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17 June 2010 5,192 views 6 Comments

Above: Cologne June 18th 1980:  A pensive DL after realising that nothing was going to shift those posters and thoughts of  an ebay nest egg  30 years on fading fast…

World Cup Update June 18th:  Oh dear…Bonzo was right after all…football is a load of bollocks – when it’s played like that.  An uterly dismal performance tonight that leaves us hanging on for a win on Wednesday or it will be all over. Yes we have been here before -1986  and 1990, but we really are running out of time and it’s hard to know where the inspiration will come from. The press will go to town in the next few days, but what is done is done and we have to pick ourselves up and look to Wednesday. Let’s hope Fabio can find the answers -and that the players respond,  but boy he will need to dig deep to get us out of this one. Watching England…it never ceases to be torture…

30 years ago today my good friend Tom Locke and I left Bedford for a journey that would take us to the Cologne Sporthalle for the second night of Led Zeppelin’s European tour. Armed with only the phone number of the non English speaking co-promoter, it was something of a wing and a prayer. Sometimes back then that’s the way it had to be. Luckily for us, everything fell into place beautifully.

A journey across the sea from Harwich then a train journey through Holland into Germany went very smoothly. We had a meet with Hans one of the promoters and all ticket arrangements were sorted.. Later in the afternoon  we went to the Inter Continental Cologne hotel to see the entire Led Zeppelin entourage book in. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to be right in the middle of the action as the band relaxed in the foyer and bar.  Robert in a good looking Brazil shirt (you would have to say he was a bit of a pioneer wearing a soccer shirt as this was long before the football shirt as casual gear era) , Jonesy in unassuming collage sweatshirt, Jimmy fragile as ever in white suit and Bonzo loud and proud in leather jacket and Alright Now sweatshirt.  Then there was Peter Grant in a Swan Song track suit, Harvey Goldsmith in one of the Over Europe swear shirts we would soon be investing in. Tour personal Phil Carlo and Rex King and Billy Francis, road crew Mick Hinton and Ray Thomas. Record company exec Phil Carson. They were all there…

Above: The pass that provided one of the all time great nights-  I’ll forgive the wrong spelling of my name!

Led Zeppelin were back on the road and we were right in the middle of it. Over at the Cologne Sporthalle a few hours on we found ourselves right under it.

Quite literally.

Thanks to the co promoter who was more than happy to provide us with access to the photographer pit. Remarkably there were no photographers –just us. We were literally a few feet from where Jimmy pressed down on the wah wah and squealed out the intro to Train Kept A Rollin.

Above: Right under Led Zeppelin June 18th 1980. Photo copyright Tom Locke/TBL

Rejuvenation or what –it was an incredible experience – and one that often get’ lost in the middle of my Earls Court and Knebworth memories. It really was something special to be in such close proximity to the band on stage. Thinking about it today some 30 years on it was an almost dream like experience. In fact in hindsight this particular Zep gig is on a par if not slightly above the Knebworth experience.

Memories from the show.  The excitement of not knowing the set list, Plant mentioning that England had beaten Spain earlier though it was not enough to save them from Euro 80 elimination (‘’Thank you very much and a very warm good evening to you. Pleased to hear that England beat Spain 2-1 tonight, but it’s too late in the day’’), Jimmy speaks!, A riveting In The Evening, All My Love my favourite Zep number of the time performed live –oh yes… a speed through Achilles, Bonzo outstanding on Kashmir , Stairway still sounding like the anthem and a Communication Breakdown that near shook the building (Plant:’’So this is what it’s like in a rock and roll band’’).

Believe me Led Zeppelin were pretty hot that night in front of the wildly enthusiastic German crowd, a few American serviceman and a sprinkling of UK fans including Steve Jones and Richard Bunton from Manchester.  It was the start of an incredible few days for Tom and I.  Crazily, in fact looking back very crazily, we had to go back to Bedford the next day but I quickly put a plan in action to get back as soon as possible –convincing my very understanding boss at WH Smith that this was er… a little important.

We were back to pick the tour up again in Frankfurt going on to see two shows in Mannheim and the penultimate gig in Munich. I had to be back at work on the Monday so Berlin was out – no matter I thought back then.. When they go to America we will make up for it….

For those shows we were lucky enough to be allowed access on the side of the stage – an incredible view as the action unfolded. Amongst many highlights I’ll always remember Harvey Goldsmith asking me to take his picture with the visiting Ahmet Ertegun by the stage in Frankfurt. Tom and I took a fair few photos form that ultimate vantage point – looking at them today –they bring it all back.

These photos, memories and many more views and reminisces will be forming the contents of the follow up book to the Knebworth volume – Led Zeppelin Feather In the Wind Over Europe 1980 that I am working on now. This is actually turning out to be a far bigger project that I’d anticipated. I don’t want to rush this one as there is real scope to present a very special chronicle of these last days of Led Zeppelin. Mick & I have looked at some design ideas and the plan is to present the mountain of visual material in the best possible way.  The book format will be a larger format deluxe edition. I can’t give an indication of publication date as yet but more on this as it unfolds. The Over Europe tour has something of a mythical status being so under represented by the press. I aim to redress that balance with the story behind the Zep tour that time forgot.

30 years on, I’ll be getting together with Tom in the next few days to toast that special night in Cologne when we were having the time of a life…little did we know that for Led Zeppelin time was fast running out…..

June 18th is always a special date in my calendar as it marks a fair few memorable days for one reason or another. In 1970 that was the day of the General Election when Ted Heath’s Tories overcame Wilson’s Labour. I went to see The Beatles film Let It Be at the cinema and earlier had watched the highlights of the epic World Cup semi final that saw Italy beat Germany 4-3. In 2001 it was the day I fell ill to a mystery infection that put me in hospital for nine days.

In 2010 it will also go down as the day England played Algeria in a crucial World Cup match. After the disappointment of the USA,  here’s hoping we can rally and get it back on track.  Our gang will be re convening at the Totnes Arena (our living room!), that’s the good lady Janet, Adam plus Betty and our friends Max and Julie. I’ll post the World Cup Diary update on Saturday following the match. Quite enjoying James Cordon’s live World Cup shows though have to say it’s very derivative of the Chris Evans TFI format. Can’t say the tournament itself has really taken off yet –there’s been a distinct lack of goals, maybe it’s that Jabulani ball or the sound of those darned vuvuzelas. Here’s hoping we get a goal feast soon.

This week has seen the arrival of the TBL Earls Court T shirts – ordering details are on the site. Be sure to order fast, not least so the good lady won’t be moaning at me for long about a large box of .T shirts cluttering up the place. The coolest T. shirt of the summer and the perfect alternative to your World Cup garb.

Elsewhere it’s been down to the collation of the Over Europe book – waded through the loft and found some real gems –photos, memorabilia etc. It really has brought back so many memories of that era for me and not just Zep related as it was a bit of a crazy time personally. It’ll all be in the memoirs.

On the player, well Cologne ‘80 is a cert for the next few days for sure and various other similar era recordings. Other stuff I’ve had on – Wings Wingspan – what a great singles band they were. Saw Macca on the TV coverage of Isle of Wight, that catalogue of songs never fails. Stones Exile and Black & Blue plus a great live recording of Ron Wood with Keef (thanks John P.) from their celebrated Kilburn gig in 1974  (Nick Kent told me the future Sex Pistols, Steve Jones and Paul Cook sneaked in for free that night). A bit of jazz always goes down well in the summer and Miles Davis ‘Round About Midnight has been filling that requirement this week -also had on Santana’s rather wonderful Incident At Neshabur.

It’s such a beautiful morning here so after walking Adam to the school bus stop I decided to do something I’ve been meaning to get around to doing for a while. I went for a run -probably for the first time in about 20 years. Oh yes your TBL editor could be seen pounding along Bedford’s High street at around 7.40 am pausing only for a quick chat with Jerry’s mate John Mckenzie who knows a thing or two about Mott The Hoople. The good lady was a bit worried  how I’d be upon my return but afterwards I felt….not bad really for a man approaching his 54th birthday,  though my aching thighs indicate I may not be ready for a call up from Fabio yet. My plan ahead is to go for an early morning run at least three times a week – a bold claim which will take a lot of discipline – here’s hoping the legs (and everything else) hold up…

We are going to get Sam from Norwich at the weekend –it’s really nice she will be back for Father’s Day, though there will be some measure of sadness here without Ken and we will be going to lay some flowers on his grave on Sunday.

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  • said:

    kind of} clever work and coverage!

  • Shayne Smith said:

    I am interested in buying an authentic Zep Over Europe 80 tour shirt.

    Long live Led Zeppelin

  • shelfsidemark said:

    Just occured to me that I also picked up the 4 LP ‘Destroyer’ box set on the way from the station.Can’t remember how much it cost though.
    Also had a Tight But Loose badge made up in the festival arena.It looks rubbish…but I’ve still got it !

  • russell ritchin said:

    wish i had seen some of those concerts (how many times have i said that over the years) AWESOME.

    As for the football that england v algeria game was i think 1 of the worst games i have seen (and ive seen a few over the years) hard to
    think of any 1 player that stood out and there were times when algeria looked the better team,you have to keep the faith and of
    course they could suddendlly turn it all around this wednesday PLEASE.


  • Tim Fox said:

    Conversely I wore my “Zeppelin Over Europe” T’shirt to Reading that year and someone offered me ten-times it’s value. Not the above person though – I wouldn’t sell !

  • shelfsidemark said:

    I still have an Over Europe ’80 shirt which I picked up at the Reading festival that year.Good condition but very thin cotton.Haven’t worn it for years as it seems to be a lot smaller than when I bought it ! Sadly just like the Knebworth one.
    The fact that there are indeed similarities between TFI and James Corden’s World cup is due in part no doubt to having the same producer.
    Old flame of Chris Evans….Suzy Aplin.

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