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4 September 2019 1,334 views 12 Comments


63…how did that happen!

63 is the new 23!

As usual when a birthday rolls around, it’s a good time to quantify what I do, what I like and take stock…

So firstly let’s do some timelines:

I was 7 years old when I first saw a live concert (The Dave Clark Five show at the Granada Cinema Bedford)

9 when I first saw Tottenham Hotspur play

13 when I first heard Led Zeppelin

15 when I first started work at British Home Stores (sadly now gone)

15 when I first saw Led Zeppelin live at the Empire Pool Wembley

16 when I saw Led Zeppelin perform at Alexandra Palace

18 when I first started selling records at WH Smith – a career in retail that would last 35 years

18 when I saw Led Zeppelin perform five times at Earls Court

19 when I attended The Song Remains The Same London premiere

21 when I jumped on stage with The Who at Shepperton

22 when I wrote the first Tight But Loose magazine

22 when I saw Led Zeppelin at Knebworth

23 when I travelled over Europe to see Led Zeppelin on what would be there final tour

24 when my first book Led Zeppelin -The Final Acclaim was published

25 when I started going out with the good lady Janet

27 when we married

29 when Led Zeppelin reformed for Live Aid

34 when Sam was born

34 when I watched England reach the semi finals of the World Cup

35 when my book Led Zeppelin A Celebration was published

36 when I co organised the first UK Led Zeppelin with Andy Adams

37 when I saw Jimmy Page and Robert Plant reunite for the Unledded MTV performances

38 when Adam was born

40 when I co wrote the Led Zeppelin Concert File book with Simon Pallett

41 when I intervened John Paul Jones for the TBL magazine

46 when the Led Zeppelin DVD was premiered

50 when I contributed to the research on Robert Plant’s Nine Lives box set

51 when Led Zeppelin reunited at the 02 Arena,

53 when I was made redundant at Virgin Retail and created TBL Publishing and went self- employed

54 when I published the Feather In the Wind Over Euope 1980 book

56 when I signed off the From A Whisper To A Scream book for publication

57 when I published the revised Then As It Was Led Zeppelin at Knebworth book,

58 when I compiled the Five Glorious Nights -Led Zeppelin at Earls Court 1975 book…

59 when I interviewed Jimmy Page for the TBL magazine

59 when I wrote the liner notes for the official Complete BBC Sessions

60 when the Complete BBC Sessions set was released.

61 when I watched England reach the semi finals of the World Cup

61 when I completed the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book with Mike Tremaglio

62 when I launched the Evenings With book in London with Mike Tremaglio

62 when I published the largest ever issue of the TBL mag – all 64 pages of it…

62 when I attended the John Paul Jones 100 Club gig and handed him the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book.


So once again, forgive me the indulgence but here are some DL birthday at 63 reflections:

Some things I’ve learned at 63…

Life sounds better to music…it just does – all the time…

It’s a great life this life of music – to paraphrase the late great Ahmet…

Records are very good for the soul…

Darren’s Vinyl Barn is a very good place to be on Friday mornings

Record Store Day is a wonderful event

The CD is still a great format – particularly box sets

It’s best to lock your bike up at all times

Spurs might not win the any competitions (as yet!)   but hey, they play some very good football

Led Zeppelin got it right with the title of track two side one of Led Zeppelin III – I am blessed with many…

Passion is infectious….

Heritage is a great thing…

British Pubs are great places to be and are to be coveted…

My hometown is a comforting place to be…

Laughter is a very good for the soul

Not taking things too seriously and being able to laugh at yourself at times is a very good thing

Laughter and love make the world go round…

You can’t please all the people all the time and boy, I do try…

Some people will just not get you…but those that really count will..

When it comes to the love of a wife and family – I’m a multi millionaire…

DL AT 63:

Once again, forgive me the indulgence but here are some DL birthday at 62 reflections:

At 63, the usual passions remain undimmed.

As ever here, music remains all encompassing. Listening to it, writing about it, reading about it. That folks is my DNA.

Right at the centre of my world is of course Led Zeppelin and all its many offshoots. It remains an absolute privilege to be able to relay the world of Led Zep through the various TBL mediums, be it this website, Facebook, the magazine or the books.

It’s also how I make a living.Yes it’s a fantastic job but one that does come with it’s own set of challenges. To pursue the various projects, generate business and sell the TBL product is a non stop 24/7 task –  and a somewhat isolating one at times. I do have some amazing support and I’d like to once again single out Mike Tremaglio and TBL designer Mick Lowe for all they have done this past year working with me on the various TBL initiatives to fruition.

At this point I’d also like to offer sincere thanks to every buyer of TBL product this past year. Your support is very much appreciated.

This year has been a very busy one – in the space of the 12 months from September 5 last year, I have been involved in the following:

Launched  the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book with Mike Tremaglio  at the Sound event and the TBL Atlas gathering last September

Contributed a piece to the John Bonham A Celebration event programme

Appeared at the CAT Club in Pontefract presenting an evening of Led Zeppelin IV

Appeared on the BBC Radio 2 Led Zeppelin 50th Anniversary special

Compiled the Led Zeppelin The First 100 Days feature with Mike Tremaglio for Rock Candy magazine

Interviewed Jogen Angel for the piece on his Led Zeppelin Denmark 1968 – 1971 book for Record Collector

Attended the superb 100 Club gig and subsequently Interviewed John Paul Jones for the TBL magazine

Contributed to the Led Zeppelin I Was There book

Wrote the Led Zeppelin II track by track for the Classic Rock special 50th anniversary feature

Completed and distributed TBL issue 45  to over 30 countries across the globe.

Re -packaged the Then As It Was -Led Zeppelin at Knebworth 1979 book and staged the TBL Knebworth 40th anniversary fan gathering at the Atlas pub with Julian Walker.

Appeared at the Word In Your Ear podcast recording in Islington

Add to that the ongoing the weekly update of this website  and the ongoing distribution of TBL book and magazine orders…well there’s no sign of retirement in sight!

My job demands a lot of self motivation and the ability to make things happen. At 63 my zest for life is as strong as ever  -aided considerably by the many people close to me who remain an inspiration…

Then there is the love of football –and following the somewhat erratic fortunes of Tottenham Hotspur and England, the daily bike rides (my favoured mode of transport ) and socialising in the pub with friends.

Pubs oh yes…I have a great affinity for the great British pub. Whilst I don’t drink much of it, I love the affinity people have with real ale. I do seem to be pictured many times with a pint of Carlsberg or Fosters in my hand – but it’s not just that they serve alcohol – I love the differing atmosphere, the lay out –the sheer tradition of the British pub. Too many are closing of course which is a terrible shame. Those that remain should be coveted. I certainly do that…

As the years roll on  – the fact is though, none of us are getting any younger  – with a continuous stream of passing’s, the thoughts of mortality are more prevalent than ever.

Only yesterday I attended the funeral here of our good friend Nick Rayner who we have chatted to over many years in our local Fox And Hounds Nick sadly passed away quite suddenly on August 15 at just 57. It was incredibly sad how quickly he was taken…

So the days really are to cherish and with health issues to contend with – I have my diabetes 2 condition t keep an eye on  and with the usual daily grind, it isn’t always easy – it isn’t all smiles and there are often tears behind the smiles. As I have previously documented here, I have had and continue to have issues with the black dog of depression. Like a fair few reading this, I have some tricky issues and people to deal with – probably more than I did a decade ago and some of these issues force me into submission where the only solace is to got to bed and hide from it all.

Coping with that can be very stressful but luckily I am blessed with many precious friends to get help me out of it.

In fact, track two side one of Led Zeppelin III is a big mantra of mine ….Friends….like I said I am blessed with so many. I count myself a very lucky man indeed.

But as I know too well, you can’t please all the people all the time – and believe me I do and have tried…I do have some issues in that department -recently I read something that has become my mantra. It’s a quote by the great veteran writer Hunter Davies – I’ve admired his work for many years going back to The Beatles authorised biography published in 1968. I’ve just read  his brilliant memoir Happy Old Me – How To Live Long And Really Enjoy It. it’s Hunter’s his guide to enjoying your life in older age (he is now over 80).

He rounds up a series of statements following each chapter. One of them in a chapter about Companies he observes…

”I don’t have time to worry about who doesn’t like me. I am too busy loving the people who love me”

Those words resonates with me very highly…

Back to music – always music…

This is the ingredient that has forged so many like minded friendships over the past five decades.

As is plainly evident, my tastes were formulated in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s and have remained pretty constant ever since.

As I mentioned a few months back, I’ve enjoyed 50 years of music passion going back to April 1969 when I first heard The Beatles Get Back single.

For me it’s about albums, songs, vocalists, emotion, composition, dynamics, light and shade…and the usual suspects continue to fill that premise and inspire so step forward in no particular order the likes of:

Led Zeppelin and related artists/Crosby Stills Nash and Young/The Who/The Beatles/The Rolling Stones/David Bowie/Rod Stewart/The Faces/Bob Dylan/Nick Drake/Elvis Presley/Frank Sinatra/Miles Davis/Free/Bad Company/Yes/Fairport Convention/Sandy Denny/Joni Mitchell/Dusty Springfield//T. Rex/Pete Townshend

Alice Cooper/Humble Pie/Peter Frampton/The Yardbirds/The Allman Brothers/Little Feat/The James Gang/Credence Clearwater Revival/The Byrds/Pink Floyd/Jethro Tull/Cat Stevens/John Lennon/George Harrison/Paul McCartney & Wings/Queen, Traffic/Eric Clapton/Blind Faith/Derek & The Dominoes/Donovan/Family/Ronnie Wood/Mott The Hoople/ELP/Burt Bacharach/Paul Weller/The Jam and many more.

You could say it’s a whole lotta retro but that’s the way I like it. There is always a fair few CDs and LP’s in the ”To listen to’’ pile and more to unravel and enjoy.

Then there is vinyl…lovely long playing vinyl – the LP – the record… the seven inch single…the 45 RPM

Whilst I still collect CD’s –in fact as mentioned above, I’ve had a bit of renaissance with that format in recent months –  it’s vinyl that tends to dominate here…

But let us not forget the good old CD:

As is well known, Vinyl Records are the music carrying format of my choice and whilst it’s vinyl I invest more in – I still love CD’s and I am always on the lookout for interesting stuff. It’s a shame how devalued CD’s have become – any charity shop will have a rack full for under 2 pounds.

What I really find worth collecting are the extend double CDs and box sets such as Universal’s Deluxe Editions and Sony’s Legacy series and well packaged Led Zep bootlegs (of which I also have a fair few!) and I also own a variety of box set packages -David Bowie, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones etc.Also well worth searching out are the CD’s produced via the Castle/Sanctuary/RPM labels – these invariably have fold out covers with extensive notes and rare record sleeve images.

So vinyl may rule but CD’s can still be brilliant…oh and I also still love cassettes!

Meanwhile back to vinyl – the collecting of vinyl albums and singles continues to be a real passion – ever increasingly so!

As my good friend Dec notes, I seem to be on a quest to invest in every rock album released since 1968 –it’s not quite as bad as that but boy do I love re connecting with the long playing format. Big time.

So what is the affiliation with records all about?

Well for me in an ever changing technological social media driven world,the LP and single record is a true bastion of past values – values to be held on to and cherished.  Vinyl is the true everlasting music carrying format.The sleeve art work, the size, the tangible feel, the smell..and the sound – living breathing vinyl grooves…and of course that most comforting of sounds – the initial surface noise as the needle hits the vinyl…sheer bliss in my world…and countless others  – note least of course one James Patrick Page – I have been fortunate enough to see his own passion for record buying at close quarters.

For me every vinyl album or single I acquire tells a story – the historical significance of the label and pressing, of course the music itself and the memories it inspires.

In fact, I can tell a story surrounding every single LP record, single, CD and cassette  I have.

Most of my collecting  concentrates on the golden age of the 1960s and 70s –when I was growing up and discovering music for myself.  Indeed part of my vinyl quest is to buy back LP’s I either foolishly sold or lost along the way.

I am also a sucker for great artwork and label designs. I love collecting anything on the Atlantic UK plum and orange label with it’s Zep heritage, and labels such as Apple, Vertigo, Immediate and Island. To me these label designs are pure works of art.

Of course anything on Swan Song Records is eagerly snapped up too.

I have acquired some great Swan Song promo pressings in the past year as well as various foreign Led Zep pressings. I would have actually had one or two more Zep foreign rarities but knowing of Jimmy’s passion for the same area of collecting, I have occasionally bought to his attention some  Zep rarities I’ve seen at record fairs we have both been at. Rather than invest myself, I have graciously passed them over to the guitarist. Well, after all he did create the music on them! Here’s me at the TBL office also known as The Spice Of Life pub in Soho holding a couple of rare Led Zeppelin pressings from Ecuador brought over recently by my very good friend Jose Parada Manuel -thanks Jose!

Oh and add to that the seven inch single…


In recent years I have got right back into collecting singles -I have night on 3,000 of the little gems. The quest originally being to snap up the singles I would have purchased in the years 1969 to 1972 had I had the required cash to do so. That has by and large been achieved but I still love snapping up odd couplings and obscure labels,orgotten gems etc.

I am also a big collector of demo singles – the records that were sent to radio stations and reviewers prior to their official release – identified by the big A inscription across the label and ”not for sale” notices. I have over 200 demo singles. I love collecting these gems for their historical significance -many are marked with the release date and it’s great fun working out where I was at when a particular single was released. Two I have in my collection were released on my Birthday -namely Mike Quinn’s Apple Pie (a quirky tribute to the Apple Records label) when I was aged 13 in i969 and Paul Simon’s Gone At Last in 1975 when I was aged 19.

In the collecting of vinyl there are many bargains to be had – with a keen eye for a bargain I rarely pay over £20 and mostly under £10. I have something of a deft touch at searching out gems in local charity shops .

In London, there’s Fopp in Cambridge Circus, Sister Ray and Reckless Records in Berwick Street and the nearby Sounds of The Universe, continue to come up with some great stuff. Then there’s the London Victoria  record fairs and Spitalfields market. The nearby Hitchin market is another good source as is Empire Records in St Albans and Wax Factor and Across the Tracks in Brighton –  and Leighton Buzzard’s Black Circle Records is also excellent.

As everybody reading this knows,  in Bedford, Darren Harte’s Vinyl Barn stall on Bedford market on Friday’s as something of a weekly vinyl haven. I am there most Friday mornings checking the new arrivals – and Darren continues to come up with interesting fresh retro stuff. The Slide Record shop in Bedford has established itself  in the past two years and is always a regular source of interesting LPs and singles.

Amongst my gang we can often be heard discussing the fascinating minutiae of rare vinyl pressings on the Vertigo label etc etc – or ‘’talking bollocks’’ as some of our ladies are prone to comment on –  but hey it’s what we do!

Our trips out for the annual Record Store Day is always one of the highlights of the year. This year on Record Store Day we visited the excellent Black Circle Records in Leighton Buzzard and Bedford’s Slide Records. It was one of the best Record Store Day’s to date.

Local collectors Pete Burridge, Mat Roberts, Steve Livesley and Dave Crane are fellow local vinyl enthusiasts who have the vinyl buzz and our finds are often on our respective Facebook pages. Pete Burridge has established his monthly record club event at The  Castle pub in town and we gather there one a month for more music chat and vinyl record spinning.

There’s been more music interaction with participation in the weekly Music Quiz on a Sunday night at our local The Fox And Hounds run by Jon Kutman. We also take part in Pete’s monthly quiz at Esquires. Our team known as The Cosmic Dancers (after the Marc Bolan /T Rex song) comprises of the good lady Janet, Steve Livesley and his partner Anne Marie and our very good friend Jenny Fisk. We don’t fare that well as anything over 1990 can be a problem for us but it’s great fun to take part.

Back to records – rarely if ever, does a week goes by where I do not pick up one or two items – the downside is of course they do take up some considerable room as the good lady Janet often reminds me!

I have to say I am sort of running out of albums to buy -simply because I have virtually everything I’ve been searching for. It’s got to the stage where wading through rack upon rack I find myself saying ”I’ve got that’….I’ve got that too.’

I do still have an ongoing wants list  but it is shrinking. I do still invest in a fair few singles -after all they take up less space (well that’s what I keep telling the good lady Janet!) There well may be something of a down sizing  in the albums at some point ahead – of course that wont stop me adding one or two where required!

So to the Birthday list – there’s always lists…

On the occasion of my 63rd birthday:

DL 63 FROM  63

The list – there’s always a list and this year’s birthday list is 63 from 63.

In effect I have selected 63 albums –one for each year since 1963 (in some cases two to make up the 63 choices)

These albums are amongst my favourites and each of them I first heard in the year they represent (most of them were originally released in that year).

These albums often defined the year they came out for me personally and revive many memories from the time. The usual suspects are of course well represented.

So, on the occasion of my 63rd Birthday here are 63 from 63…

DL 63 FROM 63

1: 1963 – The Beatles – With The Beatles

There has been Beatles music in my life for most of it – and this was my first exposure to their greatness

2: 1964 – The Rolling Stones – First album

I remember that stark sleeve, the red mono Decca label and the music – just brilliant – Route 66, I’m A King Bee, Mona…they would remain ever present on the turntable in the next 57 years

3: 1965 – The Dave Clark Five –Catch Us If You Can

The DC5 were my first real musical obsession…it would not be the last…

4: 1966 – Bob Dylan – Blonde On Blonde

The first record I saw that had one side taken up with one song Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands

5: 1967 – The Beatles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band  

Even aged 11, I knew this album was very special…

6: 1968 – The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet  

It would be during my musical re awakening in 1969 this album made its mark – until I heard Whole Lotta Love the Stones were my fave group.

7: 1969 – Jethro Tull – Stand Up 

The watershed year that I came back to music – gazing at this elaborate gatefold sleeve in the window of the local Carousel record shop is a vivid memory of that year and I was eventually able to hear the contents…and it was awesome.

8: 1970 – Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III

The waiting and build up for this album was accompanied by my scissors and sellotape piecing together my Zep scrapbooks… this band was now an obsession and what a beautiful one it was and is…

9: 1971 – T Rex Electric Warrior

He was a wizard and a true star –and everybody at our school seemed to knew it

10: The Who -Who’s Next  

I knew them mainly from the hit singles -but this was something else altogether…a leap on their stage was not too far away…

11: 1972 – Alice Cooper – Schools Out

One of the first albums I purchased with a third of my wages when I commenced my working life, aged 15 at British Home Stores – paid for out of my £11.50 wages.

12: 1973 – The Faces – Ooh La La

Every week of 1973 seemed to be a musical discovery and this laid back set made a big impression on me

13: 1974 – The Rolling Stones – It’s Only Rock‘n’Roll  

Purchased the day I got the job on the record counter at WH Smith

14: 1975 – Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti

By this time they were not just a band…they were my way of life…

15: 1975 – Rod Stewart Atlantic Crossing

The sound of late summer 1975…

16: 1976 – Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key Of Life

The build up to this album was something special and Stevie more than delivered – so many great songs

17: 1977 – Television – Marquee Moon

The power of one review in the NME – Nick Kent you guided me there…what a record…

18: 1977 – Sex Pistols –Never Mind the Bollocks

Buying this album was a genuinely exciting experience and a captivating listen…

19: 1978 – Bob Dylan –Street Legal

My first love affair break up album

20: 1979 – Fleetwood Mac – Tusk

Everything about this release was mammoth – an intense double album that got right into the inner soul of Fleetwood Mac

21: 1980 – The Jam – Sound Affects

Sharp as a needle, Weller and co sound tracking the changing times in my life at that point…

22: 1981- Phil Collins – Face Value

Another love affair break up album for me…

23: 1982 – Robert Plant – Pictures At Eleven

The new world rising…and it felt so good to hear him on record in his own right…the sound of summer ’82 and beyond…

24:1983 – David Bowie – Lets Dance

The sound of summer ’83 as the good lady Janet and I were stepping out together… and what a sound it was – for me he is the single most important and influential musical artist of all time –25: 1984 – Sade –Diamond Life

Sophisticated soul for young  marrieds everywhere – and that year that included the good lady Janet and me…

26: 1985 – The Style Council – Our Favourite Shop

Weller and his new breed delving into soul and jazz and adding to my musical appetite in doing so

27: 1986 – Bob Dylan – Biograph

One of the first serious career overview box sets – it took me right back to his glorious catalogue of work…

28 1987 – Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel Of Love

Intense and heart felt stories told the Boss way – his gig I attended the next year at Aston Villa was one of the best…

29: 1987 – Nick Drake – Heaven In A Wildflower

A new discovery of an underplayed catalogue…I was not alone in finding the beautiful fragile talent of Nick Drake

30:1988 – Jimmy Page – Outrider

Back on form and it felt like there would be more good times ahead…

31: 1989 – Deacon Blue –When The World Knows Your Name

One of the good lady Janet’s faves – uplifting and endearing

32: 1990 – Led Zeppelin –Remasters

The game changer – the hits and nothing but the hits and a new chapter for the A Celebration book I was writing at the time…

33: 1991 –  Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series Vols 1 -3

Another superb career overview with much unreleased material

34 1992 – Elton John Rare Masters

As above – a great summary of Elton’s craft…

35: 1993 – Coverdale Page – Coverdale Page

Another comeback – an unlikely liaison that brought out the best in James Patrick at the time

36: – Robert Plant  – Fate Of Nations

His best solo album and the sound of summer ’93 –inspires so many great on the road memories that year…this year’s Record Store Day vinyl reissue was much welcomed.

37: 1994 – Jimmy Page and Robert Plant – No Quarter –Unledded

An unlikely reunion at the time and magic was in the air again. ..

38: 1995 – Oasis – What’s The Story (Morning Glory)

The soundtrack to many a great retail day at the Our Price record shop. Brothers not always in arms but utterly brilliant on this album

39: 1996 – The Beatles – Anthology 3

Another key unlocking of the Fabs archive

40: 1997 – Dusty Springfield – Something Special

Superb double CD career spanning retrospective of the late great songstress

41: 1998 – Jimmy Page and Robert Plant –Walking into Clarksdale

Not the riff fest we might have yearned for but in it’s way it has an understated greatness – and what a series of gigs that year..

42: 1999 – Zooma –John Paul Jones

So good to see this man back in the spotlight and he gave me such a great interview when the album came out

43: 1999 – Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue (reissue)

Bought this on a sunny early September Saturday …it expanded my listening pleasure manifold..

44: 2000 Elvis Presley –That’s The Way It Is (extended remastered reissue)

Purchased in Brighton the week the Our Price shop in Bedford  closed and became V -Shop – and that’s the way it was…

45:2001 – George Harrison – All Things Must Pass (remastered reissue)

Fantastic re package of the best solo Beatles album – his passing was so sad…

46: 2002 – Robert Plant –Dreamland

The songs he had kept in his back pocket and the soundtrack to the World Cup that year and so much more…another career high -oh and my review of this album was featured in a full page piece Classic Rock

47: 2003 – Led Zeppelin –How The West Was Won

Along with the five hour DVD, a much welcomed outpouring of Zep frenzy just as I started working in the Virgin Megastore in Milton Keynes.

48: 2004 – The Who – Then And Now

Superb compilation that I had on the iPod as I regularly travelled to MK on the bus…

49: 2005 – Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal – The Island Anthology 1967 – 1971

Wonderful catch all compilation of one of my favourite labels – from the era where those distinctive sleeves lit up the window of the local Carousel record shop

50: 2006 – Robert Plant – Nine Lives

Suddenly I was 50 and our Sam arranged through his office for Robert to sign a CD for my Birthday – and not long after this box set gem appeared with a credit for my research work on it -I was very proud of that

51: 2007 – Led Zeppelin Soundtrack From The Song Remains The Same extended reissue

Robert Plant rang me in the summer of 2007 and mentioned the were ‘’some Zep things happening’’. This was one of them..we all know what the other main event was –they were back for one night only and it as astonishing…

52:2008 – Paul Weller -22 Dreams

Expansive CD set of new Weller material issued as the Virgin chain became Zavvi and then became no more…

53: 2009 – Graham Nash –Reflections

A 3 CD career spanning set Issued just as I was made redundant and how the worlds ”I used to be a king” resonated with me during that uncertain time

54 2010 – Robert Plant Band Of Joy

What joy this album was and is – it ushered in a new TBL era…along with some life affirming gigs – one of which at The Roundhouse, I was on BBC Radio Two waxing lyrical beforehand.

55: 2011 – Pink Floyd –Wish You Were Here reissue

Much welcomed remaster of an old classic…shine on…

56: 2012 – Led Zeppelin – Celebration Day

The film soundtrack of the 02 reunion – the screenings of the film were unforgettable communal events – now everybody could see why they are, were and will always be the best…

57: 2013 – David Bowie – The Next Day

The star was out again none of us knew how little time he had left on this earth…but there will always be a Starman waiting in the sky…his passing was devastating

58: 2014 – Led Zeppelin I reissue with Live In Paris 1969

Yet more excitement as Jimmy lifted the lid on the archive. Hearing him explain all this at Olympic Studios was astounding…

59: 2015 – Bad Company – Straight Shooter reissue

Another fabulous re invention of an old classic – leading to a memorable night in the company of the great Mick Ralphs

60: 2016 – Led Zeppelin – The Complete BBC Sessions

I was asked to write some new sleeve notes for this release -working with Jimmy Page was enlightening, exhausting and exhilerating…

61: 2017 – Robert Plant –Carry Fire

The lunchtime showcase gig for BBC 6 ushered in yet another new phrase – he still has in droves…

62: 2018 – Stephen Stills and Judy Collins – Everybody Knows

Lovely lilting set from the seasoned travellers still helplessly hoping…

63: 2019 – The Beatles – |Let It Be box set

I’ve been looking for this gem for a good while and though the box is hardly a mint a bargain priced copy came my way at the Victoria Fair this year. I vividly recall this originally coming out back in 1970. A discovery that brings it all full circle…

And there it is…..63 from 63….a snapshot of 50 plus years of musical passion.

Today there will be a catch up with various friends in the day and later tonight the good lady Janet and I are hooking up with friends  at the Flowerpot pub where local musician Mat Roberts (who played at my 60th birthday) stages an open mic night.

So bring on 63 as there is a lot to do …

September is already well packed with the Coda concert in Redditch, I am also very much looking forward to the reissue of  The Beatles Abbey Road album.

As for other future objectives, as ever I have many ideas under consideration – the next  TBL issue 46 will incorporate another repro of an early TBL issue. The very favourable response to my telling of a few stories on the Word In Your Ear podcast has inspired me to look quite seriously at presenting my own memoirs and that’s something I am going to commence in the next few months.

As more 50th anniversary Led Zeppelin’s landmarks roll around there is much to celebrate. Whether it be online or though social media and the TBL website ,via the magazine, future book projects etc, I will continue to endeavour to ensure TBL has a platform and voice that enhances the enjoyment of this very special band of musicians…

In short, chronicling the world of Led Zeppelin is in my DNA as is sharing this wonderful life of music and it continues to be an absolute privilege to do so…and I am ready for more of the same at 63…

David Francis Lewis – aged 63

September 5. 2019


Led Zeppelin News Update:

In conjunction with the Led Zep news site, each week I will be re- producing highlights from their weekly email update news summary. This goes out every Sunday. Sign up details are below. Many thanks to James Cook

 Upcoming events:

September 13 – Robert Plant will perform at the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival in Fredericton, Canada.
September 15 – Robert Plant will perform at the CityFolk festival in Ottawa, Canada.
September 17 – Robert Plant will perform in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
September 20 – Robert Plant will perform at the Outlaw Music Festival in Indianapolis.
September 21 – Robert Plant will perform at the Bourbon & Beyond music festival in Louisville, Kentucky.
September 23 – Robert Plant will perform in Clear Lake, Iowa.
September 25 – Robert Plant will perform in Moorhead, Minnesota.
September 27 – Robert Plant will perform in Missoula, Montana.
September 29 – Robert Plant will perform in Spokane, Washington.
October 1 – Robert Plant will perform in Salt Lake City, Utah.
October 3 – Robert Plant will perform in Bend, Oregon.
November – The “Play It Loud: Instruments Of Rock And Roll” exhibition will move to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
December – Jimmy Page’s new book, “Jimmy Page: The Anthology,” will be released.

Many thanks to James Cook.

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Saving Grace  in Stratford:

This report and pic from Colin Martin…

Went to see Saving Grace at Stratford Playhouse last night.

This was my third seeing them but first as headliner. Previously support to Dave Pegg and Kiki Dee/Carmelo.

Robert looked so relaxed and smiling on stage that I have ever seen him. Lots of one liners I wish I could remember them all.

The harmonies between Robert and Suzi were excellent. The rest of the band were on top form.  Shows what 3 nights in a row will do to their sharpness.

After the show spotted “Whispering” Bob Harris and Steve Winwood. Bob said his health was a lot better. He looked well

Many thanks to Colin.


TBL Archive Special: If it’s September…it must be time for Live On Blueberry Hill…

Led Zeppelin Live On Blueberry Hill – the pioneering bootleg album …still a thrill…48 years gone…

49 years ago on September 4 1970, Led Zeppelin performed a memorable show at the Los Angles Forum – it was captured by more than one enterprising fan and subsequently released on a variety of bootlegs. It remains for me and countless others one of THE essential Led Zeppelin recordings.

To mark the 48th anniversary of what we know and love as Live On Blueberry Hill, here is an TBL archive special this is one of the chapters in the Celebration II – The Tight But Loose Files book published by Omnibus Press in 2003.

Bootlegs and Led Zeppelin have been synonymous for over three decades. Despite manager Peter Grant’s heavy-handedness when dealing with those he caught taping their shows, the band are the most bootlegged act of all time, outstripping even The Beatles, Dylan, Springsteen and the Stones. Their final seven shows in the UK alone (five at Earls Court and two at Knebworth) account for over 100 different releases between them. Just about every known amateur recording of the band’s live gigs has made it on to CD. Given the length of their stage shows, the CD format, with its 75-minute playing time, is tailor made for presenting Zeppelin in concert, but even before the flood of digital compact format titles that emerged in the early Nineties there was no shortage of vinyl Led Zeppelin bootlegs.

Tight But Loose has carried reports on Zeppelin bootlegs since its inception. As far back as the hand written first edition I was enthusiastically reviewing the then recently issued vinyl bootleg Ballcrusher which documented their BBC In Concert show. Issue number two carried an extensive report on what was already a legendary bootleg album, Led Zeppelin Live On Blueberry Hill. In 1995 I returned to that 1970 recording to laud its 25th anniversary for TBL 11.

Whatever the legal niceties of such releases, searching out their bootleg recordings is a necessity of every serious Zep fan. Their studio albums only hinted at the creativity the group were capable of. It was on stage in live action that Zeppelin really excelled.

During the Seventies ample proof of that fact arrived with each new bootleg record, none more so than the remarkable recordings made at the Los Angles Forum from the audience on the night of September 4, 1970, during Led Zeppelin’s sixth American tour. This chapter reflects on the lasting impact of that memorable bootleg recording and rounds up twelve other illicit evenings with Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin’s impact on their initial American tours made them a prime target for the emerging bootleg recording business. The bands’ skill at extending and improvising on their studio record repertoire elevated their live shows to something very different from playing their albums.

During their first 18 months on the road they cleverly interwove the basic recorded material from the first two albums with additional impromptu jams. Early examples of this included the long jam on Garnet Mimms ‘As Long As I Have You’, employed on many of their 1969 shows, the medley of numbers to be found within ‘How Many More Times’ and an improvised jam session in the middle of ‘Communication Breakdown’. Then there was ‘Dazed And Confused’, Page’s late Yardbird remnant that by 1970 was developing into a marathon 20-minute opus with differing sections, including the violin bow episode and a call and response battle between Page and Plant.

‘Whole Lotta Love’, the Zep II opener, soon became another forum for exploration, usually a platform to playfully improvise a selection of Fifties rock’n’roll classics. During 1970 they also began previewing songs from the yet to be released third album – initially an embryonic ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ and then, in a bold move, the acoustic ‘That’s The Way’, a performance that helped break the myth that Zep relied entirely on Marshall amplifiers.

Two separate teams of fans were intent on recording the Zeppelin gig at the Inglewood Forum in Los Angeles on the night of September 4, 1970, but it’s unlikely they knew what Zeppelin had in store that night. Both came away with lengthy representations of the band’s current state of play, recorded on reel-to- reel recorders close to the stage.

The recording that would became known as the album Led Zeppelin Live On Blueberry Hill was captured by a pair of west coast bootleggers whose previous credits included Dylan’s Great White Wonder set and The Rolling Stones’ LiveR Than You’ll Ever Be. The latter had been recorded on a Uher 4000 reel-to-reel tape recorder with 71/2ips inch reels and a Sennheiser 805 shotgun microphone. They took this set up into the Forum to record in stereo the Zeppelin September 4 performance. Unbeknown to them, a separate bootlegger known as Rubber Dubber also recorded the show and quickly issued it as a double bootleg album stamped Led Zeppelin Live Los Angeles Forum 9-4-70.

The more common Blimp label version (later to appear on the high profile bootleg label Trade Mark Of Quality) with a distinctive surreal cover insert came out within weeks of the LA show. It’s worth noting, however, that it was not the first Led Zeppelin bootleg to be released. That distinction fell to a vinyl album known as PB (the title derived from the chemical symbol for lead). This came packaged in a brown sleeve with the words P.B. Live on side one and Recorded Live – Pure Blues on side two, and was pressed in limited quantities around the Seattle area. Pure Blues subsequently reached a wider market when it was picked up by the Trade Mark Of Quality label and pressed as Mudslide. The actual source was a soundboard recording from Zeppelin’s opening night of their fifth US tour on March 21, 1970, at the Pacific Coliseum Vancouver. The 40-minute tape was notable for capturing a rare version of ‘We’re Gonna Groove’, the Ben E King/James Beatha cover which the band used as a set opener during their early 1970 appearances. They also recorded a studio version the previous summer for possible inclusion on Led Zeppelin II which would eventually surface on the posthumous Coda album.

The UK music press of the time chronicled the constant stream of bootleg titles from the likes of Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones that were being imported into the country. When reports of Zeppelin titles came to the attention of Peter Grant he was predictably angry.

In one of the few naïve statements of his career, Grant was quoted in the Melody Maker as saying: “As far as I know there can be no Led Zeppelin tapes available. After hearing some time ago that there was going to be an attempt to bootleg some tapes of the band, I flew to America. We’ve managed to retrieve all the tapes and we know nothing in existence that can be issued.”

When Grant heard that copies of Live On Blueberry Hill were being sold from a shop in Chancery Lane in London, Grant and Richard Cole, along with RAK management partner Mickie Most, paid the shop a visit. He questioned the proprietor on the Zeppelin album and with some not so gentle persuasion made sure he knew that this was one bootleg album it would be best to leave alone. In a separate incident a year later fearing another case of bootlegging, Grant smashed the equipment being used by a team of anti-pollution scientists set up to measure noise levels at a Zeppelin show in Vancouver.

For all his muscle Grant was ultimately powerless to stop the proliferation of Zeppelin underground records of which Blueberry Hill was the forerunner. If you knew where to look, such artefacts were possible to come by.

For this particular enchanted Zep obsessed teenager Blueberry Hill represented the forbidden fruit and back in 1972 I was determined to track it down. Luckily the then relative newcomer to the pop press Sounds offered a free service for readers’ classified advertisements. I scoured these columns religiously for many weeks and finally struck gold when I spotted an ad that ran along the lines: “Live albums for sale: Stones, Dylan, Zeppelin etc”. The list came back and amongst the many Dylan and Beatles titles there it was – Live On Blueberry Hill, a double album on the TMQ label, catalogue number TMQ 72002, and pressed on coloured vinyl, asking price £6. Back then six quid was a small fortune but it was more than worth it.

About three weeks later the postman dropped an LP size package on the doorstep. I anxiously ripped it open and there in all its glory was the genuine article: “106 minutes and fifty-three seconds of pure and alive rock” as the sleeve insert put it. Was it ever.


The excitement of playing that double album, on blue and red vinyl, remains an unforgettable musical memory for me. It was a novelty that never wore off. Indeed, the various incarnations I’ve obtained since – the Rubber Dubber vinyl set, the various re-issues, the various bootleg CD packages – all these have only heightened the listening pleasure of that celebrated Los Angeles stop-off during Led Zeppelin’s sixth American tour.

The overriding factor of the September 4 recording, regardless of which version you hear, is that it remains one of the greatest audience recordings of the era. The sheer dynamic thrust of Bonzo’s drum sound, the sinewy grind of Page’s guitar, Jonesy’s resonant bass lines and piecing keyboards and the outstanding clarity of Plant’s siren shrieks (suitably enhanced by the echo unit employed at the time), all merge into a ferocious mix that magically recreates the electricity of the occasion.

For anyone weaned the original TMQ long players, there’s an authenticity in their performances ingrained in the grooves that has rarely been captured so effectively. Alongside the 1975 Madison Sqaure Garden soundboard, the Earls Court shows and the LA 1977 gigs, there are few finer unofficial examples of the complete Led Zeppelin concert experience. The September 4, 1970, concert as captured on the TMQ double set was just choc full of off-the-wall surprises. There was no sign of any set list sterility back then – they just did as they pleased.

Moments to relish include:

The aural assault of ‘Immigrant Song’ (listed on the insert as ‘From The Midnight Sun’ as it had yet to be announced under its official title) exploding into ‘Heartbreaker’.

The slightly menacing tone of a relatively compact ‘Dazed And Confused’ with Plant bursting in mid way through screaming, “I don’t care what people say, rock’n’roll is here to stay”

Page and Bonham linked in glorious tandem for that solo exercise on ‘Bring It On Home’

The electric finale of ‘Moby Dick’ (“The big B!” exclaims Plant)

The unpredictability of ‘Communication Breakdown’ as Zep play The Buffalo Springfield and Beatles songbooks and throw in the rarely played live Zep I opener ‘Good Times Bad Times’.

Freshly minted nuggets from the yet to be heard Zep III on record such as ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ and the rarely played ‘Out On the Tiles’.

The tentative introduction of the acoustic material, a stark and sensitive ‘That’s The Way’ and the rare try out of Page’s instrumental solo ‘Bron Yr Aur’, a clear five years before it was officially released

‘Thank You’ preceded by the meandering organ solo from John Paul Jones and finishing with a drawn out ending featuring Page’s delicate strumming.

‘Whole Lotta Love’ and the ensuing Zep 50’s revival show and finally the breathless rendition of Fats Domino’s ‘Blueberry Hill’

“Goodnight and thank you for everything,” utters a breathless Plant at the close, followed by “Did ya dig it?” by the evening’s MC.

Yes we did and still do

The greatest live album of all time? It’s certainly up there with the best, official or otherwise.

The reason is simple. It captures a group of musicians brimming with confidence. On stage that night in September 1970 Led Zeppelin were truly coming of age.

Live On Blueberry is also something of a yardstick for the bootlegs industry. Back then Zeppelin’s recorded output was just the tip of the iceberg. On stage live was where the real action occurred and, indeed, where they really built their reputation. Peter Grant summing it all up when he told me: “Led Zeppelin was primarily an in-person band… that’s what it was really about.”

Bootleg recordings of the band offered a whole new level of appreciation and Blueberry Hill was the watershed for the subsequent flood of live Zep bootlegs that would emerge throughout the next three decades.

The whole bootleg CD market may be well out of control now, beyond any reasonable realm of quality control, but there was a time when bootlegs like Blueberry Hill were considered almost as important as the group’s official output by fans and chroniclers alike and, if they were honest, probably the group themselves.

Maybe that’s the greatest compliment that can be paid to this iconic bootleg recording. It remains as essential a part of their discography as any of their official albums.

More than four decades on Live On Blueberry Hill is still an absolute thrill.

Dave Lewis – .


VIP RECORD FAIR – Victoria, London  September 7:

VIP Victoria Record Fair Saturday September 8,2018

The VIP Record Fair is staged at the Horticultural Halls, 80 Vincent Square, Victoria, London this Saturday, September 7 – always an excellent Fair, I am aiming to be in attendance and this will act as a bit of a post Birthday extended celebration -I will duly adjourn lunchtime to the nearby pub The Royal Oak to toast my coming of age. I look forward to seeing all that can make it along.

Here’s all the info:


Saturday 7th September
Horticultural Halls, 80 Vincent Square, Victoria, SW1P 2PB.
London’s very own Vinyl Fest. – the biggest and busiest Record Fair in the

Admission 12 noon £5. Early entry £10 at 10am. Doors close 5pm.

More info


DL Diary Blog Update:

Friday treats at the Vinyl Barn: At the always excellent Vinyl Barn last Friday I was well pleased to find a copy of the 1972 Harry Chapin album Sniper and other Love Songs – a US Elektra pressing plus a copy of the classic Frank Sinatra album Songs For Swingin’’ Lovers – the 1984 remaster with sleeve notes by the late great DJ Alan Dell – I must have around ten pressings of this album, but you can never have too many –thanks Darren!


There were more Friday vinyl treats –this time at the excellent Slide Record shop in Bedford – a South African pressing of the Led Zeppelin Immigrant Song/Hey Hey What Can I Do single solid centre red Atlantic label… a tenner…I’ll take it! Thanks Warren!







We had a fantastic time in Brighton on Saturday celebrating the good lady Janet’s Birthday. There was time to squeeze in some record shop visits though the sign outside the Across the Tracks shop was a bit worrying! I did pick up a very good bargain The Who Live At Leeds triple LP remaster complete version reduced £50 to £24 – Now that is a bargain and as the song goes, the best I’ve ever had -certainly on the day!

On a sad note as mentioned above, yesterday I attended the funeral here of our good friend Nick Rayner who we have chatted to over many years in our local The Fox And Hounds Nick sadly passed away quite suddenly on August 15 at just 57. It was incredibly sad how quickly he was taken – he had an amazing send off with a packed crematorium. The playlist in the pub afterwards reflected Nick’s great musical taste including The Sex Pistols, The Undertones, Madness, Queen etc. He will be much missed….RIP Nick…

September is here and I am busy on the Knebworth book re-package distribution and planning for TBL projects ahead. More on all this soon..

On Saturday, the post Birthday celebrations will continue at the Victoria Fair – and in the evening the good lady Janet and I are catching the excellent Rolling Stones tribute band at Bedford’s Quarry Theatre. .

63 has arrived and as ever, there is a lot to do…

Thanks for all your support and interest in making this happen.

Dave Lewis  – September 5, 2019

Until next time –  have a great  weekend…

TBL Website updates compiled by Dave Lewis

with thanks to Gary Foy and James Cook

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  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Ralph many thanks!

  • Ralph Hunt Sidway said:

    Wishing you a Happy bELATED Birthday, Dave! What an incredible CV you have going!!! Many more great and productive years to you, and heartfelt thanks for the ever positive and infectiously entertaining enjoyment and inspiration always! — Hunt Sidway in Cincinnati OH USA

  • Pat Mount said:

    Many Happy Returns Dave!
    Fear not about concerns about mortality, you are already immortal!

    Best regards,


  • Larry said:

    Happy Birthday Dave, keep rocking!!!

  • dean brisson said:

    No mention of The Firm on your list.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Good living, love and laughter!

  • andrew r said:

    Hi Dave happy belated birthday .One question well preserved as you are
    the good lady Janet appears to be getting younger? Magic or is playing zep 4
    backwards at fault ? The tbl faithfull demand to know.:)

  • Ian in NZ said:

    Many happy returns of the day Sir

  • Swin said:

    Happy 63rd Dave,ave a gud un !Everonward Swin..

  • Albert Borg said:

    Happy Birthday Dave! Best wishes to you and many more to come. Enjoy your celebration.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Jez many thanks…

  • Jez Firth said:

    A great piece Dave full of inspiration, so sorry for the loss of your friend.

    My best wishes to you and your family

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