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8 September 2016 3,139 views 11 Comments


Let’s kick off with a celebration of one of  the greatest live album of all time upon it’s 46th anniversary

TBL Archive Special:

Led Zeppelin Live On Blueberry Hill – the pioneering bootleg album …still a thrill…

46 years ago on September 4 1970, Led Zeppelin performed a memorable show at the Los Angles Forum – it was captured by more than one enterprising fan and subsequently released on a variety of bootlegs. It remains for me and countless others one of THE essential Led Zeppelin recordings.

To mark the 46th anniversary of what we know and love as Live On Blueberry Hill, here is an TBL archive special this is one of the chapters in the Celebration II – The Tight But Loos Files book published by Omnibus Press in 2003.

Bootlegs and Led Zeppelin have been synonymous for over three decades. Despite manager Peter Grant’s heavy-handedness when dealing with those he caught taping their shows, the band are the most bootlegged act of all time, outstripping even The Beatles, Dylan, Springsteen and the Stones. Their final seven shows in the UK alone (five at Earls Court and two at Knebworth) account for over 100 different releases between them. Just about every known amateur recording of the band’s live gigs has made it on to CD. Given the length of their stage shows, the CD format, with its 75-minute playing time, is tailor made for presenting Zeppelin in concert, but even before the flood of digital compact format titles that emerged in the early Nineties there was no shortage of vinyl Led Zeppelin bootlegs.

Tight But Loose has carried reports on Zeppelin bootlegs since its inception. As far back as the hand written first edition I was enthusiastically reviewing the then recently issued vinyl bootleg Ballcrusher which documented their BBC In Concert show. Issue number two carried an extensive report on what was already a legendary bootleg album, Led Zeppelin Live On Blueberry Hill. In 1995 I returned to that 1970 recording to laud its 25th anniversary for TBL 11.

Whatever the legal niceties of such releases, searching out their bootleg recordings is a necessity of every serious Zep fan. Their studio albums only hinted at the creativity the group were capable of. It was on stage in live action that Zeppelin really excelled.

During the Seventies ample proof of that fact arrived with each new bootleg record, none more so than the remarkable recordings made at the Los Angles Forum from the audience on the night of September 4, 1970, during Led Zeppelin’s sixth American tour. This chapter reflects on the lasting impact of that memorable bootleg recording and rounds up twelve other illicit evenings with Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin’s impact on their initial American tours made them a prime target for the emerging bootleg recording business. The bands’ skill at extending and improvising on their studio record repertoire elevated their live shows to something very different from playing their albums.

During their first 18 months on the road they cleverly interwove the basic recorded material from the first two albums with additional impromptu jams. Early examples of this included the long jam on Garnet Mimms ‘As Long As I Have You’, employed on many of their 1969 shows, the medley of numbers to be found within ‘How Many More Times’ and an improvised jam session in the middle of ‘Communication Breakdown’. Then there was ‘Dazed And Confused’, Page’s late Yardbird remnant that by 1970 was developing into a marathon 20-minute opus with differing sections, including the violin bow episode and a call and response battle between Page and Plant.

‘Whole Lotta Love’, the Zep II opener, soon became another forum for exploration, usually a platform to playfully improvise a selection of Fifties rock’n’roll classics. During 1970 they also began previewing songs from the yet to be released third album – initially an embryonic ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ and then, in a bold move, the acoustic ‘That’s The Way’, a performance that helped break the myth that Zep relied entirely on Marshall amplifiers.

Two separate teams of fans were intent on recording the Zeppelin gig at the Inglewood Forum in Los Angeles on the night of September 4, 1970, but it’s unlikely they knew what Zeppelin had in store that night. Both came away with lengthy representations of the band’s current state of play, recorded on reel-to- reel recorders close to the stage.

The recording that would became known as the album Led Zeppelin Live On Blueberry Hill was captured by a pair of west coast bootleggers whose previous credits included Dylan’s Great White Wonder set and The Rolling Stones’ LiveR Than You’ll Ever Be. The latter had been recorded on a Uher 4000 reel-to-reel tape recorder with 71/2ips inch reels and a Sennheiser 805 shotgun microphone. They took this set up into the Forum to record in stereo the Zeppelin September 4 performance. Unbeknown to them, a separate bootlegger known as Rubber Dubber also recorded the show and quickly issued it as a double bootleg album stamped Led Zeppelin Live Los Angeles Forum 9-4-70.

The more common Blimp label version (later to appear on the high profile bootleg label Trade Mark Of Quality) with a distinctive surreal cover insert came out within weeks of the LA show. It’s worth noting, however, that it was not the first Led Zeppelin bootleg to be released. That distinction fell to a vinyl album known as PB (the title derived from the chemical symbol for lead). This came packaged in a brown sleeve with the words P.B. Live on side one and Recorded Live – Pure Blues on side two, and was pressed in limited quantities around the Seattle area. Pure Blues subsequently reached a wider market when it was picked up by the Trade Mark Of Quality label and pressed as Mudslide. The actual source was a soundboard recording from Zeppelin’s opening night of their fifth US tour on March 21, 1970, at the Pacific Coliseum Vancouver. The 40-minute tape was notable for capturing a rare version of ‘We’re Gonna Groove’, the Ben E King/James Beatha cover which the band used as a set opener during their early 1970 appearances. They also recorded a studio version the previous summer for possible inclusion on Led Zeppelin II which would eventually surface on the posthumous Coda album.

The UK music press of the time chronicled the constant stream of bootleg titles from the likes of Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones that were being imported into the country. When reports of Zeppelin titles came to the attention of Peter Grant he was predictably angry.

In one of the few naive statements of his career, Grant was quoted in the Melody Maker as saying: “As far as I know there can be no Led Zeppelin tapes available. After hearing some time ago that there was going to be an attempt to bootleg some tapes of the band, I flew to America. We’ve managed to retrieve all the tapes and we know nothing in existence that can be issued.”

When Grant heard that copies of Live On Blueberry Hill were being sold from a shop in Chancery Lane in London, Grant and Richard Cole, along with RAK management partner Mickie Most, paid the shop a visit. He questioned the proprietor on the Zeppelin album and with some not so gentle persuasion made sure he knew that this was one bootleg album it would be best to leave alone. In a separate incident a year later fearing another case of bootlegging, Grant smashed the equipment being used by a team of anti-pollution scientists set up to measure noise levels at a Zeppelin show in Vancouver.

For all his muscle Grant was ultimately powerless to stop the proliferation of Zeppelin underground records of which Blueberry Hill was the forerunner. If you knew where to look, such artefacts were possible to come by.

For this particular enchanted Zep obsessed teenager Blueberry Hill represented the forbidden fruit and back in 1972 I was determined to track it down. Luckily the then relative newcomer to the pop press Sounds offered a free service for readers’ classified advertisements. I scoured these columns religiously for many weeks and finally struck gold when I spotted an ad that ran along the lines: “Live albums for sale: Stones, Dylan, Zeppelin etc”. The list came back and amongst the many Dylan and Beatles titles there it was – Live On Blueberry Hill, a double album on the TMQ label, catalogue number TMQ 72002, and pressed on coloured vinyl, asking price £6. Back then six quid was a small fortune but it was more than worth it.

About three weeks later the postman dropped an LP size package on the doorstep. I anxiously ripped it open and there in all its glory was the genuine article: “106 minutes and fifty-three seconds of pure and alive rock” as the sleeve insert put it. Was it ever.


The excitement of playing that double album, on blue and red vinyl, remains an unforgettable musical memory for me. It was a novelty that never wore off. Indeed, the various incarnations I’ve obtained since – the Rubber Dubber vinyl set, the various re-issues, the various bootleg CD packages – all these have only heightened the listening pleasure of that celebrated Los Angeles stop-off during Led Zeppelin’s sixth American tour.

The overriding factor of the September 4 recording, regardless of which version you hear, is that it remains one of the greatest audience recordings of the era. The sheer dynamic thrust of Bonzo’s drum sound, the sinewy grind of Page’s guitar, Jonesy’s resonant bass lines and piecing keyboards and the outstanding clarity of Plant’s siren shrieks (suitably enhanced by the echo unit employed at the time), all merge into a ferocious mix that magically recreates the electricity of the occasion.

For anyone weaned the original TMQ long players, there’s an authenticity in their performances ingrained in the grooves that has rarely been captured so effectively. Alongside the 1975 Madison Sqaure Garden soundboard, the Earls Court shows and the LA 1977 gigs, there are few finer unofficial examples of the complete Led Zeppelin concert experience. The September 4, 1970, concert as captured on the TMQ double set was just choc full of off-the-wall surprises. There was no sign of any set list sterility back then – they just did as they pleased.

Moments to relish include:

The aural assault of ‘Immigrant Song’ (listed on the insert as ‘From The Midnight Sun’ as it had yet to be announced under its official title) exploding into ‘Heartbreaker’.

The slightly menacing tone of a relatively compact ‘Dazed And Confused’ with Plant bursting in mid way through screaming, “I don’t care what people say, rock’n’roll is here to stay”

Page and Bonham linked in glorious tandem for that solo exercise on ‘Bring It On Home’

The electric finale of ‘Moby Dick’ (“The big B!” exclaims Plant)

The unpredictability of ‘Communication Breakdown’ as Zep play The Buffalo Springfield and Beatles songbooks and throw in the rarely played live Zep I opener ‘Good Times Bad Times’.

Freshly minted nuggets from the yet to be heard Zep III on record such as ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ and the rarely played ‘Out On the Tiles’.

The tentative introduction of the acoustic material, a stark and sensitive ‘That’s The Way’ and the rare try out of Page’s instrumental solo ‘Bron Yr Aur’, a clear five years before it was officially released

‘Thank You’ preceded by the meandering organ solo from John Paul Jones and finishing with a drawn out ending featuring Page’s delicate strumming.

‘Whole Lotta Love’ and the ensuing Zep 50’s revival show and finally the breathless rendiditon of Fats Domino’s ‘Blueberry Hill’

“Goodnight and thank you for everything,” utters a breathless Plant at the close, followed by “Did ya dig it?” by the evening’s MC.

Yes we did and still do

The greatest live album of all time? It’s certainly up there with the best, official or otherwise.

The reason is simple. It captures a group of musicians brimming with confidence. On stage that night in September 1970 Led Zeppelin were truly coming of age.

Live On Blueberry is also something of a yardstick for the bootlegs industry. Back then Zeppelin’s recorded output was just the tip of the iceberg. On stage live was where the real action occurred and, indeed, where they really built their reputation. Peter Grant summing it all up when he told me: “Led Zeppelin was primarily an in-person band… that’s what it was really about.”

Bootleg recordings of the band offered a whole new level of appreciation and Blueberry Hill was the watershed for the subsequent flood of live Zep bootlegs that would emerge throughout the next three decades.

The whole bootleg CD market may be well out of control now, beyond any reasonable realm of quality control, but there was a time when bootlegs like Blueberry Hill were considered almost as important as the group’s official output by fans and chroniclers alike and, if they were honest, probably the group themselves.

Maybe that’s the greatest compliment that can be paid to this iconic bootleg recording. It remains as essential a part of their discography as any of their official albums.

More than four decades on Live On Blueberry Hill is still an absolute thrill.

Dave Lewis.


Uncut Exclusive Complete BBC Sessions  What is And What Should Never Be preview :
This via Uncut magazine
Ahead of the release of Led Zeppelin‘s The Complete BBC Sessions, we’re delighted to preview a previously unreleased track from the set.
“What Is And What Should Never Be” was recorded live at the Paris Theatre, London on April 1 during Zeppelin’s performance.

The show was broadcast three days later as part of BBC’s In Concert program but this song, from the band’s second album, has never been included on any official Zeppelin release.



Jimmy Page to appear on Later With Jools Holland:

Jimmy Page will be appearing on the first edition of the new series of the Jools Holland show. He will be talking about the forthcoming Complete BBC Sessions album. It airs on BBC 2 next Tuesday (13) with a longer edition Friday (16).


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.

Here are some highlights from the fifty-first Led Zeppelin News email. The complete version can be accessed by signing up at the link below. Be sure to sign up for this excellent news service.

Japanese bootleg label Empress Valley says it will release a partial soundboard recording of Led Zeppelin’s March 7, 1970 show at Montreux this month. A promotional leaflet for the release says four tracks will be released in soundboard quality: Moby Dick, How Many More Times, Whole Lotta Love, and Communication breakdown.

A Ferrari previously owned by Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant is being sold at auction. Coys auction house is selling the 1973 Ferrari 246 Dino GTS on September 8. The estimate for the sale is £350,000-£400,000. There are lots of photos of the car at the auction listing.

Upcoming events:
September 8 – A 1973 Ferrari 246 Dino GTS that previously belonged to Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant will be sold at auction in the UK.
September 14 – A listening event for “The Complete BBC Sessions” will be attended by Jimmy Page at Olympic Studios in London.
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.
October 28 – Robert Plant will performa at Bill Wyman’s 80th birthday celebration in London.

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


DL Diary Blog Update: 60th Birthday Special:

Well that was the week that was, and what a week it was for me as the countdown was completed and I reached the age of 60…

Firstly may I thank everyone for the many messages, cards, presents etc that made my 60th birthday so very special. I am totally humbled and overwhelmed by the many good wishes I received on my milestone birthday.

It has made an old(er) man very happy.

Forgive the indulgence…but let me backtrack on what has been one of the greatest weeks of my life…

Dec flew in from Ireland late on Thursday and stayed with us to the Tuesday. He was actually a bit under the weather with a sore throat infection but he managed to rally and was an absolutely integral part of all that went on here.


It all started on Friday when after the regular visit to the Vinyl Barn, in the afternoon DJ and musicologist Pete Burridge who runs the local Esquires venue, hosted a bit of a vinyl event for us in The Three Cups. His wife Bev manages this excellent pub. For a couple of hours  Pete played some great stuff – his vast collection of singles and Ep’s were just awesome to wade through.

We were back in the pub  in the evening for a night out with former players of our team The Wallbangers. It was great to catch up and  many a tale of former glories on the green and not so pleasant muddy pitches of Bedfordshire were told. Beers were drunk, chips were eaten and it was back here where Dec and I fell asleep on the floor eventually going to bed at 4.30.

Earlier in the evening I also bumped into Guy Griffin of The Quireboys who lives locally and I’ve known since he worked in the Our Price record shop with me.. His gift was a Quireboys album on vinyl. Nice one Guy!


Early on Saturday morning a hearty breakfast at the local Tavistock bar put us back ion the right track and helped fend off the expected hangover. 

Saturday night we had a small pre birthday gathering here which turned into a fantastic occasion. It was great to see Gary and Carol Foy and son Jimmy. We staged a game of charades where the challenge was to act out the title of various number one singles  that had been at the top of the charts  on my birthday in years gone by. I was quite pleased that the good lady Janet had to act out the 1990 number one Itsy Bitsy Polka Dot Bikini!

Sam was also back for the weekend. Our good friends Max and Julie set the tone of the evening arriving in masks of two rather well known faces see pic below!  The night continued into the early hours with a marathon front room dancing session that had me centre stage power chording my way through an air guitar set of the usual classics ably assisted by various members of our gang.birthday-sept-4-early

60 is the new 20!

Sunday we chilled out a bit and prepared for the big day. Monday began with taking Dec to the walk in doctors clinic as we were concerned that his throat infection was getting worse. Thankfully it was a lot better during the day and night.

Sam had gone back to work in London and was sadly having to miss out on the evening gathering in the nearby White Horse pub. Or so I thought…

Earlier in the year, I had not really planned to have a big party or gathering – during the days after the sad passing of Janet’s mum Betty, I was not really in the mood to organise anything like that.

However, as the big day approached, local musician Mat Roberts invited us to his weekly local open mic jam night at the nearby White Horse pub and offered that platform as something of a DL at 60 celebration. This was a couple of weeks back, so at very short notice, I did then begin to invite some local friends. I was apprehensive who would come along on a Monday night…I need not have worried – we had over 50 friends turn up and what a night it was…

Monday night is the new Saturday night!

The big surprise for me was that unbeknown to me, Sam came back from London to be with us – it was a golden moment when she walked in – Sam did have to get the train back around 11 but it just a joy for us to be all together.


Amongst many wonderful friends who made it on the night, it was great to see my childhood friend Dave Corp –when we were about 7 or 8 we had a band called the Dave Lewis Five ( after the Dave Clark Five of course) which had me on a drum kit made of tin cans. Some 50 years later Mat Roberts provided the real thing for me to make a similar noise on during the jam!

Oh yes the drums…


Being an open mic jam night, well I could not resist getting behind the kit. Firstly I joined Mat for a version of The Rolling Stones Satisfaction. Later local man Rashed got up to perform Stairway To Heaven. This was the chap I had seen play Dazed And Confused at his house back in 1980 when he was 17.

Being totally unrehearsed, our version had something of a Live Aid feel about it, I did my best (in a Phil Collins sort of way!) to follow the breaks and hey we got through it to quite a reception.

We were then out on the floor dancing as Mat ran though some of our fave songs including Bowie’s Let’s Dance and T. Rex Hot Love. I then made a final appearance on the skins for a version of Elton’s Crocodile Rock. Another guest singer Shirley serenaded us with a performance of Doris Day’s Whatever Will Be – Que Sera Sera – the record that was number one in the UK the week I was born on September 5  1956. 60 years to the day…oh how lovely that was!

As the band began packing away, local musician Paul Carriontion picked up an acoustic guitar for a spontaneous rendition of the 1969 Peter Sarstedt hit to Where Do You Go To my Lovely. It was an absolutely magic moment as we all stood around joining in. Whenever I hear that song again it will be a poignant reminder of that epic moment.

Not wanting the party to end, a few of us were back at the Totnes Towers and there was yet more merriment as we danced around the room to a series of Motown hits on the player. The party finally wound down well after 2am and we got to be about 3!

So ended one of the greatest nights of my life….and one of the greatest long (very long!) weekends of my life.

One of many amazing birthday presents I was lucky to receive was a set of CDs – one that chronicles the top 30 on the week I was born in September 1956 and a 4 CD set of my 60 at 60 singles selections – all diligently custom compiled by Dave Crane, another of Bedford’s musicologists – I worked with Dave many years back at WH Smith. Thanks Dave!

Amongst many other  incredible gifts I’ve been lucky enough to receive are these vinyl gems:

Vintage 1960s EPs by Manfred Mann, Frank Sinatra and Nancy Wilson (thanks Pete B!)

The Who Sell Out rare Italian pressing (thanks Phil H!)

The Clarence Carter single on Atlantic that I’ve been looking for (thanks max and Julie)

Donavan Universal Soldier album in mono and New Age of Atlantic and Summit sampler albums (thanks Michaela and Bob!)

The Hollies In the Hollies Style original Parlophone label pressing, The Doors Absolutely Live Japanese pressing with Obi, The Doors Weird Scene in the Goldmine, George Harrison All Things Must Pass box set  (thanks Andrew Ricci!)

Herbie Mann London Underground – a fantastic set of covers on the Atlantic label and John Sebastian Live US pressing (thanks John P!)

That’s just a few highlights of an incredibly generous list of 60th birthday gifts I’ve received.

Thank you all sincerely…

birthday-sept-5-pmJanet and I have both been completely and utterly exhausted here after 4 days of wonderful 60th birthday celebrations. So may I again thank everyone who sent messages,cards presents etc.

Life affirming doesn’t even come close…I love you all….may I single out Mat Roberts and Pete Burridge who did much to make it so special and of course Janet, Sam and Adam -and all my amazing friends…I am a man truly blessed.

There is  something of a 60th birthday aftermath at the Victoria Record Fair this Saturday September 10.  The TBL crew we will be at the fair and over the nearby pub The The Royal Oak, 2 Regency Street, Pimlico. I look forward to seeing all those that can make it along.

Then it will be back full on to TBL matters as there is a lot to be getting on with – TBL 42 text to begin , the Evenings With book project to moter on with – and the rather wonderful prospect of a new Led Zeppelin album release to celebrate – The Complete BBC Sessions are coming with 7 days to go and counting…


So at 60 and 5 days old the usual mantra applies – it’s ever onward…

Dave Lewis, September 9, 2016.

Below is a photo special of the events of the four days – the one here has the good lady pleading  ”That’s enough photos for one 60th birthday!”

DL at 60 Photo Special: September 2 – 6, 2016:










birthday-september-4birthday-party-airgutibirthday party sept 3birthday-party-sept-3-janet-and-julie



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


  • Kurt said:

    Happy birthday to you sir! I just turned 50 with my group of “lads” and reading your account of turning 60 brought a smile to my face! I hope I can have some fun like you did for my 60th. I saw Jimmy on list on Jools—but he didn’t appear? And I’m at peace with him not playing or touring again, but wouldn’t mind it! Agree that he could have done something with Jack White acoustic for Jools show. Speaking of Jack–I say that Robert should go out with Jack on guitar and ROCK! Cheers!

  • Ed-Washington DC said:


  • Federico said:

    I know I’m late but….

    HAPPY 60th Dave!

    Thank you for everything you have done to keep high Led Zeppelin culture through the years generation by generation!

    Hugs and kisses to you and all of your relatives&friends


  • VHP said:


    Congratulations on reaching 60. Your birthday celebrations have looked like a real blast. Well done & here’s to the next 10!

    I look forward to see Jimmy on Later With Jools, I wonder if he will run out the old chestnut than he plans to record & tour shortly! Wow, who would have thought that nearly 9 years after the Led Zep O2 concert Jimmy still hasn’t played another full length gig. Unless something is announced really quickly it looks like nothing will happen (again) this year – which is a great shame for an artist of his status.

    Anyway Dave – as ever always great to read your articles. Keep up the good work.

  • Hiroshi said:


    Sorry for my late arrival at your big birthday bash (I was there in spirit).
    Turning 60, and ever onward…the only way to fly!

    Physically I was in Portmeirion in North Wales for another Festival No.6 weekend.
    FYI — September 5 this year marked the 50th anniversary of the start of the filming of The Prisoner. Fascinating isn’t it?

  • Stephen said:

    Jimmy talking on a music show again, instead of playing. Sigh. With Jack White on the bill I’m sure he could have sat in on a blues number or done something. I’m pretty sure Page is done now.

    I just hope we don’t get the same “I’m working on something that’s gonna astound people, but I got sidelined with the Stairway court case and this archive project, blah blah blah. something vague blah blah blah.” Every year we hear the same thing.

  • Chris Cook said:

    Belated many happy returns Dave

    Speaking of Later Jools Hoolland brings me back to another memory.
    The first episode that I chanced upon seeing one Friday evening in 1993 happened to feature Mr Plant playing songs rom the then newly released, and now classic, “Fate of Nations” LP.

  • Lori Brundrett said:

    Thanks again, Dave, for sharing your 60th with us … it was a lot of fun to read your countdown selections and view all of the celebratory photographs. Cheers!

  • Ian Avey said:

    Congratulations on your 60th Dave, and 60 is the new 20 don’t you know! 🙂
    Look forward to seeing you at the Victoria fair tomorrow.

  • Judy Allen said:

    Well deserved celebrations.Looks like everyone had a rocking time.Something you wont forget in a hurry

  • Richard Grubb said:

    Joyful stuff Dave – looks like you had a great time – fair play, if anyone deserves it, it’s you…

    Just a quiet few beers tomorrow then – as if! 😉


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