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11 August 2016 3,600 views 3 Comments


Led Zeppelin at Knebworth August 11, 1979 – It was 37 years ago today… 

To complete the TBL Knebworth Then As It Was Archive series , here is a look back to the second Knebworth concert staged on August 11th 1979 – all of 37 years ago today. The very last show Led Zeppelin performed in the UK.

All text taken from the book Then As It Was – Led Zeppelin At Knebworth 1979. Limited edition hardback copies still available – the perfect summer read recalling those golden days of August 1979. Ordering details below.


AUGUST 11th 979

Early morning….morale is quite definitely not at its highest….the hangover from celebrating our good friend Karl’s birthday last night in Bedford is kicking in… The long trek to the arena seems longer this week. Maybe it’s something to do with the sprinkling of rain that descends upon us. Inside the arena the rain gets heavier. For over an hour it pours, this is no fun…

But miraculously by 9am the clouds begin to clear and by 10am the sun is shining. Thank you Lord. Chas and Dave open the live music to nil reaction. Commander Cody and his band follow and it’s loud – too loud, take a walk. The site is filling up but nowhere near as fast as last week. Southside Johnny And The Asbury Dukes arrive on stage and play (to these ears) a dull set. The sun is beating down strongly, it’s hot…extremely hot. By mid afternoon most of the punters have settled in the arena, some 80,000 this week. The atmosphere is not quite so vibrant and expectant as last week but there’s still a lot of people here, many no doubt for their second week. A few clad in Stones t-shirts here for the Barbarians – that’s a long way off though.

Tod Rundgren’s Utopia hits the stage, Todd in a less revealing jump suit his week. He performs an erratic but professional show marred again by his over-indulgence. Late afternoon still very hot, New Barbarians due at 6pm…6.30pm arrives and the stage set up is complete…still no sign of Ron and Keef though. Nicky Horne appeals to the crowd to cease the trading of cans by air, but he’s clearly talking to a frustrated audience….7.30pm still no Barbarians. 8pm at last they arrive on stage. Frankly it’s all a bit of an anti climax. Honest Ron proceeds to dominate the stage with his loony stage antics while Keef restrains himself to a low key power-chording ’Honky Tonk Women’. ‘Before They Make Me Run’ and an encore of ‘Jumpin Jack Flash’ get the required response but really it was a fuss about a whole load of nothing as far as I saw it. Nicky the H tells us we’ve got an hour and fifteen minutes to wait for the change over…well we’ve already waited longer for less…nearly time, the stage is set, my heart skips a few beats in anticipation.

After all, this is the Zeppelin’s first gig anywhere for a whole week…and it’s not often you can utter that statement is it?

It’s after 10.30pm when the canned music dies down and the lights flash on to the stage, the signal means they are ready. Nicky Horne is the man who announces (not unlike the way he did at Earls Court) “Ladies and Gentlemen…Jones, Bonham, Page and Plant – Led Zeppelin”.

Once again the sight of them on stage again performing ‘The Song Remains The Same’ is incredible. They go on to perform practically the same set as the previous week. Robert is quick to backlash the music press when he states early on: “Well it didn’t rain on us in the week from one or two sources ad we are just gonna stick it right where it belongs”.

The general atmosphere is not quite so electric as last week, and the band encounter one or two technical hitches early in the proceedings. During ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ several speakers blow loudly just before the chorus and Robert is forced to swap mikes half way through. To their credit they manage to plough on unaffected by this, but the last straw is when Jimmy breaks a guitar string during the closing bars.

The sound trouble continues through ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ but the band recover well, and things are back to normal with the next track, a peerless ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’. One other slight hitch occurs when the screen goes a bit crazy during ‘No Quarter’, but apart from that it’s all plain sailing. Robert is in fantastic voice, Jimmy is sweating and grinning cheerfully – playing a feast, while Bonzo and Jonesy are keeping it rock steady behind them. Incidentally all the band are wearing the same garb as last week.

Robert dedicated ‘Hot Dog’ to the Texan road crew and makes a very interesting statement following that song, maybe hinting at something? “I’m never gonna Texas anymore…but we will go to Manchester.’ Round Christmas should be good, and Nottingham you’ve got a lot going for you already up there, and Worcestershire, and Wolverhampton, yeah, I know”

They leave out ‘Ten Years Gone’ (shame) this week but do a magnificent ‘Rain Song’ and as they hit the home straight the power of the performance just keeps on climaxing. ‘Kashmir’, ‘Trampled Underfoot’, ‘Sick Again’, ‘Achilles’, Jimmy’s violin bow episode and ‘In The Evening’ ) still fantastic second time around leap from the stage…and of course Robert’s introduction of ‘Stairway’ is full of sentiment.

“And it comes the time now when we really gotta thank you for hanging about for four years, you English folk, and you French People, for hanging about since – Oh I dunno when. And I’d like to thank everybody who’s come from everywhere to create the kind of atmosphere we’ve had…The other bands who’ve been with us – Commander Cody, good, good, good, er…Todd, Keef…Peter Grant (come on)…Thanks everybody.”

‘Stairway to Heaven’ is an incredible finish tinged with sadness (this week’s ad libs – “I’d like to say I hope so…Our stairway lies on the whispering wind…Sometimes that’s all you got”.)

The encore with ‘Rock and Roll’ (“Good evening can you do the dinosaur rock?!”) and return a second time to perform the re-vamped ‘Whole Lotta Love’ that this week segues into ‘Let That Boy Boogie’. Finally an old chestnut is re-roasted…’Communication Breakdown’ crushes everyone. It’s that sort of performance and it’s a fitting end. With that Robert turns and with the rest of the band leaves the stage. Led Zeppelin at Knebworth is over.

“It’s been great, thank you very much indeed…We’ll see yer soon…very soon. I dunno about the Marquee but somewhere soon – Goodnight – Bye.”

A triumphant return…no doubt about it. Of course the majority of critics slammed it, but Led Zeppelin don’t play for critics…they play for their fans, and 270,000 came to see them at Knebworth and it’s their reaction that mattered. Everyone I spoke to loved it.

Led Zeppelin returned to the stage with a performance that didn’t rest on their laurels, this was no exercise in going through the motions, they set their own standards and pushed them to the limits with a display of dynamic emotional rock and roll energy. The very nature of the material they chose to play made it a joy to listen to. Gone was the excess and self indulgence of the past. I for one, was not sorry to see the omissions of marathons like ‘Moby Dick’ and ‘Dazed and Confused’. What we did get was a balanced programme that included just a little spice of everything that is Led Zeppelin. A performance that took you to the highest high, at its mightiest, able to rock you till your bones trembled, while on the other side of the spectrum, also move you near to tears.

And all this talk of being old and dormant…I just fail to see it, Zeppelin more than lived up to their reputation and not only that…actually bettered it, one of the best performances, ‘In The Evening’, being a track previously unheard… proof that it was not a case of trading on former glories. Enough of this though. I don’t have to justify Led Zeppelin’s performance at Knebworth. They did that themselves, and in doing so, created a little bit of heaven for everyone to share, and after four years they can still do that…give thanks.

Dave Lewis – August 1979 -Originally written for TBL issue 3.

Dedicated to our friend the late much missed Karl Bergin  – his birthday would have been today.


Left: TBL Bedford Knebworth 3 Dec,DL and Tom keep on truckin…


This time there’s no sleeping bags required…

“Mum…” I recall testing the water to see if she was asleep or not that night. “Can I go to see Zeppelin in August pleeeese?”

Negotiations had begun. Living in the backwater of Goole meant that I’d had a pretty sheltered existence and going to gigs hundreds of miles away was by parental permission only. Over the ensuing week Mother undertook a deal of research; phoning my uncle in Welwyn Garden City to gauge his opinion on Knebworth (positive) and checking amongst her friends at work to see if any of their sons were going. Fortune smiled. My mum and Richard Bramham’s mum were kindred spirits. We were going to Knebworth…’’(Andy Balcom)

‘’After a raucous evening in a local hostelry we settled down for a long sleepless night by the perimeter fence like a small platoon of eager commandos. Around 4am word got around that a hole had been found a few hundred yards away, and sure enough on arrival, we found a scene similar to ‘The Great Escape’ with shafts of light illuminating figures running hell for leather. So off we went with all the enthusiasm of a bunch of cub scouts only to find yet again our hopes stalled by the reality of the tall corrugated interior fence that would not let us enter for some hours yet.’’ (Alex Machin)

‘’I remember the merchandise finally going on sale late in the afternoon with huge queues. Choosing the Swan Song T-shirt, buying the programme, badge, poster, anything Zeppelin that was on sale. The sound of Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show filled the campsite and the cheers went up when anything Zeppelin related was mentioned or played. I also remember hearing everyone shouting “Wally!” and wondering what on earth this meant – was it a new drug? A Zep reference that I had missed somewhere along the way?. The title of their new album? Whatever it or he was – he was mighty popular!’’ (Mick Bulow)

‘’The imminent arrival of Zeppelin was the cue for me to open my last remaining booze of the day – in those innocent teenage days we’d probably downed no more than a couple of cans of cheap lager each during the day but this was the cue to hit the hard stuff, a bottle of red wine and that was the start of my chemical-induced Zeppelin experience. Spurred on by the sheer
excitement of the unfolding gig, my intake spiralled out of control. By the time Jimmy Page picked up his violin bow and began his long-anticipated, laser-strewn guitar solo I was on another planet.
The journey back was a nightmare with our first real hangovers kicking in but it didn’t matter – we were kicked out of the car at about 6am and crawled into bed thinking we had witnessed history.’’ (Peter Anderson)

‘’The lights bathed the band in clear vision and the audience went crazy. When things settled down you could sense a new found confidence, they knew at this point they were still the biggest and best band in the world, and here were a hundred thousand fans agreeing, and at the same giving punk and the UK music press an almighty one fingered salute.’’ (Stuart Whitehead)

‘’ 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 of course.’’ (Phil Tattershall)

‘’There was an element of near religious pilgrimage about the whole day. It was a kind of thanksgiving to what they’d given us over the past eleven years. I’m just grateful I took the opportunity when it was there.’’ (Gary Simpson)

‘’ I have an abiding image of Jimmy Page enveloped in a laser beam pyramid, a lone figure to the right of the stage, thrashing the bow across his guitar and bathed in blue light. Amid multiple encores, Rock And Roll’ and ‘Heartbreaker’ saw them out and left us ecstatic, wondering when we would see them again.’’ (Dena Zarans)

”By the time the final notes of Heartbreaker had died away we were all ready to just lie down and recover but it was only then that our last minute chauffeur announced that we had to leave immediately because he would be in trouble with his girlfriend if he didn’t get back before morning. So instead of being allowed to gently sleep off the alcohol our young bodies were entirely unused to we were frog marched on extremely unsteady feet back to the car. All I remember is feeling that we were completely surrounded by fire, as various campfires had sprung up on the site during and after the show. I remember the walk back seemed to be along ridiculously narrow paths and involved crossing a wooden bridge over a river that many people just decided to wade across but really it’s all a bit of a blur. The journey back was a nightmare with our first real hangovers kicking in but it didn’t matter – we were kicked out of the car at about 6am and crawled into bed thinking we had witnessed history”. (Peter Anderson)

”I remember when they left the stage all the fires burning under the night sky, an amazing time. My last memory of that night is walking back to the camp site though the fields and somebody started to sing a song that had been in the charts by Jilted John and on the bit where he goes “and you know who was with him” everybody shouted “Yeah Julie!”.Absolutely hysterical. Knebworthand Led Zeppelin – A fantastic mad time a very long time ago”. (Phil Hasler)

”I’ve seen many great bands since but none will match Zeppelin they still remain the greatest band ever. That day was so special. The crowd at the end singing You’ll never walk alone” was just so emotional. It was a special time, it will never be repeated but there legacy lives on. (Jon West)

‘’There was an amazing buzz around the place and it was astonishing to witness what a pilgrimage this was for so many people. We met fans from Italy, and even America. At such a tender age, I was amazed at how someone could travel all that way for a gig! I’ve done it myself since, but we were certainly young and naïve.’’ (Jerry Bloom)

ian a 2

“It was an April morning when they told us we should go…”

In late April 1979 the air crackled with an electric expectation; whispers grew to a muted roar and, as the supercharged clouds of rumour gathered, finally the news broke. Full page ads in that familiar long-legged typeface bestrode the music press: Led Zeppelin would play Knebworth Park in August.

Pandemonium. Tickets were sold out almost instantly and clutching ours, we were overwhelmed with anticipation and pride. It was to be a day-long festival, not that anyone cared about any other of the bands playing. We would see Led Zeppelin play on English soil, the first time they had done so since the Earls Court 1975 concerts.

This was it, but, nearly two hundred miles north and without personal transport, this would also be a bit of a problem. Trains were out of the question. There was no way we’d get back in the early hours. Hitching was not really a possibility, as there would be four of us and none were blonde and good looking. We’d go by coach. But no. After ringing around none of the coach operators had a clue what we were talking about. Hmmm?. After a bit of head scratching an idea broke. We would hire our own coach and, as well as getting ourselves to the gig, we’d fill up the remaining seats with Zeppelin fans from the North East. We rang the local coach hire company and a 44-seater was booked. To advertise the trip we stuck an ad in the local paper The Evening Gazette. You had to have your own concert ticket, which by now were gold dust, and for £5 you’d be taken from Guisborough to Knebworth and back.

It seems we were not the only ones who had been stuck for travel to the gig. Just over a week after the ad had appeared the seats were sold. Still enquiries came. We rang the coach company. Yes, we could have a bigger coach; were we sure we could fill it? Yes, not a problem. The extra seats sold the next day. We were to travel overnight to be there for the whole of the day.

The weeks to the concert soon passed and come August 10th, the coach was parked and ready in Guisborough. Everyone had been asked to meet up at the coach park. A few late comers from out of the area arrived at my parents’ house. This involved my mum dispensing tea and biscuits to various bemused put polite leather and denim clad blokes and their girlfriends as we waited for the departure time to draw nearer. Then, after a short walk down the lane to the coach we could see the result of our bit of private enterprise as a few dozen disparate souls bound by a common desire to see their favourite band assembled to board the coach. Names were ticked off and everyone climbed aboard.

Myself and my good friend and Zeppelin nut, Graeme Hutchinson, sat near the front of the coach. My other friend Graham and my very lucky twelve year old brother Kenny, sat in the seats in front of us. It seemed hours before Kenny settled and he was the target of largely good-natured encouragement to ‘pipe down’ as he knelt, hanging over the back of his seat chatting to us about everything and nothing. A watering stop en route was uneventful as tired looking eyes blinked in the alien light at a quiet service station. On we drove through the night.

We arrived to a bright morning and thousands of fans. A village of tents and sweet smoke; a gathering of the clans. We took a place in the grassy amphitheatre and ate and drank through the day. Trips for more provisions or to answer nature’s call required bearings to be taken from flagpoles dotted throughout the vast crowd; proclamations from the attendant tribes.

The concert passed too quickly, but my memory is punctuated by vivid moments. Most memorable for me was Jimmy threading his way through the intro to ‘Achilles Last Stand’ and John Bonham tripping his bass pedal and detonating hurtingly bright lights, blinding and white into the night.

And the return home? Well,…… I counted them all out and I counted them all back. A very successful campaign.

Mike Robinson, Guisborough UK.


By the time the Knebworth concerts were announced in May 1979 I had developed into a real “Zep head”. I discovered Zep in 1975 when a lad at school was selling off his “old” rock albums to concentrate on new bands like The Ramones (he soon became the school’s number one punk rocker). Having initially bought Led Zep 1, II, IV and Physical Graffiti for £1 each I now had the complete Zep album catalogue plus the US singles and even a few vinyl bootlegs and live cassette tape recordings. At the tender age of sixteen and still with a half decent paper round, I spent every penny I earned on all things rock music related and most of it on Led Zeppelin.

So when I heard on The Old Grey Whistle Test that Led Zeppelin were to play Knebworth my heart starting racing with the possibility of seeing Zep live for the first time.

I was desperate to go but £7.50 was a lot of money and I had no idea how the hell I was going to get to Knebworth and back – the furthest I’d been on my own was Newcastle. By the time I’d got my act together tickets to the first (and at the time only) concert were sold out. My good mate Mike Robinson and I were devastated as we were addicted to Zep and just couldn’t miss this opportunity to see our band. But the gods were on our side and in early July a second Knebworth date was announced and we made sure we got tickets to the August 11th event.

Soon after Mike came up with a cunning plan to hire a coach and sell seats though advertising in the local newspaper. This went so well that we ended up hiring an even bigger coach that took our merry men (and even some women) from the North East of England on a magical mystery tour to Hertfordshire to see the “power, glory and the hammer of the gods” that is Led Zeppelin.

We set off late Friday night and arrived at Knebworth in the early morn’. As I recall it was a relatively damp morning though it soon cleared up and the afternoon was beautiful and sunny. As we entered the Knebworth natural amphitheatre I remember my disappointment when the people at the gate took BOTH halves of my ticket. I’m not sure what the reason for this was but it meant no ticket memento from the most important gig of my life.

I was with a group of about half a dozen and we found a good spot centre stage and about 80 yards back to park ourselves for the day. Even this far back the stage was amazing and the PA looked massive.

The excitement and anticipation was palpable. There was terrific banter and tomfoolery throughout the afternoon. I remember smoking a packet of Marlboro red tops. I’d previously been an Embassy Regal smoker until I’d read somewhere the Jimmy Page smoked Marlboro’s and so I switched brands. It’s pathetic when you think about it but I was a kid and in total awe of Led Zeppelin and so you did these kind of things.

I wasn’t particularly interested in the supporting acts though I tried to get into The New Barbarians given Keef and Woody were involved but they were a bit too loose for my liking.

As it got darker the anticipation grew and grew. We had a good idea what to expect in terms of the set list from the reviews from the Copenhagen concerts and first night and this just added to our hunger. At about 10.30pm (I can’t recall exactly) the band came on stage and the crowd went beserk. A strum of the guitar, a roll of the snare drum and then the opening chords and sheer power that is ‘The Song Remains The Same.’ Thirty years on I can’t remember lots of detail but I do remember the butterflies in my stomach and the total euphoria I felt when I saw Led Zeppelin live for the first time – even at a late stage in their career.

It’s hard to pick highlights as the entire performance was my ultimate concert highlight however a few things stand out; the opening with ‘The Song Remains The Same’, Jimmy breaking a string break at the end of ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’, everything about ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’, the power of ‘Kashmir’ , the intensity and bright white lights of ‘Achilles Last Stand’ (and another broken string), Jimmy’s bow solo and the revolving green laser pyramid and the finale of ‘Communication Breakdown.’ What a night. What a day. What a fucking band!

I know it is generally understood that the first night was better and also featured ‘Ten Years Gone’ but it doesn’t matter to me. Led Zeppelin at Knebworth on the August 11th 1979 was and forever will be the greatest rock performance I have seen and heard. I’ve listened to and watched a number of recordings of the concert, so I know that there were mistakes made by the band. But on the night it all sounded perfect – I didn’t hear a single fluff other than a guitar string break. The sound was great, the band looked the part and the sheer power from the stage and 100,000 watt PA could have launched a Saturn V rocket.

I will forever remember my Knebworth with the best of memories and as my best concert ever. No one could touch Led Zeppelin then, nor since.

Graeme Hutchinson, Middlesbrough UK.


Knebworth was the first and only time I saw (the original) Led Zeppelin live. The first album I got was ‘Physical Graffitti’ in 1976, and so I therefore missed out on the magic of Earls Court. It is also now hard to believe that Led Zeppelin played in what was my home town of Edmonton at the ‘Cooks Ferry’ Inn in March 1969, although I was only 8 at the time and more interested in Football..

I went with two friends – Colin and Tony to Harlequin Records in Barnet to buy our tickets for Knebworth. We had just missed out on tickets for the first show, and so ended up with 3 tickets for the second show on 11th August.

We all had motorbikes at the time, but Tony had recently got a rusty old Ford Cortina MKII. We all piled into his car on the Friday evening and headed towards Knebworth. Tony unfortunately thought that Knebworth was on the M1, so we ended up having to take a detour at J12, and eventually ended up at the site entrance just off the A1(M) J7 at around 10pm. The site entrance was gridlocked due to thousands of pedestrians and cars arriving. I had never been to any concert before and was only 18 at the time, so this was a whole new experience!

We eventually were allowed to drive onto the site. This was after being diverted around the roundabout three times by the Police, who were tightly controlling access to the site. We then parked up and pitched our tent next to the car, and tried to get some sleep. I couldn’t sleep with the excitement though, and went for a walk at around 3am to buy souvenirs, such as badges, Knebworth scarf (which I still have), and the essential program. I was disappointed at the time, as I unwittingly bought the red ‘bootleg’ program which at £1 was more expensive than the official program. I hadn’t realized there were 2 versions. (NB: That bootleg programme is now worth around £80!). here is a pic of me and Colin in the field waiting…

3 Me and Colin

I can remember what seemed to be a very long walk to the field where the stage was set up. We found a place dead centre, around two thirds of the way back. I had taken a (primitive) camera and took a few pictures throughout the day. The day itself seemed to be extremely long as there was only 1 band we had come to see!. There was plenty going on to help get through it though. I can remember hippies wandering around shouting ‘pot for sale, hash for sale’. The food was not like at the well organised events these days. The toilets were worse, and were no more than an open pit over which wooden cubicles had been constructed. The vile smell wafted over us whenever the wind blew from that direction.

Then it finally happened. It was absolutely pitch black…, the anticipation, and then those wonderful opening chords to ‘The Song Remains the Same’ ringing out from Page’s double neck. It was like being hit by a sledgehammer! I still remember the excitement whenever I see the bootleg video, although it took me around 13 years before I eventually tracked down a copy. It is so easy these days on the Internet!

I can remember on the screen seeing Jimmy smile when his guitar string broke at the end of ‘Over The Hills and Far Away’. I can also remember the new songs that I had never heard before – ‘In The Evening’ and ‘Hot Dog’. ‘White Summer’ was also unknown to me, as I did not possess any bootlegs at that time.

Tony also swears that he can remember John Bonham taking a running jump and literally jumping over the drum kit, which I have no recollection of at all.

Sadly, we never got to see the encores. Tony decided we all needed to leave just after the end of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ as he wanted to avoid the rush leaving the car park. We tried to change his mind, but were in no position to argue as home was a 35 mile walk away. We therefore could only listen to the encores gradually getting quieter as we made the long walk back to the car park, where we found the car was wedged in with no chance of going anywhere for hours!

For this 18 year old, it was a truly magical evening that will never be forgotten.

Ian Avey, Hitchin, UK.


I went to the August 11th show. I was fifteen, and it was my very first gig – some debut! At that age it was a huge adventure. My mate Andrew Dillon got the tickets and his dad took us down in the car the night before. I’d spent the previous month on a crash course of Zeppelin albums being a Genesis fan first and foremost at that time. It was a real eye-opener camping out alongside all the hippie-types on the Friday night.

Inside the arena we found a spot on a raised mound. It was a strange support act line up, and as the day went on the arena kept filling up. The toilets were dreadful, and finding your way back to your own spot was also very difficult. I had my first (and last) joint which I have to confess did nothing for me at all.

Then there was the long wait for The New Barbarians who proved to be a real disappointment. As the stage was set up for Zeppelin the adrenaline kicked in and any tiredness disappeared. I’d seen The Song Remains The Same movie but this at last was the real thing.

The roar of the crowd when they came on was just unbelievable and the combination of that and the lights and the sound inspired a rush of tears through the sheer emotion of it all. To be honest the gig was a bit of a blur. Jimmy’s laser bow being the most vivid memory.

Over thirty years on the critical view is that they were great but a little rusty but I prefer to remember it just as an incredible emotional experience that has stayed with me ever since and has led me to many more fantastic Zeppelin related experiences.

Gary Wade, Cheadle UK.


aug for tbl 2

My story starts a few days prior to the gig. I am a cousin of Ronnie Wood, and as a result of him playing support together with Keith Richards in the New Barbarians, I knew that I had a good chance of getting a ticket for the show. I contacted another cousin of mine who happened to be Ronnie’s PA in the UK and politely asked her for a ticket. She told me that Ronnie would be over at his mother’s house the Friday before the show and that I should pop over and that he would give me a pass. I was an 18 year old long haired kid who loved my rock music ever since I had been blown away by Hawkwind’s In Search Of Space and Sabbath’s Master of Reality some years before. And now being a total rock convert, I wasn’t about to turn down the opportunity to see the greatest rock band that will ever be. So suffice to say I was at my Aunt’s house nice an early that Friday awaiting Ronnie’s arrival. Sure enough he showed up. I asked him if he had a ticket for me. To my delight, Ronnie produced for me a rather superb back stage pass. It was beautifully coloured and was of a woven material with a sticky back. I think it had all the bands that were to play on it. It was very cool. I took it, and right at that moment in time it was probably my most treasured possession.

I remember Ronnie saying he had a bit of a panic on because up to that moment the New Barbarians hadn’t gotten a bass guitarist for the show. Ronnie said to me “You can’t play bass guitar can you?” Regretfully I could not!

I often wonder what would have happened if I could.

The next thing that I really recall after all these years is actually going into Knebworth itself. I remember waiting my turn in a long line of people hoping to God that the pass that I had now stuck to my shirt would get me in. You can imagine my delight when the guy checking tickets looked at it and waved me through. At that point I knew for sure that I was going to get to see Zeppelin. I kind of milled around for a while amongst the crowd and then I got to wondering where the pass I had would allow me to go. I approached the front of the stage area which I believe was fenced off with only a couple of heavily guarded access points. I thought I’d try my luck, and hey presto I was waved straight through no questions asked whatsoever. I suddenly found myself behind the scenes…an awesome experience!

I remember seeing Lemmy walking about. He is a good mate of Ronnie. Many years ago before, Ronnie showed up at his mum’s house with Lemmy and asked her if she could put him (Lemmy) up for a few days as he had nowhere to go. Not sure exactly about the time scales but I believe he ended up staying with Ronnie’s mum for a couple of years. There’s quite a few “soon to be Rock stars” that she did that for, bless her.

Anyway, I remember going up to Lemmy and introducing myself. We walked off towards a load of cars talking about Hawkwind and how he got thrown out of the band. We made our way over to a makeshift grassed car park. We headed over to an old beat up burgundy coloured “Maxi.” It containing Fast Eddie Clarke and Filthy Animal Taylor. Both of them were totally wasted… I left Lemmy with the other two members of Motorhead and headed back off towards the back stage area to see what I could find.

I went over to the New Barbarians mobile unit. There was a big guy standing at the door on security. I thought to myself ‘this is the big test’ as I approached him. To my surprise, he opened the door, stepped aside and waved me in. I stepped inside and to my amazement there was Keith Richards sitting all alone. He looked up at me and said something like “Hello mate, sit down.” Now bear in mind here… I am an 18 year old kid. Totally and completely out of my depth to say the least. I wouldn’t say boo to a goose in those days…..and suddenly here I am one to one with the legend that is Keith Richards!!! I sat down and we spoke undisturbed for the best part of an hour I guess. I told Keith that Ronnie was my cousin and he kind of warmed to that and I think he ended up asking more about me than I ever did about him. I remember at one point some people outside who couldn’t get in the unit knocking on the window. Keith and I ended up feeding them fruit from a huge bowl. When I say feeding them, I mean we were throwing it through one of the windows at them! It was all good fun and all very well-natured. Keith seemed a great guy. He is one of the easiest people I have ever met to talk to – just an awesome bloke… He is the kind of guy you could meet for the first time, go down the pub with and feel you’ve known your whole life.

The New Barbarians eventually came on and I stood at the side stage and watched the whole thing.

At one point during the Barbarians set I was aware of someone standing behind me. I turned around and standing there alone was Robert Plant. I said “Hi” and we shook hands. I remember thinking to myself “Ooh my God, I’ve got Planty standing just behind me !!! Robert said to me “They were a little late on stage I believe,” I said “Yes they were,” and that was it. I turned around to face the stage really not knowing what else to say. It’s kind of weird. I mean, I love Zeppelin with a passion. I had spent many hours thinking about how talented these guys were, how I’d love to meet them. How I’d have so much to say if I ever did meet them. They were my hero’s then and still are today I guess, and yet when it actually came down to it I couldn’t really think of anything to say! A couple of minutes later I turned around and Robert had gone. I had not seen him leave.

The Barbarians finished their show and I wanted a grandstand view of Led Zeppelin. The side stage was good but I wanted to see Zeppelin full on – to take it all in head on. I found out that there was a press enclosure which gave a brilliant view of proceedings. I got in there with my trusty pass and waited for Zeppelin. I remember the anticipation from the crowd was electric. It was infectious. It was like having a ticket to the World Cup Final…only better. Better because you knew what was coming, better because the outcome wasn’t in doubt, better because you knew Zeppelin were gonna rock the foundations.

When Zeppelin came out on stage the excitement I felt was fantastic. I wish I could have bottled the emotion and adrenalin that I felt. It was the best gig I have ever been to in my entire life.

After the event, I left the gig along with everyone else and having missed the last train spent the night crashed out on the concrete floor of the train station, but I didn’t care. I had just experienced an unforgettable day, one that I will always take with me. I had seen Zeppelin and I felt privileged to have done so…still do, to be honest.

What happened to my beloved backstage pass ?… Now this bit still rankles with me to this day. I remember tearing it off my shirt at the train station, screwing it up and throwing it away…What the hell was I thinking?! But it’s a fact, that’s what I did with it. I regret that more than you can know. But I thought to myself at the time, ‘’It’s not a problem I will see Led Zeppelin again…’’

None of us knew that John Bonham would pass away the following year and Led Zeppelin as a live act would be no more.

Mark Stanley -Stevenage, UK.

‘’The concert had finished and everyone was piling out of the fenced off arena. Spirits were high, and we were in a hurry to find our tent and crash. It was pitch black and the cigarette ends lit up the queue going to the camp site which stretched ahead curving in a right angle after 100 yards or so round to the left. Why wait in line? Sparky decided we’d cut across the right angle and join the queue further down. I dithered as usual thinking through the fog of booze and joints there must be a reason for the dog-leg in the queue. He grabbed my hand and started to run. We got up quite a speed until the earth gave way beneath our feet.

There has been a reason why no one had ventured across that bit of the grass…

Have you guessed?


Yes the organisers of the concert had removed the wooden cubicles and my dear partner had dragged the pair of us into the open cess pits. We were thigh deep in human waste. It was like quicksand the more you struggled, the deeper you sank. And the smell…

For some reason no one would come near us on all night and as for the 100 mile train journey back to Suffolk, via London Liverpool Station…well you can imagine…’’(Louise Clarke)

‘’God they were fantastic. Not only the best band I had ever seen (and will ever see) but so much better than any other band. At the end I slept in a ditch, I couldn’t talk as my throat was gone with the cheering, and I was tired. By September I had all of the albums and life was never the same again. In that one day my music taste formed around one band, and although I love other music, lots of other music, nobody else compares. Thirty years on Knebworth in 1979 seems like both yesterday and in another life. The fact remains that other than the birth of my children this was the most important day of my life.’’ (Andy Griffiths)

All text taken from the book Then As It Was – Led Zeppelin At Knebworth 1979 (Tight But Loose Publishing)

The book is readily available at this link:

Dead Bedford bods

And when it was all over all that was left was to catch up on sleep – Tom Locke and DL dreaming of a cool pint and a bucket of KFC back home…






Stairway To Heaven Court Case:

Another twist widely reported:

Led Zeppelin lose fight to recoup legal fees from Stairway trial:
The judge overseeing Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven copyright trial has rejected the group’s attempts to recoup almost $800,000 (£620,000) in costs.
While the rock legends were found not guilty of plagiarising Spirit’s song Taurus in June, Judge R Gary Klausner said the case was not frivolous.
He ruled there was no evidence that the estate of Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe “harbored nefarious motives”.
For that reason, the estate was not obliged to repay the band’s legal fees.

See more at :


LZ News:

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.

Hello! Welcome to the fiftieth Led Zeppelin News email. We email out a summary of the week’s news every weekend so that you don’t miss anything.

•Robert Plant performed in Germany on August 2, Switzerland on August 3, and the UK on August 5. You can see the setlists below.

August 2: Germany
Poor Howard
Turn It Up
What Is and What Should Never Be
Black Dog
The Rain Song
No Place to Go / Dazed and Confused
Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You (Part 1, Part 2)
Little Maggie
Fixin’ to Die
Whole Lotta Love / You Can’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover
Rock And Roll
Going To California

August 3: Switzerland
What Is and What Should Never Be
Turn It Up
Black Dog
No Place to Go / Dazed and Confused
No Quarter
Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You
Little Maggie
Whole Lotta Love
Going to California •Robert Plant’s “Austin City Limits” performance will be shown on PBS on October 15.
•Robert Plant signed eight copies of “The Long Road” for a charity auction.
•The full video of Robert Plant’s show in Spain on July 16 has been posted online.
•Robert Plant recorded a short video to promote the Rock Oz’Arènes Festival in Switzerland.
•Robert Plant attended the Wolves football match on August 6, the day after his performance at the Wilderness Festival in the UK.

Upcoming events:
September 16 – “The Complete BBC Sessions” will be released.
October 8/9 – Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters will perform at the Festival of Disruption in Los Angeles.
October 15 – Robert Plant’s “Austin City Limits” performance will be shown on PBS.

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


Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters Wilderness Festival review:

This via James Hall/The Telegraph: Photo credit EPA

Wilderness credit epa 1

“Come on in,” beckoned Robert Plant to the crowd as he headlined the opening day of the Wilderness Festival in the Cotswolds.
His words were apt. Under a cloud-free summer sky, the Led Zeppelin singer seemed to be inviting us to step into his unique musical world, an intriguing place that melded the past with the present, the blues with African rhythms, Midlands rock with hippy-dippy West Coast folk.
With his band The Sensational Space Shifters, the 67-year-old both embraced and reimagined his peerless back catalogue in front of a rapt audience that included Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England. Zeppelin’s Black Dog was instantly recognisable. Yet at the same time its guitar riff was broken in two and slowed down. By the end, the song had morphed into an up-tempo world music jam centred around Gambian Juldeh Camara’s extraordinary virtuosity on the riti, a single-stringed fiddle.

The band did this time and again, fusing and stretching, twisting and transforming, while managing to maintain interest rates in the process. Zeppelin classics Dazed and Confused, Whole Lotta Love and Rock and Roll were simultaneously themselves and something different, with the joins invisible. The most faithful rendition was Going to California, the wistful ballad from Led Zeppelin IV Backed by acoustic guitar, mandolin and double bass, Plant transported this small corner of Oxfordshire to the misty hills of 1970s Big Sur. It was stunning.
In fine voice and with no mention of the recent, high profile Stairway to Heaven plagiarism lawsuit – which he and Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page won – Plant looked to be having a ball. It was the band’s only UK show this year and a musical treat, and all the better as it was done entirely on Plant’s own terms.
The crowd loved it. Carney, a Wilderness regular and clearly a Zeppelin fan, told the Telegraph afterwards that he thought Plant’s set was “brilliant”.
Wilderness, as Carney’s presence may attest, is the ultimate middle-class festival. In the pretty Cornbury Park just outside Charlbury, it is a bouillabaisse of music, food, theatre, talks and acre upon acre of boutique camping. Whether you’re after food from Moro, a yoga session with drum ‘n’ bass legend Goldie, fly-fishing lessons or the chance to – bafflingly – hang out in a secret den full of people dressed as badgers (the Chipping Norton sett?), it’s all here. It’s not edgy, but it’s the lushest of lush green bubbles. And in an outside world full of horrible things, that’s not a bad place to spend a weekend.
Plant’s show was followed by a chunky midnight set by Chicago house music legend Derrick Carter. The DJ played disco and house tunes in a wonderful natural wooded arena called The Valley, full to its 6,000 capacity, with a further few thousand people queuing to get in. Under a glade of laser-lit trees, it was Studio 54 meets Countryfile. After two hours of joyous music, even the ridiculous badger costumes started to make sense.

See link at:


New Led Zeppelin Book – Day By Day by Marc Roberty (Backbeat Books)

day by day

Led Zeppelin Day By Day by Marc Roberty  is a new book just out via Backbeat Books.

Press Release Details:

This day-by-day book details all of the concerts the band performed with set lists (where known) and includes reviews of several significant shows throughout their career. Recording sessions for each album and session work undertaken by individual members are listed in chronological order. The book also corrects previously undetected mistakes as well as providing new information. Quotes from recording engineers and studio staff help paint a true picture of what it was like being in the studio with the band.

Order via this link



Led Zeppelin Vs Memphis Minnie: When The Levee Breaks

Great piece here by Charles Shaar Murray via the Classic Rock website:

Led Zeppelin turned an obscure 1929 recording from Memphis Minnie into an epic rock monolith. But which version’s better?


Led Zeppelin IV Ranked from worst to best…surely not!

It was a dirty job – but someone had to do it….I was asked by the Classic Rock website to list the Led Zeppelin IV album in a worst to best ranking – as if there could be such a thing! Anyway it was all a bit of fun and the results are below…agree to disagree!

Led Zeppelin IV: every song ranked from worst to best
Of all their records, Led Zeppelin’s fourth album, released in late 1971, remains their most admired work. From Page’s unimpeachable riffs, through Jones musical invention and Plant’s clarity of vocal to that titanic John Bonham drum sound – Led Zeppelin IV still emits a freshness that belies its age. Here’s how we ranked its tracks from worst to best…
See the list at:


DL 60 at 60 Countdown lists:

Here is an update of the DL 60 at 60 entries that have been running daily on the DL/TBL Facebook pages:


With my 60th birthday rapidly approaching , the countdown is on. Every day up to September 5 I’ll be posting a countdown (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER) of my favourite 60 singles , favourite 60 albums and gigs …the 60 at 60 DL faves…

Here we go…

The Gigs: At 34…

Another rebirth. This was a low key warm up date for the Now And Zen tour. It was the first time Robert began performing Zep songs live since their demise. It was incredibly exciting to hear him sing In the Evening and Trampled Underfoot. I was right down the front – it was just unforgettable night..

The Albums: At 34…

That opening sequence is so evocative of the times… one of THE sounds of the 70s. At the time this was a revolutionary piece of music and it still inspires with every play

The Singles: At 34

The Band…so laid back and in the groove of it all –wonderful performance and it’s a happy birthday to Band keyboardist Garth Hudson today…

The Gigs : At 35

The last time I would see John Bonham perform live – Another amazing performance with Bad Company’s Simon Kirk providing a unique two drummer encore …

The Albums : At 35

Sheer class all the way from the late great Dusty –one of my all time favourite female singers

The Singles : At 35

One of the most exhilarating records ever made – the bass and drums are just outstanding on this and singer isn’t too bad either

The Gigs: At 36

Blimey they were good this night – totally full on chemistry and enjoying every minute of it…and the amazing late great much missed Michael Lee on drums. One of THE great Page & Plant nights…

The Albums: At 36

The epitome of cool…mood music Miles style and the beginnings of jazz rock and what a line up of musicians: Wayne Shorter – saxophone John McLaughlin – guitar Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock – electric piano – Joe Zawinul – organ Dave Holland – double bass Tony Williams – drums – all absolute class. I have the original album and the 3 CD Complete In A Silent Way Sessions which is amazing

The Singles: At 36…

Wonderful song from the much missed Ronnie Lane –the string arrangement on this is just awesome…

The Gigs: At 37…


A week after Zep at Knebworth and another mega gig – The Who at Wembley and quite a support bill too – Nils Lofgren, AC/DC with Bon Scott and The Stranglers. I was really here for The Who and a lot of that passed me by – AC/DC were of course very good and very loud -though I am not a big fan.

Have to say the atmosphere was far removed from the peace and love vibes of that field just outside Stevenage. The Mods were on the march and there was a bit of conflict down the front.
As for The Who – it may not have been the same without Moony but it was still a great performance. All this occurred in that very famous venue where a certain football match was taking place 50 years ago this afternoon.
As the crowd dispersed after The Who gig, we took a walk up to the royal box and stood where the late great Bobby Moore had lifted the Jules Rimet trophy – which was almost as big a thrill as seeing The Who… wish I’d had my digital camera with me then to capture the moment…

The Albums: At 37…

Stevie’s vocals and Eric’s fluid guitar combined to make this such a glorious one off – Ginger’s pretty good too…and Ric Grech’s violin really lifts this track – awesome performance all round – I’ve loved this album since it came out in 1969 and still do –and it’s still one of my most played albums

The Singles: At 37

An extraordinary single from an extraordinary talent…I remember watching this performance on the Wogan show in total awe…
The Singles: At 38

I watched this Top Of The Pops clip in February 1970 in complete awe – an incredible vocal performance -love the Elvis like echo via Phil Spector –and that’s BP Fallon on stage too! Hi Beep!

The Albums: At 38

Everything about this iconic album is perfection…it’s been in my life since 1973..and millions of others too…
The Gigs: At 39

His band at the time with Carmine Appice on drums were a really tight unit and this was Rod in all his leopard skin glory. His on stage showmanship absolutely captivating – I was lucky enough to be right down the front – a memorable pre new year’s ever party night.

The Singles: At 39


That incessant wah wah, the soaring string arrangement and the understated vocals…what a combination – a hit in November 1971. This awesome single was played over the PA before Zep came on stage at Wembley Empire Pool and Jimmy Page inserted some riffs from it during the performance of Dazed And Confused at the Manchester gig the next week.

The Albums: At 39

I got this triple album set on my 16th birthday in 1972. This was another major musical education for me with so many great performances to enjoy. Joe Cocker, The Who, Crosby Stills & Nash, Santana, Ten Years After, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix etc . This prompted me search out more albums from many of the acts on this legendary set. In a timely moment – it was great to view the legendary Baron Wolman’s Woodstock images at the Proud Gallery exhibition launch last night

To be continued…



DL Diary Blog Update:

Friday treats at the Vinyl Barn – to cap a week of very successful record shopping (while the cats were away!) last Friday’s finds at the Vinyl Barn – Led Zep IV plum and orange label with white inner bag, Jimi Hendrix Smash Hits original Track Records mono pressing and Mountain- Live The Road Goes On Forever US Windfall/Bell label – the latter has a 17 minute version of Nantucket Sleighride – result! Thanks Darren.

The good lady Janet and Sam are back from Venice – it was nice to see Janet took along the required reading while soaking up the sun on the roof top of their hotel overlooking Venice.  There’s no getting away from it!venice jan pic !

It’s been back to TBL business here bigtime. August is always a planning month for the final quarter of the year and there’s been a fair bit of prep on various projects – TBL 42 and the Evenings With book project amongst them.

Aside from the Led Zeppelin Complete BBC Sessions, there’s a couple of other major retro releases being lined up for September.

Here’s the info:

The momentous first concert by Jimi Hendrix’s short-lived Band of Gypsys is being released in its unabridged 75-minute entirety for the first time ever. As the title suggests, ‘Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show December 31, 1969 was recorded on New Year’s Eve 1969 and boasts material from the first of four shows the band played at the legendary New York venue over two consecutive days.
Produced by Janie Hendrix, Eddie Kramer and John McDermott, and mastered by Grammy Award winner Bernie Grundman, the album is released on CD, double vinyl and digital formats on September 30 2016 via Legacy Recordings.

There’s also a new David Bowie box set  Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976), which includes an unreleased album called The Gouster.

Available September 23rd through Parlophone, the 12-CD, 13-LP packages boasts Re:Call 2, a new compilation of singles and non-album B-sides, in addition to remastered versions of Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, Station to Station, David Live, and Live Nassau Coliseum ’76.

Most notably, however, is the presence of The Gouster. Recorded amid his “plastic soul”-era in 1974, Bowie embraced elements of funk, R&B, and soul music while working in the studio. The result was a seven-track effort that began with a re-recorded version of “John, I’m Only Dancing” and also included tracks such as “Young Americans”, “Somebody Up There Likes Me”, and “Can You Hear Me?”. While The Gouster never saw the light of day , several of the tracks planed for it were reconfigured and released on 1975’s Young Americans.

So that’s Led Zeppelin on September 16, David Bowie on September 23 and Jimi Hendrix on September 30. Now that is some line up!

daleks 2

On the player here, amongst a fair few recent purchases -some old staples incuding Robert Plant Pictures At Eleven, Rolling Stones Goats Head Soup, Crosby Stills & Nash first album and The Beatles Revolver as released 50 years ago this month in 1966 – talking of which…

So England win the World Cup on the Saturday, The Beatles Revolver album is released on the Friday and this iconic film which I went to see at the Granada Cinema Bedford, also opens on the same day. Heady days in 1966!

Dave Lewis – August 11,2016.




YouTube clip:

Led Zeppelin Knebworth August 11 1979…the final thrill…

Until next time…have a great weekend,

Dave Lewis/Gary Foy – August 11, 2016.

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  • VHP said:

    Hi Dave,

    To anyone who hasn’t got it yet, I can really recommend Dave’s book on Zep at Knebwoth ‘Then As It Was’. Its a really good read.

  • Tibor said:

    Hi Dave, great stuff as always. There will be another interesting reissue in September:

  • Ed-Washington DC said:

    “Judge R Gary Klausner ruled there was no evidence that the estate of Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe “harbored nefarious motives”.

    Yet another appalling aspect of this disgusting folly.

    This is why any serious attempt at tort reform in America MUST include a “loser pays” provision. Regardless of the band’s ability to pay this extortion, think of the burden such a ruling places upon those with far less resources.

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