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Some Thoughts Of Ahmet / Ally Pally At Christmas ’72

24 December 2006 1,833 views No Comment

It was very sad to hear the death of Ahmet Ertegun. His role in nurturing the career of Led Zeppelin can not be understated. It was Ahmet’s deep pedigree in music and understanding of the American market that inspired Peter Grant to take the band to unparalleled levels during the 70’s. His integrity and total harmony in supporting the band’s intentions throughout their career was also a crucial element in their success. There is little doubt that without the total support of Ahmet and Atlantic Records, the Zep story could never have unfolded with such impact.

The affection they held Ahmet in was evident throughout their career and remains to this day. I once witnessed this affection at frst hand. I was lucky enough to view Led Zeppelin’s June 30 1980 concert at the Frankfurt Festhalle from the side of the stage. Ahmet was in attendance at this show and I saw him embrace Peter Grant backstage and then take his seat just to the left of me. During Jimmy’s White Summer/Black Mountain Side solo, Bonzo came over to enthusiastically greet him. As they delivered an intense Kashmir I have a vivid image of the co -founder of Atlantic Records proudly stamping his cane in time with that incessant beat. At the end of the show, promoter Harvey Goldsmith asked me to take a photo with his camera of himself next to Ahmet. He was treated like absolute royalty throughout that night and the respect and esteem they held him in was plain to see.

When I interviewed Peter Grant in 1993 that respect was still very evident ”We did many a deal with Ahmet on trust and the paperwork would follow months later” he told me proudly. If Peter Grant was the acknowledged fifth element of the Zep set up, Ahmet Ertugen was surely the only contender as a sixth member.

His influence on Led Zeppelin and the music business in general will be felt every time that famous Atlantic Records logo revolves around on the countless records he was involved in. He was a true music man and absolute pioneer of the recording industry.
His legacy is assured.

Christmas time is here again … and thoughts turn to Christmas’s past and one of my most memorable was the occasion 34 years ago on December 23 1972 when the bruv JL and his girlfriend and subsequent wife and myself scaled the heights of Muswell Hill to see Led Zeppelin at the Alexandra Palace. We thought we had seats but alas no – instead we were herded in with the great coats and hippies on to a bare floor in this old barren building.

The sound was not great – all echoey and booming but they played brilliantly and it was a fantastic thrill to be in their company. Highlights – the bizarre moment when the London gig circuit superfan known as Jesus stripped off in front of us and started playing a tin whistle during Dazed And Confused … The Song Remains The Same / Rain Song premier and feeling privileged to be hearing for the first time new Zeppelin music … and the Whole Lotta Love medley including a scintillating Can’t Quite You Baby.

Like this year the next day was Christmas Eve on a Sunday and there was time to reflect on an another amazing occasion and carefully piece together all the recent Zep music paper cuttings into my meticulously kept Zep scrapbook – the second volume of many that followed.

I’ve just picked out that very scrapbook and re-read Chris Charleswoth’s very balanced review of the Alley Pally show (”Heavy flyers” he dubbed them). Little did I realise in 1972 that some 18 years on later I’d be working on a book of my own about them in collaboration with that very same writer now in his subsequent role as editor of Omnibus Press. There’s little doubt it was nights like December 23 1972 that inspired my devotion.

Sometime over the Christmas holiday period I’m going to pull out the Merry Christmas Mr Jimmy Ally Pally CD and indulge myself in it as I recover from turkey overload…

Finally may I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and thanks for all your continued support.

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