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21 December 2023 933 views 5 Comments

So this is Christmas …so here’s some Led Zep related Christmas memories….

TBL Retro Christmas Reflection:

 Christmas always bringing with it that air of nostalgia, so here’s a seasonal TBL retro reflection from 1972:


51 years ago on Saturday December 23rd  1972, I was lucky enough to be in attendance at the closest gig Led Zeppelin ever played to Christmas in the UK. It was a cold dank day and the walk up Muswell Hill to the Alexandra Palace was a bit of a trek. All worth it of course, as this very impressionable 16 year old was again in the company of musical giants.

The venue itself had not been used for a gig for years and was a little cold and impersonal – the sound also suffered a fair bit swirling around the high ceiling. Zep of course were brilliant – I had already read they were playing new tracks off of what was still being described as Led Zeppelin V (it would emerge as Houses Of the Holy the following March.) Hearing Over The Hills And Far Away, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song and Dancing Days was an immense thrill.

The late William Jellett the well known rock fan known as Jesus who frequented many London gigs at the time stripped naked in front of me (ooerr!) and played a tin whistle during Jimmy’s Dazed violin bow solo. 

The Whole Lotta Love medley was memorable for a great Everybody Needs Somebody To Love, Let’s Have A Party and a scintillating  I Can’t Quit You Baby.

Zep gig number two was ticked and I wanted more…much more… though that opportunity would not come around for nearly two and a half years. By then I had a new mantra. If Led Zeppelin were playing in the UK I wanted to be there…luckily that would all come to pass…


Long time TBL contributor Phil Tattershall was also at the December 23rd show – here are his memories of his first Led Zeppelin concert…

The announcement of Led Zeppelin’s 72/73 UK tour was incredibly exciting.  I’d had a copy of the double LP, Live On Blueberry Hill for a while and I’d captured their 1971 BBC radio performance as it was broadcast using our family reel-to-reel tape recorder.  Both had been played to death.

I was 18 in 1972 and I’d recently started work, but my old schoolmate Dave* was still job hunting.  He had a bit of spare time, also a motorbike, which meant he was just the man to journey into London in the vain hope of securing tickets for one of the Alexandra Palace shows from Harlequin Records.  Unbelievably, he was successful and managed to buy three tickets, the third being for another schoolmate, Neil**.

I proudly announced to my colleagues in the office that I was going to see Led Zeppelin, but being much older than me, they didn’t share my excitement.  I was shocked to learn that none of them had even heard of Led Zeppelin!

My first wage packet had been spent on a battery-powered cassette recorder and I thought that it would be a perfect opportunity to try concert recording for the first time.  Dave was a keen photographer and thought he’d try to take some pictures to complement my efforts.

The week before the show, we went for a ride on Dave’s motorbike to Alexandra Palace, to make sure that the ancient machine was capable of completing the 45 mile round trip.  It was a curious hybrid vehicle, self assembled from parts of two other bikes dating from 1936 and 1948.  It would need to transport three of us on December 23rd, so Dave had bolted an old sidecar to it.  I remember that reconnaissance expedition well; it was freezing cold and I sat in the sidecar listening to a cassette of ELP’s Trilogy album on both legs of the journey.  (I learned later that the sidecar was attached to the motorbike by a single bolt.  Dave was a bit of a slapdash mechanic!)

Come the 23rd, Dave, Neil and I undertook that intrepid journey from Hertfordshire to north London.  It was as cold as it had been the previous week, but the bike and sidecar served us well.  Outside the venue, I bought a show programme for 25p, which I later learned was unofficial (and is now very collectable!) and chatted to a guy from New York who had bought a ticket from a tout and was fearful that it might be a forgery.  It looked the same as mine though and I think he managed to get in OK.  My voluminous police-service surplus great coat served a dual purpose: it kept out the worst of the cold and effectively concealed my rather large cassette machine.  I gained access without hindrance.

Above the 1972 bootleg programme which I purchased outside the venue on the night – – the image is actually  Marc Bolan taken from a poster (thanks to Pete Burridge for that info).

Inside the hall it was apparent that there had been problems during the soundcheck and curtains had been hung from the ceiling in an attempt to tame the cavernous venue’s wallowing acoustic. It was an all-standing event and I was surprised that the hall was nowhere-near full, probably little over two-thirds of the floor space being occupied.  I later learned that fire regulations had limited the number allowed to attend.

There was no support act, just a children’s cartoon shown on a small screen above the stage.  I remember the cheer from the audience when one of the cartoon characters swallowed the contents of a bottle labelled ‘Super Speed Pills’.  Hmmm… that certainly wouldn’t be allowed in these days of political correctness and child protection.

The lights dimmed, I pressed the record and play keys of my cassette machine and hoped for the best.  As the band took to the stage, the bloke standing next to me was hit on the head by a beer can thrown from behind, prompting a stream of foul language from him and his companions.  The can’s impact and the subsequent profanities are perfectly captured on my tape.  Sadly the music, at the time the loudest noise I’d heard in my life, is less well preserved.  The poor cassette machine was overwhelmed by the volume and the recording is hopelessly overloaded.   The tape tangled 25 minutes into the show anyway, so it’s hardly an indispensable document.  Dave fared little better in his efforts to capture the visuals and his pictures were disappointing too.

The show itself was astonishing.  Of the songs from the yet-to-be-released Houses of the Holy LP, I remember being particularly impressed by Dancing Days, while friend Neil, a guitar player himself, was blown away by The Song Remains The Same.  The high point for me was the violin bow sequence in Dazed and Confused.  Thanks to my bootlegs, I was very familiar with the live version of the piece and always imagined each “da-da da-da” element being generated by a bow strike.  When I witnessed every other ‘da’ blasting out as the bow hit thin air, I genuinely thought some sort of sorcery was afoot.  (It wasn’t magic, of course, but an Echoplex unit.  I was so disappointed when I found out.  Jimmy was a mere human after all!)

Luckily, another amateur recordist was on duty that night and his results were infinitely better than mine.  My first experience of Led Zeppelin live was preserved for posterity and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.  One thing the taper missed as he flipped tapes was Robert’s “Goodnight – we’ll see you next year”.  I remember it well, because I was thrilled that it wouldn’t be too long before I could see them again.  As it turned out, I had to wait until May 1975, but I’m sure Robert’s intentions were honourable when he gave me what seemed a personal assurance.  I also recall narrowly missing out in the scramble to grab the tambourine he threw into the crowd at the end of the Whole Lotta Love medley.

The motorbike journey home in cold rain was deeply unpleasant, but we didn’t care; we’d seen the greatest band in the world.

When safely home, I extracted the tangled mess of tape from my recorder and reassembled it into a spare cassette shell.  As already described, the sonic results were disastrous, but, forty years hence, I still have that souvenir.

A couple of days later, back at work, the office manager, who was ten years my senior at 28, asked, “How did your pop thing go Phil?”  “Pop thing!??!!”, I thought to myself.  This wasn’t a “pop thing”: this was Led Zeppelin.  But there was no point in entering into lengthy discussion on the topic.  The older generation would never understand.

*Dave had another go at photographing Led Zeppelin in 1975 and was rather more successful.  The photos can be seen in TBL issue 15.

**Those familiar with one of the better audience recordings of the first Knebworth show will have heard a voice loudly proclaiming  “I can’t hear the bass, can you?” during The Song Remains the Same. That’s Neil.

Phil Tattershall.

ALLY PALLY – THE MIKE TREMAGLIO LOGS  (as featured in the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book) 

Here’s the Alexandra Palace lowdown via Mike Tremaglio’s concert logs  which appeared in TBL issue 30.

Friday, December 22nd, 1972 Alexandra Palace, London, England

Setlist (from 130 & 58 minute audience recordings):

Rock and Roll, Over the Hills and Far Away, Out on the Tiles (Intro)/ Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, The Song Remains the Same, The Rain Song, Dazed and Confused (incl. San Francisco),  Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love Medley (incl. Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, Boogie Chillun’, Let’s Have a Party, Heartbreak Hotel, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Going Down Slow), Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Mellotron Solo/Thank You

Once again, Chris Charlesworth of Melody Maker reviewed the concert in the “Caught in the Act” section of Melody Maker (January 6, 1973).  Charlesworth praised the group as “about as perfect a band as you could hope to hear.”  He wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic about the venue, saying it was “never built to rock” and that the “atmosphere inside this giant hall seemed cold and forbidding…there was a diminishing sound that flew up into the rafters and returned as a disjointed series of echoes.  My guess is that only about half the fans heard the music as it should have been heard.”

Saturday, December 23rd, 1972 Alexandra Palace, London, England

Setlist (from 131 & 28 minute audience recordings):

Rock and Roll, Over the Hills and Far Away, Out on the Tiles (Intro)/ Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, The Song Remains the Same, The Rain Song, Dazed and Confused (incl. San Francisco),  Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love Medley (incl. The Crunge, Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, Boogie Chillun’, Let’s Have a Party, Heartbreak Hotel, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Going Down Slow), Heartbreaker

The band played the second of two shows at the “Ally Pally.” The setlist is virtually identical to the prior evening, except the Immigrant Song, mellotron solo, and Thank You were all dropped from the set.  The Crunge, which had typically been played during Dazed and Confused, was incorporated into the Whole Lotta Love medley.

LZ News:
Here’s the latest Led Zep News Update

Led Zeppelin

A new audience recording snippet of the February 23, 1970 Helsinki show was released

A previously unheard audience recording clip of Led Zeppelin performing “Since I’ve Been Loving You” in Helsinki, Finland on February 23, 1970 was released online.

Another clip from this source of Led Zeppelin performing “Thank You” was released in 2017:

This new source which is slowly emerging on YouTube is an improvement on the existing audience source for the show which has been circulating widely for years.

New Zepfan podcast episode

Former Led Zeppelin publicist Danny Goldberg was interviewed on the latest episode of the Zepfan podcast. You can listen to it on Spotify here and embedded below.

Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page’s Uncut interview was published online

Jimmy Page’s full recent interview with Uncut magazine about Keith Richards was published online earlier this week. An edited version of the interview was published in the January 2024 issue of the magazine.

Jimmy Page signing his new Neal Preston photo prints (Facebook/Dave Brolan/Jimmy Page)

New photos of Jimmy Page signing his new collection of Neal Preston photo prints were released online in a series of posts this week announcing that several of the prints were sold out. You can see the images herehereherehere and here. Three of the five limited edition prints are now sold out.

Robert Plant

Robert Plant has been out and about following the end of his tour with Saving Grace last month. He was photographed visiting the Good Shepherd Services centre in Wolverhampton recently. Following his visit, Plant posted about the organisation on his social media pages, writing: “It was good to discover the variety of ways in which they try and help people get back on their feet and then rediscover their spirit and self-esteem.”

Then on December 13, Plant was in London visiting Beavertown Brewery which was founded by his son Logan Plant. That evening, Plant was photographed attending a performance by the West Country indie folk duo Burr Island at The Old Queens Head pub in Islington.

Will there be a 2023 year in review from Robert Plant?

Could next week see Robert Plant tease his upcoming projects? Last year on December 22, Plant’s official mailing list was sent an email titled “2022 Year In Review” that summarised his activities and hinted at his 2023 US tour with Alison Krauss as well as upcoming releases from the Band Of Joy and Honeydrippers (although neither of those projects released anything in 2023).

Upcoming events:

  • 2024 – Robert Plant will tour with Alison Krauss.
  • January 1 – ABC will broadcast highlights of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony at 8pm EST
  • March 22 – John Paul Jones will perform at the Big Ears music festival in Knoxville, Tennessee.
  • March 23 – John Paul Jones will perform at the Big Ears music festival in Knoxville, Tennessee as part of Sons Of Chipotle.
  • April 5 – “Led Zeppelin: A Visual Biography” by Martin Popoff will be published.
  • April 6 – The exhibition “The Wiltshire Thatcher – a Photographic Journey through Victorian Wessex” featuring the original photograph from the cover of Led Zeppelin’s fourth album will open at Wiltshire Museum.
  • Summer 2024 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Vienna, Virginia.
  • September 15 – The exhibition “The Wiltshire Thatcher – a Photographic Journey through Victorian Wessex” featuring the original photograph from the cover of Led Zeppelin’s fourth album will close at Wiltshire Museum.
Many thanks to James Cook 

The complete Led ZepNews email goes out periodically. To receive it sign up here:

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

More Nostalgia -the way we were in 1971 – The Christmas UK and US Album Charts:

Here’s the UK and US charts as published this week in 1971. A double top for the new Led Zeppelin album (the recently released fourth album)…

My, there’s some amazing albums lined up here… Imagine, Electric Warrior, Rod, Santana, ELP, Isaac Hayes, Wings, The Who and many more – I have a fair few of the albums on this chart in my collection for sure!


Here’s the UK music related Christmas TV line up all of 52 years ago in 1971…








A TBL Christmas Story:

As you get over the turkey and mince pie overload – here’s a little piece of TBL fiction on how things might have been back in the Jimmy Page household Christmas 1979…

It was Christmas 1979 and Jimmy Page was feeling pretty pleased with himself.

The last of the presents were wrapped and under the tree. The turkey was all ready to cook. In the kitchen he switched on the Amstrad 7070 radio/tape deck and pressed it to radio medium wave mode.

‘’All in all it’s just another brick in the wall…’’
The familiar school kid’s chorus of Pink Floyd’s current Christmas number one single blared out.

How that song grated on Jimmy. Not because it was a bad effort – Roger Water’s The Wall concept seemed quite interesting. It was just Pink Floyd at number one in the singles chart? It just didn’t seem right.

If any of the mega selling 1970s album selling bands should be at the top of the charts surely it should be his band Led Zeppelin?

‘’We might have missed a trick there’’ he pondered. Walking through into his home studio complex, Jimmy fired up the mixing desk. As the LED lights lit up the room he smiled. This was a good piece of kit. A wise investment. Mixing the last album here had been a luxury. Quite how they would ship it all to the new house in Windsor he wasn’t sure.

He pulled a quarter inch tape reel off the shelf marked on the outside ‘’Punk Song – Polar Studios November 21st 1978’’. That was a Bonzo joke. ‘’Let’s do the fucking punk song!’’ he used to shout from behind the screens in Abba’s Stockholm studio in his gruff Midlands accent.

Jimmy loaded up the reel and pushed the fader up to nine. Phew this was powerful stuff. It made Pink Floyd sound like the Salvation Army. The track was called Wearing And Tearing. It should have gone on the album but they had decided to save it.

Then it was Jonesy who said that would be good for Knebworth. They had rehearsed it but somehow it didn’t fit the mood.

Then G came up with the idea to release it as a special single to be available at the gigs. Somehow they ran out of time. That seemed to happen a lot these days. It was never like that back in 1969. Oh no, they’d go in record and mix and then blam, there was the album.

Simple days. Anyway if they had released it, 150,000 people who attended the shows would have brought it making it an easy number one single. That would have beaten Pink Floyd’s attempt at an unlikely hit single into a cocked hat. They could have even filmed a video to go with it.

That was the latest fad now. They were all doing it. That new Police one was a good one. Walking on the Moon, yeah that was it with Sting and co walking around the NASA complex. He’d have liked getting into character for that. They could have got those astronaut suits on that the Apollo guys used. It reminded him of that old promo French poster that superimposed their heads on to an original moon shot photo.

Videos…yes. What was that recent Buggles hit? Video Killed The Radio Star. He had heard that played at Radio London when he and Robert had recorded a show for Stuart Coleman recently. It was no joke though – videos seemed to be the future. He needed to speak to Po and Storm at Hipgnosis about that in the new year. Bet they could come up with some mad ideas.

Wearing And Tearing stopped abruptly on the tape. Jimmy leaned over to fade it and then heard some laughter and banter on the tape…and then Jonesy counting in 1-2-3-4…Oh yes The Hook…as they nicknamed it. All My Love .

He had forgotten this outtake was on the same tape. He couldn’t make up his mind about that song at the time. Was it really their style? It was a bit soft….but Robert had his reasons. This version had the long fade out. Jimmy picked up the Botswana brown Telecaster that was lying on the chair in the studio. He began playing along, strumming the chords at the ending. ‘’Sometimes, Sometimes Ooh yeah, I get a little bit lonely, when I think about it ’’ pleaded Robert.

This was actually a pretty good track. They could probably do that live on stage.
Quite when that would be, well who knows? They’d thought about doing a Bull Ring in Spain but that was a wild idea. Robert had gone on about playing Manchester and Newcastle, a full UK tour. Maybe that was what was needed.

Get back to the people like they did in ‘71. But the critics would hate it.

Oh how he hated the music press. Even trusty old Chris Welch seemed a bit off these days and the Melody Maker had given In Through The Out Door a right slagging.
Jimmy had been so angry when he saw it he set light to it. Burnt the entire paper. Banished it from the house.

Yeah they’d slag us off and who needed that? Robert, Bonzo and Jonesy were talking about getting up with Paul McCartney at his Kampuchea benefit gig in London over Christmas. He’d be away on holiday in Barbados so that was a no go.

What they really needed to do was to get back to America. That’s where their audience lay. The last album had sold two million there already. He had been thinking of framing that telex he’s got from Mitchell Fox in the New York Swan Song office telling them every Zeppelin album had re- entered the Billboard chart off the back of it.

No punk rockers and new wavers to contend with over there. Oh no – just The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Van Halen with that flashy guitarist. ‘’I could still show him a thing or two’’ Jimmy mumbled as he fluently moved his fingers up and down the frets.

America: Los Angeles, the Hyatt, Seattle, the Edgewater, New York, the Plaza. But Robert wasn’t going to go with any of that. Not after all the trouble in Oakland last time. They didn’t need that craziness again. They just needed to play. Like the old days.

The tape ground to a halt. The phone began ringing. He let it ring for a while and then picked it up.

‘’Hi Jimmy its Peter. Merry Christmas’’.

‘’Merry Christmas G’’

‘’Jimmy, I’ve been thinking, how do you fancy a run around Europe in the summer?’’

‘’What’s that involve G?’’

‘’Well I reckon we can do about a dozen gigs. I’ve been talking to Fritz Rau the top promoter in Europe, he said they’d be no fuss. Three or four thousand seater places mainly. Cologne Sporthalle, a couple of bigger ones maybe the Festhalle in Frankfurt and Munich. Santana and Zappa and Roxy Music are doing that circuit too.

What do you think?’’
‘’Yeah sounds great and no fucking press’’

‘’Yup no press. We can leave those fuckers behind. Tell nobody, just pitch up. I’m hoping Richard will be up to it. Some of the Bad Co crew are on hand too around then. We can scale it down a bit . Just take a 120 lamps and a few spotlights. That’ll please Showco. I’ve got a good feeling about this.’’

‘’Yes but…what about America?’’.

‘’Well that’s it really. We’ll get Robert up and running again on this tour – like he used to be, you know really full of himself. John won’t be away from home too long and Jonesy, well he’s probably fed up with the school run. It’s ideal. Then when Robert sees how good it can still be, I reckon convincing him we need to go back to America will be a doddle.’’

‘’G this sounds great. Feels like a bit of a rejuvenation. That’s what we need’’.

‘’I know. We proved we were still the best at Knebworth, now we need to go out and there and show ‘em what we can still do.’’

‘’I’m up for it. This is what we need to do. Get back out there playing.

This has been the best Christmas present I could have asked for.’’

‘’I’ll send the new Bentley back then!’’

Oh no please don’t!

‘’Jimmy we’ve been looking out for each other since we were stuck in that fucking Greyhound bus going across America with The Yardbirds. The 1980s will be no different. In fact I’m thinking of calling the US tour ‘’The 1980s Part One’. Short bursts of touring will really suit us. This new decade is going to start just like the old one did.’’

‘’G that’s great. Merry Christmas –I’ll see you when I get back’’

‘’Yeah Jim have a good one yourself and all the family’’

Jimmy put down the phone. He could hear Chas And Dave’s Christmas show wafting through from the TV in the lounge. They were doing a rocked up cockney version of Silent Night. He pulled the studio door shut.

Jimmy then pulled the Gibson Les Paul out of its case and plugged in the amp.
His hands almost instinctively hit the chords of the old Johnny Burnette classic Train Kept a Rollin’. The one they had jammed on at that first rehearsal in Gerrard Street way back.

He pressed down on the wah- wah pedal emitting a howl of feedback.

God that felt good.

Oh yes they just had to do this one again on stage. Maybe even open with it like they did in the early days.

1980 – It was going to be like 1968 all over again. He’d show the critics.

They were going to be a working a band – his band.

They were going to be Led Zeppelin again.

America was theirs for the taking
Good old G, he always had a plan smiled Jimmy to himself.

He replaced the Gibson and shut the studio door.
Back in the lounge on the TV Chas and Dave and their guests were doing a conga to their hit song Gertcha.

He grinned as he bent to switch the TV over.

‘’There’s no fucking way you’ll be supporting us next year!’’ he laughed.

The channel switched to a Christmas carol concert. ‘’We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year’’ sang the choir.

Jimmy sat down to take in the festive sounds.

”Happy New Year.”

Yes thought Jimmy…1980 that’ll be a happy new year….a happy Led Zeppelin.

Surely nothing can stop us now?

Written by Dave Lewis – Christmas 2009:

So there it was – a piece of fun TBL fiction for the season –  the real chain of events that unfolded in 1980 can be found in detail in the book Led Zeppelin Feather In the Wind – Over Europe 1980

Yet more Christmas TBL Nostalgia:

Here’s some reflections from the Christmas period of 1978. At that time I was ensconced in writing text for what would emerge as the first issue of a magazine about Led Zeppelin titled Tight But Loose. I was compiling all that in between working full on at WH Smiths in Bedford – it was the beginning of my balancing my retail record shop job with the Zep work -something that would be prevalent over the next few years.

The following text is something of a preview of the material I am preparing for my DL Memoirs – so here’s a bit of TBL history…

45 years ago, I was well aware there were other fan clubs and societies of other name rock bands bands – notably The Who, Genesis and Simon Robinson’s Deep Purple Appreciation Society –in fact Simon’s Darker Than Blue magazine would be a huge influence on the TBL mag in the early 90s alongside the Bruce Springsteen mag Backsteets.

It occurred to me that given the fact I had built up a bit of a rapport with various fellow collectors/enthusiasts, I might take on the challenge of forming some sort of appreciation society. The term ‘appreciation society’ though did not feel right – I needed something different, something more substantial… and behold, it was staring me in the face, on the cover of the NME etc., every week.

For this was 1977 and a new musical phenomenon known as Punk Rock was sweeping the nation. Punk Rock was built on do it yourself ethics from the playing to the presentation. Thus, when it came to documenting on paper this new movement the magazines that chronicled bands such as the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Stranglers, Buzzcocks etc, were crude, hand written but highly effective affairs dubbed ‘Fanzines.’

So called as they were literally produce by fans. The leaders of this particular pack was Sniffin’ Glue and Ripped And Torn. At the time I was a frequent visitor to the Vintage Magazine Shop in London’s Cambridge Circus. They regularly stocked the US mags such as Circus, which I was always eager to buy if Zep were featured. This particular visit I noticed a copy of Ripped And Torn and promptly invested.

This was a light bulb moment, for wading through the crude hand written but brilliantly enthusiastic prose of this so called ‘fanzine’, I thought, would it not be a good idea to produce a similar volume purely based on the world of Led Zeppelin? This would eradicate any rather old fashioned ‘appreciation society’ methods of linking like-minded fans and provide an outlet for my scribing.

It would of course be with some irony that, given punks distain of the old guard dinosaurs of rock (of which Zep were the forerunner) I would go on to create such a fanzine, blatantly inspired out of the do it yourself punk tactics of the likes of Ripped And Torn.

Although underneath all the hype of the time, it’s now known that Johnny Rotten and co actually liked Zep and in turn both Page and Plant lauded the punk movement, even visiting the punk club, The Roxy in early 1977.

Anyway, punk rock or not, in the autumn of 1977 I set about hand writing my first edition. At the time, I had little money to invest in this idea and also no access to a typewriter. So black ballpoint pen it was.

What was also need of course was a title for this hot new fanzine.

Initially, I went through the more obvious ones of which Candy Store Rock was a one time leader. I felt, though, it needed something more individual something that projected the air of mystique that was so associated with Zep at the time.

What I need was a wording that described their music – not in an obvious way, something more oblique – a mission statement, if you like, and I found it not unsurprisingly, in the pages of the music press.

In separate interviews during their 1977 tour, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant both mentioned a phrase that rang out like a bell for me. In an interview with Circus magazine talking about their on stage appearance Jimmy was quoted as saying ‘’There were some tremendous perfoamces las tnight.It was very intense…we were tight,yet loose..Loosley tight’’.

In an interview with Melody Maker’s Ray Coleman, Robert also used the phrase. Talking about their legacy, he said, ‘’We have to bring out our very best all the time because kids have a right to expect that, but we don’t have to produce it in a stiff upper lip way or it comes out the wrong kind of way.. It’s got to be Tight But Loose. That’s probably the title of the next album’’

There was a risk, of course, that they may well use the phrase as the title for the next album. Putting caution to the wind, I went with it anyway and the first prototype pages of what would become Tight But Loose issue one were photocopied at the local Bedford library in early 1978.

At that point I had amassed a fair bit of text. This included a feature on what a chronological Zep live album might contain (this never did make the TBL mag but I later used it to form the basis of the Led Zeppelin Live chapter in the A Celebration book), a Swan Song discography with commentary about each release, another feature that never made it into the mag) plus a long rambling piece on the Earls Court gigs which I had begun writing in the summer of 1975. The latter would go on to be the centrepiece of the first issue.

With Zep off the road following the tragic curtailment of the 1977 tour I was launching this new fanzine in a fallow period. However, my plan to publish in the summer was delayed by a series of game changing events.

In early 1978 I replied to a query in the Wax Factor column in Sounds – one of the weekly music papers of the time. This column was run by the late Barry Lazell and basically offered information to queries sent in by readers. One such letter requested how to obtain Hey Hey What Can I Do. Under the guise Dave ‘Ace Zep Fan’ Lewis (more on that to follow), I replied giving the correct info. I made similar correspondence with Barry over a query about the Blueberry Hill bootleg – both of these were published.

Having given myself a bit of identity by labelling myself Dave ‘Ace Zep Fan’ Lewis in my correspondents with Barry in Sounds, I also began signing off my letters with same. I’d seen the expression Ace Fan in a copy of the underground magazine, It in a feature on The Rolling Stones. I thought (rather pretentiously, in hindsight) it laid my credentials out as a serious fan. Wisely, I dropped this tag after, I think, TBL 3. I can tell you dear Howard Mylett ribbed me about it for years after!

In late May (around the time of my ‘leap of faith’ with The Who at Shepperton), I received a call from Geoff Barton, at Sounds. He had evidently seen the Wax Factor replies and wanted to enlist my assistance on an upcoming Led Zeppelin feature. This was to be an ambitious three week series celebrating the band’s tenth anniversary.

The brief was for me to supply a timeline history of the band for Geoff to work with, plus a full discography. I suggested to Geoff that we include a bootleg listing and other pre and post session details. I’d only ever seen the basic Zep discography and I saw this as a major opportunity to present an extensive showcase of the band’s recording history to that period.

In June 1978, I met with Geoff Barton at the Sounds office in Long Acre, Covent Garden, to discuss all this at length. I took in a whole load of memorabilia for them to photograph to illustrate the feature – programmes, photos, and a fair few vinyl bootlegs (no jpeg scanning in those far off days!). Looking back, I was a bit naive entrusting them with all this and one or two items did go missing.

Back in the Dents Road bedroom during the summer of ’78, I set to work on collating all the info required – all hand written, I might add. It was a real thrill to be finally finding an outlet for the masses of info I had collected and logged, and knowing that it would be seen by fans across the country. I was also in touch with Swan Song and told them of my involvement. I have to say there did seem some tetchiness between Sounds and Swan Song. Not that it was any of my business, this uneasiness would later result in Sounds being banned from having press passes for Knebworth – which is another story altogether.

So, by early August all my info was at the Sounds office ready to be incorporated into this lavish series. Boy was I excited.

On Thursday, September 14, the first part appeared – with a cover photo of the now much seen group posing by the car shot taken by Dick Barnatt (see TBL 35 for the full story). The series was dubbed ‘The Complete Led Zep’.

Looking over it now, it’s very evident that presenting this outpouring of Zep info in Sounds back in September 1978 was clearly the moment I broke out of my bedroom, as it were, and found a true connection for my thoughts, passion and enthusiasm for Led Zeppelin.

Following the running of the series two things happened. Firstly, I began to get letters and correspondence via Sounds from fans requesting further info and discussion on the info I’d presented.

It’s worth mentioning here that being a Zep fan back then was quite an insular thing. There was no social media to share this enthusiasm, but as I said, I myself was in touch with a few fans, notably Howard Mylett and Brian Knapp in the US. The Sounds piece did much to galvanise a lot of interest and through the feedback I was receiving, I quickly realised there were many fans out there as keen as I was on the band.

Secondly, I got paid for the feature and hatched a plan to use that money to fund the printing of the first issue of Tight But Loose. During October, November and December of 1978 I carried on scribing away on the contents of the hand written first issue.

The centrepiece as mentioned was the impassioned overview of the Earls Court shows, principally the May 24 show for which I had transcribed many of Robert’s between song comments.

I had already decided that the format of the mag would flow in much the same way as the NME – with specific features and headlines, ie., a news section, major central features, a reviews section, plus a free ads section for readers to place ads for Zep items and I also had what I described as a Hip Pen Pals listing for fellow fans to get in touch. All very quaint when matched with today’s social media interaction. The reviews included the then recently released Ballcrusher bootleg, Robert’s early solo single Our Song and the Trampled Underfoot UK promo single.

There was also a quiz to enter, with the winning prize being that Trampled Underfoot UK promo, it was won by Mick Humphries who is still a subscriber. There was also a Loose Talk column which rounded up small news items in the manner of the NME’s Teasers column.

Also in the debut issue was o a report of the very inspiring conversation I had with Robert Plant at the Goldiggers football tournament he took part in at the Empire Pool, Wembley, which I attended on November 5th, 1978.

As for photos and illustrations, initially there was scant regard for copyright or ownership. I merely cribbed a few of the pics I’d collated over the years. That policy would quickly change to a more ethical one moving forward.

And as for proof reading, that was fairly non existent. Just winging it, there were some howlers that got through. Looking back I should have employed the services of my good friend, Dec who’s actual job was in the proof reading department of one of the local papers. Spell checkers were yet to be invented and again some of my spelling was, well… erratic. I guess what it lacked in finesse and professionalism, it made up for in enthusiasm.

In fact the whole editorial stance was that this specialist periodical was being written by a fan for the fans. A value that that 40 years on still stands. This now may be what I do for a living as editor author and publisher, but fundamentally I am still a fan.

Considering I don’t have great handwriting (writing mostly in capitals, at least it looked presentable), I laid out the designed text in much the same way I had my scrapbooks – pasting it all up in an A4 format.

I took the master sheets off to a local print and photocopier, Jaycopy. The young lady, Elaine was very helpful in sizing it all up and their machine rolled out 200 unbound editions.

I had to staple the pages together myself and I still have a slight scar on the second finger of my right hand where I stapled said finger to the page! Such were the trials of these early days.

The first advert I placed was a simple one in the NME in late 1978, and I repeated the same ad in Sounds. I’d hoped to publish at the end of 1978 but the UK was hit by a bout of icy snow conditions. I can vividly recall trudging through the snow carrying a box of the hot off the press TBL issue 1.

The first letters back from the early ads were sent a flyer advising that TBL 1 would be published on February 10th. I set a price of 35p and away it went.

It’s worth noting that I only ran the mag on an issue to issue basis. There was no subscription offer. I think that was down to my rather tentative approach to it all. I never really saw the full potential of what I might achieve with it – a naïve view, looking back. As for the idea of making TBL a profit gaining venture –that was never in mind. The objective was to ensure there was enough cash flow to fund the next issue.

Further ads with the price and details went in Sounds. The response was excellent. Within a month I’d sold out the initial 200 and had another 100 printed.

Hand written and low budget it may have been, but TBL was on the map. The second issue appeared in May and a Knebworth special in October. The platform of communication between like minded fans across the globe was well and truly established.

That Christmas of 1978 was therefore an exciting one for me with the prospect ahead of documenting the world of Led Zeppelin. In between the usual socialising and playing for the Wallbangers football team, I immersed myself in writing about the subject that I was most passionate about.

Fast forward 45 years on and not much has changed. Writing about Led Zeppelin and the music that inspires me continues to be part of my DNA.

Dave Lewis – December 18 2023

Coverdale Page Japanese reissue….

I was well pleased to purchase a copy of the recently released Japanese pressing of the Coverdale Page album. This a Sony Music label pressing on clear blue vinyl spread over 2 LPs. Complete with Japanese and English lyric sheet and insert.
I have great memories of this being released back in March 1993 – incredible to think it’s all of 30 years ago. I had an advance tape of this and remember the visiting Larry Ratner (photographer and publisher of the Led Zeppelin Live Dreams book back then) getting very excited as we played it through.
My original preview review I wrote for Record Collector in March 1993 can be seen above.
There was no doubt it was the best Jimmy Page performance on record for years and it still sounds brilliant – Coverdale too was right on top of his game. A definite career highlight for them both.
Ultimately it was all a bit short lived but it kick started Jimmy into action and would lead to the Page & Plant Unledded era. It was this album that gave him his confidence back.
There’s been talk of an extended box set edition but nothing has materlsied on that.
Meanwhile this is the next best thing – many thanks To Graeme H for sorting this one for me…
Dave Lewis December 18 2023 


DL Diary Blog Update:

Saturday December 16:

Saturday is platterday – as we are putting up our tree today, on the player the perfect soundtrack – The Partridge Family Christmas Album featuring the late great David Cassidy – a perennial seasonal fave here…

Saturday December 16:

Saturday is platterday – on the player another seasonal fave – Miles Davis Blue Christmas…
A compilation from 1983 of various pieces, one of which is On Green Dolphin Street which incorporates the title track…top playing from Miles and his band mates including Wayne Shorter…

Monday December 18:

On the player marking Keith’s 80 birthday today –The Rolling Stones double album Exile On Main Street – one of their best…and his genius is all over this…

Monday December 18:

As Keith recorded one of his greats riffs (Street Fighting Man) on cassette – marking his Birthday here with some choice cassettes namely the Keith Record Store Day release from a couple of years back.

This comprises of cassette versions of his Talk is Cheap and Keith Richards And The Expensive Winos Live at The Hollywood Palladium. Alongside it  the classic Rolling Stones Rolled Gold double cassette compilation – proof that the Human Riff sounds great on any format…


Tuesday December 19:

Loading up a great compilation CD I picked up recently – Sassafras & Moonshine The Songs of Laura Nyro …
This has 20 acts including the likes of The 5TH Dimension , The Staple Singers, Bobbie Gentry, Thelma Houston and Mama Cass interpreting the songs of the late great singer songwriter Laura Nyro one of my fave female singers…this came out in 2012 on the Ace label – top stuff indeed…

Tuesday December 19:

Great to have a pre Christmas meet today with Geoff Klein, Dave Bunting, Shaun King and Derek Whitworth…our friendships go back some 49 years…

Thursday December 21:

Christmas playlist – these will be amongst the seasonal selections here in the coming days…

Herb Alpert & The  Tijuana Brass –  Christmas Album CD

Jimmy Smith & His Orchestra – Christmas Cookin’ CD

Diane Krall – Christmas Songs – CD

Miles Davis – Blue Christmas LP

The Partridge Family Christmas Album  – The Partridge Family Starring Shirley Jones, featuring David Cassidy LP – no apologies for this rather quirky  one –it’s a top Christmas selection…

The Beatles  – From Then To You Complete Christmas Fan Club Records – CD

Update here…

As ever, it always has that air of expectancy around it as we all get ready to bring the draw bridge up and retreat for Christmas Day and Boxing Day  with nary a thought for this thing called Led – at least for a day or two!

Christmas is always a time for reflection and I am sure like me, you’ll be remembering loved ones not around to share the Christmas season.

As I always observe at this time of year, amongst all the commercial hype – this is the season’s true meaning. Reflecting on those no longer around for whatever reason and seeing and thinking of family, friends and people who make our respective lives revolve in the way they do.

For me, that includes many of my very good friends here in my home town and a whole host of people from far and wide.

On behalf of the good lady Janet, may I thank you for your continued support to us here and wish you all a hopeful, peaceful and Merry Christmas …

Thanks for listening 

Until next time…

Dave  Lewis – December 21  2023

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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  • VHP said:

    Firstly, happy Christmas to everyone and I wish for a lot more peace in the world in 2024 (a big ask with what is currently going on.)

    Sue Mazzone, love your story about meeting Robert. I was lucky enough to meet him after a Francis Dunnery concert at the Robin 2 in Bilston (Near Wolverhampton) quite a few years ago. Francis Dunnery played guitar with Robert on the Fate of Nations LP & tour, and several times during the gig Francis made reference to his time with Robert. He would do an amazing guitar run and said “Robert used to love it when I did that – didn’t you Robert?”

    At the end of the night sure enough Robert was at the back signing autographs. Wow! We waited for him to finish and he started to walk towards the side of the stage. He saw the 3 of us walking towards him and said “give me 5 minutes, I am just going to get my coat from backstage”. Several minutes later he returned with his coat and a beer and walked towards us for a chat. Someone else approached him and he politely said – “give me a minute, I have promised to speak with those guys first” and came straight towards ust What a lovely person and an amazing and special few minutes in his company. Robert was driven home by his friend in an Toyota MR2. He wasn’t there with a room full of minders and security.

    Someone who I work with used to live in the same village as Robert did in Worcestershire. He would see him in the local pubs and people would say ‘hi’ – but he said what’s nice was they would talk to him at the bar, but as a rule leave him with alone with whoever he was with. My friend said he also had seen him doing his shopping in Sainsbury’s in Kidderminster a few times. Just Robert with a shopping basket, no minders or security with him. Living a normal life when not on the road.

    Anyway, best wishes for 2024 everyone.

  • Andy Pepworth said:

    Well another year is near end and 2024 is around corner. Again i have loved reading your TBL online issues mate. I have been happy with the vinyls i have got this year especially RSD and various bootlegs. Fort Worth on POTG label is my fav for this year. Also some gigs were on the list. was great to meet you in Redditch in May at John Bonham statue and then we both went to the John Bonham memorial gig which was superb.The weather helped and plenty of beers were supped. Of course it didn’t start well but the show must go on and Bonzo would have been proud we started to celebrate his 75th birthday. Also Robert Plant at Salford Lowry with Saving Grace were awesome in November. My fav Manchester band IST IST have had a great year also. Hopefully will meet you again Next Year at a record fair at some point. You stay safe and well Dave. Send Best wishes to you,Janet,Sam,Adam and Ollie.

  • Sean Smith said:

    Have a lovely Christmas Dave, I look forward to these updates each week and am so grateful for TBL.

  • Sue Mazzone said:

    Dave, What a fantastic year it has been with dreams coming true. I can’t believe how I was about to see Robert Plant with Alison Krauss with her band right here in my own hometown! Robert had not been here in ages that I knew of. I was so excited to be going with my friend with fantastic seats only to find that while getting ready they had to cancel due to smoke from Canada that was not safe to breathe. I was very disappointed but understood how I safe it was. My friend Lisa and I decided we would use our refund to see him elsewhere. I found he would be playing in Sicily in Taormina at an ancient Greek theater built in 300 BC!!! I said let’s go and we had the most spectacular night of our lives! We were dead center , front row and there he appeared with Suzi Dian right in front of us!!! I was in awe as was my friend and it was such a magical evening that words can not quite describe with the full moon and the astonishing presence of our beloved Robert right in front of us. I will never forget how I felt that night as if I were on some magic carpet ride! To top off this year, I took my son to Birmingham and enjoyed an incredible show seeing Robert Plant with Suzi Dian and her incredible band members, it was such a beautiful show and I have to give credit to Dave Lewis for inspiring me to join this show. I had the complete pleasure of meeting Dave at the Prince Of Whales Pub and enjoying a drink before the show with his friends. 5 days later my son and I went to Bewdley to see the Bonham/Bullick tour at the quaint church hall that was St.Georges Hall and loved how intimate it was. Deborah was so fun listening to her stories and belting out her beautiful bluesy voice with that fantastic talent that all the Bonham’s possess and all of them playing so fantastically, it was one hell of a show and to hear them play Rock N Roll, there truly was pure magic in the air that night! One of my dreams in my life was to meet Robert Plant and give him a hug. I didn’t know he would be in the hall that night of the Bonham/Bullick concert and here he had been in the back watching the show. I had walked back to the bar after someone mentioned he was back there but I thought they were pulling my leg. I didn’t see him and thought they were playing a prank on me. Someone said hey, Robert is in the back there. I went back again and there he was right in front of me! Here I am some crazy American girl who has loved Robert and Led Zeppelin since I was 9 and I did give him a hug and I really didn’t know how to treat him like a normal person. He really did want to be low key and just be amongst his peers without creating a fuss. Here I come along and had him on this Rock God pedestal and wasn’t one of them and sure wished I was. I knew I may never ever have that chance again, and was thrilled to give him a hug. I will never stop being one of those crazy fans who forever have them in their heart who helped shape my teenage years and beyond. All I can say is thank you for sharing yourselves with the world and helping us live a wonderful life through your music.

  • dave said:

    Hey there,
    loved reading the story of the first issue. I have always known about TBL since I got into Zep in the mid 80s, and just figured it had been around since the get go of the band. And I never woulda guessed it was a “one man band.”

    Pretty incredible. Congrats on your longevity, and thanks for your good work.

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