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4 April 2011 5,813 views 8 Comments

40 years ago today, I first heard the music of Led Zeppelin performed live and the effect was pretty shattering to the ears of a young 14 year old.

The occasion was the Radio One broadcast of an hours worth of live Zep for John Peel’s In Concert programme.

Recorded three days earlier at the Paris Theatre on the back of the band’s ‘Back to the clubs tour’, at the time this was a very big deal.

Zeppelin had not appeared on a BBC radio session since August of 1969 –their return to the UK airwaves was therefore much anticipated. Especially by me, tuning in a at home on our portable radio eager to hear how they sounded on stage.

Beforehand I carefully put the jack plug from my reel to reel tape recorder into the radio to capture this historic moment. Then the dulcet tones of John Peel spoke forth: ‘’This is something we’ve waited a long time for on the Sunday repeated on Wednesday show and I know it’s all going to be worth the wait.Would you welcome please Led Zeppelin.

Oh yes we would welcome them Mr Peel. Blam! The battering ram riff of Immigrant Song reeled from the radio and I was in seventh heaven.

This was Led Zeppelin live – and a riveting experience to behold.

I was already in love with their three studio albums, I had missed out on their 1969 broadcasts  hearing them live was absolute confirmation that all my enthusiasm was justified. On record they were fantastic -but their songs performed live took all into another stratosphere.

No more so than the next track that was aired. As I was later to discover via the bootlegs, this hour long presentation was edited down from a full set. On this Sunday evening broadcast Immigrant Song therefore did not segue into Heartbreaker as was the custom of their then live act.

Instead we heard Dazed And Confused.

All nigh on 18 minutes of it…

This was my baptism into the free form improvisational world of live Led. It was then I realised that the studio versions were just the starting point. Dazed And Confused live went off into all sorts of tangents – the drama of the slowed down intro, the violin bow episode, the call and response sequence through to the lengthy outro – it was all there.

Within the space of 18 minutes my estimation and appreciation of Led Zeppelin shot up 100%.

That trend continued as they performed a dreamy What Is And What Should Never Be, Stariway To Heaven and Going To California from their yet to be released fourth album,That’s The Way and the Whole Lotta Love marathon that had a rock’n’roll medley that included That’s Alright Mama and Mess Of Blues.


My trusty reel to reel captured all this action blow by blow. Unfortunately due to the poor reception of the then 247 metres radio band of BBC Radio One –much of it was played out alongside the strains of several foreign radio stations drifting amongst the airwaves. I therefore ended up unwittingly with some rather unique versions of these BBC recordings.

No matter –I had an hours worth of live Led Zeppelin on tap…and life was very good indeed.

Subsequently this BBC performance would emerge first on a series of bootleg LP’s – (I had the BBC Broadcast LP with that great Will Stout pig cover on Trade Mark Of Quality a year later) and then on a variety of CD bootleg sets and then officially on the BBC Sessions album in 1997.

I wish I still had that reel to reel tape version but it’s long disappeared along with the reel to reel tape recorder. I do still have the original BBC Broadcast album and some fantastic CD versions (thanks to E. E. for one of the best) and I’ll be blasting those out this week in celebration of the 40th anniversary of this iconic recording.

So thank you John Peel for persuading Led Zeppelin to perform on Radio One again back in the spring of 1971.I have countless hours of live Led Zeppelin at my disposal…but it’s that very first hour that still resonates as much as any, as it unlocked the (up until then) secret world of Led Zeppelin in concert. It ultimately led to a fascination for me to hear as many of their live performances as possible. 40 years on that desire is as strong as ever.


There has been a lot going on here and apologies for the lack of diary entries. The forthcoming Over Europe book has taken up a considerable amount of my waking hours in recent weeks. Mick and I have spent the last few days working on the Appendix sections which has encompassed an extensive Over Europe 1980 bootleg listing (thank you Graeme H, Mike T and Gerard S for your sterling work here), a round up of Over Europe memorabilia, statistics etc – all lining up with 200 plus other pages of text accompanied by over 200 colour photos.

The memorabilia section required me to locate my original Over Europe t-shirts from the loft and the good lady to iron them (I can’t be good at everything!) so we could get some photos of them. In fact Tom and I met last week at Mick’s last Saturday for a reunion photo for the book. Predictably the t shirts do not fit  quite like they used -ie we would never get in them!). My white Over Europe one is actually a rare item –this was a promo I got from the Swan Song office – only grey in this design was sold at the gigs.

The t-shirts do not fit the same: DL and Tom Locke – StudioMix Bedford, March 26th 2011

So there’s been intense activity on that front and we are getting closer to an end result. I must have looked at the various pages time and time again as we check the proofing etc and despite our best efforts no doubt something will slip though that shouldn’t. It will be for others to judge but I think this book is going to be something really special. The design looks fantastic and now we are piecing it together, I can see it begin to evolve into how I envisaged it many moons back.

More on all this soon – a pre ordering link will be on the site in the next few weeks.

The focus now switches to the forthcoming edition of the Tight But Loose magazine -isue 29 due out late May. There’s already some great stuff lined up – including Mike Tremaglio’s log of the 1971 ‘’Back to the clubs’’ era , an extensive dissection of Stairway To Heaven, more on the Over Europe book, an exclusive interview with Bob Harris discussing his involvement with Robert Plant’s recent career moves, and much more

This issue is the first of the 2011 subscription offer – so if you have yet to re subscribe now is the time.

This activity has all gone on as I battled the old hay fever. I tend to get it early (something to do with the trees) and it has certainly kicked in the past week. There was also a day spent in bed when I got a stomach bug (it wasn’t the beer honest!) a couple of weeks back. So yes the old bones have been creaking as the pressure to get the book in shape took hold. On top of that I also lost my main means of transport, the trusty old bike, for a few days as it required a new tyre.

We also have had our bedroom decorated last week (thank you Pete –I can’t be good at everything!’) which has required the good lady Adam and I to undertake various alternate sleeping arrangements with me relegated to sleeping on the lounge floor for a couple of nights. Ahh the trials of the author.

In between all that, there was a jolly night out to see Led Zep Too at Haynes International Arena (well village hall actually). It was good to see the Watford and Milton Keynes Zep contingents out in force – and great to see Gary F. who stayed over – though watching Rock Follies (am I alone in my  craving for that pioneering mid 70s TV show about The Little Ladies rock band featuring Julie Covington, Rula Lenska and Charlotte Cornwall?) In the early hours did not go down too well with the good lady.

Had a look at BBC4’s Top Of The Pops night on Friday– a series of programmes recalling the golden days of the weekly pop UK TV show that famously deployed the CCS arrangement version of Whole Lotta Love – ironic considering Zep shunned such shows and the singles market it was built around.

I was an avid TOTP watcher not least because when I was in music retail, a good performance on the Thursday show would ensure a sales hike on Friday and Saturday and this would influence our ordering in the shop. My children of course have no real concept of the excitement of watching the programme and being inspired to go out and purchase the latest singles. BBC4’s clip show of performances from 1964 to 1975 wheeled out some the familiar golden moments – David Bowie doing Starman in a jump suit, Marc Bolan inventing Glam rock with performances such as Get It On, The Rolling Stones getting all suggestive with Lets Spend The Night Together – I seem to recall when they did this on the Ed Sullivan show the title had to be amended to Lets Spend Some Time Together – such innocent times.

BBC4 also showed a complete Top Of The Pops edition from 1976 –as aired on April 1stt 1976 – 35 years to the day. A check of my diary of that year revealed I had unsurprisingly watched that show that night – the highlight being the screening of The Beatles 1968 Hey Jude clip (back in ’76 all their singles had been reissued  and many had re entered the charts). My mind was more occupied at that time with the impending release of the new Led Zeppelin album which was just a matter of days away.

Which brings us nicely on to the fact Presence is 35 years old this week. There was massive anticipation for that album back in 1976. Alan Freeman aired the whole album on his show non stop on the Saturday afternoon. The first hearing of Achilles Last Stand remains one of my all time thrilling aural experiences and of course it still sounds brilliant.

After many delays with the sleeve, the album reached the shops in the UK on Tuesday April 6th. We had a display of the Presence album that took up the entire side window of WH Smiths where I worked.  The bizarre Obelisk image causing many a passer by to stop and investigate what it was. I dearly wish I had taken a photo of that display –it looked incredible.

There were some mixed reviews of Presence at the time but overall it received a favourable response. Jonh Ingram’s review in Sounds was a five star rave that I still love reading. ‘’ In the Presence of pure rock’n’roll’’ it proclaimed quite rightly. Given the cirumstances it was recorded under, this seventh Led Zeppelin album was an amazing achievement – it contains some of Jimmy Page’s most incendiary guitar playing. But you don’t need me to tell you that. Pull it out this week and revel again in an album that reflects the real heart and soul of Led Zeppelin

The neighbours here had better run for cover. I’ll be having a full on blast on Wednesday in wishing Presence a happy 35th birthday…

It was sad to hear of the death of Jet Harris. The Shadows were one of the soundtracks to my early childhood as we had a number of their LP’s at Dents Road where I lived. He was an iconic musician and epitome of cool circa 190 – 63. Despite all his problems over the years, he was still petty cool when I met him at a gig he took part in at Bedford Corn Exchange in 2004. I asked him about his association with John Paul Jones who was part of the Jet Harris & Tony Meehan touring band. He spoke enthusiastically of John Baldwin as he called him using John’s pre fame name. I’ve had plenty of Shadows on in recent days – Simplistic, stylish and innovative. Before The Beatles came along and pulled the rug,they ruled. A Jet Harris & Tony Meehan compilation is on my wants list.

Also on the Totnes deck and iPod –LZ BBC Sessions of all forms, a great Tom Jones 70s funk compilation (thank you John P), a bit of the old Beady Eye, Liam Gallagher’s new a band. Oh yes DL in listening to new music shock! At Mick’s a few days back we had on an Oasis collection – their stuff has held up well and for a while in the mid to late 90s they were genuinely exciting and probably the last great record sales phenomenon. In the glory retail years a new Oasis album was an event. The fact I was able to get this Beady Eye sampler free at Tesco’s says much for the devaluation of music product in recent years. It sounds pretty sparky –not of course quite in the league of what went before but Liam will inevitably be forever judged on his previous band as Robert has been. The Oasis track Stay Young is right up there in my all time top ten. When I heard that at Mick’s last week I was transported right back to the mid 90s –and the simpler days of Our Price music shop, Euro 96, Page & Plant etc.

On the football front all roads lead to Madrid tomorrow for the first leg of the Champions League quarter final tie between Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur. Here’s hoping Harry’ boys can hold off the mighty threat of the Spanish team. Yesterday the boy Adam’s team Brickhill Wanderers needed a win in their last game of the season against St Joseph’s of Luton to secure runners up place in their division. It proved no problem as they racked up an emphatic 7-0 victory –Adam notching the third with a thunderbolt free kick which had his Dad punching the air. Here’s a pic of the young midfield dynamo in action yesterday

April is upon us and there is a lot to do –with the Over Europe book to sign off, TBL 29 to get moving (more on that soon), Zep Fest 2011 ahead plus a Who feature on the horizon and some other freelance stuff bubbling – spring is going to be pretty full on.

Looking at some of the Over Europe book proofs that surround me, I am reminded again of the sheer magnetism of this band that I first heard performing live in concert on the radio all of 40 years ago today. As that reel to reel tape recorder captured the sounds of live Led Zeppelin back in 1971, little did I realise 40 years hence I’d be documenting what would be their final tour in 1980.

I consider it an absolute privilege to be doing so, although as Mick could testify, there have been cries of ‘’Bloody Led Zeppelin!’’ at various times as the fatigue of getting this thing as right as it can be often kicked in. Hopefully the end result will be worth it.

By way of a preview here’s a pic of me taken last Friday at Mick’s studio surrounded by some of the proof sheets – which I think will whet your appetite for the book that can take you back to the Led Zeppelin tour that time nearly forgot.

Until now that is and the impending arrival of Led Zeppelin Feather In The Wind –Over Europe 1980.

Right, it’s time to get back to the checking…











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  • Steve said:

    I well remember the “fluff” Freeman show which showcased Presence in it’s entirety, good times.
    Actually on a technical note I think the drum sound on Presence was the best Bonham sound of all. Granted that’s a tough choice:)

  • shelfsidemark said:

    Had an excellent trip to Madrid….apart from the obvious
    fly in the ointment ! Best ground I’ve ever been to,
    a couple of brew-pubs and a really good record shop by
    the hotel which had about half a dozen very good condition
    vinyl Zep bootlegs.Should have made a few notes as I can’t
    remember many details.One was a nice looking ‘In Through The
    Out Door’ double of outakes/rehearsals but they were all in
    the 50/60 euro bracket,which made buying anything a bit of a
    non starter.I’ve got a white Over Europe shirt,which I bought
    at Reading in 1980.Around the same time I also got a couple of
    promo posters by mail from a guy in Nottingham I think.Also have
    a nice large button badge,with the warden logo and a cheap looking
    red and white one with just words.LED ZEPPELIN,in classic ‘tall’
    letters,with OVER EUROPE ’80 underneath.
    If only I’d actually got to a show !

  • David said:


    I also heard and taped Alan Freemans Saturday rock show with him previewing Presence. Never forget it. Along with the dancing girls on the Old Grey Whistle Test to Trampled Underfoot it remains etched in my memory.

    Condolances to Spurs though. It will take a Kashmir at Earls Court performance to turn that around?

  • RichardG said:


    Seconding (thirding?!?) the anticipation about the new book, looking forward to learning lots more about (for me at least) the “lost tour” and what might have been after the trials of the late 70s…

    Presence is possibly my favourite LZ album (they rotate, but it’s at the top of the pile more often than most!) so it’ll be getting a good thrashing tomorrow for sure – much like it did today actually!

    The Mighty Arms of Atlas indeed!

  • Damian said:

    Had just discovered Zep – missed Earl’s Court but around for the Presence release. I remember Achilles Last Stand being aired on the OGWT as an accompaniment to a cartoon which I think had a small boat being tossed about on a stormy sea. Can’t really remember as I was captivated by the music. Looking forward to the new book. Didn’t get to any of the Over Europe gigs but remember seeing Billy Connolly walking through Leicester Square wearing a tour jacket.

  • Kathy Urich said:

    Dave I’m looking forward to the new book. I’m really enjoying the Knebworth book it’s fantastic; for those of you who haven’t ordered your copy, nows the time. Thanks again for all the great Zeppelin news.

  • Michael Brazee said:

    Dave, Your Diary entry brings back memories of when I first heard Presence. I was a senior at the State University of New York at Buffalo (a.k.a SUNYAB or UB).
    The local rock radio station played it in its entirety at 11:00pm. The album was to be released at the record stores the next day.
    Fortunately I borrowed my roommate’s cassette recorder and taped it. Fortunate because when I went to the store the nexe day, no album.
    It turns out the the US had a trucker’s strike and goods weren’t moving. It was a full week before I could by the official album. (A far cry from when I was quite possibly the first person in the Buffalo area to buy Physical Graffitti after an all night Bridge game – yes I actually did study too!).
    I went through 2 or 3 sets of batteries for the cassette player that week.
    Achilles Last Stand sent the goosebumps a flying. The start-stop approach in the songs was cool. Loved Hots On For Nowhere, What a great ending with Tea For One. Just a great album. Every song a winner. For Your Life scathing.
    Then when I finally got the album it had a skip in it. Arrrgh! The joy of vinyl. Got it replaced and life was good once again. Just a few weeks left in college then onto the working world.

  • Michaela Firth said:

    Amazing blog! Such a priveledge to share all this with you! bring on the ‘over Europe’ book!!
    Remember hands nearby as and when needed X

    PS …Rock Follies …legends ;0)

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