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REMEMBERING KNEBWORTH 32 YEARS AGO TODAY PLUS DETAILS OF NEW SECOND EDITION OF LED ZEPPELIN THEN AS IT WAS – AT KNEBWORTH 1979 BOOK

3 August 2011 8,311 views 8 Comments

32 years ago today – August 4th 1979, Led Zeppelin performed the first of two unforgettable concerts in the grounds of Knebworth Park.

Today I, and thousands of other fans will no doubt be thinking back to that glorious day in the summer of 1979 when finally, after all the waiting, Led Zeppelin were back doing what they did absolutely best –performing live on stage.

Two years ago on this day saw the publication of the Led Zeppelin Then As It Was Led Zeppelin At Knebworth 1979 book. It’s therefore a timely moment to announce that the first hardback pressing of the book has now sold out – however I am preparing a new second pressing of the book to be published later this year. This will feature a revamped cover plus additonal new text. I am now accepting pre orders for the second run of the book.It will again be in a strictly limited hardback format – each book will be individually numbered certified and signed by the author.
All pre orders received will be logged to ensure they are awarded the lowest possible numbers in the run as received. So if you have missed out on the first edition or want to keep your collection of TBL book titles up to date – here’s the ordering link.

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

More details on this soon.

Meanwhile to mark the 32nd anniversary here is the first of two ‘’My Knebworth’’ recollections as featured in the book-including poignantly one from Howard .

Later today I hope to be hooking up with some of the fans who revealed their Knebworth memories below as we gather in the confines of the hallowed Earls Court exhibition buildings at the Great British Beer Festival. Scene of course of another Zep triumph in 1975.
Wherever you are today – the toast will be for Led Zeppelin at Knebworth – 32 years gone and still outstanding in their field…. and far beyond…

Dave Lewis -August 4th  2011

SEEING WAS BELIEVING: THEN AS IT REALLY WAS….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All this for the love of Led Zeppelin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The memories of those golden August days of an English summer 32 years ago grow ever precious with each passing year.

Dave Lewis, Bedford, England

Which way is Knebworth? DL provides another TBL service for RP -Knebworth House August 2nd 1979

RECOLLECTIONS FROM OUT IN THE FIELD:

MY KNEBWORTH :

Phil Tattershall, Cockermouth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MY KNEBWORTH:

Dave Linwood, Potters Bar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MY KNEBWORTH:

Ian Avey, Hitchin

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

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

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

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

MY KNEBWORTH

Phil Harris, Milton Keynes

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

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

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

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

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

MY KNEBWORTH:

Mark Harrison  – Leighton Buzzard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MY KNEBWORTH:

Gary Davies, Birmingham

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

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

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

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

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

MY KNEBWORTH

Chris Wright

Mesquite, Nevada, USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

MY KNEBWORTH

The late Howard Mylett

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

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

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

Text Copyright Dave Lewis/Tight But Loose Publishing  2011 – not to be reproduced without prior permission.

Taken from the book Led Zeppelin Then As it Was – At Knebworth 1979. New second edition to be published later this year.

MORE RECOLLECTIONS NEXT WEEK

Finally…put aside some time now to settle down and revel in the glory that was Led Zeppelin at Knebworth….

Led Zeppelin – In The Evening

 

 

Led Zeppelin – Stairway To Heaven

 

 

Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love

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8 Comments »

  • Mark Harrison said:

    Well said Kathy!!….
    Mark

  • Kathy Urich said:

    Speaking of Knebworth, on Jimmy’s fantastic site he features the video clip of Kashmir,its perfection, the energy, the passion…..they’re amazing. The music ever relevent today as it was 32 years ago.

  • Mark Harrison said:

    I LOVED them then
    I LOVE them now…..

  • Steve said:

    Sorry for going a bit off post but Alexs post about Zeppelin getting played in a restaurant reminded me of the time my good lady and myself where having a meal in a nice little restaurant in Edinburgh. The background music being played over the in house system consisted of a mid seventies compilation Rock album. Now although in keeping with the ambience of the place the volume was turned down I could still clearly hear that one of the tracks being played in all its glory was “Starf****r” by the Rolling Stones. I found it hilarious though nobody else including the staff seemed to notice 🙂

  • Denzepp58 said:

    Dave, your description of our love for Zeppelin hit the nail on the head…yes, they were just a rock band and they had some songs, but there is more to it than that…they were special in the way that thier fans see them to this day ( still winning converts to this day, I might add ). They were unique in a time of Great music being made by other bands of the day ( Floyd, Moody Blues, Stones, Bowie, etc )And the interest and respect for them has only grown over the years, not faded away, the Song truly does remain the Same for them. I still get shivers and a lump in my throat when I watch the Knebworth footage especially the funky version of Whole lotta love that shows how TIGHT this band was, it just cooks! The Zeppelin still flies high…Peace…

  • Alex Machin said:

    With the anniversary of Knebworth upon us and the memories as vivid as ever, I thought I’d relate a little tale from a recent cycling/camping trip to the French Alpes. On the second day after climbing the Courmet de Roseland we pitched camp in the pouring rain on a wind blasted camp site surrounded by those majestic mountains, and as the evening light faded the group retired to the one and only restaurant in the nearby town for some warmth and sustenance. We huddled round a long oak table, while delicious food was served accompanied by thirst quenching beers, and quietly in the background I could hear the distinct strains of ‘Dancing Days’. As the volume increased the whole of ‘Houses of the Holy’ was played, which then segued into ‘Physical Graffitti’. This prompted much comment amongst the newly aquainted group with at least 3 people having attended a gig at Earls Court, or one of the Knebworth shows. Meanwhile the bar lady was happily dancing around behind the bar, obviously a huge Led Zeppelin fan. So there we were, rain lashing against the window, enjoying great food and beer, and ‘Kashmir’ resounding round the restaurant. Amazing, just the antidote to that rain soaked night. Somehow, I don’t think that would ever happen in your average restaurant back home. Not only a band for all seasons, but all weathers too!

  • Kathy Urich said:

    Knebworth, meant for this anxious 19-year old fan, that Zeppelin was back. The next thing I knew of we’re rumors of a possible tour. The obvious questions were, Would the they tour the US? If so would they get close to the Midwest? When the US tour dates were annouced I was out of my head with excitment; They’re coming to Chicago. Early in 1980 I was diagnosied with Hodgkins disease and beat it. I was more than ready to celebrate Zeppelin style. A friend qued for tickets and got them, I could hardly beleive it. I was actually going to see my favorite band live…..but as history goes it was never to be. John was gone. The video’s of them playing at Knebworth are fantastic, but bitter sweet, I get a lump in my throat now watching John play. So thanks Dave and TBL for helping me vicariously experience Zeppelin at Knebworth through your writing and others individual stories.

  • Chris Wright said:

    You know the more I think about that wonderful day in recent years, the more I have come to realise that Knebworth ’79 was our Woodstock, our Isle of Wight ’70.

    What binds those three events together is that they were all, in their own separate ways, ends of an era.

    It is no exaggeration to call this the concert that defined a generation of rock. Here was the most legendary band back on a stage in front of an audience who, it is equally no exaggeration to note, would have done almost anything to have been there.

    While few would argue that Earls Court ’75 was Zeppelin at their absolute peak in musical terms, the proceedings just outside Stevenage just over four years later marked, for an audience that had remained steadfast through the stench of punk, their moment of complete and utter triumph.

    What we thought was the start of a brave new era turned out to be the final flash of glory for a band that 32 years later has never been more popular or respected.

    Wherever I go, especially now I live in the States, just the mention that I was at Knebworth and saw this mighty band in front of a quarter of a million of their most faithful followers is enough to interest anyone of a certain age that happens to be in earshot.

    How fabulous to have been witness to such a great slice of rock history.

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