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12 May 2021 2,106 views 3 Comments

John Bonham Celebration Event Details…a great day in prospect…


The Government have announced their intention to allow large gatherings including music festivals to be staged without restrictions from June 21st onwards. This means our Festival in September can go-ahead as planned…

So with Government guidelines permitting, the one-day Rock and Blues event celebrating the life of John Henry Bonham takes place on Saturday 25th September in Redditch town centre, Bonzo’s hometown

Two live shows, matinee & evening*, featuring headline acts and special guests at Redditch’ Palace Theatre (Tickets only)

Outdoor festival stage with top local & regional artists on Saturday afternoon (Tickets only) *

Free Pub Gigs in and around the town

Here’s the line up:

John Coghlan’s Quo


Coda- a Tribute to Led Zeppelin

The Groundhogs


Michael MacCourt

More acts to be announced soon….

Here’s more details from Ros Sidaway:

Redditch Gets Set to Rock as John Bonham A Celebration Festival Returns

After having to cancel the 2019 festival and then postpone last year’s planned music event, John Bonham

Memorial Friends are looking forward to finally staging the John Bonham A Celebration II festival in Redditch

on Saturday 25thSeptember.

“The Government’s announcement of their intention to allow large gatherings, including music festivals, to be staged without restrictions from June 2st onwards, came as a huge relief to all involved after what has been a dreadful year, particularly for the ‘live’ music industry “ says Festival Director, Ros Sidaway “It’s also been tough for charities unable to fundraise so we are hoping to raise as much money as possible for our nominated charity, Teenage Cancer Trust West Midlands”

Organised in partnership with the Palace Drum Clinic, this year’s event will have a different format to the big marquee celebration held in 2018. With an open-air music event close to John’s memorial in Mercian Square from midday to 6pm, and matinee and evening shows featuring top rock & blues acts being held at the

Palace Theatre, Redditch is set to rock once again.

The first of the Headline Acts were announced on Friday evening and include John Coghlan’s Quo, Stray, Ken Pustelnik’s Groundhogs, CODA – A Tribute To Led Zeppelin and VAMBO, one of the leaders of the New Wave of Classic Rock. Opening the matinee show, will be Young Drummer of the Year 2019 winner, Michael MacCourt. They will be joined on stage by Special Guests and friends of John Bonham sharing their memories of Bonzo.

Tickets for the shows are now on sale via the link below:

or the Palace Theatre Box Office on 01527 65203.

If you would like to be involved in this September’s festival, or are interested in sponsoring, advertising or donating raffle prizes, please contact JBMF through the website or contact Ros Sidaway on 07887 525107 or pop into her record shop, Vintage Trax, at 11a Church Green East, Redditch B98 8BP.

Many thanks to Ros for all the info on what is a great day in prospect – more on this as it unfolds in the coming weeks.


Steve Tooley RIP:

Some sad news to relay – this via Gary Davies:

Very sad to hear the news from the Zeppelin online trading community about the death on May 6th of Steve Tooley aka ‘ZEPTRADE’.

 Steve had a passion for collecting thousands of live Zep recordings over the years and he freely shared his collection with fans for many years through his private online ‘ZEPTRADE’ group.  His generosity inspired others to open up their collections, and in doing so he really did create a sense of community, with trading group members effectively dispensing with their online usernames and instead preferring to converse as real people, sharing messages about their own ‘lockdown’ experiences and creating long lasting friendships as a result.  Steve facilitated that. 

Unbeknown to mostly all of his online group members, Steve had a personal connection to Led Zeppelin.  He worked as part of the Security team on some of the US tours in the 1970’s, along with a number of other artists during this period.  The video still photo above captures Steve at the side of the stage at Madison Square Garden in 1973 during ‘The Ocean’.  He was a private man and rarely shared his memories, but he apparently got a big kick from seeing himself on film when the track was eventually salvaged from the New York concert footage and found its way onto the official DVD release in 2003. 
Steve’s lasting legacy will be the continuation of his Zeptrade online fan collecting forum – it’s what he would have wanted.  He will be very sadly missed by many Zeppelin fans around the world. 
Many thanks to Gary for that tribute.

LZ News:

Led Zeppelin News Update:

For all the latest Zep and related news check out the Led Zeppelin news website at:

It’s that time of year again…

TBL Celebrates the 46th Anniversary of Led Zeppelin at Earls Court:

With the 46th anniversary of the first two Led Zeppelin appearances at Earls Court upon us – to get you right in the zone here is a feature that first ran in TBL issue 15. It focuses on some of the key performances on the US tour of early 1975 that provided something of an indicator to the five glorious nights that would follow in May 1975…


Led Zeppelin’s tenth American tour kicked off in Minnesota on January 18 1975 and initially their performances were hampered due to Plant’s bout of flu and Page’s injury to his finger. The situation began to improve when they reached New York some ten gigs into the tour. For the Feb 3 Madison Square Garden date Page felt sufficiently recovered to re instate Dazed And Confused to the set. Just over a week later, Plant’s relief at finally shrugging off his flu bug was evident in a very loose and informal Valentine’s Day performance at the Nassau Coliseum. As their newly released double set Physical Graffiti hit the stores they moved up another gear. March saw they really hit their stride with outstanding performances at Long Beach, Vancouver and Seattle -eventually culminating in a memorable three day stint at the LA Forum.

Throughout those February /March dates they began to further develop the set clearly displaying points of reference in their playing that would be further explored when they returned to London to play the Earls Court shows.

So having evaluated the ’75 tour tapes, I’ve highlighted the key moments from seven performances that in hindsight, clearly provided a prelude to those five glorious nights that would follow in May 1975…

Date: FEBRUARY 14, 1975:


Performances: KASHMIR/TANGERINE (snippet)

Bootleg Reference: NASSAU ’75 (TDOLZ)

zep 75 31

”This is one that regulars that come here know quite well…but you’ve still yet to hear the recorded version…this is a track about another of life’s journeys that never end..this time in Kashmir”

Kashmir was a new number that they were obviously itching to play live and with Plant’s voice suitably recovered they turned in a majestic Valentines’ Day performance in Nassau. Page strumming down relentlessly on the Gibson behind Bonham’s castinet like drumming.

Plant showing renewed confidence to throw in the echoed vocal naunces that became such an Earls Court trademark. Listening to this delivery re -emphasis my opinion that the best live versions of Kashmir  were all played in the year it was released on record.

Tangerine was of course a surprise inclusion at the Earls Court shows performed as a four part harmony. However perhaps they were already toying with the idea of bringing it back during the American tour. For on this night prior to Stairway To Heaven Plant let out a few lines from the long deleted Zep III stage fave. ”Measuring a summers day”…adding ”I’ve forgotten the words”. It was a brief teaser for a song that would again light up those memorable May days.

Date: FEBRUARY 28 ,1975


Performance: NO QUARTER


The May 18 and 24 Earls Court versions of the JPJ opus are amongst the very best they performed. The highlight being JP’s lengthy piano concerto that led to the loose jamming amalgamation with Page and Bonham. During the ’75 US that arrangement underwent much construction as it expanded in length. On this night in Baton Rouge Jonesy began applying for the first time that pleasing neo classical solo before Jimmy waded in with a long rambling solo. The improvisation of No Quarter would further develop later in the tour when Page and Bonham introduced an uptempo jazz tempo to the piece. This Feb 28 delivery was an early example of how the track would evolve to such huge effect a little under two months hence in London.

Date: MARCH 12,1975




Just to illustrate that not all went according to plan every night…. on this cooking performance in Long Beach their sheer enthusiasm got the better of them as they opened The Song Remains The Same….. only to bring it to a close some one minute in.

”Just a minute that’s it ….see you again Long Beach! Yes it happened for the first time in six and a half years…does anybody remember laugher?…. the first time we came here we never seem to  get things together in Los Angeles.

OK, as I was saying. Nevertheless The Song Remains …..nevertheless,ad infinitum to the power of three re occuring..The Same!’’

They did not get it wrong a second time.

What happened next was simply the business. A speed ride through the opening track of Houses and  as Plant might put it a reoccurring anthem. It sounded great here ,it sounded great in Earls Court and it still sounded great 20 years later when Page and Plant deployed it so effectively on their 95/96 world tour. This is a Zeppelin anthem that gets less acclaim than the more overplayed Whole Lotta Love, Stairway and Kashmir -but on stage it always burnt and smouldered its way into the set. Pull it out and try it for yourselves on any night…the effect as those Houses ads read is still shattering.

Date: MARCH 19, 1975


Performance: WOODSTOCK (insert)


”By the end of the tour I felt I could sing anything”.

Proof of that statement came nightly within Dazed And Confused. The San Francisco excerpt had long been a feature of the early part of the piece, but on this tour they began experimenting even further. Plant introducing another hippie anthem to proceedings -the Joni Mitchell pean to Max Yasgur’s farm and a hit for Crosby Stills, Nash & Young. The Zep arrangement was still built loosely on the melody employed for San Francisco-Plant bending the words to fit the structure. Against Page’s eerie minor chord strumming it became one of the most atmospheric parts of their performance. Plant’s repeated ”Back to the garden” refrain merging into the violin bow episode amongst the dry ice. The Vancouver performance was a blueprint for the equally dramatic versions performed at Earls Court run. During this part of the tour Plant also took to singing The Eagles Take It Easy and during the final LA stint he crooned a 50’s like To Be Loving  before moving into Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff. As he put it -he could sing anything…

Date: MARCH 21, 1975



Bootleg Reference:SEATTLE SUPERSONIC (GEMA) 207.19 & 214 (COBLA STANDARD)

This Seattle show was simply one of the best gigs of their latter era.

Proximity editor Hugh Jones was there and relayed the events in a superb feature titled ”At The top of their game” in issue Vol 6 no17.

If proof was needed then this opening segment brings it all alive – as it epitomises what a potent three pronged entrance these songs really were. Rock And Roll segueing into the new sheer brutality of Sick Again with Plant teasing ”Do I look the same”, and then the opening speech followed by the ”Beginning of a dream and it starts here (R.Plant -Earls Court May*17) or on this occasion .”What we intend to do is to relive our pent uppedness on stage, and then to relieve it later on after the gig elsewhere. Now the thing is what we intend to do is to give you a cross section of what we’ve been trying to produce and write over the last six and a half years.

As you know the material varies greatly and so you will appreciate that we take it from one extreme to the other….and what better way to start than to gaze out onto the horizon and see what tomorrow may bring”

To quote Hugh Jones ”in those last few sentences Robert Plant may well have encapsulated Led Zeppelin as well as anyone ever has. The physical, the musical, the pretension and the arrogance-all backed up with music as varied and as good as his word for the next four hours”.

So the the regal intro of  Over The Hills And Far Away -the Page solo as always flickering and twisting into previously un investigated territory. Then a swirling finale with Plant crying out ”Samantha Samantha” perhaps a reference to the fun they were about to enjoy offstage as he put it And on this night in Seattle it all just burst forth with that knowing arrogance .To use that old Zep’75 maxim it all underlined the fact that it wasn’t just a case of them being the number one band on the planet…the real point in question was just how far whoever was at number two lagged behind.

Date: MARCH 25 1975




The May 24 ’75 delivery of Trampled was an incredible Page tour de force and again one of the most potent performances of their latter era. All through the US tour though, they were stretching the limits of the improvisational possibilities of this piece rendering the album version almost redundant. On this penultimate night of the tour Page, Jones and Bonham locked horns to produce a frightening barrage of noise over which Plant ad-libbed in required style. ”Give it to me, give it to me”

Nobody described the live delivery of this track better than noted US scribe Lisa Robinson when she astutely observed that ”Trampled with its Come Together like rhythm sounds as if The Beatles battled the Stones in a parking lot – and Led Zeppelin won”

Date: MARCH 27 1975



Bootleg Reference: TOUR DE FORCE (RABBITT)

The final riot night of the US tour was a mass celebratory affair with the band fully aware that with this tour they had turned adversity into triumph. From the moment Linda Lovelace cutely introduced them onstage to Plant’s parting ”We’re coming back baby” comment, this was a true prelude to what the UK was about to be served.

They even gave a hint of Earls Court fashion by introducing his Miss Selfridge cut off shirt and Page wearing the Dragon suit trousers that would become such a visual imprint of May ’75.

Their confidence was subsequently overflowing as they attacked the new In My Time Of Dying, Plant throwing in a few lines of You Shook Me.

”Anybody remember?” he asks at the end as he would a month later in SW5.

The version of Since I’ve Been Loving You was a real bonus and something sadly that Earls Court did not receive.

”A change in the programme- we were gonna do…..but this is a blues and I think this is where we first came in”. An impromptu set revision that delighted the LA audience.

A rare latter day stand alone delivery (in 1972/73 it had been segued with Misty Mountain)) recalling the majesty of Blueberry Hill at this very venue five years back. Rarely played in ’75 they ached their way through the old Zep III standard -Page’s solo as precise and inventive as that night back in September ’70.

On the home straight it was nothing less than a victory stomp. Stairway played as was the case as Earls Court as though Plant believed every word, and the final incendiary Whole Lotta Love/Black Dog medley with the added visual spectacle of that neon lit sign. Images and sounds that London would soon delight in.

Acknowledging their enthusiasm,  Plant told the final LA audience ”It’s really nice to know that we’re giving you what you are giving us because after tonight I think we’ve got three gigs in England. I don’t believe well work again for quite a long time, so this has got to be good”.

That last night in  LA  was indeed good…very good ….and Earls Court would be even better.

Dave Lewis – first published in TBL issue 15

And then… Note below the NME’s May 17 issue centre spread below compiled by the late Roy Carr and the late legendary Howard Mylett. I thought I knew a bit about Led Zeppelin until I met dear Howard…

may 17

TBL Celebrates the 46th anniversary of Led Zeppelin at Earls Court:

Turning the clock back 46 years:  Saturday May 17th 1975:

Setlist: Rock And Roll/Sick Again/Over The Hills And Far Away/In My Time Of Dying/The Song Remains The Same/The Rain Song/Kashmir/No Quarter/Tangerine/Going To California/That’s The Way/Bron-Y-Aur Stomp/Trampled Underfoot/Moby Dick/Dazed And Confused (inc. Woodstock)/Stairway To Heaven/Whole Lotta Love – Black Dog.

May 17th a dull rainy Saturday. Left Bedford around 4pm on the train and met then girlfriend Fiona in London for the long awaited return. I’d been counting the days down since March and now here we were hours from seeing and believing. We were inside the arena from around 7pm and the next hour was a slow one – I’d brought a programme and t.shirt.The programme with the illuminating text from Tony Palmer really whetted the appetite and had some amazing photos.

Finally when the stage burst into action following Bob Harris’s intro just after 8pm, well it was the moment my life switched into colour after the previous 18 years had been viewed in grainy black and white.

We had a good view high up to the right looking down towards Jimmy’s side. They were a little nervous and it was evident Jimmy was having lead trouble in Rock And Roll, but once they settled in it was all and more I’d hoped for. The video screen high above the stage was something I’d never seen at a gig before and I found myself gazing in awe at the memorable images flashing on screen- and wishing it was being broadcast on TV.  I’d played Physical Graffiti non stop since it had come out so seeing In My Time, Kashmir and Trampled played live was just awe inspiring. Tangerine was an unexpected treat as was the whole acoustic interlude. Having no idea what the set list would be  only added to the pure wonderment of seeing Led Zeppelin live before my very eyes.

Initial opening night impressions:

John Bonham’s incredible drum sound, Robert’s warm rapport with the crowd and the way he totally dominated the stage.. After this somewhat shaky start they quickly regained confidence and the new numbers from Physical Graffiti, In My Time Of Dying and Kashmir set the standard. The latter’s Eastern-sounding riff rose into a thick, booming sound that reverberated throughout the entire arena. As the tapes of the shows so vividly reveal, that booming sound was very much an Earls Court characteristic, a sound so solid that when Page laid down a chord you could practically lean on it.

EC jr2

The marathon Dazed and the laser lights shooting through Jimmy’s violin bow. By the evening’s end the early nerves had all but evaporated, to be replaced by a relaxed atmosphere which found JPJ playfully offering a few bars of The Teddy Bear’s Picnic as Robert introduced ‘Stairway To Heaven. Plant was now regularly adding the line “That’s all we got” to the final verse prior to Page’s solo. Whole Lotta Love  featured a few riffs from The Crunge prior to Jimmy’s theremin battle. An unsurprisingly nervous start but with plenty to build on.

We got back to Bedford at 2am and I was already counting down the hours to when we would be back in their company again.  There were just 18 hours to tick off.

The Led Zeppelin Earls Court experience was underway…and boy life was good…

Dave Lewis – May 17, 2018

“Apart from The Who and The Stones I can’t think of many bands who could have put on anything like it. During moments like Trampled Underfoot it seemed the whole stage was just going to fall forward and crush everybody in the hall.” Charles Shaar Murray, New Musical Express.

may 18

TBL Celebrates the 46th anniversary of Led Zeppelin at Earls Court:

Turning the clock back 46 years..

Sunday May 18, 1975

Setlist: Rock And Roll/Sick Again/Over The Hills And Far Away/In My Time Of Dying/The Song Remains The Same/The Rain Song/Kashmir/No Quarter/Tangerine/Going To California/That’s The Way/Bron-Y-Aur Stomp/Trampled Underfoot/Moby Dick/Dazed And Confused (inc. Woodstock)/Stairway To Heaven/Whole Lotta Love – The Crunge – Black Dog.

In the morning I’d got the Sunday Observer with the colour suppelment magazine with that Tony Palmer feature in.

”Led Zeppelin bigger than The Beatles?” proclaimed the front cover. What a compliment…and a rightful accolade.

On the train at 5pm in the afternoon with fellow fan Nic and his girlfriend.

Hung outside Earls Court amongst the the programme sellers and poster stalls before the show -bought a bootleg badge which was as big as a dinner plate. Wore it with pride for years!

The second night saw them settled into the run. Over The Hills And Far Away developed into an early set template on each successive night. Loaded with rock steady authority, with Page at his most spontaneous, supplemented by  Bonham and Jones holding down the bottom line, and hinting at the rhythmic tempos they would develop for Candy Store Rock on the Presence album. Page’s double-neck guitar poses during The Song Remains The Same and would give the attendant photographers plenty of famous images while The Rain Song saw the guitarist draped in blue light, casting another memorable portrait, a solitary figure in the spotlight ringing out some sweet familiar notes. Add to that an intensive and incessant In My Time Of Dying (Plant’s ”I must have done somebody good” line resounded in my ears all the way home).

ec no quirter

The outstanding performance of May 18, though, was No Quarter as immortalised on the subsequent Red Devil vinyl bootleg. Never before had JPJ immersed himself in this showpiece with such subtlety and grace, the defining moment being the point where he came out of the classical sequence, at around 3mins 45, to play a cluster of descending notes that rippled from the grand piano and into the Earls Court air.

The acoustic section found Plant at his loquacious best, unfolding tales of the origins of Going To California (“So we went to Wales and when we got there we wrote songs about California”) and That’s The Way (“So we were sitting on a grassy bank looking across the unspoiled countryside”). Dazed And Confused was also developing its own unique Earls Court quality. Page’s delicate, melodic guitar passages leading into Woodstock remain an evocative reminder of the times that still brings on the chill every time I hear the tape 41 years on.

During Whole Lotta Love they kicked into the rhythm of The Crunge as they had done briefly the previous night but now further developed Plant’s echoed “I’m just trying to find the bridge” lines. A crunching Black Dog brought show number two to a close after some 195 minutes on stage.

We just managed to get the last train back and in for 2.30am. Two down and incredibly…three still to go!

Dave Lewis – May 14, 2020

“In six and a half years Led Zeppelin have grown to be the biggest band in the land and judging by the excellence of their performance at Earls Court, one of, if not THE most exiting live act in the world. I guess I came on the right night. It’s difficult to describe the magic or atmosphere of that Sunday. It was one of those gigs that will remain scarred on my brain forever.” Pete Makowski, Sounds.

More Earls Court Archive next week…

And then two years later this happened…

TBL Archive : Heathrow Airport – 44 years Gone:

44 years ago on Tuesday May 17,1977 , I awoke with the day’s mission being to hook up with the members of Led Zeppelin – and incredibly that is exactly what happened.

As this story that appeared in TBL issue 18 explains, any plans to actually go out and see them perform live in America had been thwarted by a serious lack of funds. My then wages of £22 per week earned working on the record and tapes department at WH Smith in Bedford was never going to get me to Madison Square Garden.

As a mad keen fan of just 20 years old, I knew there had to be another way to see them. With invaluable help from Unity McClean at the Swan Song office, I hatched a plan to go to Heathrow Airport to wave them off as they began the second leg of the tour.

I got the idea from all those newsreel films of The Beatles being waved off from airports by loads of screaming girls. I did not envisage too many screaming girls being there but I did think it was a relatively feasible way of seeing them.

Unity very kindly supplied me with the timings and so it was on Tuesday May 17, I set off from Bedford to achieve my quest. I stopped off at the Swan Song office to catch up with Unity. I even got involved in running a few errands – not uncommon whenever I visited. I was dispatched to the local Kings Road newsagent to buy copies of the first day’s edition of the Evening Standard. This was to check that they had carried an apology for a mistaken identity story involving a false Robert Plant story they had run with the previous day.

Unity was well pleased to find it in there and immediately biked over a copy to Peter Grant. Back in the office Unity gave me various photos to get signed. I then took the tube to Hatton Cross and boarded a bus from there to get to the terminal. Back then there was no direct tube line into Heathrow.

I arrived at Heathrow just after 4pm. A Welsh fan Russ Rees and a couple of friends were there. Outside the main doors John Bonham was holding court by one of the limos chatting to Richard Cole. John Paul Jones arrived wearing a union jack cardigan – it was the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year and patriotism was well high. Unity later told me Jonesy had laughed when he had seen the pics I took as the jacket had fallen to pieces soon after.

Robert kept up the royal theme wearing a badge of the Queen. Robert arrived soon after looking every inch the rock god. The first photo shows me following him across the road -Robert carrying his own luggage –  he only had to ask and I’ve gladly helped him out !

The mood was very upbeat and friendly. I talked to Robert about how the tour was going and he relayed how much they were enjoying it. A roadie came in on the conversation and Robert mentioned how much he liked Maria Muldaur’s Midnight At The Oasis song.

Robert and JPJ were more than happy to sign my photos and pose for a pic. I’m carrying the photos I took along and look at those badges – dinner plate size! I’m wearing the jacket I regularly wore for work.  I look as proud as a peacock and that’s exactly how I felt. It was just incredible to be in their company – my idols right next to me!

Robert kept on joking about Jimmy’s whereabouts as he was running late. ”Where’s Patti Page ”? he kept repeating. Jimmy arrived in a Range Rover driven by his driver Rick Hobbs. He looked a little unsteady in a white suit but soon began joking and chatting with the others. I chatted to him for a couple of minutes.

I finally left them as their flight was called around 6pm. it was an absolutely thrilling experience and I made my way back to Bedford in something of a daze. I was due to play in a Wallbangers football match that night but arrived too late -not that it mattered too much as we won 11-0!

The next day I relayed these tales to my Mum and Dad and then girlfriend Fiona. In the morning I was back behind the counter selling records at WH Smith while Led Zeppelin took to the stage in Birmingham Alabama. There’s some amazing cine film of that gig and when I watch it I always marvel at the fact that I was one of the last people to talk to them in England before they left for yet another trail blazing tour of America.

Exactly two years to the day of the first Earls Court concert, I had experienced yet another incredible occasion in their company. Like all these occasions, it enhanced my enthusiasm to follow this group and it’s music with increasing passion love and devotion.

44 years on from that remarkable experience, that passion love and devotion remains ever strong….and that afternoon in Heathrow Airport is a memory that shines ever brightly…

DL – May 12 , 2020

More on all this next week…

One more Robert Plant anniversary:

It was 40 years ago today:

Robert Plant and The Honeydrippers at Nottingham Boat Club…

40 years ago today on Tuesday May 12 1981, I took the train from Bedford to Nottingham for a very special gig.

In prospect was a night with The Honeydrippers at the famous Nottingham Boat Club venue.

The Honeydrippers was the ad hoc band Robert Plant formed in early 1981 with some of his Midlands musician pals. This was his way of finding a pathway out of the demise of Led Zeppelin.

Anyone who was lucky enough to see these very low key shows in the spring of 1981, will know how incredibly exciting it was to see the former lead singer in the biggest band in the world in such small surroundings – going back to his roots.

For there was, as he put it ‘’No led anything’ in this era – just a whole lot of rhythm and blues and an attempt to re- establish contact with an audience – on his terms.

This short lived venture would provide the inspiration for him to hook up with Robbie Blunt on a more serious mission of song writing that would have all roads leading to Rockfield Studios in Monmouth for the recording of his first solo album Pictures At Eleven.

Before all that, there were sweaty nights on the road and this night at the Nottingham Boat Club was just that. This was the second occasion I had seen this line up – a week back I had been at the Porterhouse in Retford and ahead in the next two weeks I would catch further shows in Pontypridd, Sheffield and Bradford. In those days if Robert or indeed Jimmy and JPJ were playing anywhere, I would do my best to be there…oh and I also saw Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Bingley Hall Stafford that month.

On this day, I was lucky enough to be in attendance at the afternoon soundcheck – it was a huge thrill to be inside the venue where Zep had performed in March 1971. Robert and the band were on great form and the gig itself was a stormer. I didn’t take any photos of this gig but I took some of the other gigs which I’ll try and dig out.

After the soundcheck, the band, crew and myself strolled on to the balcony of the Boat Club to view the gathering crowds below. In this photo taken by a fan in the crowd (I cannot recall who sent me this) the line up is:

Far left just above the parked van, long time Zep/Plant soundman and friend Benji Le-fevre, then Robert Plant in the red jacket, saxophonist Keith Evans, guitarist Robbie Blunt, drummer Kevin J O’Neal, behind him that’s me (note short lived moustache!) and to the right future Plant tour manager Rex King.

An amazing day when I was a mere 24 years old and it all happened 40 years ago today… what a memory…

Looking back, I feel very blessed to have these special moments to cherish. One of my TBL projects ahead is to produce a memoir style book to log experiences like these and many others I’ve been lucky to be involved in … more on this as it unfolds…

Dave Lewis – May 12,2021


Let It Be at 51:

The Beatles’ final studio album Let It Be celebrated its 51st anniversary on May 8 – here’s my thoughts on one of favourite albums and what it means to me…

Let It Be and me…

I’ve had something of a 51 year love affair with The Beatles’ Let It Be album.

It all began way back in April 1969 when The Beatles released a new single titled Get Back. As previously chronicled, this was the inspiration for me to  get right back into music after a brief infatuation with The Dave Clark Five when I was seven years old.

James Bond, Thunderbirds, The Daleks and football took over for a while but aged 12 I was ready to tune in once again

It was Get Back that really attracted me back to music. I had heard it on Tony Blackburn’s Radio One breakfast show and repeatedly on the juke box in our local café.

I recall an advert in the NME that proclaimed it as ‘’The Beatles as nature intended.’’ What also attracted me to the record was the distinctive green Apple label design – and the B side that displayed the core of an Apple. Having been drawn to that beautiful image I was forever asking older friends to put The Beatles’ B sides on the Juke box – this is how I came to be very familiar with Don’t Let Me Down, Old Brown Shoe and Come Together –the flip sides of Get Back, The Ballad of John And Yoko and Something, the trio of singles released by The Beatles in 1969.

In September of that year The Beatles issued their Abbey Road album. An older friend bought it and I listened at his house in wonder at it’s amazing contents – not least the medley on side two.

The NME had already flagged that The Beatles next album would be titled Get Back and comprise of recordings made in early 1969 to accompany a film of the same name. This was planned to be released in 1970.

During the early months of 1970 I eagerly scanned the news pages of the NME for more news. It transpired the album and film would now be titled Let It Be and in early March 1970 the Let It Be single was issued backed with the quirky You Know My Name (Look Up the Number). The single came in an eye catching picture sleeve. I of course loved the single and the accompanying film clip of it shown on Top of the Pops.

On April 10, the Daily Mirror broke the story that Paul had quit The Beatles. The acrimonious reasons behind the split dominated the pop headlines over the next12 months. The Beatles had out grown The Beatles and as Lennon would put it – the dream was over.

However, there was one more Beatles album release and it came on May 8, 1970. Let It Be was packaged in an outer cardboard box that contained a deluxe book and the actual record catalogue number PX1. It sold for a penny less than £3.

Far too much for my pocket money but the same older friend did buy it and we marveled at that package, the book and the album’s contests. Let It Be for me sounded like a great album -with it’s off mic comments and raw playing, tender moments, jams and quirky singalongs –the informality of it all touched a chord – this was The Beatles presented in a unique way as never before.

However, not everyone was enamored with this final chapter. The NME called it a cheap cardboard epitaph. To this day I disagree with such a notion.

On Thursday June 18, 1970 I went to the Granada cinema in Bedford to see the Let It Be film. We had the day off school as Britain was going to the polls to vote in a general election that saw Edward Heath gain a shock Conservative win over Labour’s Harold Wilson.

It was also Paul McCartney’s 28th birthday.

The film was a poignant farewell – the highlight being the final footage of them performing live on the on the rooftop. I loved the film for its illuminating inside look at The Beatles at work.

Over the next few years, The Beatles Let It Be era was never far off my radar.

When I started buying bootlegs in 1972, alongside the Zep titles, I eagerly invested in The Beatles Get Back Sessions and the curiously titled Renaissance Minstrels Vol 1 , Both these albums contained various outtakes and unreleased material from the Let It Be/Get Back period.

They provided key insight to this captivating last gasp. The likes of The Walk and Teddy Boy sounding like lost jewels.

Fast forward to Christmas 1975 –the BBC screened the entire film on Boxing Day and it looked fantastic.

During that first TV showing I even listed down for my own reference all the songs that appeared during the film – I still have that hand written note as can been seen here.

The BBC screened it again four years later on Boxing Day 1979. On that occasion  my very good friend Dec taped it all on his newly acquired video recorder. When I got my own video recorder rented in 1981, Dec made me a copy of the Let It Be film – I now had all that marvelous footage at the flick of a button.

The bootleg CD explosion in the early 90s led me to many more recordings of the Get Back/Let It Be period as title after title appeared – notably a complete version of the fabled January 30,1969 rooftop gig – and the Let It Be film on DVD. I also have a bootleg of the original Get Back album as first proposed by producer Glyn Johns – complete with the intended cover of that photo of them in early 1969 at EMI in Manchester Square -re creating the Please Please Me cover shot. The 1969 image was later used for The Beatles red and blue compilations issued in 1973 (I bought both of those on the release date).

Mark Lewishon’s astonishingly detailed The Beatles at Abbey Road and The Beatles Chronicle books offered up vital accurate information of the 1969 sessions. I was lucky enough to meet Mark and attend two launches of his books inside the hallowed walls of Abbey Road Studios itself. In 1983 I also attended EMI’s The Beatles at Abbey Road presentation inside studio number two where so much of the Beatle magic had been created.

Over the years, The Get Back saga has continued to fascinate me and I’ve invested in a fair few books and magazines about the subject. The official Beatles Anthology made available some of those unreleased recordings I had craved on those bootlegs. Paul McCartney then re-invented the album by releasing Let It Be Naked – a fresh pre Phil Spector mix of the stark original versions of the Get Back/Let It Be project. I avidly soaked up that one with it’s 20 minutes of bonus recordings.

In the October 2010 issue of Mojo, they covered the final Beatles era in a superb feature. This issue was made available with an accompanying and CD vinyl album -Let It Be Revisited. This was a re imagining of the original album by a variety of artists including Beth Horton, Wilko Johnson and Judy Collins. The vinyl run came in a limited edition of 1,000 and I eagerly snapped that one up – I am always a sucker for Beatles cover versions.

I of course have various pressings of the album – notably a French pressing and the US pressing with the gatefold sleeve. Until just recently one has remained elusive.

That is the original UK release in the box set package. Very good condition copies go for over £400. Due to the flimsy nature of the cardboard and book binding, most copies are somewhat flawed. There was a very good conditioned copy sold at the local Bedford Slide record shop a while back  for £200.

In January 2019 I had a big result.

Flawed or not, I could not pass up an original Let It Be box set I came across at a Victoria Record Fair. Though nowhere near mint it wasn’t too bad. The outer cardboard box is somewhat trashed but acceptable. The Get Back book is in surprisingly good condition with no loose pages and the record is very good. This was on offer for what I consider a bargain price of £30. I managed to knock the guy down slightly and secured it for a mere £25.

Now that’s bargain and in Beatles collecting terms, one of the very best I’ve had.

So, at long last I have the original package that all those years back I marvelled and have been obsessed with throughout my 51 years of music passion.

To own it  as The Beatles put it ”as nature intended” is an absolute thrill.

It inspires so many memories of those halcyon days of 1969/1970.

Those memories are ignited every time the needle touches down and John Lennon’s plaintive cry of ‘’I did a pygmy by Charles Hawtry and the deaf aids – phase one in which Doris gets her oats’’ signals the entry of The Beatles performing Two of Us – on our way home.

In acquiring that Let It Be box set it felt like it had finally come home – and it, and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead…

Dave Lewis – May 12, 2021

DL Diary Blog Update:

Thursday May 6:

8 Track Stereo Cartridge of the day here – The Rolling Stones Black And Blue…. sounding great switching through the four programmes…

Thursday May 6:

From one analogue music carrier to another – spinning at 45RPM the single of the day here – The Yardbirds Happenings Ten Years Time Ago which features both Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck.

I bought this in 1974 for £5 on mail order from an advert in the NME – quite a lot of money back in the day – all worth it and of course it still sounds brilliant…


Friday May 7:

On the player –the fabulous 3LP Elton John Jewel Box Rarities & B –Sides set – some amazing stuff on here including the brilliant Snow Queen with Kiki Dee – the B side of the Don’t Go Breaking My Heart single…you gotta love Reg Dwight…

Friday May 7:

I was very moved last night watching the Ian Wright Home Truths documentary. It told of Ian’s struggle with the effects of the child abuse he suffered and his coming to terms with it all.

Throughout the programme Ian came over as an incredibly honest and sincere man. It’s received many plaudits today and rightly so.

In June 2015 I was lucky enough to bump in to Ian when he was doing some filming at the Olympic Studios complex – I was there that day to interview Jimmy Page for the TBL mag.

He was just as he was on camera – affable, articulate and interested and engaged in why I was there – and when I told him my son Adam was a fine player. He was also happy to pose for a pic and sign an autograph.

All in all it was a pleasure to be in his company for a few minutes and I came away thinking what a top man he is…last night’s moving documentary added to that view manifold…

Friday May 7:

From the DL Collection – Subbuteo Table Football…

While researching some Zep material recently, I came across my collection of Subbuteo Table Football – this is another of my collecting passions.

I have fair bit of this popular authentic football game that was for my generation, the Play Station FIFA of its day.

I spent many hours playing this wonderful game – the detail that went into the various team strips was awesome. So today I took the opportunity to see what I’ve got and here’s a selection.

Some of this goes dates back to 1965 when I got my first set, some of it I got for Adam when we used to play and other teams and accessories I’ve invested in along the way. I’ve also kept the original catalogues which are real nostalgic time pieces.

I always keep an eye out for anything of Subbuteo interest in collectors shops – if you have anything spare, I’m your man!

You gotta love Subbuteo Table Football…

Saturday May 8

Saturday is platterday…

With the rain falling outside it’s the perfect day to play the brilliant Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs Ace Records compilations Occasional Rain and English Weather –two of my all time fave compilations – great turn of the 70s content with the likes of Traffic, Argent, Michael Chapman Yes etc..and love the sleeve notes..

As it states ‘’It attempts to evoke the turn of the new decade ,the feel of a wet Saturday afternoon at the dawn of the 70s spent flicking through the racks, wondering weather to buy the new Tull album’’ – back in the early 70s that was definitely me…

So on the player Occasional Rain one of my all time fave compilations…Traffic, The Moody Blues,Yes, Mott, Michael Chapman and more turn of the 1970s beauties..

Saturday May 8:

Saturday is platterday – on the player  The Beatles Let It Be – which was released 51 years ago today.

Back then I could not afford the 59 shillings to buy the box set package this initially came in. I’ve been looking for one for years and early in 2019 I got very lucky at a Victoria Record Fair snapping this one up for a mere £25. Not mint condition by any means but very acceptable and the accompanying book is in fine condition – as mint copies go for upwards of £500 this is one of my best ever bargain buys… and I love everything about it

It inspires such great memories of being a mad keen Beatles fan aged 13.
51 years on I’m still mad keen on them… and playing Let It Be today brings ack the carefree innocent days of 1970 with heartwarming clarity…

Saturday May 8:

It’s a Happy Birthday to the great Joe Bonamassa – here’s a pic from 2010 when I interviewed him for the TBL mag. He was great company and in awe of all the great UK guitarists such as Rory, Paul Kossoff and of course Jimmy Page…

Saturday May 8:

It was 9 years ago today…

May 8 2012 – Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters at the Guildhall Gloucester – the first performance of that line up and what a night – being right down the front as the action unfolded was incredibly exciting…one of my all time fave Robert Plant gigs….

Sunday May 9:

Sunday sounds on CD…loading up the brilliant CD compilation Revolutions – The Very Best Of Steve Winwood – a great overview of his career from the Spencer Davis Group, through Traffic, Blind Faith to his solo work…

Sunday May 9:

Sunday sounds on CD…after watching the excellent Ronnie Wood documentary on Sky Arts last night loading up the brilliant 2 CD Ronnie Wood Anthology –The Essential Collection –a great overview of his career for The Birds though The Faces, The Rolling Stones and his solo work…

Sunday May 9:

Sunday sounds on CD…

Countdown to Bob Dylan 80th Birthday – 15 days to go

In the countdown to Bob Dylan’s milestone birthday I’ll be wading through the backwaters of the LPs and CD’s I own of his illustrious work – today loading up the Travelling Wilburys 2 CD and DVD box set…a very enjoyable venture with some of his esteem friends

Sunday May 9:

I’ve been a bit late coming to this party so time to soak up the contents of The Who Sell Out 2LP reissue as purchased from the always excellent Slide Record shop in Bedford a week back…

Wednesday May 12:

Wednesday treats at the Vinyl Barn..

At the always excellent Vinyl Barn this morning, I was well pleased to find copies of the 1969 debut Yes album and The Yes Album from 1971 – both original pressings on the Atlantic orange and plum label plus the Roberta Flack First Take album which I’ve been looking for – I missed out on last year’s limited reissue – all lovely stuff – many thanks Darren!

Some particular inspirations this past week:

A socially distanced meet up with local musician Steve Woodward

A catch up on the phone with Pete Gozzard

Watching Elton John perform It’s a Sin with Years & Years at The Brits…

Update here:

Bit of a mixed week – while there was plenty to focus and some good things going on, I found myself drifting into the negativity that brings on depression. One of my problems surrounding my mental state is that I can have vivid flashbacks of some of the difficult times of the past 18 months and more. When I allow this to creep in a mood swing follows and this leads to me being irritable and negative – as the good lady Janet knows only too well.

I also had an incident in some dealings with a project I’m involved in that was unpleasant. I won’t go into the details but the attitude of the person was frankly very unprofessional and it upset me. It brought to light again the whole issue that you cannot please all the people all the time and you have to move on and that is not always easy for me to do.

It’s great to see Mental Awareness Week drawing much welcomed attention to the subject of depression and anxiety – it’s led to me re -reading Alastair Campbell’s book Living Better – How I Learned To Survive Depression.

I got this late last year when it came out in hardback. I have no interest whatsoever in his past political standing, however Alastair Campbell’s very honest account of dealing with his own mental health issues resonates deeply with me – as does how his partner Fiona has coped with it all -it makes me realise what Janet goes through with my issues.. the book helped me make sense of some of the mental health problems issues I have encountered and how I deal with them.

My own personal battle with depression and anxiety goes on but books such as this one do help considerably – hearing how others speak out about what can be a difficult subject to share is very inspiring for me…and I am sure for many others too…

Thanks for listening – stay safe and well you very lovely people…

Dave  Lewis – May 12, 2021

Until next time, stay safe and stay well…

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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  • Augusto said:

    Amazing Dave ! You are the best, great memories!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Steve many thanks!

  • Steve Hall said:

    Thanks for the latest updates, Dave. I’ve already got tickets reserved for the John Bonham memorial gig…. I paid for them before the gig was postponed last year, so I’m hoping I get the tickets through soon. Looking forward to it, and I’m sure it’ll live up to its billing. The only problem is, when the gig was originally advertised, Deborah Bonham was one of the headline acts, so I’m hoping she might be coming again this year.

    You’ve reminded me about the one and only time I saw the boys live, 18th May 1975, and I’ll be getting one of the recordings out over the weekend to relive the memory. It’s safe to say that it will always remain my favourite gig of all time, and I’ve been to hundreds over the last 50 years or so!!

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