John Bonham enters at 3 mins 02 and like Jimmy says, it will make you smile – it might even make you cry. It all leads on to something of a crescendo in an All My Love outro tempo.

Clock the percussive perfection: The aforementioned entry at 3.01 -so poignant – the three of them instrumentally coming together in perfect harmony.

Hear It: Presence  Reissue Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic)

Bonzo’s Montreux (1976)

* Enter the John Bonham orchestra. Bonzo had long harboured a plan for a dramatic new solo piece and the period in tax exile gave him the opportunity to experiment in Mountain Studios. The result – another percussive landmark.

Hear It: Coda (Swan Song)

The Song Remains The Same (Live LA Forum 1977)

* Despite all the off stage lunacy surrounding them now, Bonzo came through when it mattered. It certainly mattered any time they played Los Angeles and this opening night in LA was a triumph.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 1.25 to 1.36 a ten second torrent of furious snare attack as the song builds.

Hear It: Listen To This Eddie (Empress Valley bootleg)

Over The Top/Moby Dick (Live LA Forum 1977)

* The last hurrah for the long drum solo. On the ‘77 tour the opening riff preceding the solo was cribbed from Out On The Tiles.

Hear It: Listen To This Eddie (Empress Valley bootleg)

Keep Your Hands On The Wheel – Roy Wood (1978)

* With Zep off the road there was ample time for extra curricular work. Helping out fellow Brummie rocker Roy Wood, he brings that huge Bonham sound to a melodic stomper from the Wizard man

Clock the percussive perfection: From 2.42 to 3.03 with Bonzo reprising the mighty snare roll of Whole Lotta Love as they switch back to the main chorus.

Hear It: Roy Wood On The Road Again (Warners)/The Bonham Sessions (Hammer Jack bootleg)

Rockestra Theme – Paul McCartney & Wings (1978)

* A massive jam sharing the drum chores with Kenny Jones and Wings Steve Holly down at Abbey Road for the fab Macca’s rock orchestra – later to be reproduced on stage at the Hammersmith Odeon for what would be Bonzo’s last live performance in the UK. Footage of this studio session where he plays a black Billy Cobham flared style kit, can be seen on the Paul McCartney Wingspan DVD

Hear It: Wings – Back To The Egg (EMI)/The Bonham Sessions (Hammer Jack bootleg)

South Bound Suarez (1978)

Another masterclass of understated percussion as he underpins the shuffle of the song with pin point precision.

Clock the percussive perfection. At 3.27 as John’s snare, bass drum and hi hat combination ushers them into that delightful ”sha la la la” fade out

Hear It: In Through The Out Door (Swan Song)

Fool In The Rain (1978)

* On this outstanding Bonham showcase we can hear the fusion influence of jazz players such as Benard Purdie and Alphonse Mouzon.

Clock the percussive perfectionFirstly at 2.25 when the whistle blowing ushers in a Latin samba delight, then to the dexterity of his playing from 3.32 to 3.50 and the entry of Jimmy’s solo.

Robert Plant said: ‘’If you listen to Bonzo on that album -things like Fool In The Rain ,well he was weaving with as much dexterity and finesse as on the early days. One or two of us might have been struggling at that point but Bonzo still had it‘.’

Hear It: In Through The Out Door (Swan Song)

Wearing And Tearing (1978)

* He’d mixed it with the punks down at the Roxy club in ‘77 so attacking this track with Rat Scabies like vigour was chicken feed. Fast and loose and then some…Punk rock? Never ‘eard of it…

Hear It: Coda (1978)

Sick Again (Live Knebworth 1979)

* As mentioned above, Knebworth was an absolute triumph for Bonzo -his playing throughout was exemplary. One of the surprise highlights of the set was this  stand alone version of Sick Again – and he is just phenomenal all the way.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 3.44 and onwards as he puts the metallic kit through it’s paces and whips up a storm right through to the stop gap ending at 5.07

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Home Vision)

In The Evening (Live Knebworth 1979)

*More magnificence as Bonzo builds the drama with that phased tympani intro.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 7.10 onwards as he compliments Plant’s pleading and Page’s Stratocaster strut with a tribal tom tom assault.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Home Vision)

Whole Lotta Love (Live Knebworth 1979)

* The finale – a stripped down remodel with added spice and a new middle section that gave the song a new lease of life.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 2.16 where Page kicks in the new riff and Bonzo supplements it with a solid beat.

Hear it: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Home Vision)

Nobody’s Fault But Mine (Live Cologne 1980)

* The 1980 Over Europe tour brought with it a clear sense of  rejuvenation. John attacked this latter day favourite with all the verve and bluster of their first Europe trek nearly eleven years earlier.

Hear It: A Close Shave bootleg (Condor)

Whole Lotta Love (Live Munich 1980)

* With Simon Kirke guesting, Munich witnessed the rare sight of two drummers jamming it out for what would be the penultimate delivery of the classic anthem

Simon Kirke said: ”I remember we were in his hotel room literally with our hands on our knees just getting the rhythm. It was a wonderful experience to be on stage with Zeppelin.’’

Hear It: Munich 1980 (Tarantura bootleg)

Kashmir (Live Berlin 1980)

* Perhaps the best received number on the tour – rightfully taking it’s place at the latter end of the set.

Clock the percussive perfection: At around 7.12 as Bonzo paves the way home with a serious of phased drum fills each one a little more frenzied as they reach the climax.

‘’John Bonham on drums….’’

They did not know it but Robert Plant had just made the last introduction to his life long friend and integral band mate.

Hear It: Last Stand (Toasted Condor bootleg)

Stairway To Heaven (Live in Berlin 1980)

* And finally…

An extraordinary performance. Page’s solo on this last ever Led Zeppelin delivery meandered to take the track to nearly fifteen minutes in duration. Bonzo’s task was to intrusively follow the guitarist lead which he does with deft skill.

The camaraderie of recent weeks seemed to will them on to keep the flame burning for as long as they could on this final night.

A little over 80 days later Led Zeppelin were no more

Robert Plant said: ‘’The band didn’t exist the moment Bonzo had gone to me.”

Hear It : Last Stand (Toasted Condor bootleg)

So there you’ve it – 75 vivid examples of the John Bonham drum craft – play them today and remember him this way…

Happy 75th Birthday John Bonham…

John Bonham 75 at 75 listing compiled by Dave Lewis


LZ News:

Led Zeppelin News Update:

Here’s the latest round up from LZ News:

Led Zeppelin

Previously unseen footage of Dallas 1975 surfaces

Two new sources of previously unseen footage of Led Zeppelin performing in Dallas, Texas on March 4, 1975 surfaced online this week. The videos were posted on YouTube by Mark McFall in collaboration with Bootledz.com and LedZepFilm.

Jimmy Page

Kenneth Anger died aged 96

Filmmaker Kenneth Anger, known to Led Zeppelin fans as the director of the film “Lucifer Rising” which Jimmy Page created a soundtrack for, died on May 11 aged 96. Page fell out with Anger before his music could be used in the film, however, and the soundtrack was only officially released by Page through his website in 2012.

Anger attempted to screen his film using Page’s soundtrack in Los Angeles on April 17, 2014 but it was claimed at the time that lawyers acting for Page blocked the screening from happening.

Jimmy Page did not attend Bruce Springsteen’s May 21 show in Rome, Italy, contrary to reports including one shared by us here at LedZepNews which we have since deleted. Celebrity newsletter Popbitch reported this week that Page was spotted at the show, but the report was untrue and Page wasn’t there. It seems that this video caused people to believe Page was there.

Robert Plant

Robert Plant looks set to perform with James Burton next weekend

Is Robert Plant due to appear as a surprise guest at James Burton’s one-night-only performance in London on June 4? We spotted that the opening act for the concert let slip that Plant is due to perform there. Plant is already back in the UK during his tour break (more on that below) and his links to Burton go far back. We pieced together the clues here.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss continued their tour before taking a break

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss continued their US and Canada tour but are now on a quick break from the busy schedule until they resume playing live together in Las Vegas on June 14.

MAY 20, 2023

May 15 – Wilmington, North Carolina

Rich Woman

Quattro (World Drifts In)

Fortune Teller

The Price of Love

Rock and Roll

Please Read the Letter

High and Lonesome

Last Kind Words Blues

You Led Me to the Wrong

Trouble With My Lover

In the Mood

Can’t Let Go

The Battle of Evermore

When the Levee Breaks

— Encore —

Leave My Woman Alone

Gone Gone Gone

May 17 – Portsmouth, Virginia

Rich Woman

Quattro (World Drifts In)

Fortune Teller

The Price of Love

Rock and Roll

Please Read the Letter

High and Lonesome

Last Kind Words Blues

You Led Me to the Wrong

Trouble With My Lover

In the Mood / Matty Groves

Can’t Let Go

The Battle of Evermore

When the Levee Breaks

— Encore —

Leave My Woman Alone

Gone Gone Gone

May 18 – Charlottesville, Virginia

Rich Woman

Quattro (World Drifts In)

Fortune Teller

The Price of Love

Rock and Roll

Please Read the Letter

High and Lonesome

Last Kind Words Blues

You Led Me to the Wrong

Trouble With My Lover

In the Mood / Matty Groves

Can’t Let Go

The Battle of Evermore

When the Levee Breaks

Leave My Woman Alone

Gone Gone Gone

Rig Rundown

Robert Plant attends Jools Holland show in the UK

Robert Plant attended Jools Holland’s show in Malvern in the UK on May 26. He was photographed backstage at the venue with musician Isabella Coulstock who is on tour with Holland.

Upcoming events:

2023 – The second Band Of Joy album titled “Band Of Joy Volume 2” will be released and an expanded edition of the Honeydrippers album “The Honeydrippers: Volume One” will be released.

 

June 4 – Robert Plant could appear at James Burton’s concert in London.

 

June 7 – An advance screening of “Squaring The Circle (The Story Of Hipgnosis)” which features interviews with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant will be held in New York.

 

June 8 – An advance screening of “Squaring The Circle (The Story Of Hipgnosis)” which features interviews with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant will be held in New York.

 

June 9 – An advance screening of “Squaring The Circle (The Story Of Hipgnosis)” which features interviews with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant will be held in New York.

 

June 14 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

June 15 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Tucson, Arizona.

 

June 17 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Taos, New Mexico.

 

June 18 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Telluride, Colorado.

 

June 20 – Advance screenings of “Squaring The Circle (The Story Of Hipgnosis)” which features interviews with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant will take place across the US. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Bonner, Montana.

 

June 23 – “Squaring The Circle (The Story Of Hipgnosis)” which features interviews with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant will be released in the US. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform on Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival Tour in Somerset, Wisconsin.

 

June 24 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform on Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival Tour in East Troy, Wisconsin.

 

June 25 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform on Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival Tour in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

June 27 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Asheville, North Carolina.

 

June 28 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

 

June 29 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Vienna, Virginia.

 

July 1 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Bethel, New York.

 

July 2 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Lenox, Massachusetts.

 

July 3 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Portland, Maine.

 

July 5 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Toronto, Ontario.

 

July 7 – “Squaring The Circle (The Story Of Hipgnosis)” which features interviews with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant will have its UK premiere at Sundance London. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Montreal Jazz Festival in Montreal, Canada.

 

July 8 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa, Ontario.

 

July 14 – “Squaring The Circle (The Story Of Hipgnosis)” which features interviews with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant will be released in the UK.

 

August 24 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Portorož, Slovenia.

 

August 26 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy.

 

August 28 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Macerata, Italy.

 

August 30 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Taormina, Sicily, Italy.

 

September 1 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at the Locus Festival in Bari, Italy.

 

September 3 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Ostia, Italy.

 

September 5 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Milan, Italy.

 

September 6 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at the Vicenza in Festival in Vicenza, Italy.

 

September 9 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Ourense, Spain.

 

September 10 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Donostia / San Sebastián, Spain.

 

September 12 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Barce

Many thanks to James Cook

For all the latest Zep and related news check out the Led Zeppelin news website at:

http://ledzepnews.com/

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Celebration Days Led Zeppelin UK Convention – 31 years gone:

30 years ago this week, on Saturday May 23 and Sunday May 24 1992, Andy Adams and myself co presented Celebration Days – the first ever UK Led Zeppelin Convention.

I had been thinking about such an event since the publication a year earlier of my book Led Zeppelin A Celebration.

As had Andy Adams – a massive UK Zep Collector who had helped me considerably with the book’s research. In 1990 on one of my visits to Andy in Canvey Island we talked about the idea of a UK Convention. The yardstick had been created by the staging of a US event in 1988 – this had been organised at the Meadowlands Hotel in New Jersey in Washington DC by Brian Knapp -another major Zep memorabilia collector who I had been in touch with for some years. I was also aware of a David Bowie event BowiCon that had been staged in the US.

Andy was at the time publishing his excellent Zep mag Early Days and Latter Days and was a regular stall holder at Record Fairs. Initially he was approached to stage a mini Zep Convention within a major London Record Fair. We both felt this would not fulfill the potential for the type of event we wanted to stage.

So in the autumn of 1991, Andy and I formulated a plan for what we felt was needed to stage a Led Zeppelin Convention. We both agreed it required two days and we aimed for a central London venue and the following January we made a visit to London to look at perspective venues. After looking at three potential venues we selected the Royal National Hotel in Euston. By then we had also enlisted the help of some key players in the UK Zep community. We set up the Celebration Days Executive made up of Gary Foy, Mark Harrison Tim Davies, Rikky Rooksby, Alan Cousins, Howard Mylett and Luis Rey. In early January, Andy and I set up an initial meeting at the hotel which was attended by most of the above.

I have to say that Andy’s enthusiasm during this period was absolutely inspirational – his vision of what we could achieve was right in line with mine and it was an absolute pleasure working with him. There were many ups and downs ahead and difficult moments that we faced together – it certainly wasn’t all plain sailing but Andy’s affable stance and belief always got us through.

The hotel, with it’s various exhibition rooms looked ideal and we put a deposit down to secure it for three days in May – Friday May 22, Saturday May 23 and Sunday 24. The Friday would be a setting up day and a press launch at night – the Saturday and Sunday the actual Convention days. Co-incidentally, the dates matched the second weekend of Earls Court shows of 17 previously – we used this as a tag on the advertising posters with the original ‘Zeppelin May Daze’ Melody Maker headline. We also coined the tag line ‘The Celebration Continues..’

It’s incredible to think back in these social media days, that most of the organising of the Convention was done by letter or phone – in fact I spent a considerable amount of time on the phone during the months leading up to it.

We set about working out who could we get on board as a guest speakers. I already had a couple in mind and one of them was Mick Hinton – John Bonham’s drum roadie.

In mid-September 1991, I went on a book tour of radio stations to promote the A Celebration book . The last station we went to was BBC Radio Nottingham. To my surprise, John Bonham’s legendary roadie Mick Hinton was at the station. He had heard a trailer for the show and as he lived locally, decided to come and meet me. I had not seen or heard from him since about 1981 when I saw him in the Swan Song office.

We did the interview together and afterwards, I told him of a plan I had to stage a Led Zeppelin Convention in London and invited him to be a guest speaker.

In February 1992 when I went to interview him for  inclusion in the then in progress TBL 7. By then I had decided to use the Convention platform to bring back the TBL magazine – yes issue 7 was going to appear after an eleven year absence.

I based much of the content on it being an update to the A Celebration book. Reaction to the book had been very encouraging. I had a lot of correspondence about the text and it was evident that more information was surfacing about a variety of topics I had presented in the book. So began the task to update each chapter with the additional material I had now amassed. It was this text that formed the bulk of the pages that would evolve during early 1992 as TBL issue 7.

The updated A Celebration chapter text for issue 7 was complemented by a couple of key interviews. One was with the aforementioned Mick. I travelled to Nottingham in Februarys to interview him. During my time with him a fair few cans of Tenants extra strong lager went down during that interview. So much so, that on the way back I slept though the Bedford stop and ended up in London!

I have to say though, that Mr Hinton gave very good copy – his interview was most illuminating and set the tone for many subsequent interviews I would conduct for the TBL magazine.

Mick had also put me back in touch with Phil Carlo – Phil had been road manager for Bad Company and had worked on Zep’s over Europe tour in 1980 where I first met him. He later worked with Jimmy in The Firm and Outrider era. I interviewed Phil on the phone in a lunch break at the Our Price record shop I managed – not the first or final instance of me using the shop as an additional TBL hub! Phil also gave an excellent interview and Andy and I also arranged for him to be another guest speaker at the LZ Convention. By and large, that arrangement worked well.

Mick proved to be a very colourful character at the Convention and went down a storm at the Guest Speaker forum we staged on the Saturday afternoon. However, he was very difficult to deal with – without going into detail (it will all be in the memoirs!), he did cause us some considerable stress with some very unreasonable demands. I can laugh about it now ( though I did anything but on the Saturday morning of the event when he was being particularly aggressive) and in a lot of ways, he did bring the excessive on the road aspect of Zep right to the forefront of the Convention – there’s no doubt a lot of fans found him wonderfully entertaining.

Less controversial, though equally as enlightening were the additions of Melody Maker writers Chris Welch and Chris Charlesworth as guest speakers.

Andy did a great job in co-ordinating the stall holders and we had Brian Knapp and Rick Barrett over from the States – both their stalls were a magnet for fans with a host of rare items on offer. Bob Walker publisher of the Hot Wacks and publications also came over as did author Robert Godwin.

Other stalls included Mark Archer with his excellent UK Zep mag Wearing And Tearing , Andy’s Early Days and Latter Days mag, the TBL stall selling the newly published issue 7, Luis Rey selling his Led Zeppelin Live book, Howard Mylett who had just self published a new Zep photo book From the Archives,  Tim Tirelli’s Oh Jimmy fanzine, Omnibus Press with a selection of their Zep titles including my A Celebration book , Diane Bettle’s Nirvana Robert Plant fanzine  Richard MacKay’s Yardbirds World, Pink Floyd’s The Amazing Pudding mag and the late Mick Burnett’s Spirit Of Rush mag.

We launched the event at the Victoria Record Fair in March and an advert in Record Collector, initial ticket sales were brisk. It was evident we were attracting fans from around the globe and it was all getting very exciting.

I did keep all the respective management of the former members up to date with what we were doing. I was also in touch with Peter Grant on the phone and there was a possibility that he would make an appearance at some point. In the end this fell through – however he did agree to an interview with me, which took place at his Eastbourne home the next year.

We had some great media support from the likes of Kerrang, Q plus radio coverage on LBC and a fair few other stations.

There was also an official programme written and compiled by Andy and myself and designed and printed by Chris Loydall. I also managed to get the legendary DJ and big Zep supporter Alan Freeman – yes old Fluff himself, to write the intro. He actually rang our house the night before the event to check everything was going well -I was already in London so the good lady Janet answered the phone and we still laugh about how Fluff chatted in his usual over the top manner introducing himself with the classic ”Hello M’Darling” line.

On the merchandising front, we also decided to have a souvenir T shirt which Tim Davies helped design. A bold design white on back – it looked great though we did over order somewhat. After the Convention a fair few lined my loft though eventually we sold them all – notably in Belfast at Simply Led’s 30th anniversary concert at the Ulster Hall. Over the Convention weekend two delightful volunteers helped us man the stall.

It’s worth noting that after some fallow years in the 1980s, Led Zep’s stock at the time was well on the increase. This had been considerably boosted by the 1990 Remasters releases. It wasn’t quite like the level it is now but we knew they were popular enough to create a lot of interest. We were quietly confident we would present something that did justice to their legacy. Andy and I did consider having a tribute band though there were was not many on the circuit then. The issue of a live attraction was duly fulfilled when Deborah Bonham’s management got in touch to say her and her band would love to appear.

This proved to be a crucial addition to the weekend as it brought with it a real credibility to the event. The fact that Deb bought a host of family members along too gave the two days a real Bonham aura – more on that later.

One thing we really wanted to showcase was rare Led Zep film footage. At considerable expense, Andy and I hired a huge screen – all worth it as the rolling footage we showed over the weekend was a huge hit with attendees.

We also premiered some then unseen footage notably the then little seen Tous En Scene 1969 TV appearance and the clip of Jimmy Page performing White Summer in 1970 on the Julie Felix BBC TV show.

Of course these days clips such as these are readily viewed at the click of a YouTube link online, back then they were considered the holy grail amongst fans. We also had a very good cut of the Knebworth August 11 footage,some amazing footage of Jimmy Page performing at the ARMS concert at Cow Palace in 1983 and plenty of cine film – all of which proved to be hugely popular over the two days.

We also decided to stage something of a Zep museum in one of the rooms and Andy and I brought a bulk of our memorabilia to put on show . Gary hired a van to take my stuff down and on the Thursday night and Andy and his mate Laurence plus Gary and myself with help from one or two others set it all up finally finishing around 3am. We also had items donated by Brian Knapp and a few others including a shirt Jimmy wore on the Over Europe 1980 tour and various tour jackets and T.shirts.

I am still immensely proud of how that museum looked – years before any V and A Pink Floyd type exhibition existed, we created something really special in that room as can be seen via the pics. Perhaps naively we did not have any security in the room but happily not a single thing went missing. A testament to the all round peace and love vibe of the weekend.

The Friday launch night went very well with Deb giving a moving speech and a host of radio and TV media types in attendance. Gary Foy will tell the tale oh how a rather lively Mick H threw up behind one of the stalls during the night but hey – it was in the name of the hammer of the gods! We also had the rock DJ’s the late Chris Tetley from Piccadilly Radio and Brian Pithers from Radio 210 to help us out on the PA and with the announcements. An MTV film crew turned up and filmed various interviews for a news piece they ran. There’s some interview clips from this filming on the YouTube clips below.

Looking back, the time and effort to organise everything was just vast – and this was a time where I was managing the Our Price Record shop in Bedford working a good 50 hours a week and at home we had the baby Sam not quite two years old. Somehow, I conjured up the relentless energy, passion and drive to make Celebration Days happen – as did Andy and a few others involved notably Gary Foy. Oh, and I wrote and edited a new TBL magazine to be on sale for May. Mind you I was only 35 years old then!

As for the two days – Saturday was a bit of a blur for me -there was so much to contend with and we were often making snap decisions about things that needed to happen. The attendance was very good with about a 1,000 through the doors. The Guest Speaker forum went down really well – Mick Hinton emotionally declaring ”The spirit of John is here today…Bonzo is here…” This had the audience totally captivated.

One thing that was clearly evident was the shared love and passion so many people from all walks of life had for this great band. Celebration Days was the first time I witnessed first hand, the communal spirit to be had amongst like minded enthusiasts – it was not to be the last. It was the point where I realised we did not have to stay confined in our respective Zep dens, getting out and meeting fellow fans and talking about this great passion of ours could make for a great social occasion and as it was usually in a pub, well that made it even better!

Debbie and her band played a great upbeat set on Saturday night and we also had live entertainment from The Force. This was a duo of a guitarist and drummer aged all of 14  performing Zep numbers and they went down a storm – the guitarist Graham Clews was talented beyond his years – I would imagine he is still playing somewhere. His Dad Roger was also a great support over the weekend. Quick update on Graham – he has been in touch after reading this and is indeed still playing and is based around the Birmingham area. Sadly his Dad Roger passed away last year.

Another popular attraction was the staging of an Ultimate Zep Quiz formulated by Mark Harrison and Phil Tattershall. The winner took home the rare 1969 hard backed US tour programme now worth quite a lot on the collectors market. Author and writer Colin Harper presented a ‘Folk Root of Jimmy Page’ forum.

I was absolutely exhausted by the evening and the drinks in the nearby bar (we dubbed it the Bron Yr Aur bar!) were much needed. I have to say Debbie was wonderfully supportive that night keeping Mick Hinton in check and assuring us we were all doing a fantastic job.

Sunday was calmer and more enjoyable for me  I did begin to relax and take it all in and spent time with the good lady Janet who had arrived the previous day alongside other friends who had turned up to support the event

Friends -oh yes, track two side one of Led Zep III says it all – like I said, the camaraderie amongst those in attendance was simply joyous. Leading on from that, there’s no doubt many lasting friendships were cemented at that first UK Convention.

I personally met so many people over that weekend who I have kept in touch ever since – I know there will be names I’ve missed here but they included Mark Harrison, Phil Tattershall, Julian Walker, Billy Fletcher and Alison Fletcher , Mark Archer, Graham Glover, Dave Fox, Dave Marsh, Nick Carruthers, Chris Loydall, Peter Mulder, Jan  Zondag, Richard Mackay, John Munro, Liz Hames, Robert Godwin, Diane Bettle, Susan Hedrick, Henry Nicholls, David Clayton,  Alan Cousins, Steve  Way and Peter Chow – to name but a few.

From America, I met Brian Knapp, Rick Barrett, Larry Bergmann jr, Keith Dubrovin, Bonnie Sturgess ,Susan and the late base Hedrick, Jay O Toole and the late Bob Walker.

Working closely with Gary Foy over that weekend also created a real bond between us that 25 years on, shows no sign of waning.

Most of the photos here were taken by Jan and Peter Mulder-Zondag. Back in 1992 they were celebrating their recent marriage and chose to honeymoon in the UK taking in the Convention and many Zep landmarks – so it’s a happy 25tth anniversary to them!

Another aspect of the Convention was the raising of money for charity – this we did via an auction superbly presented by Alan Cousins (black and white pic below via Peter Chow). Amongst the items that went for  song was an ordinal felt hat Bonzo wore which if I recall Rick Barrett snapped up. All all proceeds went  to the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Centre. A presentation was made to the charity’s Willie Robertson to Andy and myself on the Sunday afternoon.

Talking of which…the event closed with a final set from the Deborah Bonham Band. With Mum Joan and Mick’s son James watching from the side, John’s daughter Zoe guesting on stage and brother Mick on congas this was a real Bonham family affair. When Debbie performed The Old Hyde Farm, the song about the place John had lived at – well what can I say…

Something very spiritual happened in that room – which is quite hard to explain unless you were there. There was not a dry eye amongst us – it was truly one of the most emotional music performances I’ve ever witnessed – 25 years on Deb feels exactly the same as she explained recently when I did an interview with her for TBL.  I asked her for her memories of that weekend all of 25 years ago:

”Oh my goodness – where has that gone? Oh gosh, If I think back too much, I well up a bit because something special happened in that room when we played on the Sunday afternoon. Something really special happened and I would like to think that it was the spirt of my brother John. There was something incredibly moving that occurred then. Every single person who was in that room felt it, including my late brother Michael , Zoe, my Mum, Pete – we all left with an incredible feeling.

I look back and I see the photos and Michael on conga drums – he didn’t  know I was going to do that do you remember? We just set the congas up and then called him up on stage. It was just an incredible occasion to be amongst so many fans – there was this real spirit of Led Zeppelin being so alive again.” 

Debbie’s set ended wth rousing versions of You Shook Me (with Zoe on harmonica) Communication Breakdown and Rock And Roll – the latter had Mick Bonham leading the ”lonely lonely, lonely’ finale. Deb and all her family were up onstage to thank everybody and I remember she took a pic of all the crowd.

When it was time to finally wind down, the feeling was absolutely euphoric. There was lot’s of backslapping, man hugs and hand shakes as we all really felt we had achieved something.  The camaraderie amongst fans throughout the weekend is what really made it so incredible.

After that amazing Sunday, we eventually packed everything up. this took into the early hours – Gary, Janet and I  and a few others who helped us, all slept underneath the tables. We finally returned to Bedford on the Bank Holiday Monday. It had been a simply exhilarating weekend with many highs and some lows – but overall, I felt a deep sense of fulfilment in what we had achieved.

The following week’s Kerrang issue had a good report of the event – including a pic of me with members of Little Angels. Larry Bergmann did a great piece for the US Zoso Zep mag as did Mark Archer in his Wearing and Tearing mag. I’ve just read Mark’s piece and had to laugh when he noted a pint at the hotel bar was just £1.80!

Financially it was all a bit of a disaster and Andy and I we were both well out of pocket. On a business level, we were somewhat naïve in some of the decisions we took- not least putting up dear old Mick H for the weekend in the hotel. We had a bill for his phone calls that topped £50, though I’m not sure we ever paid it! Of course we were certainly not in it for a pay day but it would have been nice to break even or somewhere near. We did have a plan to make available a Convention video to sell but that idea fell through.

Above everything, what really mattered was that we had created something special and the reaction we had more than confirmed that.

A few days after the Convention, Debbie wrote a very moving thank you note to us on behalf of the Bonham family..

”The Convention was the best! You, Andy and Gary and many others who dedicated so much time to this made a lot of people very happy. For us it seemed that for 48 hours John was alive again I can’t tell you how proud it made my mother and the rest of the family feel For us John has never gone but for me to make a tribute to acknowledge he was the best something I never got to tell him when he was alive was a sheer honour. it has been a pleasure being with and working with such lovely people and to all the many fans that were there who have supported and followed Led Zeppelin to the end..not that there will ever be one, 

US attendee and long time TBL contributor in his piece for Zoso magazine summarised it as follows:

”Celebration Days turned out to be a celebration of John Bonham. An event that began with very high hopes and ended in an emotional family celebration that far exceeded anything one could have hoped for or imagined as the proceedings got underway.

The feeling of family unity and sport exemplified by the Bonham’s touched everyone who was in attendance. meeting the Bonham family and seeing their pride and happiness brought me a little closer to the while thing. And it made me even prouder to call myself a Led Zeppelin fan.

 

Dave and Andy congratulations. You got it right. May 22,23 and 24 truly were Celebration Days. I shall never forget them”

Those words from Deb and Larry really did make it all worthwhile.

Once I was back in the groove at work, I realised that organising this event had taken it’s toll and I needed a bit of a break from it all. In July we had a family holiday in Norfolk with Janet’s Mum and Dad . That break however proved to be short lived because by the autumn, I was planning the next TBL magazine and the introduction of a subscription based TBL offer. 1993 would prove to be full on with the release of the excellent Coverdale Page album, Robert’s superb Fate Of Nations album and tour plus the release of the Zep Boxed Set 2. Ahead, was the reuniting of Jimmy and Robert for the Unledded film and tour – it’s never really stopped since!

In early 1994, Andy informed me he was going to run another Convention at the same venue over two days in May. With a heavy workload of both my job and TBL, I decided not to co- organise it this time. I was involved in the organising alongside an organising party that included Janet Smith, Simon Pallett, Paul Sheppard, Dave Fox, Phil Tattershall and Alan Cousins. I was pretty full on with it all going into the final weeks. Andy did a great job organising it and ‘Dancing Days’ as it was dubbed was another splendid two days. Debbie and Mick Bonham came along again to perform and Jason also made an appearance. In some ways, I enjoyed myself more at this one with not being so full on with the organising and being much freer over the two days.

After that, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Andy ran a fair few Anniversary Daze one day events at the Eastern Monk pub in the centre of London aided by Eddie Edwards and Julian Walker -all very enjoyable and in 2005 Graeme Hutchinson and Gary Davies staged the excellent Zep Express Convention at the Roadmender venue in Northampton. There were also memorable Zep fan gathering events in Crewe, Stourbridge and Liverpool.

As good as these gatherings were, there was something uniquely special about that first UK Convention of 25 years ago.

Could it be done again? That’s something I’ve often been asked – I think a two day event would be very ambitious. A one day event? Well yes, that could happen. I’m not sure that I have the time to lead it (I’m 60 you know!) but I would certainly be happy to a part of it.

Over that weekend back in 1992, it felt like we were in unchartered waters – there had never been a coming together of like minded fans quite like this before and certainly not in the UK. I look back on it with immense pride –  I know Andy does too and looking at the photos always brings a smile.

They were the first Celebration Days – and very precious ones indeed with lasting memories and friendships. The celebration really did continue.

Sadly, some of those who were celebrating with us on that glorious weekend back in May 1992 are now departed…

I’d therefore like to dedicate this piece to dear Andy….and Howard Mylett, Mick Hinton, Bob Walker, Base Hedrick, Paul Kelvie, Mick Burnett, Chris Tetley, Roger Clews and Joan and Michael Bonham.

Dave Lewis – May 31, 2023

It was 31 years ago today – Andy Adams and Dave Lewis present Celebration Days – The Led Zeppelin UK Convention
31 years ago today on Saturday May 23,1992 the first ever Led Zeppelin UK Convention got underway at at the Royal National Hotel. Staged over two days by the late much missed Andy Adams and myself, it was a simply incredible weekend as we brought together Led Zep fans from all over the globe to revel in the glory of the band we love over two amazing celebration days.
We both had wonderful vivid memories of all this and in recent years whenever I spoke to Andy our minds and thoughts would inevitably drift back to that first ever Zep Convention that we pulled off against some considerable odds. We did actually plan on marking the event in some way – perhaps a one day event somewhere on the 30th anniversary but very sadly Andy’s passing last August took that dream away.
I and many others will be thinking back to the celebration days of May 23 and 24 1992 today and thinking of dear Andy who we all miss so very much.
Five years ago on the 25th anniversary I asked Andy to contribute his thoughts for a piece I did for the TBL magazine. Here are Andy’s now very poignant words on the event written back in 2017…

Andy’s words.. .

CELEBRATION DAYS

25 years. It seems a moment ago, yet also a lifetime. As this particular anniversary of that special anniversary is upon us, so many memories and moments come into my mind.

The kernel of the idea became serious in 1991. After deciding against an offer from Phil of P & J Fairs to hold an ‘event’ in a side room at his London Victoria Record Fair, it was obvious something much bigger and dare I say it grander. It was at that point I spoke to Dave and we hatched our plans. The Royal National was the third such venue to be looked at, and despite being way over what budget we were originally thinking, was the one. We knew straight away.

As we hit 1992, everything became more frenzied, and really was a blur. After getting our initial framework and some incredible feedback and offers of help from so many of our friends in the Zeppelin ‘community’, we launched in March with a half page advert in Record Collector, mailshots and a stand at the Victoria Record Fair where ticket sales began. From then on it was all systems go, we knew there was no turning back!

And now I just think of those magical moments. Collecting some incredible vinyl and memorabilia for our ‘museum’ room. We arrived two days before and began the set up. Watching the museum take shape was mind boggling, seeing all these wonderful items together was a bit surreal – Jimmy’s Over Europe 80 black shirt, The Final option, 1st album US White Label, UK 7” promo’s, acetates, a wall of live CD’s, Tour Programmes, Physical Graffiti alternative artwork, pressings from Turkey, Angola, eight tracks, T Shirts…… The road goes ever on!

I’ll always remember my pride in fans young and old, new and ‘vintage’ staring in wonder as they wandered through, suddenly stopping and focusing on something that they’d never seen. Never forget shooting the breeze on the Friday with a very excited Howard Mylett. They’re the moments that made it unique.

We launched to the media on Friday, and stunned one and all with the recently surfaced film of Paris ’69 and our own ‘trump card’ the Julie Felix Show BBC clip. It set the tone perfectly and I remember feeling a mixture of excitement, exhaustion (we’d all been up for over 60 hurs by then!) and joy.

But the ‘things’ aren’t the real memories for me. It’s the fans. Us. It was – as Robert said back in ’79 – ‘a communion with the English folk’, and much more besides. Meeting friends old and new, people who were just names on an envelope or voices over the phone. The Zeppelin Community indeed.

We had wonderful guest speakers, Mick Hinton was a character and more than a handful. Chris Charlesworth was a gentleman, and wonderfully erudite too. Dear old Phil Tattershall and Mark Harrison devised a quiz ‘A Question of Zep’ for some light relief and gentle competition. Dave and Gary recreated the Jimmy-Robert twin neck/tambourine poster pose. Dardo! Peter & Jan. And perhaps most of all the Bonham family. Mick was a wonderful raconteur, regaling tales of playing the whistle on Fool In The Rain and many ‘at home’ stories about John ‘our kid’ as he affectionately called him. Debbie and Zoe were lovely too, and so full of pride and as amazed at the atmosphere as we all were. Joan, John’s Mum was terrific, and again so proud. The moment when Joan watched  from the side of  the stage as Debbie sang ‘Old Hyde Farm’ to a packed house was electric.

There are so many more memories that keep jumping into my head as I write this. All of the friends, co-conspirators as Luis Rey would say, who helped so much and helped bring it all together. And all of the new friends we all made that are with us to this day, even those that are sadly no longer here. It was a beautiful time, almost a religious experience, and I’m so proud of everything Dave and I achieved 25 years ago, with MORE than a little help from our friends. Whatever has happened in the last 25 years and whatever happens over the next, there’ll always be a little piece of Celebration Days in my heart and mind.

Thank YOU ALL for making it happen

Andy Adams

May 23rd, 2017.

25 Years Gone

Final words 31 years on from me…
Rest in peace Andy…to have shared all this with you was a total joy – one of the times of my life and above everyone involved, it was you that really made it happen…
Dave Lewis – May  31 2023

Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – it was 56 years ago:

This week marks the 56th anniversary of The Beatles Sgt Pepper album – I’ve been playing it all week and it really does sound as fresh as ever.

Here’s some thoughts from myself and fellow long time TBL supporter and massive Beatles fan Paul Humbley that I ran to celebrate the 50th anniversary.

TBL Celebrates Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band  at 50: DL thoughts…

I’ve been aware of The Beatles album Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band for 50 years. Back in early June 1967 I was at a friends house playing Subutteo table football one of my big passions of the time. His older brother was holding an LP record as we called them back then. I had a quick look at it – I realized it was The Beatles – it’s colourful cover was certainly eye catching and the reverse had all the words to the songs printed on it.

After a flirtation with pop music when I was 7 and 8 I had moved on to football and my other passions included , Thunderbirds ,The Man From Uncle and James Bond.  did not hear the album then – but I was aware that it was something important.

A couple of years later in early 1969, music was back on my agenda big time led by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and many of the top 40 artists of the day -and later that year Led Zeppelin entered my radar. I first heard Sgt Pepper on a huge radiogram at a friends house in our street.

It sounded incredible.

Of course it also looked amazing with the elaborate front cover, the inner cut outs – the Sgt Pepper vinyl also looked very different  -it was one of the first records I noticed that had no banding of tracks -it all merged into one.

I was hooked.

When I started work in June 1972, Sgt Pepper was one of the first albums I bought. In 1978 I bought the limited edition picture disc version that was issued. In the 1980s I bought various Sgt Pepper bootlegs -as I wanted to hear as much as of The Beatles as I could from that period.

In August 1983, the good lady Janet and I attended The Beatles at Abbey Road show staged inside Abbey Road. This unique presentation featured various then unreleased Beatles outtakes including A Day In The Life -it was incredible exciting to be in the actual location where the actual album had taken shape.

On June 1, 1987, I purchased the CD version that was issued to mark the 20th anniversary – and in the Our Price  shop I managed in Bedford we really went to town with in store displays etc. It’s worth mentioning I had no CD player at the time but was planning on getting one which I finally did that Christmas.

The arrival of The Beatles catalogue on CD and particularly Sgt Pepper was a turning point in the mass acceptance of the CD as a serious and lasting music carrying format

In 1988 I was lucky enough to be in Abbey Road Studio number 2 again for the launch of Mark Lewishon’s groundbreaking Beatles Recording Sessions book. This was a log of every Beatles recording session which Mark compiled after having the luxury of hearing all the session tapes. Amongst many revelations it chronicled that the George Harrison track Only A Northern Song was recorded during the Sgt Pepper sessions and was once considered for the final track listing. It would eventually emerge on the Yellow Submarine film soundtrack.

I was back in Abbey Road in late 1993 for another book launch event -Mark Lewishon’s Complete Beatles Chronicle. Bizarrely, on the same day Jimmy Page and David Coverdale were in Studio 3 mixing the Coverdale -Page album.  I bumped into to David and chatted for a bit – Jimmy was busy in the studio – I told David I was here for a Beatles book launch. Years later when I spoke to Mark about this he informed me he had a request to show the book to Jimmy and David – a direct result of me informing the Coverdale man about it!

The 1995 release of  The Beatles Anthology  volume 2 offered a host of alternate mixes from the Sgt Pepper period. When I tell you I am the sort of guy that get’s rather excited when I hear John Lennon mumbling ”sugar plum fairy,sugar, plum fairy” as a count in to the Anthology 2 version of A Day In The Life you will realise I am relishing the prospect of dissecting the new Giles Martin produced remix along with the previously unheard work in progress versions of many of the tracks.

I recently acquired a bootleg CD that presents the actual broadcast of the BBC’s Light programme preview of Sgt Pepper broadcast on Saturday May 21. I was otherwise engaged on that day as a ten year old watching Spurs beat Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup Final.

Had I tuned in back then on that Saturday afternoon I would have heard the legendary DJ Kenny Everett interviewing Ringo, Paul and John about their new LP. Listening to it 53 years on the air of optimism and sheer wonderment of these new Beatles recordings is more than evident. It’s an amazing timepiece that captures the impact this album was having on DJ’s and fans alike.

For this album really was a game changer in so many respects. It was the first real complete album presentation with every song making its presence felt in sequence – and yes a concept album of sorts as The Beatles took on the persona of Sgt Pepper and his band.

There had of course been many an important album before it – not least The Beatles own catalogue and the likes of The Rolling Stones Aftermath, The Beach Boys Pet Sounds and Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde. All major musical statements but Sgt Pepper was something else.

Over the years , Sgt Pepper as had its critics. I vividly recall the noted journalist (and one of my journalist heroes) Charles Shaar Murray denouncing it in a retrospective review in the NME under the title ”Silly Charlie and the not so red hot Pepper’.

Some say Revolver has better songs, the sprawling White Album more scope and Abbey Road as being more polished. I myself have sited the White Album as their best album and my favourite – this new round of Pepper pandemonium might just challenge that.

Put simply, Sgt Pepper is The Beatles finest creation as a group. There’s a wealth of unified creativity running throughout the album that they never quite attained again.

I duly purchased the new remaster in Fopp on Saturday -the double vinyl set which has a second disc of outtakes.  This presents alternate version of the Sgt Pepper album in the same sequence as the original album – a Companion Disc if you please – and right in line with Jimmy Page’s concept with the Led Zeppelin reissues – Mr McCartney must have been eyeing those!

I have yet to have a really detailed listen but on initial plays the new remix sounds sound’s really sprightly with an improved instrument separation. There’s so much to admire on Sgt Pepper – the harmonies for instance, marvel at the vocal interplay on With A Little Help From My Friends and It’s Getting Better.

Along  the way there are so many things going on – from riding in newspaper taxis to undertaking ten somersaults on solid ground. Oh and there’s a certain poignancy that I am closer to 64 and ‘doing the garden digging the weeds’ than I was when I last listened to that sweet McCartney paean to old age.

It’s going to be an absolute delight to re-discover these sounds of the summer of 1967 that still resonate so effectively.

They’d love to turn you on –  and 50 years on, Sgt Peppers one and only Lonely Hearts Club Band show no signs of stopping – and a splendid time is always guaranteed.

Dave Lewis – May 29, 2017.

…………………

TBL Celebrates Sgt Pepper at 56: 

Following my piece on the remixed re-released Sgt Pepper album – here’s a very informative overview from long time TBL contributor and Beatles expert Paul Humbley -written at the time of the 50th anniversary.

Over to Paul…

Let me introduce to you, the act you’ve known for all these years. Discovering Sgt. Pepper.

Being born in August 1964, I was not quite three years old when ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ was released on June 1.1967.

So no, 50 years ago I wasn’t rushing to my local record shop to pick up a copy of the new Beatles album. However with parents who had wide and varied musical tastes – jazz, pop, musicals, singer song writers, in fact anything. I grew up in a home filled with music. That matched to an uncanny memory for music related facts – release dates of records, labels, catalogue numbers, all stored in my memory ready to be called off at the drop of a hat -really sad I know, but it does mean I have two distinct memories of listening to the radio back in 1967.

My first memory is hearing ‘Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear’ – Alan Price. The second is hearing ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’. No not by The Beatles, instead a cover by actor Bernard Cribbins. Of the two, the later song is the most significant. A cover of the Paul McCartney song featured on side 2, track 2 of ‘Sgt. Pepper’. This cover version never made the UK charts. However, according to the date printed on the label of the promotional copy of this Parlophone record. It was released the day after the Beatles original, June 2, 1967. Little did I know then, how important hearing this song would be in my life long musical journey?

My personal introduction to ‘Sgt. Pepper’ the album followed a similar path to how the album reached the public back in 1967. After six months of no new material, a lifetime in the 60’s pop scene. The Beatles issued a taster for the album in February. Although ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ / ‘Penny Lane’ where never included on ‘Pepper’, they were among the first songs recorded when sessions began in November 1966. Four months later the album appeared in June, The first album of new material to be released since Revolver 10 months earlier. In a world which demanded an artist release at least two albums and three singles in a 12 month period. This six month period of recording was unprecedented. In fact the media reported that the fab four were losing their magic and not able to come up with new songs. Little did they know what was in store?

I have been a Beatles fan since April 15, 1974, the date when the BBC premiered the animated feature ‘Yellow Submarine’ on UK television. By the time the film finished I was hooked and my collection was starting to be built from the records I could find in my parents collection. Over the next couple of years I collected together a few vinyl albums and singles and a number of cassette tapes recorded from albums borrowed from friends and relatives.

It was March 1976 when my induction into the psychedelic world of ‘Sgt, Pepper’ began. In February of that year The Beatles contract with EMI expired. EMI wasted no time in repacking and reissuing all 22 original Beatles singles in March, together with a new addition for the UK market, ‘Yesterday’. Within weeks all 23 singles had entered the UK Top 75 and for the first time I was able to purchase Beatles records while they featured high in the current singles chart.

My first selection was the aforementioned ‘Yesterday’. With the second being and a single containing two songs I had no recollection of previously hearing, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ / ‘Penny Lane’. Why did I make this choice? All these rereleased singles came in generic green picture sleeves. The only difference being, the rear sleeve image changed to reflect the ever evolving fashions the band adopted. The sleeve for ‘Strawberry Fields’ featured an image of the fab four sporting moustaches and John using a cine camera. For some reason this image intrigued me, as it was not a formal pose like the other featured images. Unbeknown to me at the time, I was purchasing the single almost 9 years to the day after its original release, give or take a few weeks.

Hearing the disc for the first time on Dad’s prized Fidelity UA5 music centre (the 3 in 1, turntable, cassette and stereo radio systems, which were the mp3 players of there day). I had one of those rare experiences when you discover a piece of music and it has an unforgettable effect on you. To this day when I hear John sing the opening lines ‘Let me take you down…’ it gives me goose bumps. What I was experiencing, was what record buyers had back on February 17,1967. This new direction in sound for The Beatles, was the first fruits of the bands extended recording sessions in EMI. Sessions which evolved into Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts club Band.

Back in 1967, ‘Pepper’ the album, followed ‘Strawberry Fields 4 months later, on June 1. Similarly for me 9 years later in 1976. My first encounter with ‘Pepper’ followed four months after I encountered ‘Strawberry Fields’, in July of the long hot summer of 1976.

Discovering The Beatles as I had in the mid 70’s, was great timing on my part. Since the official split in 1970, the solo Beatles were never far from the singles and album charts. Paul released his fifth album ‘Wings at the Speed of Sound’ in March 1976. Over the next few months the hit singles ‘Let’Em In’ and ‘Silly Love Songs’ would gain blanket coverage on UK radio and climb high in the charts. This resulted in my dad coming home from work in July 1976, with a copy of that new Wings album together with a Beatles album. Both loaned from a work colleague. That Beatles album was ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

It’s difficult for me to understand now, but it was the Wings album that I wanted to hear first. Within a few days both were recorded onto blank cassette tapes, Curry’s the electronics retailers own brand of C60. Maybe it was because the Wings album was new and my friends didn’t understand why I was obsessed with and old band from the 60’s. To eleven and twelve year old’s the Beatles having split six years ago, made them ancient. Or because within days I was away on holiday on the Isle of Wight with school mate Alan and his family. Whatever the reason ‘Pepper’ took a back seat for a few weeks.

Gradually over the coming weeks I started to pick up on the magic of ‘Sgt. Pepper’. Over the next couple of years that C60 cassette tape would be on constant rotation. I would however have to wait until Christmas day 1977 to receive my first vinyl copy.

It was then that I started to realise that my cassette copy sounded different to the vinyl record. Some songs sounded faster. Background noises audible on one, were not present on the other. Slowly as my Beatles knowledge grew, I worked out that what I had recorded was a mono copy of Pepper. While the vinyl pressing was stereo.

Over the last 40 years my Pepper collection has expanded far beyond the wildest dreams of the 12 year I was back in 1976. Multiple vinyl and CD pressings have been joined by reel to reel, cassette and 8 track tape formats. 20th anniversary box sets and audiophile pressings have also joined my hoard. Plus of course those under the counter albums and CD’s, featuring recording sessions and alternate mixes which have leaked out of EMI over time.

Fixing A Hole and Getting Better? – My view of the 50th Anniversary Reissues

For an obsessive collector like myself. Do the new 50th anniversary issues have anything to offer? The answer to that is a big YES. Since news broke at the start of the year, that the anniversary would be celebrated. It soon became apparent this was going to be a celebration of a Beatles album like no other.

With a selection of releases to please dedicated casual fans, die hard collectors, or young music fans wanting to understand what all the fuss is about. The 1CD, 2CD, 2LP and Deluxe 4CD, Blue Ray & DVD box set covers all bases.

The media focus has been on Giles Martin and his new stereo mix. As Beatle historians know the mono mix of ‘Pepper’ has always been considered the approved version, As George Martin spent approximately three weeks mixing the album for mono and during many of the mono mixing sessions either one, two, three of four Beatles were present. Compared to the stereo mix which was produced in a few days.

Unlike the stereo mixes George Martin created for earlier Beatles albums. The stereo separation used on the original 1967 mix was not the hard vocals on one channel and instruments on the other, particularly noticeable on the original stereo mixes of ‘Help’ and ‘Rubber Soul’. Over the years this primitive mixes came under a lot of flak. Indeed when the first Beatles CD’s were issued by EMI in 1987. George Martin remixed both of these albums, so that they had a stereo separation suited to modern ears. Indeed when listening to the placement of the instruments and vocals of the original 1967 ‘Sgt. Pepper’ stereo mix, the separation is very tame. With the majority of the vocals placed centrally.

When you compare both the original 1967 stereo and mono mixes. The mono sounds more powerful, with a denser sound. One thing however that both mixes have in common. Is due to the 4 track recording process used, and the constant bouncing down of one 4 track tape to another. Is that both suffer with a muddy sound on the instruments and backing vocals.

In order for me to assess Giles Martin’s 2017 stereo remix I reacquainted myself with the original mono mix via an original 1967 UK Parlophone vinyl pressing. Then I listened to the original stereo mix played from my 1977 pressing. From the pressing ID in the run out grooves it is clear that this copy is cut from the original Harry Moss master lacquerers. Harry being the EMI engineer who cut the majority of Beatles album masters. Then while listening to the new 2017 mix I A/B compared with a high resolution digital file of the 1982 Mobile Fidelity UHQR Stereo master and a similar file of the Nimbus Supercut pressing from 1984. I avoided the 2009 remasters as I have never been a fan. They are all that is wrong with too many digital remasters of classic albums. Too loud, with no subtlety and painful on the ears.

For me, the biggest revelation of the new Giles Martin Stereo mix, is that those layers of instruments and backing vocals come to life. By going back to the individual 4 track session tapes, Giles has created a mix which breathes new life in to the music. It’s like looking at an old master which had been restored. You see revealed the true colours of the painting which the artist had intended you to see. The sound of Ringo’s drums is now much clearer. The bass drum and cymbals shine through. You can hear him tap the drum skins with brushes during ‘When I’m Sixty Four. Back in 1999 Peter Cobbin assisted by Paul Hicks remastered the soundtrack of Yellow Submarine. The accompanying Yellow Submarine Songtrack album featured 4 songs from ‘Pepper’ and was universally praised for the quality of the remix work they had undertaken. Now18 years later, these mixes although good, still suffer from the muddy sound, which Giles Martin has now eliminated.

Many of the Beatles original stereo mixes don’t have the same power of the mono. With this new stereo mix Giles has successfully recreated the power of the mono mix in the stereo domain. The majority of new mix keeps all the elements, lead vocals, lead instruments, background vocals, and orchestrations in the centre of the stereo image. There is no extreme panning of sounds from left to right. Just a very clean, open, but powerful mix.

As with Ringo’s drumming, Paul’s bass guitar is a revelation. In the Anthology TV series / DVD. Paul McCartney explains that due to this new recording technique of layering sounds and bouncing down a full 4 track tape to another to create multi, multitrack recording as you would find in a modern studio. He had the opportunity to play melodic bass lines which complemented each song. Rather than just underpinned each song. These bass lines now have a greater definition and clarity.

The vocals throughout now have a new dynamic to them. Despite the layer of sounds employed on ‘Pepper’ the vocals you hear are live, no auto tuning back in 1967. The new mix now brings these vocals to life. It’s like you are there in the studio standing at the microphone next to John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Having now lived with the new stereo mix for four days, the tracks which continually impress me are ‘Fixing A Hole’, ‘She’s Leaving Home’, ‘When I’m Sixty Four’, ‘Good Morning, Good Morning’ and ‘A Day In The Life’.

With the exception of the single disc CD. These new 50th anniversary editions don’t stop at the new stereo remix. George Martin described the process of recording ‘Sgt. Pepper’ as “Painting pictures with Sound”. What we are presented with are the initial sketches from which these sound paintings were based. The skeleton frame of each song, before the Beatles and George Martin built the final master. For the casual fan expecting an alternate, stripped down ‘Sgt. Pepper’, you will be disappointed. What we hear are raw takes direct from studio sessions tapes. Allowing the listener to eavesdrop on how John, Paul, George and Ringo. together with George Martin, Geoff Emerick and the technicians at EMI crafted the album.

For the 2 CD edition the listener is treated to an outtake from each song in the same running order as the finished album, together with an outtakes of ‘Strawberry Fields’ and ‘Penny Lane’. For the box set aimed specifically at the obsessional fan. You are presented with multiple versions of each song across 2 CD’s. Sequence chronologically as the recording sessions took place between November 1966 and April 1967.

Now Beatles fans are a difficult bunch to please (a bit like Led Zep fans!- ED). They moan when opportunities are missed to open the EMI tape vault. Then moan when they do get presented with new material. One thing that becomes clear very quickly when you listen to all the unreleased material presented in these anniversary packages. Is that George Martin did the right thing when he collated together ‘Sgt Pepper’ studio sessions for the ‘Anthology’ project back in the mid 1990’s. At the time he was criticised for editing together small sections of multiple takes of songs to create new mixes. As you would expect from George Martin, he was right. Although from a historical perspective the outtakes presented across these anniversary packages deserve to be included, in truth are a hard listen and I doubt will receive regular repeated plays from casual fans.

In addition to the 2017 remix and studio outtakes you also receive within the deluxe box set. The original mono mix. A 5:1 surround mix which I can’t play due a lack of compatible playback equipment. A copy of the 1992, 25th anniversary ‘Making of Sgt. Pepper’ TV documentary. Which now makes my rather warn out VHS tape recording and pirate DVD complete with Japanese sub titles, redundant. Finally there is a truly magnificent book all housed in a beautiful box replicating an EMI Tape library box.

Yes there are some negative aspects about these anniversary sets. The selection of outtakes presented on the 2CD set could have been improved. Featuring the full ‘Hums’ session, rather than tagging a single ‘Hum’ to the end of the ‘A Day In The Life – Take 1’. The ‘Hum’ being the original idea to close ‘A Day In The Life’ before the piano chord was recorded. Take 1 of ‘Within You, Without You’ should have been swapped with the version featuring George coaching the assembled musicians. The 2017 stereo mix of ‘Penny Lane’ sounds too bright and not a patch on the excellent 2015 mix of ‘Strawberry Fields’ presented. While finally, whoever approved the dub of the rare and unique USA promo mono mix of ‘Penny Lane’ recorded from a worn out and distorted copy of the original vinyl 45, needs shooting. The infamous audiophile bootlegger, Dr Ebbetts presented collectors with a very clear dub on his ‘US Singles Collection’ set back in 2001.

All in all, what Apple and Giles Martin have presented is a very worthy release to honour ‘Sgt. Pepper’ on its 50th anniversary. It is leaves me wanting to revisit and listen again in depth and explore The Beatles back catalogue all over again. I also find it hard to believe that John, Paul, George and Ringo were aged between 24 and 27 when they recorded this masterpiece. How creative they and George Martin were back then 50 years ago! Lets hope that with 22nd November 2018 being the 50th anniversary of the ‘White Album’, that Apple and Giles Martin work on an equally impressive set to honour that great work.

After that I think it’s time for tea and meet the wife!

Postscript:

I wonder how many people record shopping back on the 1st June 1967, headed for the ‘Bs’ in the LP section, but passed by Beatles and Sgt. Pepper and instead headed to ‘BO’ and picked up the first long playing record album on Deram of a young wiper snapper going by the name of David Bowie? His debut album was released on the same day as ‘Sgt Pepper’….

 Paul Humbley

Many thanks to Paul for that wonderful overview.

Some final words on Sgt Pepper written by me on the TBL/DL Facebook page on June 1,2017:

On  the player – what else?…and it’s truly magnificent –the new mix punchy with greater separation of the instruments and vocals. Record 2 The Sgt Pepper Sessions is just fantastic – with the same line up of tracks as the main album, a Companion Disc if you will (now where has that idea been used before!

It’s an illuminating and enlightening experience. It’s the creative process with pleasing off-mic chat from the boys and George Martin , false starts and alternate arrangements. Backin 1988, the brilliant Beatles author Mark Lewishon produced The Beatles Recording Sessions book based on his enviable task of listening to every Beatles session tape at Abbey Road – I used to wonder how amazing that must have been – well Record 2 The Sgt Pepper Sessions has given me some idea,–it really is like being in the studio next to them and some of the off mic chat particularly from the so sadly missed John and George, is incredibly moving and sends shivers down the spine

So it’s the act we’ve known for all the years and their story continues to enthrall – Sgt Pepper Remixed is a revelatory, celebratory listening experience – and 50 years on, a splendid time is still guaranteed for all….Dave Lewis – June 1, 2017.

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DL Diary Blog Update…

Saturday May 27:

It was great to catch up with the original Band of Joy bassist Paul Lockey at the John Bonham A Celebration III event.

Saturday May 27:

Here’s a heartwarming story: A few days before the John Bonham A Celebration III event, my friend and long time Zep memorabilia collector TBL supporter and all round top man Chris Maley told me he had something for me that he would bring along on Saturday.

Chris duly arrived in the afternoon at the event in Redditch with his son John and mentioned he had something for me ”Turn around to see what it is” he said rather mysteriously. There before my eyes was Mr Russ Rees from Swansea with his friend Vince – they had travelled won that morning.

Now this man and his friendship means a lot to me and there he was…

Another long time Zep fan and friend Russ and I go back a long way. Russ along with his friend Peter Jones were at Heathrow Airport on May 17 1977 when the four members of Led Zeppelin gathered to fly out for the second leg of their US tour. I was in attendance and they were responsible for the photos I had taken that day. After that memorable afternoon we kept in touch and Russ sent me the photos.

Russ was a big Zep collector and had access to a lot of  Zep recordings on cassettes and began sending me some – notably at the time tapes of the Zep performances at Madison Square Garden in June 1977 which his friend Peter attended.

Always so generous, it was the first of many a tape Russ would send my way over the years. whilst we often spoke on the phone our paths did not cross at gigs though I was at a few Russ attended. In the last three years Russ has been incredibly supportive to Janet and I during some difficult times – often sending gifts our way and ringing to ask how we were.

I often mentioned that we really should meet and have thought about travelling to Swansea to see him. Imagine my utter surprise and delight when Russ was stood behind me -the first time I’ve seen him for some 47 years!

All this had been planned by Chris Maley and I cannot thank both of them enough for making an old man very happy. We spent the rest of the day and night together and it was a joy to catch up and chat about so many Zep related tales between us.

The sentiments of the title of the second track on side one of Led Zeppelin III album were more than evident on Saturday – Friends…

I am blessed with many and a a lot of them forged by a shared passion for the band we both love. This sharing of music constantly leads to a camaraderie and deep friendship that is priceless and thats certainly the way it’s been with Russ. Being in his company last Saturday after all these years was something very special and a life affirming experience…

Thanks Chris – thanks Russ…

Monday May 29:

Great to be at the local Duzzy Avocado gig at The Flowerpot in Bedford with our good friend Dave Collins and also great to see many other friends including Jason Foster, Anita Gabriella, Steph Daniels, Roger and Ann Lett and Steve and Sue Woodward( Steve was in a triumphant mood after attending Luton’s play off final on Saturday!)
A top bank holiday afternoon and the band were superb…

Wednesday May 31:

Remembering John Bonham on the occasion of his 75th Birthday so on the player the brilliant Led Zeppelin Bonzo’s Birthday Party double album bootleg as recorded on his 25th Birthday at the LA Forum on May 31 1973…all of 50 years ago.
This is the original pressing on the Trademark of Quality label I got in early 1974…it still sounds fantastic…Happy Birthday John…

Update here:

It’s been a catch up week after my whirlwind trip to Redditch – Janet has been off on half term. It was very pleasing to see Luton Town reach the Premier League after their exciting penalties win over Coventry last Saturday. Being Bedfordshire based I’ve always had a strong affinity with the club and went to a fair few games in the late 60s and early 70s. Here’s hoping they can give a good account of themselves in the top flight next season.

Thanks for listening…   

Until next time…

Dave  Lewis –  june 1  2023

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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One Comment »

  • Dave Linwood said:

    Obviously we are all Zep fans here. However your review of Sgt Pepper was so good, I’ve just ordered it!

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