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1 August 2018 2,875 views 10 Comments

Led Zeppelin at Knebworth: 39 Years Gone…

It’s that time of year again…

The anniversary of Led Zeppelin at Knebworth always resonates that little bit more when it falls on the actual days –as it does this year. Saturday August 4th –just writing that date sends a tingle of excitement because that is the day when it all occurred back in that field just outside Stevenage all of 39 years ago.

On Saturday  I, and thousands of other fans will no doubt be thinking back to that glorious day in the summer of 1979 when finally, after all the waiting, Led Zeppelin were back doing what they did best – performing live on stage. With each passing year, the Zep Knebworth legacy grows that little bit more important as they really were some of the days of our lives.

To get us firmly in the Kenbworth zone – here’s some excerpts from my Then As It Was – Led Zeppelin At Knebworth 1979 book – let me take you there – again…


Awaiting the prog rock to commence…DL August 2nd 1979

Think of Knebworth and the images remain vivid: The campsite, Tommy Vance’s Friday night rock show filling the air, chants of ‘’Zeppelin’’,’’Zeppelin’’ ,the early morning rush for the gates, the long wait during the day ,Skynyd’s Tuesdays Gone fading from the PA. the screen unfolding…and there performing The Song Remains The Same, Led Zeppelin live before our very eyes

Thousands of eyes that still hold thousands of memories. The reasons are manifold. It was for a majority of fans, their first and ultimately only opportunity to see Led Zeppelin perform
live. It was also many fans first experience of attending a major rock gathering. Many of them traveled long distances to be there, and suffered varying hardships to endure it all.

And as an event, from the build up, the tension, the speculation, the giant screen, the laser effects, it was pure Zeppelin theatre. And let us not forget that musically it was also a valiant renaissance. Not perfect by any means, but then Led Zeppelin live was never about perfection. There were undoubtedly some stunning moments that proved the 1979 Led Zeppelin was alive and well and still had new places to go. Examples?

Quite a few: The majestic opening double whammy of The Song Remains The Same and Celebration Day, the stop start dynamism of Nobody’s Fault But Mine, the emotion of Ten Years Gone, the swagger of Sick Again, the white heat and white light of Achilles, the drama of the violin bow solo into In The Evening, the ever reverent Stairway, the revamped Whole Lotta Love , and the pure adrenalin rush of Communication Breakdown the final ever track performed by Led Zeppelin on homesoil.

Some of the intensity of 1975 and 1977 may have been missing, but there was more than enough evidence at those shows to indicate that the muse was returning. It would all have come back given more road work. Over Europe assisted that process and the 1980’s touring campaign would have surely cemented it. Getting back to their audience in the UK with say a string of dates at London’s Rainbow, Newcastle City Hall, Manchester Apollo etc, would have been the beginning of yet another era.Knebworth would then be viewed not as a glorious end but a glorious rebirth.

As the Then As it Was book reveals, the memories remain intact. From long coach journeys made from the north east and beyond causing much parental worry, mysterious cries of ‘’wally’’ on the campsite, the crush to gain entry, sleep and sanitary deprivation, the sheer wonder of seeing the band on stage, right through to the rather unfortunate story of a young
lady who took a short cut coming out of the show and ended up quite literally in the s***.

All this for the love of Led Zeppelin

Writing the book was a cathartic experience for me. In these days of huge uncertainty there was strength to be gained in relieving the more innocent times of 32 years ago. Reading through the many recollections submitted had me laughing out loud and often moved to tears. They are a stark reminder of how events in our youth shape our thoughts for years to come. Yes back then we were mere kids and our sense of responsibility rarely wandered beyond the next pint, the next album, the next gig.

But events like Led Zeppelin at Knebworth defined who we were and what made us tick. Yes it’s just a band and some songs as I sometimes try and remind myself…. but in truth it’s so much more. Being at Knebworth in 1979 was a way into a world of empathy and communication. Empathy for the music of Led Zeppelin and communication with like minded souls who’se love for the band knew no bounds. Both those ethics are still very much intact.

Then As It Was is therefore a book about empathy and communication that occurred a long time ago. In a world that has changed beyond recognition. But its subject matter is still so important to so any people. Of all the many words written by fans about their experiences the final thoughts of Peter Anderson from Stockport stand out ‘’The journey back was a nightmare’’ he writes, ‘’with our first real hangovers kicking in but it didn’t matter. We were kicked out of the car at 6am and crawled to bed thinking we had witnessed history.’’

‘’Thinking we had witnessed history’’. That line says it all That’s exactly how I, and thousands of others felt too.

What none of us were aware as we came away from the park that night, was the fact that there would be precious opportunity to be in Led Zeppelin’s company in the future. Of course in retrospect we now know we had witnessed history.

The recollections of fans who were inside that field, as retold in the book, are a lasting testament to that statement and the whole legacy of Led Zeppelin at Knebworth

Then as it was… sadly it can never be again.

The memories of those golden August days of an English summer 39 years ago grow ever precious with each passing year.

Dave Lewis, Bedford, England – August 2009.

Which way is Knebworth? DL provides another TBL service for Robert Plant  – Knebworth House August 2nd 1979


By Dave Lewis

This is the original text written for Tight But Loose, issue number 3.Whilst much of it bathes in a rose tinted glow, it certainly succeeds in capturing the pure wonderment of the event as seen through the eyes of a starry eyed twenty two year old fan eager to put pen to paper before it all became a blur.     



7am: Knebworth arena is already buzzing with the sound of Edwin Shirley Trucking Co., the massive assembly of the stage is well under way…Wandering down to the stage front and looking around the vast amphitheatre, that just two days from now will be packed with thousands awaiting the return, is an awe inspiring moment…Just to see the Zeppelin stage set up, Jonesy’s white grand piano, Bonzo’s metallic Ludwig kit, Jimmy’s symbolised amp, sets the heart beating in anticipation, it really is only a matter of days now… Already fans are beginning to descend upon the Hertfordshire countryside ready to settle in the camp site… The music papers hit the news-stands and Zeppelin is featured on the cover of three of them. Two include lengthy Jimmy Page interviews, the build up is well underway…




Late afternoon: the massive P.A. is ready for testing…It’s rumoured the band are due in for the soundcheck at around 6pm, probably arriving by helicopter, a rumour not exactly without substance …Robert opts for his own transport – Cherokee jeep.

He is looking positively radiant, beaming, smiling and good humouredly acknowledging my over-enthusiasm as I rush over to greet him exclaiming: “Steady on, there’s not much of me left!”…He really is the super human… The security guards clear the park for the soundcheck, a soundcheck that lasts not more than an hour…Jonesy tinkles ‘No Quarter’ style. Bonzo likewise in the ‘Moby Dick/Levee Breaks’ vein, Jimmy plays the blues, while Robert limbers up with a fifties doo-wop number. A relaxed and confident dummy run-through that bodes well for Saturday… The nerves are beginning to tell on me though, and I go into Stevenage and drink the night away…


Early morning: Hundreds of fans have battled a steady overnight rainfall on their journey to the Knebworth camp site…By 11am the tents and make-shift ranches are well in evidence…all manner of freaks of course, with the accent on denim, in fact lots of denim embroidery proclaiming the names of Gonzo heavy metal bands who have sprung up in Zeppelin’s absence, names that have no right to be uttered in the same breath as Led Zeppelin. Most of the kids brandishing such slogans look too young to have seen Zeppelin on stage, yet by Saturday night their priorities might well change…Everybody here is really good natured, even the changing weather from hot and sunny to showery and dull fails to dampen enthusiasm…By mid afternoon the Zeppelin nation is in full swing, thousands continue to pour in, it’s an incredible sight, all here to see Led Zeppelin; a four man legend that continues to demand the highest respect even after a four year absence… It really does make you wonder in awe of it all…

On the camp site the Zep merchandise ball game is underway; T-shirts, badges, scarves, official and otherwise, the queue for the official programme alone stretches three hundred yards and more… As dusk approaches, hundreds are attempting to gain a vantage point by the gates ready for the early morning opening…Camp fire smoke begins to drift across the air as fans from all over the world, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Germany, Canada and America (Hi Jimbo) gather around them settling in for the overnight wait…Tommy Vance does the Knebworth serenade on his radio show, kicking off with ‘The Rover’, amidst huge cheers as the airwaves reach the campsite…Repeated bouts of “Zeppelin”, “Zeppelin” chants fill the midnight air, I feel proud…


This is where it gets a little bit silly…Thousands have assembled by the gates for the opening, due officially at 8.30am…rumours abound that it will be earlier…Then it happens, around 4am hundreds crash the fences and invade the park…By the time everyone has done the mile run to the arena entrance, a huge crush has developed that is quite frightening…It seems an age before the turnstiles start to click…it couldn’t have come too soon for me as I was near to crashing out completely – I mean, even Nick Kent said ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ was the last thing in the world worth dying for – and I had no intention of going, at least not until I had seen the band again… Thankfully, by 5am the arena is open and filled up, it’s a bit cold but no sign of rain… Throughout the morning the arena continues to bulge…The first canned music from the P.A. is Supertramp, and DJ Nicky Horne continues to warm-up proceedings with a rich cluster of classic cuts, perfect for the day…

The line up is duly announced; Chas and Dave have been added for the 3.30pm spot, Zeppelin are due at 9.15pm…Fairport Convention start the live music at around 11.30am. They play a listenable set to an uninterested audience…Nicky-the-H gives us a taste of what’s in store when he spins ‘Rock And Roll’ to a huge response…Commander Cody and his band hit the stage with their own brand of rockabilly, which does not a thing for me, but to his credit he gets an encore…

Mid afternoon, the weather is on our side, very sunny with a hint of breeze to cool you down – perfect…Chas and Dave play a mildly amusing blend of their own songs; no doubt it goes down great in the pubs, but not a lounge bar with nigh on two hundred thousand stuck in it!…By now the arena is packed, and the sight is breathtaking to say the least…Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes, at tea time, are not…

Kneb 8

Early evening: the change over of bands is taking longer… the silly element amongst us are well into the now expected can throwing caper, with us encased at the front being the ones who are suffering…One such can bounces off my head…my head survives, the can doesn’t…Todd Rundgren and Utopia are on stage, and Todd instantly gets the whanger of the week award (nice one Dec) for his slip showing cat suit… The set is overlong and indulgent, but it does have its moments; the encore, ‘Love Is The Answer’, is one of them…

The Knebworth stage area is cleared completely …this is where four years of waiting is narrowed down to less than an hour…Led Zeppelin’s live return is not so very far away now…

The whole of Knebworth Park is ready. I’m certainly ready, but it seems that Led Zeppelin is not. The Zep equipment has been mechanically and clinically pieced together; Mr Jones’ keyboards (clavinet, white electric grand piano, mellotron) to the left of the stage, Bonzo’s Ludwig kit miked and ready for thrashing, Jimmy’s row of amps switched on with five guitars upright and gleaming, wired and waiting and stage centre, one solitary microphone – we all know who that’s for.   Despite all this there is still much anxious hustling of roadies and backstage activity yet to go. The 9.15pm projected kick-off time passes. Then Peter Grant himself stalks onto the stage. This I haven’t seen before but there he is; the monster “fifth Zep” checking the set-up. He knows more than anyone that this is the big one and everything has got to be just…just so. Around him friends, wives and kids are settling into vantage points behind the amps. This somehow seems to add to the atmosphere – the Zeppelin family all ready and waiting too. Around each side of me the huge lighting towers look mighty impressive, and behind the stage, the long black curtain that has formed the backcloth for the day keeps slipping open, revealing a strong vivid green light. Something special in the air that one senses.

Indeed. That something special happens just around 9.40pm on Saturday, August 4th 1979. The canned music fades, the lights flash onto the stage. Unannounced, the four members of Led Zeppelin walk on stage. Bedlam, hysteria, chaos, phenomenon. Upwards of one hundred thousand people assembled go crazy. This is the cherished moment we have waited four long years for, and it’s happening…now!

John Bonham mounts the mini rostrum to the drums. Ah, Bonzo! First time I ever heard John Bonham thrashing a drum kit I thought my radio was about to blow several waves. He is the champion beer drinker in England – Robert Plant said that. He likes nothing more than a good old rave up. That’s what he said in 1970. Not much has changed. His incredible bass drum patterns and sledge hammer rock-steady percussion is still the best. He is our Bonzo and he is up there ready.

John Paul Jones is wearing a white pristine new fashionable suit, slightly miss-fitting in true JPJ style. John Paul, (“Jonesy”, to his mates), the calm one, he of the silly haircuts, the unassuming bass stance, the electric piano, clavinet, mellotron, three-necked guitar, the anchor man. Some say the unlikeliest member of the Led Zeppelin combo. In truth, quite possibly the most important. His contribution to the group is immense. His bass patterns, the pulse beats that Jimmy Page pumps his guitar technology onto. Tonight he is looking fitter than I have ever seen him.

Same can be said for James Patrick Page. Blue, thin-collared, baggy shirt, a pair of white well-fitting trousers, a 1973 haircut – a very modern man. Not to mention a living legend, a Crowley freak deep into the Occult – a white magician. Keith Relf called him “The grand sorcerer of the magic Guitar”, few would argue. He is softly spoken, articulate, frail, off stage, a giant on it. Duck-walking, twisting, turning, sweating, cringing, grinning. He lives for his music. Tonight his music lives for us…

Then there is Robert Plant. Long sleeved spotted shirt tied at the navel, black straight cords, usual white boots, golden ringletted hair, re-shaped mid ’76 style, overflowing. As far as I’m concerned the most human, friendly and warm rock ‘n’ roll star in the world. His voice is an instrument in itself. His on-stage preening dynamic. Once you’ve seen Robert Plant on stage in all his glory, there is no other who can touch him. He is the true master of ceremonies. His vocal ability is unique. At its height, its raw power can strike unlighted matches inside us all, and at its most emotional, its romantic qualities can spur a tear behind the eyes. Too often in the past this man’s glittering glow has been dulled. Tonight Robert Plant is shining brightly, dazzlingly so…

Jimmy Page straps on the double neck. Robert stakes the stance stage right. As Jimmy pulls out the opening ringing chord to ‘The Song Remains The Same’, the black curtains unravel, revealing a huge colour video screen flashing on film in sync…the sight is unbelievable…

When Robert turns to sing the opening lines (“I had a dream, crazy dream”) I feel my eyes wetting with tears, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. When you’ve lived every day of the last four years waiting, well…it does that to you. For a split second, my mind pictures all the rumours, highs, lows and tragedies of the past years – my life before my very eyes almost. It’s been so long but now it’s happening. I can hardly believe it.   Jimmy’s shimmering twelve string work confirms it fast. By the time they are performing the second number, a long deleted stage favourite ‘Celebration Day’, the early sound muffles have been mixed out.

The sound is crystal.In fact, everything is exceeding excitement level. All the premature break-up rumours, all the pre-gig talk of them being washed up, all these illusions are shattered.The 1979 Led Zeppelin is alive and well…

‘Celebration Day’ brings back vintage Zeppelin memories. Jimmy is fluttering out chords in double-quick time. Robert is revelling in the limelight. All the old stances, the swagger, the cock-rock pout, the peacock preening, oh, and a new movement to cherish, a jack-knife arm action favoured to close the songs with. It’s just beautiful to see him up there again.

“Well – I said, well ! Good evening, good evening. Nice to see you again. I told Pagey that one or two people would be here, but he said he doubted it very much…Well, I can’t tell you how it feels. I think you can probably…you’ve got a good idea anyway…but it’s great.”

Robert seems genuinely touched by the reception. As he talks you can hear his voice quivering. Nerves maybe? Not many on display during ‘Black Dog’, mind. A powerful performance with pleasing echoed Plant vocals. Up on the video screen the cameras are catching the action blow by blow. In fact the visual quality is so good it makes the movie footage of The Song Remains The Same seem pretty lame in comparison. Towards the end of the song Robert leaves us to sing the verses and then Pagey winds up with a solo that upholds the adrenalin count.

“Thank you very much, Well, needless to say that ah, it’s been a long, it’s been quite a long time actually since we… yes I know, it’s our fault too. So we went to Munich and made an album called Presence, which er, which had a track on it Charles Shaar Murray really liked. He’s still taking the pills, and this is called Nobody’s Fault But Mine.”

Jimmy clicks down on the Gibson to recreate the sonic intro. Everything about this track if perfection. Bonzo’s hammerings, Robert’s accurate vocal, great harmonica, and a lovely moment when just as Pagey hits a peaking solo Robert teases with “Oh Jimmy!….Ooh Jimmy!”



“Nobody’s fault but mine….how is it, OK? This goes without a lot of saying, and it’s called Over The Hills And Far Away.”

Gorgeous revolving intro before Robert smoothes in. As they crunch down on the chorus the lighting is synchronised to great effect. Quite simply, a lesson in balanced dynamics. A track that never fails to please. A hard hitting no nonsense ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ follows with JPJ on electric piano. A song not performed in the UK since 1973. It’s good to hear old friends again. Love the echoed outro too, as Robert sings “I really don’t know, I really don’t know Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh.”

“Well…that was a topical thing if you work it out. This is er…so often we find we lean further and further into the blues as a musical form from which to borrow, or even steal and beg, and on nearly all of the stuff we’ve done in the past, in fact, even on the album that was out last week…ahh yes, something went wrong there as well. There’s always a little bit of blues, not booze, blues…You got the booze? Well, let’s hope to god we got the blues, Since I’ve Been Loving You .”

Another long lost friend. A slow tortured display with Jimmy pulling out a masterful solo, restrained, sustained, just the way the blues should be. Robert stretches the vocals at just the right moments, phrasing superbly (“I’ve been a working, been a working, been working…and I tried,tried, tried, tried, tried…”).

 “Jimmy Page guitar. This next piece features the man from Casablanca, John Paul Jones. Some say a man in his own right, others say Royal Orleans…this is No Quarter.”

 Radically cut down from the ’77 version, ‘No Quarter’ ’79 style is still slightly excessive. Of course, the quivering riffs still work well and Page still does the magic stances. Bonzo’s hi-hat jiggling and snare work helps the drawn out solo part and I still love Jimmy’s relayed wah-wah effects. For all that, Jonesy’s solo consisting of a boogie/classical section is overlong – (far better would have been a 1973-style version as featured on the live album). The ending is lengthy as well, but interesting because Jimmy is in there twisting and turning and flashing the odd grin. Robert finishes it all with an echoed “Dogs of doom are howlin’ more, more, more….”

‘Ten Years Gone’ is next dedicated to everyone from Newcastle, Kidderminster, Vancouver…all of us. John Paul on the three necked guitar, Jimmy switching to fuzzy telecaster. Robert’s vocal performance is breathtaking, all the romantic imagery accurately conveyed, “Never thought I’d see your face the way it used to be” – that line says it all.

“Thank you Caernarvon, Newcastle, Birmingham, Kidderminster, Freddie Bannister…So the album that came out two weeks ago got a bit delayed again. First it was a fortnight ago, then it was a week ago, now it’s next Friday, just goes on and on. This is a track from it that we should dedicate to trials in America….Yeah, how come you know what it’s called? You’ve been reading about the Swedish Inquisition – Hot Dog.”

The first peep behind the out door. ‘Hot Dog’ is a country honk reminiscent of a Presley Sun side – with Robert obviously enjoying the re-creation. Jimmy pulls out some tasty rodeo type licks as Robert encourages us to hoe-down. Not vital Zep but fun.

Yes still got a sense of humour…amplifier blown up? Where was it made, Scotland? Hey Raymondo….well, get back to the wash-board. So we get all this way here and the equipment blows up. Never mind, it’s got to be better than Earls Court. (Howls from the crowd) OOOH.

Who’s the person who owns the goat and the wagon we saw two nights ago and camping out there? Must come around the back after and write an acoustic set with us. Are we OK? Are yer alright Jimmy (Scottish accent). This one is called the Rain Song, which it didn’t…”

The lighting is most effective here bringing back memories of Earls Court with Jimmy in blue again. His fluttering melodies from the double neck soar across the air, and the collective fusion of the song is one of dynamic balanced emotion.

“Thank you, Yeah I like that one myself. That’s bound to get me a slaggin’ isn’t it? This next piece, long time ago 1960 whenever it was, me and Pagey got together at his house. He had a little boat floating on the Thames, and played through a lot of material from the Incredible String Band, Joan Baez, Chuck Berry, Little Walter, all sorts of things, so many nice blends of music we managed to pull together. And this leads towards the land of milk and honey… the East, features on guitar: Jimmy Page.”

Stage centre: alone on a stool, a spotlight picks out Jimmy Page and one Dan Electro guitar. He performs ‘White Summer’ (first time in the UK for nine years) and blends in ‘Black Mountain Side’. Just at the point where on the studio album that track breaks into ‘Communication Breakdown’, live on stage it leads to ‘Kashmir’ with Robert leaping from the back stage wings to open proceedings. A moment of high drama.

His performance on this epic, both vocally and physically, is out of this world. Every verse sung with emotion, every move synchronised with the ever changing spotlights. Truly the world’s greatest live rock attraction. The song just keeps on climaxing…mirrorball spins aid the effect. “Let me take you there…”

“Let me take you there…Kashmir. Hello, congestion on the A1M I think. This is a small little up-tempo ditty, that we’ve been asked by some people in Vancouver – It’s all there in the end baby…. It’s called Trampled Underfoot, ready Mr Jones?”

Quick tune up on the clavinet and away we go. A definitive Zeppelin performance that has them pushing their collective talents to the outer limits. Bonzo thrashes, Jimmy wah-wahs, Jonesy runs riot across the clavinet and Robert struts his stuff…”Push, push, yeah, push yeah, OOOOOh”

“Push, push, push….song’s attributed to the moving parts of the motor car. Well….a lot of pushing. This is something about, built around, going to one of those weird hotels that you come across in Bradford or Southampton or Los Angeles. There’s all these strange people ligging around in the lobby waiting for Peter Grant our manager…coz we have to be in bed at 10 o’clock at night like good footballers. Relates to the experience of the lobby and going down to get some cigarettes at 10.30pm rather than being in bed…Sick Again.”

Two machete Zep riffs, a “Yeah do it” from Plant and they’re off again into a strident workout. With cascading Page riffs and Bonzo again well to the fore, taking care of business. “Ooh, that’s right,” taunts Robert, swinging his head back and forth in line with the riff.

 “Thank you very very much. So we got the cigarettes and carried straight on up to bed. This is another piece from Presence. It’s the wheelchair piece. It’s called Achilles Last Stand”.

 Opening with that meandering guitar from Jimmy before zipping into top gear via Bonzo’s kick start, and the stage is basked in white light. It really is so good to hear Robert sing the words to this masterpiece live, and somehow Pagey manages to re-create the five studio guitar parts in one – and it works beautifully. Again it’s the collective fusion of the four that pushes the song relentlessly to the finish. All four cylinders at full throttle. The output is monumental. Exhilaratingly so.

“Achilles Last Stand…..”

After that the other band members disperse leaving just James Patrick Page on stage. A few zaps from the amp, a quick re-tune then Jimmy reaps the most frightening sound from his Gibson.This of course is the cue for a part of Zeppelin legacy, the guitar played with a violin bow episode. The soundtrack is the middle section of ‘Dazed and Confused’. For this occasion this part is taken out of the realms of reality into a different world. The bow itself is glowing with green laser light.   When you consider Pagey’s occult fascination, the sight of him standing there swathed in eerie light is even more breathtaking. The end of the bow itself glows silver, as the trademark feedback chords pierce the darkness and a green triangle of laser light forms around the magician himself. The effect is sensational.

As the lasers fade, Bonzo comes in on synthesised tympani…Jonesy takes to mellotron again…Jimmy throws in an eastern effect and as a silhouetted Mr Plant reaches the mike he screeches the words “In the evening”….and the band crash down on a riveting riff that forms the basis for the premier of the first track on the up-coming new L.P. This, even on one hearing, is a classic. Robert screams out the lyrics, repeating a chorus of “Oh I need yer love, Oh I need your love, Gotta have…..” whoosh! Jimmy hits the cascading riff again and every time it comes around it tingles the backbone. Just as they are heading for an apparent frenzied finish…the song slows and transcends into a mellow mystical passage with Jonesy achieving almost flute like sounds from the mellotron, while Jimmy jangles out minor chords and then woosh! It’s that riff again, achieved with the use of tremolo arm across the string of Jimmy’s blue Strat, and on it goes. Guitar solos all over the place, Robert screeching a frenzy, Bonzo crashing into the finish. God – this is classic grandiose Zeppelin, and my how it moves.

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“Alright, well that was another track from the new album, and that was called In The Evening. You what? Well, all you people who’ve come so far, it’s been like a kind of blind date if you like…ooh we’re even loosening up and laughing! This song I guess we should er…so many people who’ve helped us over the years, and no people more important than yourselves who came here on a blind date, this is for you…all of yer…”

It takes two chords….that’s all, then the whole arena is rising as one for the anthem, ‘Stairway To Heaven’…sung with breathtaking intensity by Robert. We cling to his every word.   He smiles as we await the line, “Do you remember laughter” and he lets us sing it instead. As ever the song is full of his own ad-libs…”Oh, I don’t know, now wait a minute.” He sings “Dear PEOPLE can you hear the wind blow?” and on this occasion it’s “YOUR stairway” that’s on the whispering wind, (next week it’s to be “OUR stairway”). Jimmy pulls out a note-perfect solo on the double neck and Robert does his classic tambourine pose.

The final verses are sung like messages from Mount Olympus. The sound of one hundred thousand people singing as one the final lyric “And she’s buying a stairway to heaven….” is one I will never forget. A moment of true magic.

“Thanks a lot…too much…its hard to say…goodnight.”

The boys take a bow swathed in white light. The crowd go crazy to win them back. Repeated chants of “Zeppelin”, “Zeppelin”, “Zeppelin”, the like I’ve never heard before at a Zep gig, fill the midnight air. During the wait for an encore the video cameras turn to the masses, capturing the sight of thousands of lighted matches, up on the huge screen. An awesome scene.

The hysteria (only word for it) continues until the band reappears several minutes later:

 “Good evening. This is ah, talk about being frightened, this is fantastic!”

 ‘Rock And Roll’ is the encore of course – Robert lets us sing the “lonely lonely…time” bits and it’s on into a frenzied finish. Exit triumphant band part two.

What happens next is truly amazing. The crowd step up the “Zeppelin”, “Zeppelin”, chants….and they launch into repeated choruses of “You’ll never walk alone”. I’ve never been part of anything like it.

The atmosphere is one of joyous, moving celebration.

When they return for a second encore they are genuinely taken aback at the sight and sound of the assembled. “John Paul Jones – John Bonham, – James Patrick Page” – Robert – re- introduces the band and actually joins in with “You’ll never walk alone”. So it goes on…eventually Jimmy crashes out the riff of ‘Whole Lotta Love’. This version is really a revelation. Stripped of the excess of previous versions, cut down to size, and including a revamped middle section riff from Jimmy – delightful stuff.Robert struts the stage singing “Oh you need love, you need love, way down inside – you need love…” it’s a gas to hear it like this. Of course we all join in the “woman, way down inside” bits:

“ I don’t think the people in Stevenage can hear yer, I said woman…

I don’t think the people in Newcastle can hear what I say-ya, I said, woman…way down inside….” And it’s on to a climactic finish.

Thank you…I don’t know what to say…thanks for eleven years.”

Robert, so obviously moved by it all, leads the band off stage again, smiling and turning to applaud the masses, and they’ve gone again.

Of course the audience want……more. The video screen has picked up a shot of the near full moon (looking as it did during the ‘Dazed and Confused’ Song RemainsThe Same movie segment) – cut to the fans still going crazy for the band…and they get what they want…a third encore.

Oh, they come again…and a shattering version of ‘Heartbreaker’ leaps from the speakers – including a dynamic Page one-handed solo. Really, I didn’t think they had it in them to do anymore. Exhausted, sweating and smiling, Jimmy, Robert, Jonesy and Bonzo leave the stage for the final time well after 1am.

Sunday morning: The Knebworth Zeppelin nation begin to shuffle towards the exits. Leaving a buzz in the air…a buzz you can feel right through you… a buzz that sums it up…their return here at Knebworth on August 4th 1979 was quite simply Led Zeppelin’s pinnacle of achievement.

Dave Lewis August 8th 1979



Phil Tattershall, Cockermouth

Freddy Bannister’s announcement that Led Zeppelin would play at his Knebworth festival in the summer of 1979 was greeted with some scepticism by those of us who had eagerly rushed to the post office for our postal orders in 1974. Would it really happen this time? Well, I had to make the effort, just in case.

Tickets for the show were easily secured from Harlequin Records in Oxford Street and I wished away the rest of the summer to make August 4th come more quickly. As it happened, my friend ‘Charlie’ (not his real name, the reason for which will become clear later) and I wasted a couple of weeks in the Lake District and North Wales to kill time and while in Bron-Yr-Aur country, stumbled across a bunch of lads who were doing much the same thing. The pub conversation soon gravitated towards Led Zeppelin (as it does – you know how it is) and it transpired that one of them already had a ticket. ‘’See you at Knebworth’’, we said as we left for home, knowing there was little chance of our paths crossing in such a huge crowd. ‘‘Look out for the biggest flag on the tallest flagpole in the arena, and we’ll be underneath it’’, I yelled as an afterthought.

Back home, the aforementioned flag was fabricated from a bed sheet ‘borrowed’ from my mum (no, she never got it back) and the raw material for the flagpole, in the form of forty feet of angle iron, was acquired by ‘Charlie’ from work.

As the great day approached, transport was arranged (easy, because Knebworth was only 20 miles from home and one of our gang had a big car) and a list of supplies was compiled. Being young and foolish, the list of essentials included the flag and its pole, string, tent pegs and a hammer to keep the pole upright, a ghetto blaster, two blank cassettes, a camera and a few sleeping bags. The non-essentials that didn’t make the list were things like food, drink and a tent.

We left for Knebworth on Friday evening and arrived in plenty of time to make ourselves as comfortable as we could in the holding area some distance from the arena. I remember it as being a deeply unpleasant experience, with noisy drunks and choking bonfire smoke. This, combined with the noise of every radio tuned to Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show made sleep impossible. Resigned to the fact that the gates weren’t due to open until the following morning, we looked forward to a night filled with curious mixture of boredom, discomfort, excitement and anticipation.

The night was mild and dry, much to the annoyance of ‘Uncle Stevie’ a guy walking round the site trying to convince everybody of imminent torrential rain, so they would buy a ‘waterproof’ (actually a plastic refuse sack) from him for 20p. In the middle of the night, word went round that the gates were opening early and the battle for positions began. It became apparent that forty feet of angle iron wasn’t going to hasten our group’s progress and it seemed as if half the crowd had overtaken us by the time we reached the turnstiles.

Resigned to the fact that we would be a long way from the stage, we raised our flag with pride, and shortly afterwards, one of the guys we’d met in Wales turned up as promised. With our tiny patch of ground secured, I took the opportunity to go walkabout and inspect the facilities, which were primitive but yet to become disgusting. On the way back, I noticed that two sections of the 4” yellow hose carrying water across the top of the site had come apart. A high pressure jet of water was spurting out and a small river was already flowing down the field towards the stage. I looked for volunteers to help me wade in and effect a repair, but, strangely, none of the other festival-goers were interested in an early morning cold bath. Heroically, I braved the torrent, steamed in and managed to join the two hoses. When I got back to our flag, the rest of the gang seemed less than enthusiastic about sharing their
groundsheet with a soaked and bedraggled (self proclaiming) ‘saviour of the festival’.

As the opening bars of Supertramp’s ‘Take the long way home’ echoed across the site ‘Charlie’ and ‘Kenny’ (not their real names) spied a transaction of questionable legitimacy taking place nearby between a couple of black guys and two Hell’s Angels. The deal done, the Angels walked away, but ‘Charlie’ and ‘Kenny’ caught the black guys and asked with some xcitement ‘‘Them Angels dealing?’’ The response was positive, but the uncontained delight of my two friends brought about a swift change of mind on the part of the black guys. ‘‘No, wait, it’s us’’, they yelled as C&K turned in pursuit of the grease and leather. ‘‘We said it was the Angels because we thought you were the filth man.’’ It was the first time I’d heard Authority described in this manner. ‘Pigs’, ‘Fuzz’, ‘Old Bill’ were familiar, but ‘Filth’ was a new one on me and I was a little shocked at the lack of respect afforded to the guardians
of the law by the drug-dealing community. Ah, the innocence of youth! ‘Charlie’ and ‘Kenny’ subsequently settled down to pass the time in a zonked out and relaxed way .

The day was filled with a succession of tedious performances from bands who were of little or no interest to 95% of the crowd. In different circumstances, I’m sure that some of the sets would have been hugely entertaining, but this really wasn’t the time or place for the likes of Chas and Dave to blossom into festival mega-stars. I remember thinking at the timethat most of the punters would be far happier listening to Zeppelin albums over the PA. Eventually, our four lads appeared and did their two-and-a-bit hours that are too well documented to warrant further description here. (But if anyone’s interested, I thought it was fantastic. No Quarter’ was a real high point for me.)

During previous twenty six hours, I’d suffered sleep deprivation, asphyxiation, sunburn, dehydration, been soaked to the skin and trodden on (Trampled Underfoot?) and towards the end of the set, I remember thinking that although this was a great show, I’d never do it again….. well, not for anyone other than Led Zeppelin anyway.

We gathered our belongings (minus the angle iron which nobody had the energy to carry) and trudged our way back to the car, which took hours to find. Worse still, it was blocked in by hundreds of other cars, so another night under the stars without food or drink was enjoyed. I eventually arrived home at 7:30 on Sunday morning, proudly clutching the flag, the ghetto blaster, two (no longer blank) cassette tapes, the camera and a roll of exposed film.


Dave Linwood, Potters Bar

I was pissed off. Sitting on the back of the bus on the way home from school. I was a victim of parental logic. Although acquaintances of mine were going to the Zeppelin show, my parents said that if I was to be allowed to go it had to be with someone they knew. After all, how would I, a 15 year old cope on his own amidst the naked drugs and debauchery that was the Knebworth Festival. (I had my own ideas!)

The bus trundled on. I was aware of a sullen face behind me. His name was Dan and he was in the school year below – a mere baby! How uncool. I knew him mainly as a face on the bus, nothing more. In a depressed mood I asked him what his problem was. “Can’t go and see Zeppelin” he said. “Can’t afford it”.

Alarm bells rang. I had a Saturday job, so I had the cash – in fact enough for two tickets. I thought to myself “If I put up with this uncool kid from the year below. I could see Zeppelin live!” Perhaps I could swing it with my parents.

I proposed the solution to my new found friend – the collective mists of depression began to clear. After arriving home, a few phone calls from mission control (my mum) confirmed we were clear for take off. An hour later courtesy of Harlequin Records Brent Cross a Knebworth ticket for Aug 4 was mine!

To the big day. I remember being outside the main entrance gates at Knebworth. There was a police van parked surrounded by hundreds of fans waiting for the gates to be opened. The police got out and could be seen wandering around. As they did a line of blokes appeared, kneeling, trousers down, waddling up to the police van – as a lookout peered around the corner of the van, each took it in turn to piss down the side of the police van. Hilarious!.

About 3am on August 4th the main gates “opened” – in fact they were pushed down. We were off, marching towards the main arena. Obviously when we got there, all the turnstiles were closed. People began to push and shove. As more people from the back arrived the pushing got worse, I remember a girl in front stumbling and before you know it, she was covered by feet. I remember her screaming and then being pulled up and carried over the crowd to safety – she had a badly hurt arm.People were angry and frightened, the shoving and swaying continued. By now I was very hot – I remember things going very fuzzy and hearing a ringing in my ears – my mate grabbed me as I slipped down.

Suddenly, slits of light appeared in the fences, Thank God! the turnstiles were being opened. I handed the two halves of the Zep ticket over. Once inside we didn’t make a rush to the front, we were too shell-shocked. There were many people just wandering around – trying to get some air, cooling out. Looking back it was a dangerous situation.Thankfully we all survived to see a memorable show.

Postscript: 13 years later on May 16 1992 I got married. To my right at the alter was my best man Dan – that’s right, the boy from the bus. He even joked in his best man’s speech that he couldn’t remember whether he had paid me back for that Zeppelin Knebworth ticket. A year later I returned the favour at his wedding. And I still don’t think he ever paid me!


Ian Avey, Hitchin

Knebworth was the first and only time I saw Zeppelin live. I became a fan when I got Physical Graffiti in ’76 therefore just missing out on Earls Court. Myself and friends Colin and
Tony bought tickets for the second Knebworth from Harum Records in Barnet.We all had motorbikes at the time but Tony had just bought an old Ford Cortina MK2 so we all piled into his car and left for Knebworth on Friday evening. We nearly didn’t make it as Tony thought Knebworth was on the M1 but a quick exit from J12 off the motorway and a detour solved that early problem. Once there we set up camp. I didn’t get much sleep with the excitement of what was in store. I remember going for a walkat around 3AM. I got a programme for £1.

I later realised it was a bootleg version – hadn’t realised there were two official programmes and I was disappointed to miss out on the original. (NB: That bootleg programme is now worth around £80!).

It was a long walk form the camp site to the field where the stage was. The day itself seemed really long. There was plenty going on though to get through it. I remember seeing hippies wandering around shouting out “Hash for sale”. Then there were the toilets. This was little more than an open pit and the smell wafted over us when the wind blew from that direction.

Then they finally appeared. I remember the pitch black… the anticipation and then the notes from Page’s double neck that launched into The Song Remains The Same. Everytime I see that at the start of the video I can vividly remember the excitement I felt at that moment.Unfortunately we never got to see the encores as Tony decided he wanted
to leave to avoid the rush. As it turned out when we eventually got back to the car park, most of the cars were blocked in so we had to wait anyway. One lasting memory I have of the gig is Page smiling on the screen after he had fluffed the closing notes to Over The Hills And Far Away when his string broke.I know some people feel that Knebworth was an anti-climax. To this 18 year old it was a truly magical evening.


Phil Harris, Milton Keynes

After a day’s work at HMV in Bedford, I drove down to Knebworth on the Friday evening of Aug 3 with the niave idea that I could meet up with my friends Dave Lewis,Tom Locke,and Dec Hickey. (just like that in a crowd of thousands and before mobile phones)!

I was directed to a car park about a mile away so had to carry a large  hold all of beer all the way back. Needless to say, the planned meeting did not take place and as the beer bag was getting heavy I decided to start drinking it! I did bump into a few guy’s from Bedford but decided to return to my car for a nights sleep.

I was woken early the next morning by a guy tapping on the window offering a joint for breakfast ( I think I might have taken a drag or two).The long walk back to arena started with only two cans of beer for the day. As I walked past the main car park almost the first car I saw was the Princess of the aforementioned Mr Locke (so near and yet so far in the dark of the previous evening)

Once inside, I found a strategic seating place for the day as ‘Billy No Mates’ pretty much dead centre to the stage but quite a way back.A bunch of guy’s from Wales were sat in front of me and one of them knocked over a pint of milk on their ground sheet. When they   saw my large sheet of bubble wrap they suggested I joined them and covered their sheet with mine and very generously they said they would look after the drink supply for the day(result). I remember them making numerous trips back to their van and returning with back packs of beer and cider. After a storming gig these guys left before the end to make their way home (sacrilege, surely like walking out before the end of a cup final!).

Then it was the long walk back to the car and even longer escape from the car park, but even without the company of Mr Lewis and Locke etc it had one hell of a day and a half.


Mark Harrison  – Leighton Buzzard

The run of shows at Earls Court in 1975 were a watershed in my life and the first times I got to see the band live. Unfortunately, I had to wait over four years before my path would cross with the best band in the world.

Knebworth was certainly a bigger event in every sense of the word.  Anticipation, for me, seemed even greater this time – having experienced it at Earls court I wanted it again!  The first show was on the Saturday the fourth; I arrived on Friday night to find…bedlam.

What can only be described as a medieval village spread before us.  The gates were already straining under the pressure – gates that were a mile away from the main arena entrance!  There was a long queue running around the perimeter fence, intended to keep people out. We found a hole in this fence, and crawled through it only to be faced with a massive cornfield with a path running through it, which was there for the crowd to use.

Men with dogs were patrolling this field, and searchlights from the main arena shone like a POW camp!  We had to make sure that we had a good view for the show, so we crawled on our hands and knees through the stalks.  We would bump into people coming the other way, all with the same idea.  It struck me that it was like a prison escape, only we were trying to get in, not out! We’d share strategies and game plans, and sometimes we had to stay deathly quiet as a man and dog approached – it was nerve-wracking, I can tell you!

At around 3:00am we figured that we were near enough to the actual entrance of the main arena and settled down for the night as the gates, some 1200 metres behind us, weren’t due to open until 9.00am.  At 4.00am we woke with a start – they had opened the gates early and tens of thousands of people were streaming towards the arena entrance! We panicked and ran across the field in fear of losing our advantage.  In doing so I lost track of all the people I was with, and did not see them again until early Sunday morning.

So there I was at 5.30am on Saturday 4th August in a field. Zeppelin did not appear until 9.40pm that night.  Can you imagine the torture?  The Hell?   It took one hour just to get to the toilets.  All the support acts were superfluous to the main event.  What did break the ice was at about 1.00pm the DJ saying “in about 8 hours time we will hear this”, and
putting on “Rock and Roll”.  The whole field erupted!

By 9.30pm the atmosphere was like a thunderstorm.  At 9.40pm those familiar chords from “The Song Remains The Same” rang out, the curtain went back and instantaneously we
had a picture of Jimmy on the huge video screen.The rest is history.  Most of the show is a blur to me, though I remember at one point during “No Quarter” where everyone wanted to sit down, and I refused – I couldn’t see.  I turned around and shouted “If you lot think I waited four years to see Led Zeppelin and now I’m going to “sit down”, you can fucking forget it!!”.  On hearing this 1,000 people promptly stood up – what a moment! During the actual show it was hard to know what to actually look at – the Band or the screen behind them.
The set washed over me. They were magnificently loud. No one wanted them to leave. The end was very emotional after a revamped “Whole Lotta Love” and the
crowd breaking into football chanting.


Gary Davies, Birmingham

I went to both the August 4 and 11 shows. I remember a whole load of us went down to Stevenage by coach and we were extremely drunk by the time we arrived. Consequently one chap who was with us got off the coach at Stevenage and promptly got himself knocked down by a passing car when he crossed the road. The ambulance arrived and he was quickly taken off to hospital with a broken leg – missing the whole event.

On the night before the first show, some of us set up a camp fire next to the perimeter fence. We were listening to Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show and a huge cheer went up every time he mentioned or played Zeppelin. Very early in the morning we tried to climb over the fence but were chased out by a couple of dogs.

The next week I decided to proceed more cautiously. By that time I felt like a festival regular. When we got to the main area we positioned ourselves by one of the lighting rigs to the right of the stage. Much drinking and merriment was had throughout the day and it didn’t seem to matter that we were quite a way from the stage. It was just a privilege to be there. As night fell the tension mounted. I got talking to one of the guys up the lighting rig and he allowed me to go up and watch one of the bands from there. I remember he traded one of the light blue security T-shirts with Artist services on the front for a swig of my whiskey. I thought maybe I would be able to get backstage with that shirt on. Some hope!

A friend of mine brought along an 8mm cine camera (colour sound) and shot Zeppelin when they came on. He was in a bit of a state and I thought it would be a waste of time filming them amongst the bedlam. Luckily two of the 3-minute films survived and to this day I still see it on collectors lists. It was good to get a rough copy of the pro-shot Aug 11 all those years later. I still think I was the one who started the crowd singing “You’ll never walk alone” on the first gig.

Looking back on it all in now they may not have played perfectly but it was still amazing. At the time I found myself clasping my hands together pleading with the man upstairs not to let Jimmy make any mistakes.Overall though it was an honour to share in the emotion of it all. It became a two-way thing between the band and the audience and that’s something
I’ll never forget as long as I live.


Chris Wright

Mesquite, Nevada, USA

My greatest moment as a rock-obsessed teenager has to be when I learned that Zep would be playing Knebworth on August 4th 1979. I think it was announced by Anne Nightingale on the Whistle Test.All I know is that my entire life focus shifted from whatever else was on my mind to getting THE TICKET – and clearly demand was going to outstrip supply.

Years spent watching The Song Remains The Same several times, every time it showed in my home town of Ipswich, had primed me for this moment – the return of the greatest band on the grandest of stages.

I think Sounds (again precise memory deserts me), listed where tickets would be sold and there were two designated locations in Ipswich, including the recently opened Virgin store
(not mega; quite small).So two of my friends and I purposed to queue overnight to be sure of getting on the bottom rung of that Stairway to Knebworth. No internet or phone
booking in those days (thank god, it actually meant that genuine fans got to see the band – no VIP enclosures or golden circles back then).

Actually we needn’t have bothered queuing. While there was huge demand in the major cities, dear old Ipswich only had about a dozen folk who could be bothered to sleep rough on a Sunday night. The other record shop – Harpers I think? – had absolutely no line at all.So that was easy enough. Then came the whole business of getting there. Thanks to my uncle who so kindly volunteered to drop us off on the Friday night and pick us up at a designated location in Stevenage after the gig was over (no he didn’t think it would end so late either, but I think he has forgiven me now).

So we set off hotfoot for the medieval siege re-enactment otherwise known as the official campsite, which to a wet behind the ears kid from rural Suffolk was quite an eye-opener to say the least! Like most everyone else, we then made our way to the inner sanctum of Knebworth, once the fences were inevitably breached at stupid o’clock in the morning.The wait for that concert was excruciating. Taken as a whole, it really was a hopeless support bill compared with other Knebworth’s and made the waiting all the worse. Chas and Dave – hmm… The only diversion being to occasionally visit the “lavatory” to see if alien life forms had been discovered yet – luckily my friends and I were never stuck in a downwind

But like all huge gigs, the boredom and fatigue was soon forgotten as the excitement grew while the sun began to sink. Thanks to Todd Rundgren’s Utopia for waking us all up and, actually, putting on an excellent set majoring on their most recent album release Adventures in Utopia – Last Of The New Wave Riders being a standout track on the night.

Then, as they had apparently done at Bath many years before, Zeppelin arrived on stage at sunset – no-one who was there will ever forget that dramatic first chord of The Song Remains The Same . A supremely exciting moment.Of course, the done thing with nostalgia is to remember how marvelous it all was. In some ways it exceeded expectations; the almost biblical size of the crowd, the anticipation, the drama of the lasers during Jimmy’s violin solo, the sheer enormity of the return of Zeppelin to a stage.

And yet, for me, this show fell short of what I had hoped for musically. I suppose I expected, no, wanted, the bombastic pomp and flash that I so loved in the film, but of course much had happened in the years since the ’75 tour, not least to poor Robert. And Jimmy had his own now well documented set of problems too.

As a concert, Led Zeppelin at Knebworth 1979 was very much a work in progress. Like Dave Lewis, I remember the brand new In the Evening as “a song of hope” as Percy might say. But I think all of the established songs had been performed better in the past and the two years since the 1977 tour had certainly taken their toll.

Of course, as someone once said, Zeppelin at their worst is still better than most groups at their very best, so there was still lots to admire in a set of songs that had become the soundtrack to our lives back then.

The live DVD that came out in 1993 gave us all a very long awaited opportunity to reassess what we had witnessed in that field just outside Stevenage. The weird thing is that the years have been so kind to the performance, especially the outstanding Bonzo/JPJ rhythm section. It all stands up quite well now. Maybe it’s good editing or maybe, as I think is more likely,
the band could never meet the ridiculously high expectations we all had for their comeback.

As it turned out, Knebworth was the final high point in the Zeppelin story – at least until the 02 gig – so the significance of having been there has only grown with time. We were very lucky people. Best £7.50 I ever spent!Looking back now, we can see the true significance of this concert. The quality of the music was, in fact, secondary to the event itself. The whole
business of being there!

Like thousands of others, it was the only time I would see them. Those memories are carried by me everywhere. Memories of a simpler time – perhaps the last great concert of the rock era.



The late Howard Mylett

My memories of Knebworth are of initial disappointment because when I rang the Swan Song office to ask her if there would be any video screens for such a major show they
informed me there were no such plans. On the day I therefore had to try and position myself to avoid seeing an atom sized Led Zeppelin from what seemed a mile away.

I’d spent the night before sleeping in a friend’s estate car, something I’d never recommend to anyone .On the night the music thumped and thundered across the fields

My American visitor Mark Arevalo’s copy of the tape he’d made at the show was to be my souvenir of the event long after the day. Even with its accompanying ring pulls of lager and cries of ‘sit down’ for anyone daring to block the view. On the way home he placed the cassette in the car player and we were instantly transported back to the show. I loved ‘In The Evening and  ‘Kashmir’, overall it was an overwhelming performance and one I would not have missed for the world. I managed to see Zeppelin’s scaled down trimmed back shows at Zurich and Brussels and it was a new and streamlined group – that introductory burst of ‘Train Kept A Rollin’ packed a punch and had us all thumping the air as we always used to as Zeppelin returned triumphantly again.

Taken from the book Led Zeppelin Then As it Was – At Knebworth 1979.

if you are reading this and were there…you need the book!

You can order the book at a special bargain price from this link:


And just one more…

Pat Mount offers his extensive and wonderfully nostalgic memories of August 4th 1979….

Like millions of others, I first heard about it on the Old Grey Whistle Test. Led Zeppelin would be playing at Knebworth on Saturday August 4th. Tickets were on sale. I was 20 years old and had never seen Led Zeppelin. It was 1979 and what a lo-tech world we lived in then. I had all the (vinyl) albums, most of them worn out and scratched enclosed in dog eared, nicotine stained sleeves. I had seen Zep ‘move’ in the flesh just once on celluloid by watching ‘The Song Remains the Same’ movie in a freezing seaside cinema with my girlfriend, Tina, who is now my wife. The abiding memory of this cinema experience was listening to two Afghan coated hippy chicks sat behind us comment excitedly at the size of Robert Plant’s ‘bulge’ in his jeans and the seven mile trip home on a double decker bus on which I announced I was certain I had frostbite because I couldn’t feel my feet. No VHS players were available to purchase videos for and replay again and again in those days: that came later.

In 1979 I had only heard one Zeppelin bootleg, a single LP called ‘Blueberry Hill’. A muddy, bottom heavy, poor quality piece it was too. The ‘etiquette’ of bootleg appreciation had not been developed to the levels I would attain in later years. It had its moments but in truth was a disappointing experience. I had read and heard about the bombastic blood, guts and glory of Zeppelin live but at that point had not found any evidence. All I had was their official recorded work to go on and by anybody’s standards, love ‘em or hate ‘em, that was a phenomenal body of work indeed.

In 1979 I played in a band too but I have to own up, if we had booked Knebworth as a venue, we might have sold 50 tickets on a good day. I was also on the dole. So how was I going to raise the cash to buy the tickets? That’s what Mums are for. Puppy dog eyes and the plaintive that missing this event would seriously damage my mental health for the rest of my living days did the trick.

So, that was one ticket sorted then. Tina bought one too. My mate, Pete got one but his girlfriend Lenore didn’t. As I mentioned previously, I played in a band in 1979 and we were due to visit London to tote our demo tape around various record companies in June of that year. ‘Easy’, said my mate Pete, ‘You can get Lenore a ticket when you are down there’. (Please note this is 1979, no internet, no luxury of land line phone at home or mobile gizmo, credit cards were the exclusive property of millionaires and postal orders were still viewed as legal tender. You literally had to camp outside ticket vendor outlets to ensure you bought your right to see the bands you loved). This was swiftly followed by an announcement that all tickets for the 4th of August had sold out and due to unprecedented demand, Zeppelin would play a second gig at Knebworth on August 11th. ‘Looks like you and Lenore are not going to enjoy this together’, I said to my mate, Pete. So, whilst wearing my feet and brain cells out tramping around London having our band’s demo tape rejected by EMI, RCA et al, I spied a small ticket emporium with a home made poster in the window: ‘ZEP KNEBWORTH TICKETS INSIDE’. In I went with Lenore’s crumpled up tenner stashed in my back pocket. ‘Got any tickets for the 4th?’ I asked nervously. ‘You’re a very lucky boy’, came the reply from a Steve Hillage look-alike complete with tea cosy on his head, ‘someone’s just popped in and exchanged his ticket for the 4th for the 11th’. If you’ve ever used the phrase, ‘thank f**k for that’, I developed the patent. How much did it cost for a Led Zeppelin ticket in 1979? The princely sum of £7.50.

By 1979, I’d seen a few bands live in my home town of Bridlington. Nice and easy it was too. A short stroll out of the pub to the ‘Spa Royal Hall’ to witness the following : Status Quo, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Wishbone Ash, The Police, Hawkwind, Pat Travers, Lindisfarne, Frankie Miller and others, pretty much a pantheon of what would be regarded as ‘Dad Rock’ these days. I’d never been to an ‘Arena’ gig and most certainly never been to an open air festival. Was I and my future wife prepared for the Knebworth experience? In a word, no.

I’m now in my 50’s. The prospect of ‘Camping’ remained a concept that repulsed me until my late 40’s. Camping was for ‘Carry On’ films. Mud, rain and discomfort. I have since been converted to short spells of cohabiting under canvas by my ever enterprising wife who possesses a superior intellect and has used her persuasive talents to get her curmudgeon of a husband to give it a go. In 1979, however, neither of us had gained the wherewithal to prepare for an open air festival. We were young, skint and woefully unprepared.

So how did we get down to Knebworth then? We took the train on the Friday night before the big event from Bridlington, changing at York and then in a straight line all the way down to Stevenage. My memory fails me here but I do remember at each stop the train gradually filled up with inebriated denim clad hairy blokes who would stick their collective heads out of carriage windows whilst the train trundled along at 70mph and yell ‘Zeppelinnnnnnnnn’ in a fashion not too dissimilar to the way Mel Gibson would enunciate ‘Freedom’ in the film ‘Braveheart’ many years later. I had sincere concerns that although these guys and yours truly shared a passion for the same rock group, there was a distinct possibility they might break into our compartment, slit my throat and rape my future wife. First impressions eh? For the record, this didn’t happen.

And what of our preparations for two days and nights in the open air? Please read the following list:

Two bottles of ‘Olde English’ Cider. (Consumed on the train journey down).

One bottle of Cinzano.

Two sleeping bags.

One bin liner to put them all in.

We packed no food or snacks of any description, no water to tackle our thirst in the early August haze and nothing remotely waterproof should an English monsoon occur. This wasn’t a matter of faith in the magical mysticism of Zeppelin, (what could possibly go wrong?), or a reflection of our ‘Northern’ hardiness, just good old fashioned naivety mixed with a dash of pig ignorance.

When we jumped off the train at Stevenage we had no idea where to go so we just followed everyone else. A slight detour was taken at the station prior to joining the pilgrims on foot because we all needed a pee. It was at this juncture I got a preliminary taste of the 70’s festival experience. At festivals today it’s all pristine portaloos in abundance with soap, loo roll and alcohol sanitizer sprays. In 1979 you could elect to queue for what seemed like hours until your bladder burst, piss your pants where you stood, or find a bottle to place your urine in and save it for later to chuck at unsuspecting members of the audience in front of you once you’d finally got into Knebworth Park. I elected to queue. When I finally elbowed my way to the piss pot I couldn’t relax and ‘let it flow’ because I was sharing my space with pleasant but extremely inebriated fellow male Zeppelin fans who thought it might be a good idea to kick me in the middle of my back to help me get on with it. However on reflection, the toilets at Stevenage railway station would seem positively palatial once I’d sampled the delights of the latrines at Knebworth the following day.

And so, once our bladders had been emptied, we followed the throng to Knebworth. This was it! I was going to see Led Zeppelin! Blimey, this was unreal. As we approached the perimeter of the park, there was a life affirming sense of not being alone. My God, it was 1979 and the British music scene was dominated by post punk politicised bands such as The Clash, The Jam, The Fall, and Joy Division. The music press viewed Led Zeppelin as obsolete, self indulgent and disconnected from the youth of the day. Well, this 20 year old looked around in awe at the thousands of tents, cars, vans and a sea of people as far as the eye could see and thought that ‘Never Mind The Bollocks Part 2’ should have been the title of Zep’s imminent new album. Things were looking good. So it wasn’t just me then? There are thousands of us! We found a space literally on the edge of a motorway and laid out our sleeping bags. If I’d rolled over in my sleep, I would have trundled down a steep embankment straight onto the A1 motorway and been flattened by the first vehicle that came along. It was only as the mist cleared after the gig, I realised how close we all were to meeting our maker.

We tried to sleep but it was impossible. The celebrations by the ‘throng’ continued unabated until the wee small hours and then all of a sudden a hush……

Word was out. Pass it on! Some fans have broken down the perimeter fence. The venue’s security guys have decided to open up the turnstiles in the interests of safety. It’s three in the morning. We either get up now and go for it or look forward to memories of Zeppelin in miniature because if we don’t join the stampede we’ll be right at the back of Knebworth Park when we mince in at 9:00am after a leisurely breakfast of Cinzano. So up we get, pack everything into our bin liners and hotfoot it to the entrance. Finally, after handing over our tickets, we are in! You’d think we would have got a prime spot, a place so close to the stage you could crane your neck up and marvel at Robert Plant’s nasal hair growth but this is 1979 and it’s Led Zeppelin’s first gig on home turf since 1975. In my humble estimation, at least 50,000 people beat us to it. At least we were on the brow of the hill…….

August the 4th was a very long day. First the attempt to get some sleep and conserve energy by sleeping on our recently filled bin liners was rudely awakened by the first of five support bands. There were accusations that Zep had played safe with their choice of support acts. No younger ‘rock’ upstarts were on the bill and certainly no hats were tipped to the New Wave generation. Long established, ‘has been’ and old was the theme, the majority of the bands being American. The two exceptions being British folk rockers Fairport Convention who opened proceedings swiftly followed by Cockney impostors Chas and Dave. Both acts survived, that’s all I can remember except for the shower of cans and bottles thrown at Chas and Dave. In their defence, C&D stoically continued and won over members of the audience who were awake at that time with some clever smart ass patter. The following bands are a blur. Commander Cody? Or was it the Marshall Tucker Band? I’m buggered if I can recall. Then there was the Springsteen ‘lite’ Southside Johnny and his Asbury Jukes. They almost had a residency on the Old Grey Whistle Test at that time and having watched them ad nauseum on TV, I thought they were distinctly underwhelming. As ‘Underwhelmers’ go, they delivered in spades at Knebworth.

It was hot and muggy. The day was punctuated by plagues of Greenfly who crawled onto your exposed skin parts in successive waves. We were thirsty and I needed a pee. I would not recommend Cinzano as a rehydrating fluid. So as I needed to take a leak, I was nominated to bring back four cans of coke. (Not the nose numbing chemical variety). Design of communal rock festival toilets in 1979 were, let’s just say, infantile. Dig a big square hole in a field and put wooden toilets in a row on top, divide male and female by a canvas screen and Bob’s your uncle. Getting there was another challenge as the toilets were situated right at the back of the park. I used a flagpole as a mental marker to find my way back and stepped tentatively on approximately 90,000 people as I weaved slowly towards the back of the field. To this day I have never understood the need for the organisers of the gig to waste money on signs giving direction to the toilets: all you had to do was follow your nose. The stench was gut churning. I was only taking a pee but the sight of turds dropping into the pit from adjoining ‘traps’ was like a Biblical painting of Hades and as I bravely pointed Percy I half expected some horrific Orc to rise up out of the brown, bubbling slime and drag me down under.

Job done, (no pun intended), I sidled down the edge of the park in search of cold fizzy pop. To cut a long story short, I purchased four cans of luke warm Coca-Cola for the ‘Knebworth Festival’ cut price bargain of 75p each. That’s three quid. Now considering the ticket for the privilege of seeing Led Zeppelin and five support acts cost £7.50, I got it into my head we could probably book Todd Rundgren to play at our local pub for just one crate of the stuff. Now where’s that flag so I can find my way back? ‘F**k me, there’s hundreds of ‘em. Yeah, but mine is a skull and crossbones. There are hundreds of those too! Well, don’t panic, just aim for the brow of the hill. ‘Sorry, Sorry!’ I exclaimed as I stood on 90,000 people on the way back. By some miracle I found Tina, Lenore and Pete and collapsed onto my bin liner. ‘This Coke’s warm’, said Pete. ‘F**k off’, I replied.

If you’re the guy that got married on Saturday August the 4th and thought it would be a good idea after your wedding reception to take yourself and your bride in full white regalia to see Led Zeppelin at Knebworth, I apologise in advance for my account of your story. The problem is my friend; you were very drunk and as a consequence a tiny bit stroppy. Why you picked me out of the entire crowd as the best candidate to ‘kiss the f**king bride’ will always remain a mystery to me. Because you were a little bit scary, I declined your offer at first. Nevertheless your powers of persuasion made me change my mind. You may not remember this, but you were decidedly unimpressed with my negative response and resolved the issue by dragging me up onto my feet and pushing my head in the direction of your wife’s face. ‘Kiss my wife’ you insisted. And so I did. And then you let go of me and smiled the sweetest smile before making your way down to the front of the stage. God bless you and I hope you enjoyed the gig.

The sun was beginning to set and Todd Rundgren resplendent in a yellow banana suit took the stage with his band Utopia. I’d heard of Todd but wasn’t expecting the prog rock wig out that followed. I thought we were going to get heartfelt piano led ballads and ‘I Saw the Light’ as an encore. What we got was the first full on ROCK band of the day performed by four virtuosos. They livened the whole day up and got an encore for their efforts. Todd was witty, articulate, a tremendous singer and very sharp on the guitar. The rest of the band, Kasim on bass, Roger on keyboards and Willie on Drums were equally entertaining and shortly after Knebworth I purchased my first Utopia record. The first of many. In a sentence, I became a fan of all things Toddness.

Finally, it’s dark. We know this is it. The crowd is restless. The delay between Utopia and what we hope will be Zeppelin morphs into collective Chinese water torture. Drip….drip……drip. ‘Tuesday’s Gone’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd is playing over the P.A system and then suddenly it fades out. What follows is the biggest roar I’ve ever heard from a crowd: an enormous outpouring of love and emotion from thousands of the devoted. Four figures can just be discerned moving into position on stage and that roar gets even louder; it’s thunderous, it’s a true celebration of a hastily assembled bunch of strangers in a field suddenly united in the emotional reward for ‘keeping the faith’. When I listen to this moment on bootleg recordings, it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. It’s a ‘bloke’ thing really, and yes there are far more important things in life and yes, I was to be blessed with greater and far more cherished moments in later times but this was 1979, I was 20 years old and reasonably untarnished by the trials and tribulations of what follows by breathing in and out for a further 30 or so years and as a consequence, that ‘moment’ will always remain magical. It’s a ‘freeze frame’, a ‘still’ picture that can be recalled on a whim. It makes your heart beat faster. It makes you feel good. It’s Led Zeppelin for Christ’s sake!

Kerrang! That was Jimmy Page. A ‘D’ chord. Drrang, Drrang! A couple more very loud strokes. The Knebworth throng was going nuts. The stage is pitch black. Four or five repetitive snare drum hits cracked through the August night air. Unmistakable. Nobody on earth sounded like that. It was John Bonham. Then all hell broke loose. Jimmy Page launched into the intro to ‘The Song Remains the Same’ and the stage lit up. Wooof! In came Bonham and John Paul Jones. I got up from a crouched position onto my knees to get a better view and to my delight a large video screen at the back of the stage flickered into life. So we are on a brow of a hill somewhere near Stevenage in a field watching Led Zeppelin and if you need dimensions, the rear stage video screen afforded us the luxury of being able to expand what would have been a view of Jimmy, Robert, John Paul and John from approximately 1 inch tall to about 12 inches. ‘Sit down you tw*t’, came the clarion call from the assembled behind me. And so I did as a full can of Carlsberg lager flew two centimetres wide of my right ear.

I promise not to gush. I promise not to follow with a track by track analysis. What follows is an honest recollection of how I felt as the gig unfolded. It’s not all sweetness and light, I can tell you; even at the age of 20 I could surmise that my favourite rock group of all time were a little rusty, overwhelmed by the enormity of the occasion and gingerly dipping their collective toes back into playing live after a break of two years. Colour in a background of being despised as ‘Dinosaurs’ by the rock press cognoscenti, Led Zeppelin were fully primed to take a fall and have it magnified in print as soon as the first bum note or missed cue rang out into the dank and dusty air that night at Knebworth. Led Zeppelin were initially self conscious and totally lacking in that unique camaraderie of yore. There were bum notes and missed cues as well as technical problems. There was a complete lack of bass guitar in the front P.A system for the first two numbers. Zeppelin literally motored through the opening songs, ‘The Song Remains the Same’ and ‘Celebration Day’. They were flying on pure adrenalin but lacked the confident swagger of days gone by. Easy for me to say, isn’t it?

We expect so much of our rock heroes but the myth of Led Zeppelin was peeled away, layer by layer, as the evening faded into night. It was clear that these four ‘Rock’ icons were actually human after all.

Jimmy Page was painfully thin in baggy pants and a button over shirt topped off with neat shoulder length hair. When he played his Les Paul guitar, it was hung waist high not below his knees. He tiptoed around the stage and on occasions stayed rooted to the spot. His early guitar solos lacked fluidity. It was early doors but I couldn’t help thinking my favourite guitar player needed to pull some rabbits out of the hat to reinforce what had been up to that moment my unswerving belief in his untouchable greatness. I was a worried young man. To my relief a hat and a few rabbits were produced out of thin air later in the set.

Robert Plant looked like Robert Plant. The blonde ‘mane’ was intact. He looked lean and fit and his youthful face defied recent tragic events in his personal life. The voice was in great form. It cut through the distorted high octane rendition of the opening song like a diamond. Robert’s voice ricocheted out of the P.A and the delay towers in the arena with a clarity that belied his later confessions of nerves and doubt. He remained ‘chummy’ throughout the entire gig; He was self effacing and avoided the longer hippy inspired ‘between song’ introductions of the past. At Knebworth, Robert Plant was the kid from Kidderminster genuinely moved and grateful for the sea of people in front of him willing him and his band on.

John Paul Jones came dressed for a wedding in a white suit. Just for once, his hair was longer than Jimmy Page’s. He played like a trooper but then again, he was incapable of doing anything else. It’s in his DNA. John Paul Jones doesn’t do crap gigs. The other three? Maybe, but not Jonesy. He was beset by technical problems early on but floored me with his endurance on bass guitar throughout ‘Achilles Last Stand’. How on earth did he keep that pace up for the duration?

And finally, John Bonham. I was actually seeing and hearing John Bonham. That’s it really. He was a ‘big’ man then, a bit of a ten bellies but sat behind that drum kit he was an inspiration. It’s hard to put into words. The only way I can explain it is that ‘what you hear’ is not ‘what you see’. The totally unique ‘Bonzo’ sound live was undermined by the seemingly relaxed style he would hit his drum kit. What you heard was the Thunder of The Gods, what you saw was an economy of movement, no arms in the air thrashing wildly, no theatrics or drumstick twirling just a man hunched over his Ludwig ensemble making comparatively small upper limb movements to produce such a massive sound.

My favourite song of all time is ‘Black Dog’. The studio version on Led Zeppelin IV that is. It is a strange amalgam of the call and response American Blues tradition with the ‘impossible’ hi-tech riff written by John Paul Jones. Pagey is still mistakenly credited with this riff’s creation to this day. I haven’t finished yet. Plant’s searing vocal is set back in an unworldly wash of repeat echo, the lyrics firmly set in testosterone injected aspic. Bonham’s drums play right through the mayhem in ‘f**k you’ 4/4 time and then suddenly not, like the proverbial bull in a china shop. And finally, that guitar sound, that guitar harmony and that guitar solo at the end.

So, here I am at Knebworth in 1979 and Zeppelin choose to play my favourite song of all time as the third song in their set. Do you know what? It was fine. The sound problems had been ironed out and after a quick false intro of ‘Out On the Tiles’, Led Zeppelin truly hit their stride. ‘Hey Hey Mama’ was all it needed. If we had been watching in a house instead of a field, it would have been brought down emphatically by the noise made by the crowd at the end of this song. The band had relaxed considerably and the ‘swagger’ was back. Robert Plant teased us into joining in during the ‘Ah Ah’ refrain and hit a high note which must have been picked up by strays at Battersea Dog’s home. I turned and looked at my girlfriend Tina with a face that said, ‘did you see and hear that?’ She squeezed my hand affectionately as all women do that will never understand football, Meccano and men but felt obliged to offer encouragement. When will I ever grow up……

I’m euphoric now. Pagey’s back in my good books and Zeppelin are cooking on gas. ‘Nobody’s Fault but Mine’ follows. The intro is thin compared to the ‘Presence’ studio album version but once Bonham and Jonesy crash in, there’s no looking back. The false stops in the song are punctuated with roars from the crowd. Plant is soaring, guttural and shaking the sound system, Pagey is dancing, ducking and diving and looking like he’s actually enjoying himself – it’s Led Zeppelin at full throttle. Bang! The ‘Cosmic Energy’ indeed.

What followed was a seemingly long and lacklustre period of the set. The compactness and hard hitting rock and roll overload of ‘Black Dog’ and ‘Nobody’s Fault’ was wasted as a succession of elongated work outs followed. Renditions of ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’, ‘No Quarter’, ‘Ten Years Gone’ gave the young buck music journalists of the day the perfect opportunity to seize on Zeppelin’s penchant for self indulgence and with some justification. The performance was laboured and stretched out. Page’s guitar solos were scratchy and tired. The man was struggling to find the effortless virtuosity of the past and when the video screen showed shots of his face you could see the struggle going on up there in real time. We were provided with a ‘tea break’ when Zeppelin introduced us to a ditty off their imminent new album called ‘Hot Dog’. As they launched into what can be only described as an up tempo Country and Western pastiche, I was filled with horror. My God, if this was deemed by the band as a worthy advert for the new record, what’s the rest of it going to sound like?

Tea break over, back on your heads lads! ‘The Rain Song’ followed. It was an eerily ‘quiet’ version with John Paul Jones holding it together on keyboards. Page was out of it now, it was like he’d got the guitarist’s equivalent of footballer’s cramp; he was sweating profusely and grinding every note out making the whole song look like it required a superhuman effort. Compared to his silky performance of the same number in the film ‘The Song Remains the Same’, this was below par, almost painful to watch.

Ok, it’s just me right? Well, at the time, each song Zeppelin performed at Knebworth was received with tumultuous applause and Viking like battle cries. The assembled throng gave absolutely no indication of being dissatisfied with Led Zeppelin’s performance throughout the entire set. I guess, in context, this was a big night for all of us because the majority were seeing and hearing Led Zeppelin live for the first time. This was a BIG occasion, schoolboy stuff really, something you could tell your kids about in later life. One thing was sure to happen after August 4th 1979, I would bump into people much later in life who would proudly proclaim, ‘I was THERE’. And I have, many, many times. I still have to own up being mildly disappointed sat in that field that night, granted, there were moments of sky scraping greatness but these were few and far between. It was the spirit of the age you see, and Led Zeppelin were sacrificing themselves at the altar of Punk Rock and New Wave; ironic really as ‘Are Friends Electric’ by Gary Numan had just topped the charts and as a consequence would put the new impostors on the back burner as every young musician of the day would trade in their guitars for a synthesiser. And over the pond, ‘ROCK’ was still a big hitter, the latest platinum selling rock band was Van Halen who at that point had released just two albums, the problem was their guitarist, Edward Van Halen, sounded like the second coming and totally turned the sound of the rock guitar on it’s head. He made Jimmy Page sound like Bert Weedon. Led Zeppelin just weren’t READY in August 1979. Hindsight has proved this but as a 20 year old watching my heroes in the flesh that night I didn’t know any of this, only that they weren’t as good as I thought they were going to be. There, I’ve said it, I feel better now. And do you know what? Led Zeppelin are still my favourite band and do you know why? Because as a collector of their unauthorised recordings in my later years I have found plenty of evidence to reinforce my belief that Led Zeppelin were a truly great live experience. It’s just a darn shame I didn’t witness it in person.

Back on your heads lads. Jimmy sits on a stool with his Dan Electro guitar and begins to play ‘White Summer’ and ‘Black Mountain Side’. It’s a ‘struggle’ again as various fluffed notes and pregnant pauses demonstrate that Pagey is not at the top of his form. As he plays the last Coda of ‘Black Mountain Side’, Mr. Page stands up and we are bathed in white light as the whole band crash into ‘Kashmir’. The air is absolutely fizzing with electricity as Bonzo’s phased drums blast out into the night accompanied by Jonesy’s keyboard orchestra. Page looks relaxed again and provides us with a big Cheshire Cat grin and Plant steps up to the microphone, hands on hips and lets rip. Sky scraping greatness is upon us. It is a truly masterful performance and my faith is restored. I look at my girlfriend, Tina and she looks back with a ‘yeah, I know, yes I did just see and hear that’ expression. Magic.

‘Please don’t dip now guys’, I thought as ‘Kashmir’ blew us away and they didn’t. John Paul Jones hit the clavinet keys and ‘Trampled Underfoot’ began in earnest. The song’s punchy and relentless power was topped off by Robert Plant totally in his zone singing with assured confidence. ‘This is what Zep are about’, I thought as I took another glance at Tina. ‘’Yeah, I know’, was the response in her smile. Zeppelin didn’t let up. ‘Sick Again’ was powerful and a return to the short, sharp shock songs Zep could deliver with aplomb. Plant was throwing shapes now and had overcome the previous ‘toe dipping’ with a full on dive into unabashed rock preening and pouting, Page was now totally relaxed and grooving and peeled off a vintage solo and Bonham and Jonesy were totally locked together. The outro was orgasmic with Page pulling rabbits out of that hat with reckless abandon and Plant giving us the echo laden ‘aaaaahs’ we craved. I looked at Tina, ‘Yeah I f**king know, now pick your jaw up from the floor and just enjoy it!’ was the unspoken message written on her beautiful face.

‘Achilles Last Stand’ was next. John Paul Jones and John Bonham were a revelation. The speed of the performance beggared belief. Jonesy chugged through the entire thing on bass with breakneck consistency. I half expected him to be carried off by a team of hyperventilating paramedics once he’d finished. Page sweated his way through it all and managed to pull it off with panache. The fact that the studio version was heavily layered with guitar overdubs was ‘nay problem’, Page just did ‘em all on one friggin’ Les Paul – well it seemed like that, anyway. Plant was majestic, hitting the high notes with ease.

John Henry Bonham. There are no superlatives I can find for the man for his performance on ‘Achilles’ that night. He’s just the best. Period.

I didn’t look at Tina – ‘Football, Meccano and Men’ came to mind…..

The Guitar Solo:

Now it was time for Jimmy Page’s solo spot. In a word, unremarkable. First came a gizmo driven octave divider effect. Up and down went a distorted chord sound with Pagey waving his arms in unison to the rise and fall of the lo-tech effect. Then the violin bow was produced to huge roars from the crowd. Now, if you are one of the few people on earth who can listen to the 23 minute version of ‘Dazed and Confused’ on the ‘Song Remains the Same’ live album and enjoy it to the max, it’s back to mine for drinks and we’ll crank it up on the Hi-Fi. What was good about that version was the sonic width and power of the bowed section coupled with the menace and eeriness of its delivery; in audio terms it was Widescreen guitar psychedelia. At Knebworth, the violin bow section was like fingernails on a blackboard, lacking bite and to be brutally honest, a veritable toe curler. If Eddie Van Halen had jumped on stage at that point and ripped into ‘Eruption’ you would have had to ask James Patrick Page to see you after class. ‘Must try harder, James’. Finally, Jimmy’s violin bow produced a laser beam from its tip and within seconds he was bathed under a rotating laser pyramid as he bashed out echo laden chords to the delight of everyone. It kind of worked, folks, but the majority of it was excruciating. Having thrilled me to bits with his solos in ‘Sick Again’ minutes earlier, Jimmy looked pedestrian during his solo spot. I was back to being ‘mildly disappointed’ again.

A drone like sound from John Paul Jones’s keyboard rung out and Plant enunciated the words ‘In the Evening’. Pow! The ‘Cosmic Energy’ was restored as Zeppelin introduced another track from their imminent new album. The nightmare of the previous rendition of ‘Hot Dog’ was instantly erased by this barnstormer of a song. Thank God for that! Zep haven’t gone ‘Country’ after all! This was trademark stuff with a nod to the new ‘keyboard’ technology of the time but underpinned by Bonzo’s thunder and Page’s swooping guitar riff. The song was received by all like an old friend.

Ok, it’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ time. In 1979 this song had already picked up some momentum as something you shouldn’t be allowed to like. It was dripping with ‘Hippy’ sentimentality. It had absolutely nothing to do with Thatcher’s Britain. We we’re all on the dole for Christ’s sake and were being force fed ‘If the Kid’s are United’ by Sham 69. Well, at least it felt that way to me. Robert Plant would disown ‘Stairway’ in later years. Why? It’s a great song, period. I like it. Now take me to the gallows (pole) for my sins. I’ve tried to set the scene for Led Zeppelin at Knebworth in 1979, a great band who had produced great music loved and cherished by people all over the world. Their 1976 movie depicted the group in splendid mansions surrounded by the green fields of Britain. I didn’t get pissed off when I saw this, it was something to aspire to. Rock and Roll money grabbing excess? No, not really, just a band who toured endlessly with an astute manager who ensured they got paid their dues. However, they were swimming against the tide of a musical revolution, but this time round, the anarchic punk ethic was to dismiss entirely any music that had been made before 1976. Well, that didn’t ring true with this 20 year old. That kind of ethic was too narrow a criteria to subscribe to. How on earth do we evolve if we don’t look back and take out the good bits and move forward? Who’s in charge anyway? The public are. They’ll decide what they like, not the NME, Melody Maker or Rolling Stone. And hey! I’m 20 years old you fuckwits, so how the hell can I be ‘passé’ at such a young age?

If you’ve got this far, you’ve read an honest appraisal of my favourite rock group playing live and it’s not viewed through rose tinted glasses. Zeppelin were bad in places but inspirational in others. The so called revolutionary musicians of the time would morph into obscurity in latter years or change tack to survive. The Sex Pistols made one of the greatest ROCK albums of all time with ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’. It was a fantastic record. I purchased it in 1977 and because the cover of the record was seen as offensive by the authorities, it was presented to me in my local record shop from under the counter in a brown paper bag. The next record I bought in a brown paper bag was two years later. It was called ‘In Through the Out Door’ by Led Zeppelin.

Oh, by the way, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ live at Knebworth 1979 was magnificent.

Led Zeppelin left the stage to tumultuous applause, whoops and howls from 200,000 people. The overwhelming emotion I had was singular; it was good to have them back. Zeppelin’s reappearance as a live act was a comfort zone, a warming reassurance that rock music’s original pioneers still had a place somewhere in our firmament and that, hopefully, there might be some more pioneering to come. ‘Thank God for that’, I thought and on this sentiment I felt that the ‘kids were united’ at Knebworth Park that night, so much so, they burst into a repeat chorus of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. Now, I’ve never been to Anfield football ground and stood in the Kop end but I guess after August 4th 1979, I wouldn’t really need to in order to gain a comparison of overt hero worship. It’s a ‘bloke’ thing, really, part two.

After a seemingly endless interval, Led Zeppelin returned to the stage and were received with a roar almost as spine tingling as the assembled throng’s cacophony at the beginning of their set. Robert Plant was speechless for once. Page, Bonham and Jonesy looked genuinely humbled. So this was the cocky, arrogant, ‘lock up your daughters’, TV smashing, narcissistic, coke snorting, money grabbing, groupie abusing, 70’s most over hyped rock and roll band lapping it up before being whisked off to their musk scented, candle lit harems in search of top grade heroin and good times? Not exactly, just four very human beings looking extraordinarily relieved they’d survived an evening with their harshest critics and who may they be? Their fans, of course……

The rest is a blur. Bonzo crashed into the intro of ‘Rock And Roll’ and that ‘roar’ wafted over my head in waves and bounced around the arena. Zeppelin were relaxed now, almost sloppy but they didn’t care and neither did we. It was like the fab four had just got their exam results with mixed grades but f**k it, they had all passed! See you at the end of term party, guys!

‘Whole Lotta Love’ rang out. Delirium. At this point, after being awake for the best part of two days and being severely undernourished, the ‘other fab four’, namely yours truly, Tina, Pete and Lenore decided to cut and run. Fatigue had set in. We were cold and damp and absolutely knackered. We wanted to find a spot to place our collective bin liners before the ‘mad rush’ and try to get some sleep before catching the train home in the morning. I got up and said, ‘Ok, let’s go’, half expecting Robert Plant to stop the band and demand a civil answer to the question of why we were the only four people who had decided to leave out of 200,000 before they had finished their set. We were not alone. Thousands of like minded souls were making their exit. We left the perimeter of Knebworth Park to the strains of ‘Heartbreaker’ echoing through the delay towers.

It seemed to take an age to get back to ‘our spot’. Curiously, everyone who attended Knebworth that night seemed to stick to an unspoken, democratic rule of returning to the place where they had slept the night before. Easy, if you’d got a tent or a vehicle of any description to navigate back to but not so straightforward if your boudoir was a patch of grass next to a steep decline onto the A1 motorway. By some strange miracle, we found our patch and collapsed in four separate heaps.

The morning after came quickly. I remember waking up in a thick dawn mist and peering out of my sleeping bag. My head was trapped in the lats of a wooden fence and I had fresh cobwebs on my forehead. I struggled to get my stiff bones working and eventually stood up to discover we were all inches from falling down an embankment onto the A1 motorway. In blind panic I thought it might be a good idea to wake everyone up. This noble and chivalrous concern to alleviate Tina, Pete and Lenore from being a statistic of Knebworth’s chronic breach of Health and Safety regulations resulting in them being crushed to death by the next Edwin Shirley truck on the inside lane of the A1 resulted in my decision to prod them all with a stick found nearby. My ‘noble chivalry’ was greeted with a collective early dawn chorus of ‘F**k off, you wing nut’.

After a hearty breakfast of Benson and Hedges King Size all round, we set off for Stevenage Railway Station.

The train home was a ‘British Rail’ commuter train called a ‘125’. This was a proud reference to its top speed of 125mph. In real terms, British train users would refer to its name as being a reflection of the train’s tardiness; at the very least, 125 minutes late. For the record, the train arrived on time. For the record, it was jam packed with well dressed, affluent folks blissfully unaware that, once the train pulled in at Stevenage, each carriage would fill up with exhausted, greasy haired oiks looking for a seat to park their bums in: problem was, there weren’t any.

Our choice was stark and simple. Once on the train, sit down in the aisle or get off and wait for the next one. We sat in the aisle. Tina curled up in what was hilariously in those days called a ‘luggage compartment’. Actually, it was the triangular shaped void between every bank of seats that faced each other separated by a table. Tina crawled in, curled up, her eyes closed and it was ‘night, night, make sure the bugs don’t bite’. She was so still, I’d thought she’d stopped breathing, so in the interests of ‘Health and Safety’, I woke her up just to check everything was ok. You can guess the rest………

(She was breathing, alright).

Oh, and another thing, we saw Tina’s school friends, Ty Williamson, Rich Balarkas and Steve Bradley at the station! Big deal, eh? Well, yes actually, if you figure out the probability factor of:200,000 against 3.

Steve Bradley would end up singing in my band for a short period in 1981 after I’d nicked him from ‘Zeppophile’ guitarist Rich Balarkas. Ty Williamson would become a dear friend of mine and we would co-write many songs together years later in the 90’s! We remain in touch to this day united by our mutual appreciation of Jimmy Page and all things Zeppelin and more.

Electric Magic, indeed………..

I leave you with this photo of yours truly, probably trying to blank out Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes in the middle of a field on August the Fourth, 1979.

Impressive bin liner though……..

  • Pat Mount
  • Many thanks to Pat for that fantastically detailed overview of his August



Led Zeppelin News Update:

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

Led Zeppelin

  • The “Led Zeppelin Live” photography book edited by Dave Lewis was released this week.

Jimmy Page

Robert Plant

Robert Plant played four shows in Europe this week. See the setlists below:

July 23: Paris, France
New World…
Turn It Up
The May Queen
Black Dog
The Rain Song
Please Read the Letter
Gallows Pole
Carry Fire
Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You
Little Maggie
Fixin’ to Die
Bring It On Home / Whole Lotta Love

July 25: Festival de Carcassonne, France
When the Levee Breaks
Turn It Up
The May Queen
Black Dog
The Rain Song
Please Read the Letter
Gallows Pole
Carry Fire
Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You
Little Maggie
Fixin’ to Die
Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down / In My Time of Dying
Bring It On Home / Whole Lotta Love

July 27: Milano Summer Festival 2018, Milan
The Lemon Song
Turn It Up
The May Queen
Black Dog
Going to California
Please Read the Letter
Gallows Pole
Carry Fire
Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You
Little Maggie
Fixin’ to Die
Bring It On Home / Whole Lotta Love

Earlier today, Plant played at the Stimmen Festival in Lörrach, Germany, but no setlist has been published yet.

Additionally, a reader pointed out that we sent the incorrect setlist for Plant’s July 19 show in Georgia last week. Here’s the correct version:

July 19: Georgia
The Lemon Song
Turn It Up
What Is and What Should Never Be
Going to California
Black Dog
Gallows Pole
Carry Fire
Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You
Little Maggie
Fixin’ to Die
New World…
Bring It On Home / Whole Lotta Love

Upcoming events:

July 31 – Robert Plant will perform in Pardubice, Czech Republic.
August 1 – Robert Plant will perform in Dresden, Germany.
August 11 – John Paul Jones will perform as part of Snoweye at the Varangerfestivalen in Norway.
September 7 – Led Zeppelin will released the remastered edition of “The Song Remains The Same” and new merchandise and the “Evenings With Led Zeppelin” book will be published.
September 10 – Robert Plant will perform in Kansas City, Missouri.
September 13 – Robert Plant will perform in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
September 15 – Robert Plant will perform at the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival in Colorado.
September 16 – Robert Plant will perform at the KAABOO festival in California.
September 18 – “Scream For Help,” which features a soundtrack by John Paul Jones, will be released on Blu-ray.
September 19 – Robert Plant will perform in Tucson, Arizona.
September 21 – Robert Plant will perform in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
September 23 – Robert Plant will perform at the Bourbon & Beyond festival in Louisville, Kentucky.
September 25 – Robert Plant will perform in Irving, Texas.
September 27 – Robert Plant will perform in Lubbock, Texas.
September 29 – Robert Plant will perform in Austin, Texas.
September 30 – Robert Plant will perform in Austin, Texas.
October – The official Led Zeppelin photo book will be released.
October 16 – “Bring it on Home,” a new biography of Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant, will be released.
October 25 – Robert Plant will perform in Cardiff, Wales.
October 26 – Robert Plant will perform in London, UK.
October 28 – Robert Plant will perform in Dublin, Ireland.

Many thanks to James Cook.

The complete Led Zeppelin News email goes out every weekend. To receive it each week sign up here:

Led Zeppelin News Website: Check out the Led Zeppelin news website at


Robert Plant in Paris

Monday 23 July 2018

New World/ Turn It Up/ May Queen/

Black Dog/ Rain Song/ Please Read The Letter/

Gallows Pole/ Carry Fire/  Babe I’m Gonna Leave You

Little Maggie/ Fixin To Die/ (Satan/Going To California – dropped)

Bring It On Home/ Whole Lotta Love (Levee – dropped)

It’s a warm summer evening in the French capital and a few minutes walk from the famous Arc de Triomphe, Robert Plant is about to take to the stage. I’m fortunate that tonight is my 9th Plant gig in 18 months. From hearing him sing Kashmir at the Royal Albert Hall, to watching him join Brian Johnson and Paul Rodgers on stage, to being in the audience for October’s BBC session, attending a bunch of UK dates and now seeing him tonight in France.

This evening’s gig is at the intimate Salle Pleyel theatre which holds 2000 fans. Its 9.30pm however and Plant and band have still not arrived on stage. The French crowd are getting restless yet as house lights dip and he walks on stage, dressed in black t-shirt and black leather trousers, the Parisian crowd roar their approval.

An opening trio of newer material doesn’t phase the audience at all and they lap up every minute of New World, Turn It Up and May Queen. “Bonsoir Paris, we’re from England…and we used to be in Europe!” With banter about Brexit and Trump as well as complimenting the crowd on France’s World Cup win, Robert is on top form telling stories and weaving in and out of speaking French.

A rare appearance of Black Dog in the set follows and notches energy levels of the crowd even higher. Although the arrangement is new his strength of vocal is identical to the way I watched him sing it at The O2 with Zep in 2007. Plant is satisfyingly loud and the band rockier than ever. The crowd absolutely adore it. A thrilling Rain Song follows and to hear Robert belt out “I felt the coldness of my winter, I never thought it would ever go, I curse the gloom that set upon us, ‘pon us, ‘pon us” sends shivers down the spine. I can’t be the only one who loves this song as judging by the sudden glow of mobile phones held in the air, the whole audience is capturing this special moment.

Please Read The Letter is introduced by Robert as “written by two songwriters from England” before Gallows Pole romps across the crowd. Whatever its arrangement it never fails to get an audience going. “We have a new disc out” Robert says ahead of the flickering, desert intensity of Carry Fire before Babe I’m Gonna Leave You once again showcases Skin Tyson to wonderful effect. Next up Little Maggie and although not my cup of tea, the crowd clearly love its Bristol trance vibe. The main set then closes with Fixing To Die energising the crowd with Justin Adams show-stopping guitar tour de force.

It’s now 10.55pm and time for an encore but Robert tells the French fans the venue has an 11pm curfew. After a brief hesitation and a glance to the band Robert says “Awe fuck it!” and the band turn the amps up for a sweltering Bring It On Home/ Santianna/ Whole Lotta Love. House lights are up and the Parisians energy this evening clearly catch Robert and band by surprise. “Merci beaucoup Paris, it’s been a fantastic night!”

As the ecstatic French audience stream out into the balmy summer evening I overhear some younger fans in Greta Van Fleet t-shirts excitedly say ‘C’est fantastique!!!”. Zep’s 50th anniversary may be just around the corner however its clear a new generation of fans are checking out Robert Plant gigs and loving every minute of it.


And this is Robert Plant in 2018: playing live in front of fans all over the world, making new music while still cherishing the past. Part explorer, part maverick, part Golden God.

And judging by both Robert and fans reaction tonight in Paris, this is a band of joy.

Krys Jantzen


Bring It On Home – Peter Grant, Led Zeppelin and Beyond  – The Story of Rock’s Greatest Manger by Mark Blake:

Amongst various Zep projects I am now working on TBL issue 44 – and one of the highlights will be the interview I have recently conducted with Mark Blake the author of the forthcoming Peter Grant Bring It On Home, Peter Grant Led Zeppelin and Beyond – The Story of Rock’s Greatest Manager (due late October)

I’ve long admired Mark’s work. His previous books on Queen and Pink Floyd have been captivating reads – so when I heard he was tackling the life of Peter Grant I knew it would be nothing less than a very detailed account. It’s actually far more than that – as Mark explained in the interview. More on all this soon. You can pre order the book here…/…/ref=sr_1_1…&




Following on from last December’s hugely enjoyable ‘Ahmet We Did It’ 02 Ten Years Gone event at this venue, we are going back to the pub for a day of Led Zeppelin 50th Anniversary Celebrations…

Dave Lewis and Julian Walker Present..

Led Zeppelin at 50 – It’s Been A Long Time 1968 -2018

Led Zeppelin 50th Anniversary TBL Celebration Day Event

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Atlas Pub

16 Seagrave Road,Fulham, London, SW6 1RX

From 12.00 Midday to 8.30PM

Nearest tube: West Brompton (District Line, London Overground, and Southern train services)

A Day of Led Zep Celebration – Guest Speakers, Video Playbacks, Zep Quiz and more

Guest Speakers already confirmed:

Mark Blake – author of the forthcoming Peter Grant biography Bring it On Home

Chris Charlesworth – former Melody Maker journalist who covered Zep extensively in the early 70s

Patrick Humphries  journalist, author  and broadcaster discusses the Led Zeppelin The Fairport Convention Connections and more..

Luis Rey and Andy Adams – talking about the forthcoming 50th Anniversary updated edition of Luis’s Tape Documentary book which Andy helped edit

Phil Tattershall – well known UK Zep collector/authority presenting ‘Confessions of a Led Zeppelin Taper’


Advance tickets for this event are now on sale – price £10.00

Please note, there is a ceiling limited on how many we can accommodate – so order your ticket as soon as possible to ensure entry.

Order via Pay Pal pal at the link here:


My thoughts on…

The Floyd Effect – Corn Exchange Bedford – July 27, 2018:

The Floyd Effect did themselves and the legacy of Pink Floyd full justice last night at the Corn Exchange in Bedford. Opening with selections from The Division Bell album, the superb lighting and back drop visuals – combined with the impeccable delivery of the music, set the template for the evening. A soaring Shine On You Crazy Diamond was another of many highlights.

The second half saw them showcase a complete performance of The Dark Side Of The Moon that was totally captivating from start to finish – hearing it played with such empathy was confirmation that this piece of music remains ingrained in our lives. It was a flawless performance. Encores of Comfortably Numb and Run Like Hell completed this hugely enjoyable celebration of the music of Pink Floyd. The effect of which was simply stunning…catch them where you can…
Dave Lewis July 28,2018


Jimmy Page – The Definitive Biography by Chris Salewicz (Harper Collins)

This one I’ve been hearing about for a while and it’s quietly come on the market – Chris Salewicz  is a respected music writer he did some fine work for the NME and Let It Rock magazine way back. Chris conducted the extensive pre Knebworth interview with Jimmy for the NME back in August 1979.

Now comes a full scale Jimmy Page biography – all 560 pages of it. The press blurb proclaims ”Chris Salewicz is as close to revealing the inner life of ‘rock’s greatest and most mysterious guitar hero than anyone has been before providing a thrilling insight into an internationally recognised guitarist and founder of the biggest band of the 70’s’.

I’ve just began reading it – the introduction hones in on a detailed account of the notorious Oakland July 23 1977 backstage row. Plainly this book is not going to be for the faint hearted. The phrase ‘warts and all’ quickly springs to mind. The jury is out right now on the merits of this extensive biography as I am only on page 24….more on this when I’ve waded through it.


The Who’s Who Exhibition – it was 40 years ago today…

This photo of myself with Keith Moon was taken at The Who Exhibition launch at the ICA in London on August 1st 1978 – all of 40 years ago. My very good friend Dec is just to the left in the check shirt behind me – to the right is Richard Barnes long time Who associate and the late great Ian Dury is in front of us. Keith was in good spirits that day as he looked around the exhibition – I remember he spent some time looking over his famous Premier Pictures Of Lily drum kit that was set up in a stage area. It’s so tragic that a little over a month later he would pass away. Incidentally I am wearing the same jacket I had on when I leapt on the stage at The Who Shepperton filming the previous May. In fact the producer of the film Jeff Stein was in attendance that day and told me my leap onto the stage was in an early cut of the Kids Are Alright film they had made. The exhibition itself put together by various Who fans including Irish Jack Lyons was way ahead it it’s time. Long before the Bowie/Floyd exhibitions at the V and A, this Who presentation was incredibly illuminating. Alongside stage clothes, gold discs, rare art work it etc. It featured the then rarely seen footage of The Who at the Isle of Wight festival in 1970 and at Charlton in 1974.

It was another memorable day during a very memorable summer all of 40 years ago…

Dave Lewis, August 1,2018.


DL Diary Blog Update:

Vinyl may rule…but CD’s are still be brilliant…

As is well known, Vinyl Records are the music carrying format of my choice and whilst it’s vinyl I invest more in – I still love CD’s and I am always on the lookout for interesting stuff. It’s a shame how devalued CD’s have become – any charity shop will have a rack full for under 2 pounds – at the recent Harpenden Record Fair there were plenty of tired looking CDs for a similar low price.

What I really find worth collecting are the extend double CDs and box sets such as Universal’s Deluxe Editions and Sony’s Legacy series and well packaged Led Zep bootlegs (of which I also have a fair few!) and I also own a variety of box set packages -David Bowie, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones etc.

Also well worth searching out are the CD’s produced via the Castle/Sanctuary/RPM labels – these invariably have fold out covers with extensive notes and rare record sleeve images.

A recent addition here has been Juicy Lucy – Who Do You Love/The Anthology.

Juicy Lucy featured ex Misunderstood pedal steel guitarist Glenn Ross Campbell –they scored a top 20 UK hit with a cover of Bo Diddley’s Who Do You Love and recorded two albums on the Vertigo label –Juicy Lucy (with a very distinctive album cover featured a burlesque dancer named Zelda Plum, covered in fruit) and Lie Back and Enjoy It – various line up changes ensured and they later recorded on the Bronze label. All this is superbly explained and illustrated in the fold out booklet that accompanies this excellent overview of their work.

I do have one of their Vertigo albums and a Bronze label compilation on vinyl –but this is a great one CD catch all collection of their work

So vinyl may rule but CD’s can still be  brilliant…

Here’s the DL current CD playlist of very worthy CD’s high on the playlist and set for heavy rotation during August…

Led Zeppelin – Deus Ex Machina/Seattle March 21 1975 CD set

Led Zeppelin – A Very Nice Night/Vienna March 16 1973  – 2 CD Eat a Peach label)

Graham Nash – Over The Years – 2 CD Rhino

Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water –  2CD/DVD Sony Legacy

Bob Dylan – Another Self Portrait  – 2 CD Sony

The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers  – 2 CD Rolling Stones Records

John Lennon – Gimme Some Truth – 4 CD set

Rod Stewart Tthe Complete Mercury Recordings – 3 CD set

Nick Drake – A Day Gone By – 2 CD bootleg set

The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Deluxe CD set.

Eric Clapton – Give Me Strength The ’74/’75 Recordings  – 2 CD

Mott The Hoople/Ian Hunter – The Journey – a Retrospective  – 3 CD

Jimi Hendrix People,Hell And Angels – CD digipack

Pink Floyd – Echoes The Best of Pink Floyd  – 2 CD

Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue Legacy – box set

Busy here on various projects including the extensive Record Collector feature Mike Tremaglio and I have formulated – more on all that soon – there’s also been some initial design work on the forthcoming TBL issue 44 and various other things to get moving – August is here and there’s a lot to do….

Dave Lewis – August 1, 2018

Until next time, have a great weekend

Website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

with thanks to Gary Foy, Mike Tremaglio and James Cook

Follow TBL/DL on Facebook:

The TBL/DL Facebook page has regular updates and photos – be sure to check it out

YouTube clip;

The Bedford three of me, Dec and Tomas captured on my cassette recorder as Led Zeppelin arrived on stage around 9.40 PM on the evening of August 4, 1979…we were a little bit excited…


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


  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thanks for getting back in touch Pat your story is epic!

  • Pat Mount said:

    I’d like to thank Bill Cromwell, Hiroshi and Dave Linwood for their kind comments on my write up of August 4th. It was Dave Lewis who published it on receipt a couple of years back, unedited, warts and all. I sent him my story with no real hope of any feedback and was delighted when Dave emailed me to inform me he was posting it on the TBL website.
    Frankly, it was such a rush to get a stamp of approval from Dave who I have admired from afar for many years for his unstinting faith in all things Zep. I was abroad when it was published and remember clearly having to drop a Euro into a coin operated PC at a hotel in Grand Canaria to see it on TBL in August 2017. Who was with me? My long suffering wife, Tina!
    Being a Zeppelin fan can be a tough ride. We all carry a torch for each (living) member of the band and endure the ups and downs of their post Zep evolution but we keep rooting for them don’t we?
    Knebworth was a great experience. I tried to to tell my truthful story and am delighted to see that it resonates with other fans.
    Oh to be 20 years old again!

  • Bill Cromwell said:

    I, too, enjoyed Pat’s candid reflection. I was too young (15) to offer a critical take at the time. It was like I was on another planet, though, and anything they did was magic. Who was I to judge? I hope we see more ‘official’ Knebworth material at some point. As noted elsewhere and everywhere, August 4th, 1979 is one of the highlights of my life and a claim to fame to having seen them. Next time the family is out of the house (wish it were this Saturday night!), I’ll pop in the full performance dvd I own, pour a beverage, and return to the Knebworth field and an important slice of my past. Cheers, everyone!

  • Hiroshi said:

    I’m SO impressed by Pat Mount‘s detailed recollection of Knebworth. A candid, honest and sometimes outright hilarious observation on this historically significant but musically flawed event, and one of the best writings about what it was like that has ever hit both physical/digital medias. A true epic indeed. And a great sense of humor, too — I had a good laugh from time to time, which helped me wade through this long piece.
    Largely undermined — somewhat unfairly — by the press in the post-punk Britain in real time, this celebrated yet maligned final appearance of the group on their homeland, however, has somehow since found a route to reassessment over the years, especially since a good-quality video/DVD of the whole document of the August 4th show became available through the underground circuit. The 2003 official DVD also contributed to its reappraisal. The problem is, Knebworth was so underrated back then it is now more or less overrated — understandably so as reactionary factors are involved in there— to the extent, for example, someone I came across on the renowned internet Zep forum praised it as one of the greatest-ever Led Zeppelin shows or to that effect, a notion I find I totally fail to have a grasp of.
    Pat’s take on the event is a fair eyewitness account by someone who was enthusiastic and so immersed in the moment but without rose-tinted glasses. A great read and good antidote.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thanks Geoff

  • Geoff Adamson said:

    Having read the Jimmy Page biography from cover to cover over last weekend, I have to say that they overall impression it left me with was supreme disappointment.

    It concentrated on the salacious side of the story and appeared to be to be re-hashed stories we read before in any number of books, by Pamela Des Barres, Bebe Buell, Steven Davis, Mick Wall, Barney Hoskins etc. There was nothing new to learn and a great aspect of Pagey’s life since 1977, just basically washed over in a haze of drink and drugs.

    No real insight into anything he’s undertaken, his work in Brazil, efforts in the re-mastering. He’s been divorced twice since he separated from Charlotte. What did we learn about Jimmy that was insightful, nothing. He went down on a groupie in 1974….big deal.

    How Jimmy has dealt with the lack of a Zep reunion etc is all down to Planty having control, like Peter Grant said he always wanted. Wow. No insight into what has gone on, just scratching the surface and concentrating on issues that have been done a million times.

    If you want to learn about one of the all time great guitarists, how he writes songs etc, this one is probably not for you. If you are interested about a bit of chat about the Riot House 45 years ago, get on with it.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    wise words there Paul

  • Paul said:

    I agree entirely regarding CD’s. I love them. The music industry did themselves a huge disservice when they rushed out as much as they could on CD as fast as they could when the format was first introduced in 1982. Most of it came out so fast that they didn’t even take the time to listen to the tapes before they transferred them to CD. The sound levels were so low and noise levels so high, that it all sounded like crap. Because of that CD still suffers from a reputation of bad sound quality, when all the time it was the rush to get as much out as fast as possible that was the problem. I remember lamenting how bad all of Led Zeppelin’s CD releases sounded all the way until 1990 when Mr Page finally took it upon himself to ‘remaster’ the entire Zeppelin catalogue, eight years after the first CD releases. Now, 36 years after the launch of the CD, we are well and truly entrenched in the ‘remaster’ culture. Led Zeppelin’s catalogue has been ‘remastered’ twice more since 1990. This is our legacy from the introduction of the CD; recordings are now constantly remastered to ‘improve’ their sound, but ‘remastering’ never existed before the advent of the CD. It was only necessary because most of the early CD releases were rushed out and sounded like crap, and HAD to be redone. The music industry of course loved this, because it gave them the opportunity to sell the same material on the same format twice. Now they’re still doing it and we’re stuck in a loop of endless remastering.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Great memories there Dave!

  • Dave Linwood said:

    Terrific write up by Pat Mount. I laughed out loud at some of the bits in the story (75p Cokes? Outrageous!). We sat roughly in the same area as you so the night shots bring back a lot of memories. We WERE prepared. We brought in 5 Litres of water….and spent the last hour of the show ABSOLUTELY BURSTING…!!

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