Email This Post Email This Post
Home » Featured, TBL News

LED ZEPPELIN AT KNEBWORTH AUGUST 11th 1979 – IT WAS 34 YEARS AGO TODAY…MORE THEN AS IT WAS BOOK PREVIEWS…

11 August 2013 19,474 views One Comment

aug prev 1

It was 34 years ago today…

On the 34th anniversary of Led Zeppelin’s August 11th gig  at Knebworth….

Comments, recollections and memories from the second week out in that field…taken from the forthcoming book Led Zeppelin Then As It Was – At Knebworth 1979 written and compiled by Dave Lewis:

“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!).

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.

…………………………………..

Kneb 8

………………….

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.

cover knebworth

Above extracts from the forthcoming book Led Zeppelin Then As It Was -At Knebworth 1979 – written and compiled by Dave Lewis -due out later this year.

Pre order at this link:

http://www.tightbutloose.co.uk/?page_id=1962

And finally….the last performance in the UK with John Bonham…

  Until next time…Keep listening, keep reading…Dave Lewis/Gary FoyAugust 4th , 2013.

if you are reading this and have yet to link with the Tight But Loose Facebook page be sure to request/add us. The TBL Facebook is another key part of the TBL set up with updated stories/additional pics etc to keep you on top of the world of TBL.To view additional photos and TBL info be sure to hook up with the Tight But Loose Facebook page (add us as a friend) at http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1611296783Also follow Dave Lewis/TBL on Twitter – LedzeppelinTBL

 

Until next time…Keep listening, keep reading…

Dave Lewis/Gary FoyAugust 11th , 2013.

if you are reading this and have yet to link with the Tight But Loose Facebook page be sure to request/add us.

The TBL Facebook is another key part of the TBL set up with updated stories/additional pics etc to keep you on top of the world of TBL.

To view additional photos and TBL info be sure to hook up with the Tight But Loose Facebook page (add us as a friend)

at http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1611296783

Also follow Dave Lewis/TBL on Twitter – LedzeppelinTBL

 

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

One Comment »

  • simon said:

    If only Motorhead had been on the bill…

Leave your response!

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

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

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