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23 December 2011 6,317 views 11 Comments

39 years ago today I was lucky enough to be in attendance at the closest gig Led Zeppelin ever played to Christmas in the UK. Saturday December 23rd 1972 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 (what 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 Jesus character 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 and 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 another two years.

On Chrsitmas day back in 1972 I watched the usual holiday fare TV which at the time incuded the likes of  the brilliant Morecombe & Wise and Bruce Forsyth’s Generation Game . Eleven days after the Led Zep Alley Pally show on Thursday Janaury 4th 1973 my diary notes I watched that evenings  edition of BBC TV’s Top Of The Pops which featured David Bowie performing a live rendition of his current hit Jean Genie. That Bowie clip has long since wiped by the BBC – luckily one of the cameraman John Henshall requested a copy and it has been in possesion of the two inch tape ever since.
All these years later he has made it available to the BBC again and it was screened for the first time on Wednesday night as part of the Top Of The Pops 2 Christmas special. I watched it in awe. It’s a simply riveting clip with Bowie in all his Ziggy/Aladdinsane pomp and the late great Mick Ronson playing a mean guitar.

This is simply one of the best rock TV performances ever captured. Bowie looks incredible – watching the the whole Top of The Pop set up well you can almost smell 1973. He ruled back then alongside Zep.

It would be nice to think a cameraman might have filmed the long presumed wiped only UK TV appearance of Led Zeppelin – performing Communication Breakdown on a BBC show called How Late It Is in March 1969. The esteemed Gary Davies has been trying to search that one out but to no avail.

Here’s the utterly amazing Bowie clip : the Bowie revival starts right here – right now:

Christmas quickies: I wasn’t called upon to be Father Christmas at Janet’s pre school nativity this year – the regular chap who does the gig was back, so I became a redundant Santa and it’s a bit late to get any bookings now!

No Santa required – DL in the one off gig last Christmas

One of my party pieces (which Janet has heard far too many times! ) is that I am pretty good at reciting what was the Christmas number one single in the charts over the past 50 years on anyy given year – actually I’m good up until the late 90s because that’s when interest trailed off as in recent years the winning single from the X Factor has usually been number one (aside from the Rage Against The Machine campaign of 2009). This year it looks like there will be a proper number one again as The Military Wives moving Wherever You Are is destined to replace Little Mix as the Christmas UK number one – a proper traditional song at number one as it should be and as it used to be.

Well, it’s very near to Christmas –we are planning to hook up with as many friends as we can in the next few days. Later tonight we aim to see Terry and Marian and tomorrow Christmas Eve, Dec is back from London and staying at Tom’s – there a bit of a lunchtime reunion bash at the Bedford night club formerly known as Winkles (a place we spent many a night in the 1980s now known as The Pad ) so we plan to pop in there. Before all that, there’s an important early morning rendezvous at the local butchers to pick up our turkey. Have to say I’m still getting that irritating toothache I had a while back but got to fight that one off for now. Christmas Eve always has that air of expectancy around it as we all get ready to bring the draw bridge up and retreat for Christmas Day.

The last couple of days have been spent sorting more text for TBL 31 – designer Mick Lowe and I are on the last lap of design and text and it’s looking good. I went in to see Mick to wish him the season’s best. He has done a fantastic job this pst year.

Above: Mick Lowe and DL with the work in progress TBL 31 – Studiomix Bedford December 21 2011

I’ve also been into town to get last minute bits and did a two hour stint in Tesco’s assisting the shopping with the good lady Janet and her mum Bet. Adam and Sam have been on good form – and it’s great for Sam to be unwinding a little before she revises for her journalist collage exams early in the new year.  Bet will be with us for Christmas Day and here Janet has put up some nice photos of her Dad the late Ken who we will of course be thinking of.

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.

On that note, our thoughts turn to the late Howard Mylett who, as we all know passed away earlier this year. His wife Anita has been in touch and I’d like to relay these words she wrote to me:

To all the fans of Led Zeppelin.

I would like to thank all of you for your kind words for my husband Howard who sadly passed away in June 2011. I know Howard would have been so touched by them as I was myself. Also a big thank you to Dave Lewis for his support and for the dedication in the last issue of Tight But Loose. I felt so moved by it and can her Howard saying those words. All the best
Anita Mylett.

Poignant words indeed and that’s the real message of Christmas. As I always observe at this time of year, amongst all the commercial hype this is the seasons 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 the friends often mentioned here and a whole host of people from far and wide, who over this past year have given time and support to make TBL what it is –and of course the subscribers and purchasers of the TBL magazines and books these past twelve months. I’ll certainly be raising a glass or two in the coming days in acknowledgment of this amazing community that surrounds the Tight But Loose magazine and web site.

The TBL 2 DL & GF in rather fetching pre Christmas pullovers…TBL HQ Totnes Close Bedford, December 19 2011

On behalf of Gary and all here , I wish you all a hopeful, peaceful and merry Christmas.

Here’s a little clip to get you rocking around the Christmas tree…

Robert Plant – Santa Clause is Back in Town

And here is Robert around Christmas time 1989 offering his help to a local Kidderminster charity – marvel as he romps through Rock And Roll like he’s playing to an audience at Wembley Stadium instead of a few seasonal consumers in Kidderminster shopping mall. Let it rock!

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  • Gert said:

    That’s an unusual clip. Very enjoyable. Robert’s always been comfortable and easy-going with the audience, me thinks. Nice bloke indeed.

    Concert at Ally-Pally – great, but way before my time. I just wonder how much £1 admission was in those days… I guess you had to save up for that?

  • martin said:

    I was at the Ally Pally gig too. My first Zep live show. At that time as a 14 year old I only had vols. 2 and 4. Such was Zep’s low profile in the media (imagine that now) that I only knew what Planty looked like. As they enterted the stage after a sucession of cartoons was shown on the backdrop it was like er….that must be Page and er….. I recall that having waited hours outside to make the mad dash to secure front row that mother nature called and I took leave during….Stairway!!. I recall Mr Plant looking down at me as I forced my way back to my prime position!
    There was a voucher given out to claim a poster from Harlequin Records. It was an awful poster. Merchandise then was non exsistent.
    Of course it was a brilliant gig. Having said good bye to my friends at Brixton Tube I made the long lone ‘after last bus’ walk home to Norwood.
    Something any parent now would never allow a 14 year kid to do!
    Times change but TSRTS!!

  • Steve said:

    Santa brought me a copy of “Feather in the wind”. I thoroughly recommend You get your hands on this if you havent got a copy already. First class work Dave.

  • Jim Sloane said:

    Happy Xmas everybody! Peace and love to everybody from sunny Preston!

  • Peter said:

    Heartfelt wishes and kindness to you and the family Dave, and all dearly loved ones who have departed for the next phase of the spirit’s journey. Love your’s, and the team’s work on TBL and helping to keep the homefires burning in everyone of us who cherish the music so unselfishly given by the musicians we admire the most. God bless to all.

  • Kathy Urich said:

    Happy Holidays to everyone in TBL land and especially you Dave and Gary for keeping us well informed on all thing Zeppelin and more. Your site always brings a smile to my face and I love getting Zeppelin mail so I’m looking forward to my 2012 TBL’s. I hope this year is grand for one and all.

  • Steve said:

    Absolutely lovin Roberts shoppin mall performance. I always felt Robert was unfairly charactertured as “The Golden God” decadent Rock Star when in fact he was completely down to earth but was extremely talented and was in showbiz . Top man 🙂

  • John C said:

    Seasons greetings to all TBL readers, and Zep fans around the globe. Let’s hope the New Year will bring some joy – it can’t get much worse out there can it!!
    My heart goes out to Anita Mylett, as losing someone you love is never easy. All Zep fans have been touched by Howard in some way – as a boy Howard’s Zep Bio kindled my love of the band. The birth of my son in October is my crowning glory – at last someone to give the beloved collection to!
    Peace & Love to all the Zep family.

  • andrew R said:

    Thanks for the bowie clip Dave as i missed it when it went out.I always thought that in later years Bowie underestimated the input of Ronno to his success. Obvious parallels with another singer and guitarist dont need to be stated,do they? Wishing all the best to you and the good lady Janet.A heartfull thankyou for the brilliant TBL website long may you/it run.Merry christmas.

  • Larry said:

    Thanks for the terrific posting, Dave. I vividly recall that Robert Plant clip…it was from the US television show Saturday Night Live in December 1984. Of course joining Robert in the clip are Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats and Paul Shaffer of the David Letterman Show band (and Blues Brothers fame as well).

    They also performed Rockin At Midnight from The Honeydrippers EP. I still have the material somewhere on an old Beta tape. Plant’s appearance was a big deal to me (and I imagine other like-minded fans) at the time because it had only been in the previous couple of years that he had emerged as a solo artist, and I can’t really recall his performing solo on US TV before that…I could be mistaken about that, but if he had, he hadn’t done so frequently. We weren’t that far removed from the Zeppelin “we don’t do television” days. So Robert Plant performing on television was BIG deal at the time.

    He looked very cool, and his attire has aged a bit better than some of the stuff he was being seen in around this period (sorry, Robert). The Santa Claus song was a great touch and very well done. This clip is a nice find…I don’t think it’s one of his more well-known appearances.

    So thanks Dave, Gary and Mick for all your hard work and Happy Holidays to all!


  • Michael, Melbourne said:

    Dear Dave and Gary,

    May I add my countryman, Rolf Harris’ “Christmas in the Sun” to Dave’s seasonal song list?

    It will be very apt for me and my family as we are expecting it to be 30C/86F here in Melbourne, Australia, on Christmas Day. A dip in the swimming pool at my sister Helen’s place will be very welcome after tucking into the traditional Christmas roast. No need for fetching pullovers here!

    Seasons Greetings and best wishes to you and all the TBLers, wherever you are, in summer’s heat or winter’s cold, around the world this Christmas.



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