Email This Post Email This Post
Home » Dave Lewis Diary, Featured, TBL News


26 November 2015 3,317 views One Comment


Five Glorious Nights – Led Zeppelin at Earls Court May 1975: Black Friday weekend special offer!

If you have yet to indulge in the Five Glorious Nights photo book this weekend is a golden opportunity to do so. Publishers Rufus Stone are staging a special Black Friday price reduction as follows:

From 9am UK time on Friday November 27th until 5pm UK time on November 30th the Five Glorious Nights Led Zeppelin at Earls Court May 1975 book will be priced at £97.50 plus £10 delivery worldwide.
This represents a 25% off saving.
It will be strictly first come first served and all books will be delivered before Christmas (guaranteed).
This deluxe book of course will make a fantastic Christmas present  Why not give your loved ones a nudge in the direction of the Rufus Stone ordering page and get them to invest on your behalf –let them really know what you want for Christmas – or alternatively just treat yourself!

Just to remind you what is this book all about:

The Format:

30 x 30 album size de-luxe hardback book

288 pages  – including approximately 62 colour photos, 155 black & white photos – 229 in all – plus 165 colour memorabilia images including Earls Court bootleg LP, CD and DVD sleeves etc.

Drawn from over 350 images sourced from various contact sheets provided by publisher Mark Smith, and with the assistance of Ross Halfin as associate picture editor, the best photos possible have been selected. Knowing that there has been a host of photos of the band at Earls Court published over the years, the objective was to select rarely seen images and unusual angles.

Much more than a mere book of photos, the intention is to capture the atmosphere of the five Earls Court shows through these startling images – sequenced and presented in a way that unfolds the whole saga of this remarkable series of concerts – to be viewed and enjoyed time and time again.

Five Glorious Nights at Earls Court in May 1975 is a superbly presented unique visual record of Led Zeppelin in their absolute prime. 

All books are printed on high quality paper with high end binding.

All books are individually numbered and personally signed by the author.

Strictly limited edition of 1,000 – and selling fast.

Once it’s gone…it’s gone.

Here’s the preview video clip:

All orders for this book are being handled by the publishers Rufus Stone Limited Editions – ordering details below

Here’s some feedback from satisfied customers::

‘Five Glorious Nights captures Led Zeppelin at the peak of their career during the Earl’s Court gigs of May 1975. For those lucky enough to have been there, and for generations of rock fans who weren’t, Dave Lewis provides a front-row perspective on the action with an impressive choice of dramatic images by famous rock photographers who snapped the band in full-flight. Rikky Rooksby

It’s not often (these days) I’m blown away by things in general, but this book is fantastic. I expected it to be good, but this is beyond my expectations – John Copeland

Five Glorious Nights’ arrived this morning, a stunning book that takes you back to those magical May evenings at Earls Court all those years ago. It’s hefty size and weight can only reflect the power of those concerts, and the array of beautiful shots of the band in all their glory, a fitting tribute to Led Zeppelin in one of their momentous periods. To collate all the photographs and references must have been an Herculean task, but the wait has been worth it, a fine souvenir  for all of us lucky enough to witness those amazing concerts, but also for anyone with an interest in Led Zeppelin. Thanks Dave and the team for all your hard work, just off to have another browse through the book, I can almost picture. Bob Harris in the spotlight and remember the intense excitement and anticipation of what was to follow in the next three hours  that warm evening in May 1975. – Alex Machin

This book is amazing and has certainly given me an opportunity to think about something else for a while and something I can come back to.It certainly is something much more than a photo book. It is in fact an “experience” to go through. I went to the three show run and the memories of those nights is forever imprinted on my mind. The book certainly reinforces those memories and has reminded me of things I had forgotten. You and your colleagues deserve a lot of praise for the efforts required in getting such a publication together – well done. – Martin Vail

Just received my book had a quick run through like you do and after doing so had to email you personally to congratulate yourself and all concerned on what can only be described as one of the best books on Led Zeppelin I have seen! At last count I had 23 books on our beloved Zepp and this is right up there with the Neil Preston books and even Jimmy’s own book, you should be very proud – Del Sharpe

Just wanted to drop you a quick line about your book Five Glorious Nights. I received my copy today and I think it is stunning, I’ve had a look through and one of the things I love most are the quotes  by the side of the picture, and also the way the pictures show the concerts as they happened, it really is wonderful, apart from a DVD of the concerts it’s the nearest I will ever have gotten to seeing these shows live. I didn’t fall in love with the band until 1990 when the remastered vinyl was released and that vinyl has become one of many Led Zeppelin treasures I hold dear to me. Thanks to yourself, Ross and all the other people that put the book together, I am very grateful. – Stephen Brockley

Dave – Fantastic job!  I’m not just blowing smoke either.  Could be your finest book ever.  It’s not full of the wealth of info ‘Celebration Day’ and ‘The Concert File’ or ‘Final Acclaim’ for example but that’s understandable because we’re only talking (5) five nights here.  So it shouldn’t be.  In visual terms,  it’s your finest piece of work.  The photographs really capture the five nights from literally every conceivable angle.  The full stage shots helped in that category.  As with Jimmy’s book,  it’s going to be years before I digest what all it has to offer and that’s hard to do at the moment because we are literally being bombarded with Zeppelin and that’s a situation none of us have any complaints about!  As a musician, I could spend hours studying the closeups of Bonzo’s kit, Jimmy’s action setup on his guitars etc. I can almost see his amplifier knob settings!  It’s fantastic!  Keep up the dedication and hard work Dave.  No other band can say they have a dedicated ambassador in their flock like Zeppelin can say regarding you. – Ken Winovich

Led Zeppelin Five Glorious Nights landed here in New Jersey in the USA a few minutes ago and it is just beautiful! I’ve listened to and watched the Earls Court shows many times, but now I feel like I’m experiencing them on a whole other level. Thank you, Dave, for the great care you gave this book and for the great care you give all your Zeppelin endeavours. Jim O’Donnell

’This is certainly money well spent. It is quite clear a lot of thought and effort has gone into this book and I think it is a must for any Led Zeppelin fan. It will take pride of place on my bookshelf, although I might have to strengthen the bookshelf as it’s a fairly hefty book!’’
Kevin Tubby – UK

The Earls Court Book – your finest. You can be very proud. It will stand the test of time as this is history on many levels. This is world class – it captures the greatest band at their greatest time. – Steve Way

Big Thanks to you for the book Five Glorious Nights book!You can look through the photos, read Plant’s quotations and really feel the atmosphere of those nights. Oleg Pavlov Moscow, Russia

Book #068 just turned up down here in New Zealand Dave…..thank you so much for such a beautiful piece of work, simply brilliant with class written all over it….you deserve every accolade that will be coming your way. Jason Noble

Wow! Your book is magnificent! Beautifully crafted in every way. Nicky Horne

I am stunned by the quality  It’s absolutely awesome.  Pictures and layout just great. I can’t say enough good things about it – very well done. Chris Maley

It has arrived! The book is gigantic. It is very factual, interesting and beautiful. Full of rare beautiful photos by many photographers.. The books are numbered, hand signed, and a serious must for collectors of all things Zep. Kimberly Grant Deleon

I just received the Five Glorious Nights book and wanted to tell you that it is fantastic!! Thank you for your hard work and the super job! Matt Walsh

Dave – I’m in LA, and just received Five Glorious Nights yesterday. Phenomenal – absolutely phenomenal. I look forward to playing my bootlegs of the gigs while turning the pages. Great stuff, and much gratitude. Roy Dunn

Oh my, oh my…. Am I in 7th heaven? Not just a great Zep chronicle but a glorious book for any aficionados of great gig photos. Amazing work Dave Lewis and I hope it gets the credit you deserve. Simon Croom

The masterpiece book arrived last Thursday and I`m tasting it like a good and old wine. Very slowly, enjoying, and hoping that the end never comes… Every page has a taste! What a job! What a band! The Zeppelin pinnacle and Dave and Mick as well at the top of their game. Priceless! Thank you both very much. Andre Cruz


Visit the Rufus Stone Limited Editions site at:

Just to re iterate – the Black Friday offer is as follows:

From 9am UK time on Friday November 27th until 5pm UK time on November 30th the Five Glorious Nights Led Zeppelin at Ealrs Court May 1975 book will be priced at £98 plus £10 delivery worldwide.

Don’t miss out!



Fed up with receiving the same old tired gifts for Christmas each year? Why not give your loved ones a nudge in the direction of the TBL ordering page and get them to invest on your behalf –let them really know what you want for Christmas or you may well end up with novelty socks and boxers yet again. Alternatively just treat yourself!
Here is a round up of TBL Product on offer this Christmas –all orders will be processed and dispatched as received.


Led Zeppelin Then As It Was – At Knebworth 1979 and Led Zeppelin Feather In The Wind Bundle offer:

Buy both books for just £18 plus postage!

For a limited period, I am offering both the Led Zeppelin Then As It Was – At Knebworth 1979 and Led Zeppelin Feather In The Wind Over Europe 1980 books at a bargain bundle offer price of both books for just £18 plus postage and packing.

Suffice to say, this offer will also make the perfect Christmas present – so prompt your loved ones now to ensure seasonal delight!

Order via this link:bookbundle



Both books are also available for a bargain price individually.




ALL current TBL subscriptions end with the forthcoming TBL 40 – so now is the time to re subscribe for the next three issues – TBL 41,2 and 43.

A TBL 2016/17 Subscription will make an ideal Christmas gift – the link to re subscribe for the next three issue is below…




Preview TBL 40 Nov 2015

If you are not a TBl subscriber  – now is the time to sample the TBL mag – don’t miss out on this landmark TBL issue – more essential Zep reading

Coming soon – TBL Issue 40 due for publication mid to late December

Here’s the line up…

Chris Dreja on photographing Led Zep

Achilles Last Stand:Rikky Rooksby dissects the epic

40 CD Great Bootleg sets on CD- Paul Sheppard rounds up the best of the best

TBL The Early Years 1977 – 1981: From small acorns…

Dave Lewis on the final three reissues: Reflections now and then

Luis Rey and Jeff Strawman new Zep books: The authors speak

John Paul Jones at 70: An overview by Richard Grubb

Robert Plant 2015: Stephen Humphries on a sensational space shifting tour plus CKCDF Egremont charity gig review

Nick Anderson Collectors Column, Scott Heck on the underground releases

Plus latest news round up – Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones back on stage.


Pre order via this link:




beat museum

Jimmy Page at the Beat Museum San Francisco :

Great feature here on Jimmy’s recent visit to the Beat Museum:




Jimmy Page talks up solo album:

Plenty of coverage for this – including this report from the Guitar World website:

According to The Pulse Of Radio, Jimmy Page wants to start recording his next solo album in 2016.

If this is true, it will be Page’s first solo album since 1988’s Outrider, which featured vocals and writing by Page’s old Led Zeppelin band mate, Robert Plant.

“Next year I’m just going to working on the guitar,” Page told Bang Showbiz. “It’s time for me to go out there and do a solo album. My last solo album was 1988. I haven’t really milked the situation; it’s time to do another one. I’m known for playing many styles of guitar, and I need to re-visit all the different styles I can play.

“I’m not thinking about singers, I’m thinking of an instrumental thing. I want to work with my strengths rather than my weaknesses. I want to work with myself, I want to get myself up and running and once I’m ready, I’ll think about whether I need someone to sing on the music… I want to be playing live again, but that won’t be until next year, I’ve planned all this a while ago. I want to start in the U.K. I’ve got ideas, but I want to wait to see what happens. I’d like to do Glastonbury. I could do a sort of karaoke night with Led Zeppelin songs.”


Jimmy at Scarlet Page Resonators Photographic Exhibition Launch at Proud Camden:

Jimmy was in attendance at the launch of daughter Scarlet’s photographic exhibition at the Proud Gallery Camden on Wednesday November 25.

Here are the details of the exhibition which runs from November 26 to December 6.

Proud Camden is pleased to announce ‘Resonators’; a captivating and unique insight into some of the world’s most respected guitarists by renowned music photographer, Scarlet Page. This exhibition features never before seen photographs and will launch in conjunction with Page’s highly anticipated limited-edition book of the same name.

More at:


Latest from the John Bonham Memorial Fund:

Project Poster

John Bonham Memorial Fund Launches Crowdfunding  Drive

When asked the question “Who is the best drummer of all time?” most music fans do not hesitate in naming the late Led Zeppelin powerhouse, John “Bonzo” Bonham for the highest accolade. And that’s shown time and time again in music industry polls the world over.

Yet 35 years after his untimely death, there is still no memorial to John in his hometown of Redditch in Worcestershire. But that is set to change in 2016, if a local fundraising group’s final drive achieves its target.

This Sunday 22nd November marks the official launch of the John Bonham Memorial Fund’s  Crowdfunding campaign: , aimed at raising £50,000 in just 56 days. The clock is already ticking, after the page went ‘live’ a few days ago.

“Having, until now, focused our efforts on local fundraising, this campaign is intended to reach Led Zeppelin and music fans around the world” says Fund Treasurer, Ros Sidaway.

“We’ve added some attractive rewards to entice people to pledge amounts varying from just £10 up to £2500! Everyone who pledges by 5.00pm on 6th January 2016 will have their name added to a memorial scroll to be buried in a time capsule beneath the memorial, as well as being listed on a ‘thank you’ page on the website.”

Sunday is also the 46th anniversary of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” entering the US Billboard Singles Chart. The JBMF are hoping that rock fans worldwide will now show a whole lotta love for their crowdfunding campaign.


Peter Grant 20 Years Gone:

peter obit

Peter Grant 20 years gone  – the man who Led Zeppelin -passed away 20 years ago on November 21, 1995.

In an obituary piece for TBL 8 I stated ‘’Whenever and wherever the story of the group is told –his legacy will be remembered.’’ 20 years on that fact remains

This is a piece that went out in TBL issue 8 and was written  the day after his passing.

RIP Peter Grant 1935 – 1995. A visionary…and great man..


TBL Archive Special – 1:

Led Zeppelin IV – 44 years gone…

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV

To mark the 44th anniversary of the release of Led Zeppelin IV here’s a TBL archive feature – first compiled for TBL issue 15 though not used at the time – it eventually appeared in the my Celebration II – The Tight But Loose Files book.

The Making Of Led Zepplin IV – Part Two

Early on during the warm up sessions, John Bonham began banging out the cymbal led introduction to Little Richard’s ‘Keep A Knockin”. Ian Stewart joined in the fun, adding a Jerry Lee Lewis barrelhouse piano backdrop. Jones and Page picked up the mantle, adding Scotty Moore-like guitar runs from the, golden era of Sun Records. Plant soon cut in with a vocal line, but instead of tripping effortlessly into one of the many rock’n’roll standards that they performed live on stage he screamed out nondescript lyrics built around a chorus of “It’s been a long time since I rock-‘n’ rolled”. Within minutes they knew they had something, as Page remembers: “We were doing something else at the time but Bonzo played the beginning of a Little Richard track. We had the tape running and I started doing that part of the riff. It ground to a halt after 12 bars but we knew we had something – Robert came in with the lyrics and within 15 minutes it was virtually complete.”

The jam session nature of the song’s construction resulted in it being credited as a four man group composition, and when they played the track during their live act during European and US dates later that year, Plant introduced it under the title ‘It’s Been A Long Time’. When it came to deciding the final track line-up for the album they agreed this three minute and 40 seconds of stomping rock’n’roll should be titled just that. So it became universally known as ‘Rock And Roll’ and it would go on to be a staple Zep stage fave, taking its rightful place as an appropriate set opener from late 1972 through to 1975.

Ian Stewart was also on hand to add his influence to another jam deemed worthy of recording. This was built around the unusual ploy of making the mandolin the lead instrument over another Fifties groove, and was clearly based on Richie Valens’ ‘Ooh My Head’, later to feature in the La Bamba movie. Cornball rockabilly lyrics like “I don’t wanna tutti frutti, no lollipop, come on baby just rock, rock, rock” were merged with Stu’s incessant barrelhouse playing, over which Page and Bonham dubbed a curious rhythmic slapping sound. Nothing more than a playful jam, they dubbed it ‘Boogie With Stu’ in tribute tq the Stones man. With one superior rock’n’roll jam already perfectly executed, this one was left on the cutting room floor. Three years later Page salvaged it for inclusion on the double set Physical Graffiti and offered a composing credit to Valens’ widow. “It was obvious a variation on ‘Ooh My Head’ by the late Ritchie Valens which itself was a variation of Little Richard’s ‘Ooh My Soul’. What we tried to do was credit Ritchie’s mother because we heard she never received any royalties from any of her son’s hits, so what happens is they try to sue us for all of the song. We had to say bugger off to that one!”

The mandolin was very much a feature of the Zep IV recording sessions. JP Jones had initially acquired it for some of the Zep III numbers, notably ‘That’s The Way’. One night in Headley Grange, Page began picking his way around that same mandolin and so began the genesis of another track.

“I picked up the mandolin, well actually it was Jonesy’s mandolin and these chords just came out. It was my first experiment with mandolin. I suppose mandolin players would laugh because it must be the standard thing to play those chords but possibly not with that approach. It did sound a little like a ‘let’s dance around the maypole number’ but it wasn’t purposely like that.”

Plant had written one new track, ‘The Battle Of Evermore’, after reading a book on the Scottish wars. He felt the track needed another vocalist to act as a foil, so they called in ex-Fairport Convention singer Sandy Denny to provide a rare cameo.

“It’s really more of a playlet than a song,” said Plant. “After I wrote the lyrics I realised I needed another completely different voice as well to give the song full impact. So I asked Sandy Denny to come along and sing on the track. So while I sang the events in the song, Sandy answered back as if she was the pulse of the peo-ple on the battlements. Sandy was playing the town crier urging people to throw down their weapons.”

Zep and Fairport had long since enjoyed a rapport, Fairport bassist Dave Pegg hailing from the same Black Country area and being a lifelong friend of Plant and Bonham. Zep had jammed with Fairport at the Troubadour in LA on their last US tour and all the group had partied with Sandy at the Melody Maker poll awards in London the previous September. A month later Page and Plant went to see Sandy’s new group Fotheringay supporting Elton John at the Albert Hall. At Headley Grange Plant sang a guide vocal, leaving out the response lines for Denny to insert. Plant also claims to have played guitar on the track. The end result was an engaging folk lament and another cornerstone of the completed album.

At the time Sandy noted Plant’s own prowess on the session. “We started out soft but I was hoarse by the end trying to keep up with him,” she said.

Her vocal part was taken on by John Paul Jones when Zep finally performed the song live on their 1977 US tour. For their Unledded MTV reunion Page and Plant brought in Indian vocalist Najma Akhtar to perform with them on the track.

The acoustic guitars and mandolins were also prevalent on ‘Going To California’, which was very much in the style of ‘That’s The Way’ from the previous album, and despite its title it was another number written, at the Snowdonia cottage. The song included references to a Californian earthquake, though its main influence was Joni Mitchell. Both Page and Plant had long since admired her work – in fact California was the title of one of the tracks on her Blue album. Page commented, “Joni is able to look at something that’s happened to her, drawback, crystallise it and then write about it.”

In live versions of the song Plant would often throw in subtle Joni references like the night at Earl’s Court in 1975 when he sung the line, “They say she plays guitar and cries and sings,” adding “in parking lots…”. Lyrically the song told of the unending search for the ultimate lady. “It’s hard,” Plant would sing on stage-infinitely hard…”.

Another of Plant’s heroes, Neil Young, provided the inspiration for ‘Down By The Seaside’, one of the first numbers they worked on at Island in late 1970. Written a few months earlier at Bron Yr Aur, it mirrored Young’s laid-back vocal on songs like ‘Heart Of Gold’. Midway through it all went up a tempo, led by a stinging Page solo before it returning to the original country groove. With so much material at their disposal this was another track that did not fit in the scheme of things at the time, and Page later remixed it for inclusion on Physical Graffiti.

During their weeks at Headley Grange the band had little time for the usual boisterous antics. Tour manager Richard Cole, who more often than not took on the responsibility for relieving boredom with fun and games, noted: “There weren’t any serious drugs around the band at that point – just dope and a bit of coke-Mostly we had an account at a shop in the village and we’d go down there and collect large quantities of cider. They were playing at being country squires. They found an old shotgun and used to shoot at squirrels in the woods, not that they ever hit any. An I there was this lovely old black Labrador dog wandering around which we used to feed.”

The dog in question would eventually provide the simple title of another Headley Grange creation, as Jones recalls: “There was an old black dog around the Grange that went off to do what dogs did and came back and slept. It was quite a powerful image at the time so we called one track ‘Black Dog’.”

‘Black Dog’, largely the product of a bass riff brought in I John Paul, was a classic monster riff exercise in the grand Zep tradition that was destined to dispel all the ‘Zep go soft’ claims when it blared out as the opening track of the album. “It’s definitely one of my favourite riffs,” he says. “It was originally all in 3/16 time but no one could keep up with that!”

Plant’s acapella vocal between the riffs was an arrangement Page had picked up from Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’. The almost impossible to copy rhythmic swing (a combination of 4/4 time set against 5/4) of the ‘Black Dog’ riff was a key indication of how far ahead of the game Zeppelin really were. Band such as Grand Funk Railroad were already being touted as the logical successor to Zep’s heavyweight crown. Their monolithic riffing was completely devoid of the grace and timing compared to the likes of ‘Black Dog’ – a fact that would become most evident upon the album’s release. Page’s fade out solo was a cleverly overdubbed and triple tracked guitar pieced together by four different solos.

“The effect on those guitars was something I’d learned from Bill Hawelson,” remembers Johns. “He worked with Buffalo Springfield. I plugged Jimmy’s Les Paul into a direct box and from there in a mic channel.”

Page again: “We used the mic amp of the mixing board to get distortion. Then we ran it through two Urie 1176 Universal compressors,” When Page was reviewing the tapes for the Remasters box set he recalled that the guitars almost sound like an analogue synthesiser.

The thorny and eternally topical question of legalising marijuana was the subject under discussion in ‘Misty Mountain Hop’. I chunky rocker revolving around a pleasing JPJ electric piano riff suitably enhanced by Page strident chords and Bonham’s precise drumming, it’s worth noting at this point the quite exemplary percussive contribution Bonzo made to these sessions. His work on every track was superbly applied – check out the subtle drop-ping off the beat at four minutes 17 on this track’s fade. Plant’s semi-rapped vocal style here might be described as the first rock rap, predating the nu-metal movement by two decades. In doing so he exposed the problems of a certain Black Country hippy taking a walk in the park with the police looking over his shoulder.

John Paul Jones led the construction of this song. “I got up before everyone else one morning and I was sitting playing around on the electric piano. When the others got up I played them what I’d done and it went from there.”

Where Zep was really beginning to score was in their ability to balance the controversial acoustic element within their more familiar electric dynamics. Another prime example of this was ‘Four Sticks’. Led by a brilliantly incessant Page riff and powered by Bonham’s literal use of four drumsticks – hence the title – it meandered off into a spiralling acoustic section (“When the owls cry in the night”) underscored by JPJ’s then pioneering use of a VCR synthesiser, and all mixed by Page to achieve maximum stereo split. “We tried different ways of approaching it. The idea was to get an abstract feeling. We tried it a few times and it didn’t come off until the day Bonzo had a Double Diamond beer, picked up two sets of sticks and went for it. It was magic.”

“We did this at Island studios. It was a bastard to mix,” says Andy Johns. “When I originally recorded the basic tracks I com-pressed the drums, then when I went to mix it I couldn’t make it work. I did five or six mixes.” It was also reported at the time that the master tape of this track was at one point lost. Following the album’s release ‘Four Sticks’ was re-recorded in October 1972 when Page and Plant conducted an experimental recording session in Bombay with the local symphony orchestra, the results of which remain officially unreleased.

Since their very inception Page and co had frequently plundered their blues influences to come up with new renderings of old blues tunes. For the fourth album sessions, they worked  on an old Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy recording titled ‘When The Levee Breaks’.

In the final credits they did add Memphis Minnie to the eventual credits, though justifiably they also credited themselves in recreating the tune in a radical new arrangement. The end result was simply a blues rock colossus. Page: “I came up with the guitar riff and Robert sang the words which were inspired by Memphis Minnie’s arrangement – though if you heard the original you wouldn’t recognise the two”.

Page remembers ‘Levee’ being a difficult track to record. “We tried to record that in the studio before we got to Headley Grange and it sounded flat. But once we got the drum sound at Headley Grange it was like boom… and that made the difference immediately. It was very exciting to listen to that drum sound on head-phones.”

As we know know can be heard on the Coda Companion Audio disc they tried an initial version in a different arrangement.

That unique drum sound in Headley Grange was created by positioning Bonham’s drums in the hallway of the house, known as the Minstrel’s Gallery. Engineer Andy Johns:

“The other guys were out having a drink and John Bonham and I were at the house. He still complained that he wasn’t getting the sound he wanted. T finally had an idea. We got his drums and put him in the hallway and then hung two Ml 60 mikes from the staircase and pointed them towards the kit. His kit was very well] balanced internally, each drum’s volume was consistent with the others. In the truck I put him into two channels and compressed the drums. Jimmy had this Italian echo unit called a Binson that used a steel drum instead of a tape – it had a real special sound and I used that as well. I remember sitting there thinking it sounded utterly amazing so I ran out of the truck and said, ‘Bonzo you gotta come in and hear this!’ He shouted, ‘Whoa that’s it. That’s what I’ve been hearing!'”

Page was equally enthusiastic. “What you’re hearing on the record is the sound of the hall with the stereo mike on the stairs second flight up. There were a lot of different effects in there. Phased vocal and a backwards echoed harmonica solo. I’d used backwards echo as far back as The Yardbirds’ days.” (The effect can be heard on The Yardbirds’ track ‘Ten Little Indians’ from their Little Games album.)

That drum sound remains today the most sampled beat of al time – first introduced by the likes of The Beastie Boys and the house DJ’s in the late Eighties, it has lit up countless rap and dance tunes in varying speeds and tempos. It remains one of the most startling percussive statements ever committed to tape.

Another number recorded at Headley Grange and over dubbed at Island Studios dealt with the then topical subject of nuclear war. During an interview in 1971, on seeing a front page headline that read “Nuclear Test Damage Threat”, Plant had this to say about the then current state of the world: “It really breaks my heart that we’re all singing songs about love and peace and togetherness and really there’s so little of it.”

These views were reflected in the lyrics to ‘Night Flight’ a bright, breezy rocker. “I received a message from my brother across the water, he sat laughing as he said the end’s in sight” Supplemented by Page’s guitar fed through a Leslie speaker t give it a swirling effect and Jonesy’s Hammond organ, the track was one of the most commercial from the sessions but when: came to the final selection it was omitted from the album. Like ‘Boogie With Stu’ and ‘Down By The Seaside’ it was another track Page would revisit when it came to putting together their 197 double album Physical Graffiti.

Which leaves just one song to discuss; the proverbial mill-stone around their necks. Couples have played it during their marriage services, radio stations still can’t stop playing it (four million logged plays and counting), would-be guitarists learn their craft by it, and the Australians, led by Rolf Harris, have made a whole parody industry out of it. Evil messages were claimed to be heard when it was played backwards. The singer allegedly hates it.

There was a time, however, when ‘Stairway To Heaven’ was simply the longest track on Led Zeppelin’s new album. They knew it was good, but they could never have dreamt the sheer commotion that this eight-minute epic would cause over the ensuing decades. It’s been both loved and loathed in equal measures.

Routined at Headley Grange, ‘Stairway’ was actually recorded at Island Studios in London’s Notting Hill. Page had much of the chord sequence on a demo when they first tried it out. “I’d been recording demos on a home unit called a new Vista,” he said. “It was the deck from the Pye Mobile that had been used to record things like The Who’s Live At Leeds – and we’d used it to record our Albert Hall gig. I’d been fooling around with the acoustic guitar and came up with the different sections which I married together. So I had the structure and then 1 ran it through Jonesy. I’d had the chord sequence pretty much worked out and Robert came up with 60 per cent of the lyrics on the spot.”

Andy Johns remembers: “We did the track at Island in London. Jimmy had the tune pretty much worked out. He played acoustic in the iso booth. He was the thread that held it all together. We had Bonzo out in the main room and John Paul played a Horner electric piano.”

Robert’s lyrics were pieced together very quickly at the Grange. “Jimmy and I stayed up one night and we got the theme of it right there and then. The lyrics were a cynical thing about a woman getting everything she wanted without getting anything back.”

Jonesy’s contribution was the memorable and tranquil opening sequence. “We always had a lot of instruments lying around so I picked up a bass recorder and played along with Jimmy. Later at Island I multi-tracked the recorders to get it right.”

Page made three separate attempts at the solo – and rather than deploy the usual Gibson Les Paul he returned to the battered old Telecaster (a gift from Jeff Beck) that he had used on the first Zep album. “1 winged the guitar solo really. When it came to recording it I warmed up and did three of them. They were all quite different from each other. I did have the first phrase worked out and then there was the link phrase. I did check them before the tape ran. The one we used was:definitely the best”.

The result was one of the only guitar solos in history as likely to be whistled by milkman as air-guitared in the bedroom, such was the tracks eventual universal appeal. By the late Seventies Plant had tired of the tune and started to deride it publicly. “There are only so many times you can sing it and mean it,” he said. “It just became so sanctimonious.” His antipathy towards it resulted in a major backstage row with Page before their 1988 Atlantic Records 40th anniversary reunion at Madison Square Garden. Right up to them going on stage he was refusing to sing it, although he relented at the last minute.

Back in 1971 Led Zeppelin were immensely proud of ‘Stairway To Heaven’, and Page still views it as the apex of their career. Talking to Cameron Crowe from Rolling Stone in 1975, he said: “To me, I thought it crystallized the essence of the band. It had everything there and showed us at our best as a band and as a unit. Every musician wants to be to do something of lasting quality something which will hold up for years and I guess we did it with ‘Stairway’.”

With the recordings completed by early February, Page took Andy John’s advice and flew with Peter Grant and Johns to Sunset Studios in Los Angles to mix the tracks. Just as they were flying into LA the city suffered a minor earthquake, as Page recalled: “The funny thing is that on ‘Going To California’ you’ve got the line ‘mountains and the canyon’s started to tremble and shake’ and curiously, as we landed, there was a mild earthquake. In the hotel room before going to the studio you could feel the bed shake.”

Unfortunately the mix down did not go as, planned, much to Andy John’s embarrassment. “I convinced Jimmy to mix it in Los Angeles. We booked time at Sunset Sound but the room that I’d worked in before had been completely changed. So we used another room there and mixed the entire album. We came back to London and played it back at Studio One at Olympic. Anyway we put it on and it sounded terrible. I thought my number was up -but the others seemed to look to Jimmy, even though it was just as much my fault. So it had to be remixed again and that was difficult.”

Despite all these problems, the resulting production was one of Page’s finest. Rarely again did he so precisely capture the four strands of the group on record so clearly. For all their triumphs, subsequent Zep albums often suffered from an uneven mix. Compare Led Zep IV to the muddy, leaden sound of their final album In Through The Out Door. There is just no comparison, a testament perhaps to how this relaxed style of recording, away from the distractions of the city, suited them. Maybe it would have been a wise move to have invested in their own mobile recording unit.

They had hoped to have the album out by late April but that would now be impossible. Instead Page and Johns mixed most of it again between their spring UK and European tour dates at Olympic Studios. The only mix from the Los Angeles trip that was deemed fit for eventual release was ‘When The Levee Breaks’. The album finally went off to be cut at Trident Studios in London with more lacquers being cut at The Beatles’ Apple Studios in the mid-summer of 1971.

By that time they had already began previewing numbers from the album in their new stage set. The first airing of new material occurred on Friday, March 5, at Belfast’s Ulster Hall, when ‘Black Dog’,  ‘Going To California’ and ‘Stairway To Heaven’ were all played live for the first time. For ‘Stairway’ Page acquired a custom built Gibson ES1275 double-neck guitar to perform the six and 12-string passages the song requires.

The so called ‘Back to the clubs’ UK tour saw them return to venues such as London’s Marquee where they had first established their reputation in the early days. UK listeners to Radio One’s John Peel in Concert programme were also privy to an exclusive airing of this new material. On Sunday April 4 they broad-casted a one hour Zep live show recorded four days earlier at the Paris Cinema in London. ‘Going To California’ and ‘Stairway’ were the new numbers aired. For ‘Stairway’ this would be airplay number one – with another four million to follow during the next two decades.

In Europe a month later they previewed more songs from the fourth album. At an extraordinary gig at the KB Hallen in Copenhagen on May 3 ‘Black Dog’ and ‘Going To California’ and ‘Stairway To Heaven’ were joined by the only known live performance of ‘Four Sticks’ (“Well try something we’ve never done before… there’s every chance that we will fall apart,” Plant warned the audience) and premieres of ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ and ‘Rock And Roll’ (introduced as ‘It’s Been A Long Time’) during the encores.

Dave Lewis

To be Continued…


TBL Archive Special – 2:

Robert Plant football

Wembley Goaldiggers Football – 36 years gone:

This may not be in with a shout of greatest sports pic in the world ever, but it’s a genuine all action reminder of a memorable afternoon of 36 years ago this week.

My old trusty Olympus trip just about captured the moment R. Plant rounded the advancing goalkeeper Martin Day (sorry West Ham fans!) to net a rather fine goal in his teams 3-1 win over LBC Radio. The occasion was the Annual Sun/Goaldiggers five a side football tournament at Wembley Arena. The date was Sunday November 25th 1979.

Robert was on great post Knebworth form that day. My good friend Tom Locke and I arrived in the early afternoon. The backstage gate was surrounded by fans eager to get a look at the celebrities of the day. The soccer superstars George Best, Bobby Moore, Stan Bowles etc mixing with the likes of actor Patrick Mower, Jasper Carrott and various members of ELO, Darts and Uriah Heep etc who were making up the teams. In the drizzling rain we eyed Robert’s Cherokee jeep as it drove around the car park and we enthusiastically greeted him. ‘’Jump in the back ‘’ said the singer in the greatest band in the world. Well it’s not an offer we could refuse and it was raining! So we clambered aboard, anxious not to put muddy footprints all over the seats.

Off we swept through the gates, passed the awaiting throng into the backstage area. The rest of the afternoon was a delight. We watched Robert do his stuff on the pitch -his team Power Plant with Ron Atkinson, singer Jess Conrad, the late Dave Dee and Jasper Carrott reached the semi finals.

He chatted with Britt Ekland, and was cheered on by various Swan Song personal who revealed to me Zep had scooped seven awards in the Melody Maker Poll due to be revealed the next Wednesday. Robert wore a tasty Knebworth yellow and black T shirt as worn by the video crew. He also wrote out a very nice insert message to go in the next TBL and took receipt of a fetching pair of blue and yellow Nike trainers (which spurred a mental note to self: get down to the local sports shop and invest in Nike trainers soon as!). Some off the cuff chat revealed his pride for the success of Knebworth and In Through The Out Door (‘’It’s all there in the end’’) and plans ahead (‘’We need to keep working now’’).

When signing autographs one wag shouted out ‘’When yer gonna play Manchester!?’’ Robert replied ‘’I want to play Manchester but it ain’t up to me mate!’’

And then he was off back to the Midlands, box of trainers in hand ready to try them out at the next Wednesday’s Melody Maker Poll Awards.

I’ve have had worse afternoons! I found that pic and a few others from the occasion in the loft recently. Great days from a time when I literally lived and breathed Led Zeppelin –with a bit of W.H.Smith retail frenzy, a few beers and a Wallbanger football match in between.



The new Empress Valley soundboard:

A new previously uncirculated soundboard tape of the Fort Worth March 3 1975 has just been released on a variety of new CD sets.  

Forth worth pic Cd set

Here’s Paul Sheppard views:

The 1975 U.S. tour is usually judged by the quality of the big set pieces. Leaving ‘Moby Dick’ aside (which I usually do), ‘No Quarter’, often a rambling mess, is actually very good indeed. Some nice interplay between the band and some purposeful coherence to the structure of the instrumental passage between the verses. ‘Dazed and Confused’ is also very good, one of the better versions from the tour, full of energy and zip, with the usual (for Zep) top notch playing. The rest of the show has some good moments too though ‘raspy’ Robert is clearly suffering somewhat. All round, a superb stereo soundboard and one worthy of a listen. I like it!
“Fort Worth, we’ve had a wonderful time! Have you?” (Robert’s closing comment to which the answer from me is a resounding ‘yes’!)

DL Diary Blog Update:

Haynes geoff

The TBl crew pitched up for an excellent performance by Whole Lotta Led at Haynes Village Hall last Saturday night. There was a good turn out despite the cold weather and the TBL stall did some brisk business.

Here’s another Electric Magic 44 years gone twist – by sheer coincidence, Whole Lotta Led’s Geoff Hunt was wearing his Electric Magic Led Zep Wembley Empire Pool Nov 1971 t –shirt at the gig.

Onstage, it was good to hear the likes of In the Evening, In the Light, Night Flight, Custard Pie and The Rover performed live – lead singer Lee acknowledged my attendance at the Electric Magic show of 44 years ago to the day, noting that Since I’ve Been Loving You was in the set list that night and went on to dedicate it to me – a very nice touch – later in the set he poignantly dedicated Stairway To Heaven to Peter Grant on the 20th anniversary of his death. A final encore of Rock And Roll had the whole place rocking. As the band go into their 20th year they are as popular as ever. Catch them when you can…

haynes tattoo

Here’s a pic of a fan who came over to the TBL stall before the Whole Lotta led gig to reveal a mightily impressive tattoo. He also had a personalised Zep number plate and his passport which he showed me, revealed he had added Led Zeppelin to his name. Now that’s devotion!

Back here, the pressure has been on to complete TBL 40. TBL designer Mick Lowe and I have spent a good few hours looking over the text and tweaking it all. Mike Tremaglio has been on Skype regularly over the past week, relaying his corrections and proofing. Once again his input has been immense. Meanwhile Gary Foy has been sorting the address labels out – all this collective invaluable assistance should mean I will be ready to distribute TBL 40 from around mid December. Once the final checks are though this weekend, it should be ready to go to the printers next week. More on all this soon.

Looking over the proofs – well, once again there is a lot to soak up – 40,000 words text – not just a magazine – more a mini book and it’s coming your way soon…


I’ve also spent some time assessing the TBL plans and schedule for 2016 – there’s some great content lined up for the future TBL magazines – more on all these plans soon.

On the player here: The Firm albums – inspired by the great clips of Paul Rodgers and Brian Wheat performing Radioactive and Satisfaction Guaranteed at the EMP Founders event and while we are on the subject – what a tonic it was to click on the YouTube clip of Jimmy up there Gibson Les Paul in hand finally playing guitar live on stage. Like I said in the TBL posting of the event – the world suddenly seemed a much better place…

Also on – Bob Dylan The Bootleg series Volume  12 1965 – 1966 The Cutting Edge 2 CD set – I want to add the 6 CD set to the collection and that one is on my Christmas list but I couldn’t wait to hear something from it so went for the 2 CD – and it’s awesome.  I’ve also been listening to the David Bowie Young Americans outtakes bootleg LP Ain’t That Close To Love  – some amazing stuff on that. On the Zep front, I need to set some time aside to soak up the new Forth Worth soundboard.

beatles white album reiew

On the player on Sunday November 22, were two Beatles albums released on that day five years apart. The first With The Beatles -their second album released on Friday November 22 1963 – the same day that JFK was assassinated. I have the original review from Record Mirror. The album is packed full of The Beatles youthful infectious exuberance and still sounds fantastic…

The second of two Beatles albums released on that day five years apart was  The Beatles – The Beatles – the 30 track double album known as The White Album released on November 22 1968.. The progress in five years from the innocence of With The Beatles was astonishing. I have the original review from the NME –they di not quite get Revolution 9! I have the mono original UK pressing –  this is right up there in my all time top five albums for sure…

It was good to see the impressive Tottenham performance against West Ham – they are flying right now – Chelsea however on Sunday will prove a test  as they are on a bit of a comeback.

We have had Adam back this week unexpectedly when he went down with a nasty bout of tonsillitis. Hopefully some home comforts will soon have back on form.

Cannot believe it’s only a month until Christmas  – with TBL 40 to wrap, print and distribute it’s going to be pretty full on here but I’m very much looking forward to seeing the end result of what will be a landmark issue of the TBL magazine.

Happy Thanksgiving today to all TBL American friends…

Dave Lewis – November 26, 2015

YouTube Clips:

Jimmy Page EMP Founders Award:

Led Zeppelin  – Fort Worth – March 3, 1975 cine film synced with new soundboard tape:

Until next time..

Have a great weekend

Keep listening, keep reading…

Dave Lewis/Gary Foy – November 26 , 2015.

If you are reading this and have yet to link with the Tight But Loose Facebook page be sure to request/add us. The TBL Facebook is another key part of the TBL set up with updated stories/additional pics etc to keep you on top of the world of TBL.

To view additional photos and TBL info be sure to hook up with the Tight But Loose Facebook page (add us as a friend) at!/profile.php?id=1611296783

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

One Comment »

  • Jez said:

    Brilliant piece as ever Dave

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.