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18 March 2010 1,256 views 2 Comments

40 year ago this weekend, Led Zeppelin flew out for the first date of their fifth US tour.

I was well aware of all this because I’d purchased a copy of Record Mirror that week. Under the front page headline of ‘Goldrush’ and a wonderful colour photo from the previous December’s awards bash, it revealed the bands current plans. Interestingly enough it reported that a film crew would be on hand to capture the tour.

The story read as follow:

‘’Off to America on Saturday go Led Zeppelin. And with the group will be a film production unit which is making a film of the month long tour. The team has been trailing the group since their appearance at the Albert Hall in January. So far in the can are shots of their European tour, Jimmy Page in the studio, and Robert Plant at home on his farm. Not to mention the presentation of gold discs for million mark sales of their albums. The film, which has already been sold in America , is to tie in with the release of their next LP at the end of the year. Which could easily sell another million. And which is why some people are nicknaming it ‘’Goldrush’’. 

Film of their European tour? ,Jimmy in the studio?, Robert on the farm?

A film crew with them in America? There’s no evidence to suggest much of that occurred…but if  it did where’s the footage now! 

I digress: On that Saturday March 21st 1970, at the same time Zep were about to wow the audience at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, I was in a capacity crowd of 61,479 (their highest of that season statto fans note) at Stamford Bridge watching Chelsea triumph 2-1 over Manchester United.

It would have been nice of course to be down the Lane where Martin Peters was making his debut for Spurs against Coventry (he scored in a 2-1 defeat). Peters had transferred to Spurs as part of a swap deal that took Jimmy Greaves to West Ham (who also scored two on his debut for West Ham that day at Manchester City–I’ve just watched it on you tube!). As it was, my friend at the time from Dents Road was a Chelsea fan and I was more than happy to tag along with his relation to see some prime Division One action. It was incredibly exciting to see the 70s superstars of the day in action – Alan Hudson, Peter Osgood, Ian Hutchinson, Bobby Charlton,  Alex Stepney,  Willie Morgan etc,

It was one of those occasions from an impressionable age that remains ingrained on my brain – not dissimilar to the way Zep memories of Empire Pool and Earls Court etc are lodged in there forever.

I can remember so much about that day in detail: the records played over the PA before the teams came on which included hits of the time Brotherhood Of Man’s United We Stand and Steam’s Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye, the atmosphere in the Chelsea paddock where we stood ( a fantastic view near the pitch) as Ian Hutchinson scored twice in the first half, the pie we had in a café after the game and the hitch hiker we picked up on the A1 going home. 40 years have done nothing to dull the memories of an awesome day for this then 14 year old (the same age Adam is now!).  

Little did I realize that aside from the match programme, three years later I’d have another remnant of that day. This was in the form of the bootleg LP that captured Zep’s Vancouver show of March 21st. In fact whenever I hear the opening drum roll from Bonzo,Jimmy’s guitar warm up  and Robert’s ‘’Everybody feel alright!’’ intro, I always think back to that spring Saturday in March 1970 when I was in amongst the then soccer elite in Stamford Bridge.

I of course kept the copy of Record Mirror from that week, and have the trade mark of quality vinyl bootleg of Mudslide. Unfortunately my original Cheslea v Man Utd programme  hasn’t survived.

However by the wonder of eBay I intend to put that straight very soon. Such artifacts become increasingly valuable as the years go by. Looking at those remnants I can almost smell the atmosphere of that day back in 1970.

Meanwhile 40 years on it’s been ever onward with TBL 26. Initial few pages are now in design stage and the work in progress cover has had a few tweaks (the postponement of the China Peace concert being one).

Now to this week’s Who supplement – had some great input from a number of Who experts with the feature this week –thank you Andy Neill, Luke Pacholski and Ed Hannel who have unlocked many of mysteries of the Leeds saga.  I’ve been watching various Who footage on you tube etc . Keith Moon was  just outstanding  in that era and you realise why he was such a hero to John Bonham – a point emphasized by Glenn Hughes in our recent interview  .

On the player a bit of Stones also live from Leeds in 1971 (thank you John P), Zep wise Royal Albert Hall 70, also returned to some Robert Plant solo stuff as I had a look through Stephen Humphries’ excellent interview feature  with Doug Boyle, Francis Dunnery and Justin Adams which looks like being one of the many highlights of the new TBL magazine. Stephen also send me a very good Strange Sensation CDR with some live highlights on. Also had another great Alan Freeman 1973 Programme on CD from Gary D. 

Watched the documentary about Blur’s comeback No Distance Left To Run this week. In the 90s Blur were responsible for some exciting times when I was ensconced in music retail notably that Oasis chart battle. A lot of their early Britpop stuff passed me by , but latterly they made some very fine tunes (Tender, To The End and The Universal amongst them.). This was a fascinating documentary with some very honest interviews explaining the reasons for their split and return. Quite a lot of parallels with the Zep situation – and it made me think how effective a similar documentary made around the 02 comeback might be. Maybe one day… As the Blur credits rolled, it was good to see a name check for Kevin McCabe, now a main man at Parlophone Records who worked with me in Our Price here in Bedford over 20 years ago.

Wading through the Nick Kent book (I’m up to 1974) has inspired a raid to the loft to bring out the Joni Mitchell LP’s I have including Hejira one of Nick’s fave albums of the era.

Last night around 9.30, journalist Barney Hoskyns emailed me to inform me that legendary music writer and broadcaster Charlie Gillett had died.

This sad news was not a little unnerving as I had only been reading his column in the March 21st 1970 Record Mirror earlier in the evening

Though never as high profile as Nick Kent as a writer, his achievements were many. He was the author of the seminal history of music The Sound Of The City, He was the host of the influential Honky Tonk show on Radio London; he co-managed Ian Dury’s Kiburn & the High Roads and founded Oval Records Records, enjoying a No. 1 hit with with Paul Hardcastle’s ’19’; and he played a massive role in introducing world music the UK, on both radio and record. More recently he had shows on BBC Radio 3 and the BBC World service.

Back in the 70’s Along with Nick Kent and Charlie Shaar Murray, he was an absolute inspiration to me with his writing in Let It Rock, NME etc. Charlie’s  monthly My Top Ten column in Let It Rock was illuminating reading -opening my ears to all sorts of exotic music at a tender age of 16. The Allman Brothers, Litte Feat, Dr John, and Buffalo Springfield amongst many others.

Another of the key reasons I started writing about music was down to a piece he wrote on how to get started in music journalism titled ”So you want to be a Rock’n’Roll writer” – this appeared in the superb 1972 Rock File paperback book he edited. His advice was to keep a carbon…ie keep trying and keep submitting…sound advice indeed.

The whole piece was incredibly insightful, with tips on how to put forward articles, write for fanzines etc -soon after I began writing my own Top Ten columns to see how I shaped up and sending in letters to the music press. This would soon lead to establishing my own Led Zeppelin fanzine. Looking back it was Charlie’s observations in Rock File that helped kick start me into action on the writing front.  

I remember he once inadvertently took on the might of Peter Grant. He wrote a piece in the NME about singles and Led Zep’s resistance to them, while at the same time singling out the fact that Zep were a force to be reckoned with. Grant misread this as criticism of his boys and took umbrage and wrote a complaining letter in the following week’s NME – in typical Gillett candour Charlie replied ”Perhaps they’d like to tell me what they would like written about them!”

Charlie Gillett was a true pioneer in the art of rock music writing. He did it better than most. He will be sorely missed but always remembered.

Another rock writer Carol Clark also passed away this week. Though I never knew her well, I did have a few phone conversations with Carol over the years supplying Zep related info etc. She was a gracious lady and another very good writer in the rock and metal field. Condolences go to her family.

Busy few days ahead here – we will be going up to Norwich at the weekend to pick up Sam who is back here for nearly a month. It will be the first time we’ve seen her this year and we are very much looking forward to her being back home for a while. Them Crooked Vultures beckon at the Royal Albert Hall on Monday (look forward to seeing all that can make it in the pub beforehand) and Boot Led Zeppelin on Saturday March 27. Spurs have an important FA Cup sixth round replay against Fulham next Wednesday, though I’m going to miss the live TV coverage as the good lady and I are due to be at our good friend Terry Boud’s Brickhill Wanderers football team fundraising quiz at the White Horse that night.

If there’s a question about the fortunes of Chelsea against Manchester United in the 1969/1970 football season, I should  have no problem answering.

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  • Tim Davies said:

    Could the film crew following Led Zeppelin on the road have been Peter Whitehead’s team ?
    Afterall, they did film the Royal Albert Hall gig in January of 1970.
    Around the time of the official DVD release in 2003 Jimmy did say in many interviews that they had a lot of footage without sound, and a lot of sound without video footage that they could not use.
    Jimmy admitted that they did “raise the bar very high” when it came to quality of material selected foe the “DVD”
    I wonder….did this include any of the US tour, that is, if it was ever filmed ?
    Answers on a vintage film can please 🙂

  • Bob said:

    hello dave, i really enjoyed this article. i have a clean copy of this Record Mirror GOLDRUSH! available for sale if anyone is interested in adding to their led zep memorabilia collection. feel free to contact me with inquiries. thanks, bob k.

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