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LED ZEPPELIN AT KNEBWORTH AUGUST 4TH 1979 – IT WAS 34 YEARS AGO TODAY…MORE THEN AS IT WAS PREVIEWS…

4 August 2013 12,494 views No Comment

preview 34th

It was 34 years ago today…

On the 34th anniversary of Led Zeppelin at Knebworth….

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

 We followed BP Fallon to the Led Zeppelin enclosure.

‘’Where do you want to do a line up shot’’

‘’Er, wherever you like’’ I replied

Beep went into the trailer and out came Jimmy, Robert, Jonesy and Bonzo,

much to Chalkie’s and my surprise.  We thought it was too dark to shoot.

‘’No problem, let’s line up inside the trailer.’’

We shot them for about ten minutes and they couldn’t have been nicer – we couldn’t believe it.

Shooting the show was another matter.

We couldn’t get near the stage, so we sat under it as they came on.  I remember the roar of the crowd as ‘The Song Remains The Same’ began. Robert Plant kept having digs at the crowd and the press about doing the ‘’Dinosaur Rock’’.  He was so out of touch with all the new bands and didn’t get it that the press didn’t actually dislike Led Zeppelin that much…unlike ELP or Gong or Yes.

Half way through the show, Chalkie had the idea of climbing the scaffolding of the video ramp, which we duly did, ending up right in front of the band towards the end.  A big Showsec security guard threatened us.  I said ‘’Peter Grant said it was okay.’’

‘’Oh, all right then’’ he replied and we shot the rest of the show from there.

Ross Halfin , UK (from his foreword in the book)

…………………………..

The mood was very friendly and people around us were offering us all kind of drugs – cocaine, grass, and even poppers they sniffed from small glass bottles. We politely declined but Ove countered by opening a tin of Swedish snus. This is a tobacco product similar to what the English call snuff, which is in a dry powder form and is sniffed up the nose. Snus however, is tobacco in a moist form which is placed under the upper lip.

A friend called Pepe and I each put a large pinch under our upper lip, to our neighbours’ great surprise.

“What is that drug?”, asked one of them.

“It’s called snus,” I replied, “it dates from the Viking Age.”

Word spread quickly about the Swedes with the mysterious drug. Suddenly there was a line of French, British and Americans eager to try this new high.

The hours rolled by and there were many fine performances on the main stage. But I was there to see Zeppelin and when the sun started to go down I knew it was time for Led Zeppelin to take the stage. Suddenly lights came up, and there they were on stage with Jimmy dressed in a blue silk shirt and white pants. Around his neck hung his legendary double-necked Gibson SG and he hit the first chord to “The Song Remains the Same” in the exactly the same way he did in Copenhagen. Later into the concert Robert Plant delivered two Presence racks: “Achilles Last Stand” and “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” both of which worked better on the big stage in Knebworth.

After over two hours, they completed their set with “Stairway to Heaven.” The lights went down but the fans continued to call for more. After more than 10 minutes of this, Robert Plant could be heard singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the stage and suddenly a spotlight picks him out. Behind him is John Bonham marching with a drum major’s stick. It was a great feeling to be singing along with nearly 200,000 others.

Suddenly there is the thunderous bang of a guitar cable being plugged into an already cranked-up amp and seconds later they launched into the best “Whole Lotta Love” I’ve ever heard followed by “Rock ’n’ Roll.” Two policeman who had stood near us throughout the concert could no longer hold back as they started dancing and waving helmets.

Christer Fahlström, Sweden

…………………………………….

All these years on from Knebworth – it seems like only yesterday.  Back then I had just turned 18 years old, was fresh out of school having finished A-levels and enduring my first summer job doing shifts in the now long-gone Smiths Crisps factory in Stockport before going on to Birmingham University at the end of that long hot summer (well at least that’s how I remember it).  I hadn’t really discovered Zeppelin in 1975 and wouldn’t have been allowed to go as far a field as Earls Court, so Knebworth was the first chance that myself and my two mates had to see the band.

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 and by the time Jimmy Page picked up his violin bow and began his long-anticipated laser-strewn guitar solo I was on another planet.  As far as we were concerned the critics who gave that August 4th show mixed reviews must have also been somewhere else.

As is often the case I don’t really remember particular details, not surprising really, but in my mind it is still that it was probably the most memorable concert of my life – and still the one that I get the most people saying, “Wow, you were actually there for Zeppelin at Knebworth.” But I do recall thinking that the set list was just about perfect with personal highlights being ’Nobody’s Fault But Mine’, ‘Ten Years Gone’, ‘Hot Dog ‘ (yes I mean it), ‘Achilles Last Stand’ and, of course, ‘Rock And Roll’.

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, Stockport  UK

……………………….

campsite 1

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 four inch 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 excitement ‘‘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 that were of little or no interest to ninety-five percent 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 time that 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 7:30am on Sunday morning proudly clutching the flag, the ghetto blaster, two (no longer blank) cassette tapes, the camera and a roll of exposed film.

If anyone wants to go back to Knebworth for an  anniversary reunion, I’ll happily provide the flag and the ghetto blaster (although someone else can carry the angle iron).

Phil Tattershall,  Cockermouth Cumbria UK

………………………………

The run of shows at Earls Court in 1975 was a watershed in my life and the first time I got to see the band live.  Unfortunately, I had to wait over four years before my path would cross again 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 4th. 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 in 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  August 4th 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 eight 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, one thousand 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 the football chanting.

Mark Harrison,  Leighton Buzzard UK

…………………………………..

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 fifteen year old cope on his own amidst the drugs and naked 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 mine – a mere baby!  How uncool.  I knew him mainly as a face on the bus, nothing more.  However, 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 August 4th 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 knew 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: Thirteen years later on May 16th 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!

Dave Linwood, Potters Bar UK

………………………………..

“Do you have any tickets for Led Zeppelin at Knebworth?” I asked the assistant at Virgin Records, Coventry.

“How many do you want?” “Why do you want to see those has-beens?”

He asked as he produced a wad of tickets from behind the counter.  Unlike the drummer of the band whose ticket I now held in my hands, the drummer that I had purchased my Knebworth ticket from was the drummer in a local, soon to be big 2 tone band called The Specials. Hence his musical judgement!  And so The Special Ticket as it became known was now in my hands.  I was going to see Zep! My childhood heroes, finally.

The build up was phenomenal, everyone from school that was going spoke about it all the time and I remember listening to every album almost every day before Knebworth so that I was fully prepared for the concert I had waited forever to attend. I remember reading with increased excitement about the secret Copenhagen gigs in Sounds the morning before I was due to catch a coach with all my school mates for Knebworth and hoping/ pleading that they would play something from Presence when I saw them on August 4th.

After an early meet in Coventry on the Friday, the coach full of 16 & 17 year olds made its way to Knebworth and on arrival at the A1 site we decided to travel the rest of the way on foot as it was so busy.  We pitched our tents towards the middle of the site, made a fire and settled in to our first festival experience.  The atmosphere was incredible that afternoon, and we met loads of people anticipating this gig and one lucky school mate who had seen, met and heard them as they rehearsed earlier in the week.

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.  I don’t recall much after that until Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show filled the campsite and the cheers when anything Zeppelin related was mentioned or played. I do 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? (Editors note:The name is said to be inspired by someone calling for a lost dog at the 1971 Weely Festival near Clacton in the UK, others claim it began at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival –the tradition quickly caught on and random shouts of “Wally” would  be heard at rock concerts all over Britain during the 1970’s.)

We didn’t get much sleep that night – the atmosphere was electric and the noise was incessant.

I dropped off for a couple of hours and the next thing was being woken about 3.30am by my mates who were still up saying that the iron gates were down and everyone was trying to get in.  I remember it was absolutely pitch black, the only way of navigating was to follow the next person or voice in front through the fields until there was nowhere to go as we were outside the main gates.  It must have been 4 or 4.30am.  The crowd was heaving, squashing and it was a miracle looking back that no one got hurt. We seemed to wait for ages – more shouts of “Wally”, then floodlights, and finally a huge cheer as they let us in. I produced my ticket and ran for a spot to sit.

We were in and dawn was upon us so we claimed our place not too far back from the stage, laid down our weary heads and waited till morning.

Nicky Horne woke me to the sounds of Supertramp’s ‘Breakfast in America’ and as I awoke from my slumber I couldn’t believe the size of the stage, the fact that the sun was shining and how many people there were. It was immense.  Far bigger than any event I had ever been to.

I must admit I was not excited by any of the names on the line-up.  I was hoping that there would have been a similar sort of standard to the year before with Genesis, Tom Petty and Devo all thrown on that same bill.  Even The Who two weeks later at Wembley managed to attract The Stranglers, Nils Lofgren and AC/DC on to the same bill. How come Zep’s bill was short of a famous act or two?

Chas & Dave –“‘Gertcha” and “Rabbit” and “Last of the New Wave Riders” from Todd Rundgren are my only real memories of songs played by other artists. I even fell asleep during “Commander Cody”.  Over the course of the day, the can throwing increased and there must have been thousands of cans flying over our heads, hitting the back of our heads and none of them were full! And of course there were many, many more shouts for “Wally!”

Dusk fell.

Lynyrd Skynyrd suddenly faded out from the PA, the cans seemed to subside and with no announcement…..Page’s guitar sounding the first riff from ‘The Song Remains The Same’ announced their arrival, the live screen revealed that they were there, on stage, my ears and eyes taking it all in that finally I was experiencing Led Zeppelin on stage before me! Page smiling with his double neck, Robert’s curly locks, Jonesy’s white suit and Bonzo’s drums! It took a couple of minutes to get the sound right and then the best gig I ever have attended (until the 02!) unfolded before me…

Memories – Jones’ phone on the piano during ‘No Quarter’. ‘White Summer’/’Black Mountain Side’, the violin bow solo and its green and red lasers, Robert’s on-stage banter, ‘Kashmir’, ‘Achilles’ and ‘Nobody’s Fault’…..’Stairway’ for me was the greatest song played that night as it was the song I had waited so long to hear in a live environment.  I recall almost everyone around me singing along.  It was incredible.

The three hour set seemed to fly by and before I knew it we were calling them back for more.

I can’t recall how it started but when the crowd started singing the football anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, the experience for this 16 year old was complete. Robert joined in and even Bonzo who once commented that football was a load of bollocks accompanied on drums.  The screens showed close ups of the band, who looked visibly emotional and Robert’s thanks at the end were confirmation that this had been a truly emotional gig for everyone fortunate enough to have been there.

We sang ‘Stairway’ as we made our trip back to the campsite, talked for hours of the best moments, there were many and eventually succumbed to sleep in the early hours.

Still to this day, the best gig I have ever attended. I just wish I had seen them in Europe the next year before it all sadly came to a halt.

Mick Bulow, Bushey UK

……………………………..

So long ago, but it’s just like yesterday…

Tickets for the 4th were from an organised trip by Syd Booth’s record store in Mansfield.  I’d come to be given Led Zeppelin II by a mate at the Swimming Club, following my ‘discovery’ of rock via a Budgie gig one Friday night at the Nottingham Playhouse which led to me buying and seeing The Song Remains The Same.   The August 4th gig was absolute magic but alas, the girlfriend fell asleep and dumped me the day after. However I got tickets for the following week from Selectadisc in Nottingham, near what was to become Rock City.  I wanted to do it all over again (“Nottingham – you’ve got a lot going for you up there” as Plant said).

The two gigs tend to blend into one and I can still see/hear Keef getting on stage with the New Barbarians and mumbling “Hullo Knobworth”, (his emphasis not mine!).  Then there was the traffic, catching up with some sleep on the A1 on the return, the party atmosphere, queues for the loos (and that smell!), ‘ice-cream sellers’ with their trays moving amongst the crowd shouting “Hash, hash for sale!” as dusk fell, cat-calls for “Wally”…  it’s all coming flooding back – the dodgy microphone connection (“Not another one?!”), the slightly out-of-sync video (but at least we saw the band smiling), and that purest of all the magic moments that was the ‘Return of Zeppelin’ as ‘White Summer’ faded away: dum di-di-di dum dum dum, dum di-di-di dum dum dum, dum di-di-di dum dum dum …  pause… crash, ‘Kashmir’!

The memory of it still brings tears to the eyes.  For me this moment is quintessentially Zeppelin – soft, unplugged and English, segued into power, mystique, atmosphere, and a rhythm that really takes you there, “Let me take you there”… They certainly did that in that field just outside Stevenage thirty years ago.

Nigel Paling, Woking UK

…………………………………

I went to both the August 4th and 11th shows.  I remember a whole load of us went down to Stevenage by coach from Birmingham’s Digbeth Bus Station.  I remember it being quite a long yet enjoyable journey, singing Zep songs and drinking hard liquor!  When we arrived in Stevenage, one guy in our group known as ‘Italian Mick’, got off the coach and promptly got himself knocked down by a passing car as he crossed the road!  This happened literally as he stepped off the coach!  The lady driver (not being sexist here, just stating a fact!) got out of her car and looked completely bewildered by what had just happened, and she was extremely lucky not to have been knocked to the ground herself, judging by the verbal abuse being thrown in her direction by Mick’s Zep buddies.  The ambulance arrived, and Mick was quickly taken off to hospital with a broken leg – he missed the whole event!  It was sad, because as the ambulance guys stretchered Mick into the back of the ambulance you could hear his cries of “I wanna see Led Zeppelin…I wanna see Led Zeppelin…” over and over.

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, who were set on us by the site security guards.  The next week I decided to proceed more cautiously.  By that time, at seventeen years of age, I felt like a festival regular!

On the second week, when we got through the turnstiles into the main arena, a group of around eight of us took up our positions immediately in front of the lighting rig to the right of the stage.  As the day progressed I got talking to one of the lighting rig crew guys, swapping a few jokes with him, and he allowed me to go up and watch one of the bands perform from the platform, which was great.  I remember, he gave me one of the light blue security T-shirts with ‘Artist Services’ on the front, and I contemplated that 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 didn’t exactly have the best vantage point, so the results of his efforts were that some of the footage he shot was out of focus.  However, three small reels survived, and luckily two of them were decent enough quality, so I arranged for them to be transferred to video tape back in 1981.  For me, when I watch that bit of distant 8mm footage of Zeppelin it transports me back to that enormous grassy field covered with a sea of Zeppelin enthusiasts, who were all there for the same reason as me to witness the gods in action at first hand.

What a wonderful coming together it was for everyone over those two glorious weeks; the two-way vibe going on between the band and the audience was just an incredible experience, and that’s something I’ll never forget as long as I live.

I still think I was the one who started the crowd singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ at the first show, and I’ve not yet been challenged otherwise!

Looking back on it all in now thirty years later they may not have played perfectly, but it didn’t matter – it was still amazing (if you were there you know what I mean, right?).  Overall, it was an absolute honour to be there and to share in the emotion of it all.

Gary Davies, Birmingham UK

………………………………..

After a days’ work at HMV in Bedford, I drove down to Knebworth on the Friday evening of August 3rd with the naive 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 holdall of beer all the way on foot.  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 me 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 guys 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 join 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 an 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.

Phil Harris, Milton Keynes UK

…………………………….

“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’’ 

‘Robert Plant from the Knebworth stage August 4th  1979 

“Some people from Vancouver’’

My friend Roger Grais won the radio station competition on CFOX-FM our Vancouver rock music radio station.  Although we had only got to know each other that summer, he told me I was going with him as I met the two requirements – I was over eighteen and I liked Led Zeppelin.  His girlfriend met neither requirement.

So two weeks later we head to London for a week, airfare, hotel and two concert tickets in hand.  Roger even got a passport on three days turnaround.  We arrived on August 1st probably, and spent two days doing the tourist thing and visiting as many pubs as possible.  We lost count of the number of Green Man pubs in the environs of our hotel – The Whitehouse near Regent’s Park.

On the Friday afternoon we took the tube to the train station and headed out to Stevenage station where we got off ( I think).  We were loaded with three dozen beers, food, binoculars, a blanket and a crummy portable cassette recorder.  Grabbing bootleg t-shirts we headed into one of the massive campgrounds.  We wandered about chatting with people who couldn’t believe how we made it to Knebworth from Vancouver, Canada.  As darkness fell we guzzled beers and chatted with two lovely girls from Leeds.  After midnight we discovered that people were already gathering near some huge wrought iron gates.  Around 4:00am the gate came down and the mad rush along dirt paths began to the main concert site.  I lost a shoe and nearly lost Roger in the scrabble and charge but we made it and survived the jostling for what seemed like hours before we got in around 6:30 am.  Roger refused to surrender his ticket stub and retains his complete ticket to this day.

We charged down the hill and found a good spot, we thought, slightly stage right and well in front of the mixing board.

The cool day (who said it was warm?) passed quickly as we absorbed the building tension.  Hopes of a mid afternoon acoustic set sadly evaporated.  Fairport were excellent especially Swarbrick’s violin playing and Rundgren in his yellow jump suit was quite good we thought.  And then dusk came on, the gradual darkness engulfed the area illuminated by torches, matches and camera flashes.

Our anticipation was so tense as we watched the myriad of stage hands finalize the stage prep and the light and video crew ascended the ladders to the upper light trusses.

9:30pm and the cheers and applause kept building as we awaited the event.  I had seen Zeppelin in Seattle on the 1977 US Tour but this would be even more special.

9:40pm and the hand held torches signalled stage activity.  Guitar notes and drum rolls sent us into a frenzy and then the opening sustained note of ‘The Song Remains the Same’ began and what seemed like every light came on and bang there they were, our four heroes on stage again at last and sounding awesome.  Plant dressed in black and Page in slacks and the soon to be sweat-drenched shirt.

The massive backstage screen was amazing as close ups of Page, Plant Bonham and Jones flashed across.

Plant’s quip about Jimmy doubting people would come at all was warmly received.

Many others have gone through the set list song by song but for us the early highlights of ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’, ‘Black Dog’ and ‘The Rain Song’ were special indeed.

‘Hot Dog’ was well received as the first new number but when they brought out the stool and Jonesy’s triple-neck I knew what was next.  ‘Ten Years Gone’ was amazing and Jimmy’s phrasing on the overlays was sublime.

Regardless of the beer cans and wine jugs flying in our area we were all riveted to the stage and the stunning audio and visual spectacle before us.  Roger snapped pictures frequently, and I tried my best to keep the lousy mike in the air to record it all.

Then our special moment arrived.  Plant said this next song is for “some people from Vancouver”.  We were ecstatic – our request had gotten through.  The radio station had given us Danny Urweider of Atlantic Records as a contact if we needed help.  We phoned him as a courtesy and he asked what he could do.  So as Zeppelin had not played ‘Trampled Underfoot’ in Seattle, I asked if he could ask them to play it for us.  Special thanks forever to Danny for getting the request passed on and to Robert who remembered us – some people from Vancouver.

So with, “a ready Mr. Jones”, it began and Page’s solos on ‘Trampled’ were amazing indeed.

‘White Summer’ segued into ‘Kashmir’ as every light came on as that opening ‘Kashmir’ note was struck and there was the sway back from the audience and ‘Kashmir’ just blew us over.

Page’s violin bow solo heading to the drum intro for ‘In The Evening’ was another highlight.  And then probably the best song of the show, a truly unbelievable ‘Achilles Last Stand’.  Bonzo’s drums on that one were in a different class, and Page by that time was joyous but exhausted, just kept pushing it on.  There is a smile from him mid point on that song that just exemplifies for me Page at his best.

And then ‘Stairway’ with the clock now well after midnight.

To get three encores was astounding and as Plant said over 100,000 people in a chorus of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is was spine-tingling.

So after a final bow from a clearly very satisfied band, the stage lights changed, ‘Communication Breakdown’ came over the sound system.  We gathered our stuff, and bid farewell to the people we shared the day and the experience with and headed toward the exits.  Surprisingly we met up with the two girls from Leeds who somehow had ended up a short distance from us.  They invited us back to their tent but we thought it best to head to the train station – big mistake in hindsight.

After train delays we headed back to London and talked about the show with everyone.  Roger, a drummer raving about Bonham’s powerhouse effort and me revelling in Page’s guitar genius.  Into London late Sunday morning, we then staggered into our hotel – dishevelled, lacking sleep, and me hobbling on one foot as the other lacked a shoe.

We slept and then phoned the radio station to report on the best concert ever.

We enjoyed our last few days in London talking through highlights and listening to our terrible recording.  On knowing we were going, we promised ourselves a visit to the Marquee Club to see some band – any band.  Luckily it turned out that that Monday August 6th was Simple Minds first London gig.  Our music tastes have always been very broad and to see the best band ever – Led Zeppelin, and a very good up and coming band was great.

We returned to Vancouver with great memories of a great time.  Roger and I remain steadfast friends and music compadres.  We have been to hundreds of shows since (from the Grateful Dead to Dream Theater), but nothing has come close to that wonderful August night in a field in England.

It was special indeed, and to see video of it today brings back so many good memories.  With a special “thanks again” to Danny Urweider and to Jimmy, Robert, John Paul and John (so sadly missed) thank you thank you.

By the way, who were all those lucky people on the stage riser to the left of Jimmy’s amplifiers? They must have been deaf by the end of the night!

Joseph Whiteside and Roger Grais

 “Some people from Vancouver”

……………………………

The past 34 years and all of its ups and downs notwithstanding, there is no denying the awesome power of Led Zeppelin at Knebworth.  As we’ve touched on, the emergence of the official DVD as well as both full shows on bootleg leaves it all there for anyone who have an interest.  But forget the video footage for a moment…listen to the audio of the gig…at the beginning of the August 4th tape, the audio picks up before the stage lights have gone down, and the crowd is hearing ‘Tuesday’s Gone’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd being played over the PA.  As the song fades and the lights go down, the deafening, monstrous and passionately heartfelt roar of the fans as Led Zeppelin takes the stage tells the tale.

Those thousands of fans in that field, on that night in 1979 understood……  And all the fans, old and new, thirty years on still do today. Tuesday may be gone…but Saturday remains the same…

Larry M. Bergmann Jr, Arlington USA

………………

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 folk you bump into at Knebworth! The young DL advising the singer in Led Zeppelin where the Knebworth stage was after his sat nav failed…just another TBL service…!

car plant 1

Led Zeppelin at Knebworth ….some You Tube clips

 

Stairway To Heaven

 

Whole Lotta Love

”Thanks for eleven years…..”

……………………

 Until next time…Keep listening, keep reading…

Dave Lewis/Gary FoyAugust 4th , 2013.

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