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13 July 2017 2,267 views 8 Comments

TBL Retro Archive: Led Zeppelin Over Europe 1980: it was 37 years ago…

Concluding the TBL retro archive features on the final Led Zeppelin tour as chronicled in the Feather In The Wind Led Zeppelin Over Europe 1980 book.

This is my overview of the gigs that I caught – this extract picks up the on stage action in Munich on July 5, 1980 for what would be their penultimate show with John Bonham…

When the house lights dim some 15 minutes later, I get the most incredible buzz from hearing the Wembley-like roar that echoes around the Olympic Hall. And there they are, walking the 30 yard stretch from the dressing room area up on to the stairs that lead to the stage. Ushered by torchlight and led as ever by manager Peter Grant. Bonzo is flanked by the ever present Rex. He’s shaved his beard (“I always do for the summer” he tells me later) and looks very much like he does in the concert part of the movie. He also looks nervous, and at this moment I can’t blame him.

Jimmy is stumbling his way through, once again wearing that baggy suit I first saw in Cologne. Robert strides forward head aloft, a bottle of orange juice in his hand, smiling. John Paul Jones does an Ali-like shuffle up to the stairs.

Seconds later Munich sees Led Zeppelin and the roar is frightening.

So too is the awesome power of the opening numbers Train Kept A Rollin’ (“And it kept on rollin’ ”) and Nobody’s Fault But Mine. It’s when they crunch down on numbers like these that you get into perspective the power that they can create.

Something like Nobody’s Fault with all its stop-gap acappella and soloing, has to be punctuated by the rhythm section at just the right moments. If Bonzo or Jonesy drop one or stitch one it would totally throw out the up-front euphoria of Jimmy and Robert… but they get it right every time and it makes me gasp in amazement. That power, which so easily could weigh them down, is manipulated with effortless ease, and it sounds so right. “No-no-no-no-no-no-no-no body’s fault.” Crunch! Jimmy winds it up, but then Jimmy winds it up every night.

Of course, one of their great assets is the ability to balance that power and shift into passionate, emotion-filled diversity. After Black Dog and In the Evening, they display this perfectly when performing Rain Song with all its shimmering double neck virtuoso playing from Jimmy, and on All My Love too, probably the best received song throughout the tour. You can actually hear the audience singing along on the chorus tonight. Of course, they’ve all got the album, and the dream of it being performed live is turning to reality with every movement of Robert’s outstretched arms, Jonesy’s string symphony, Jimmy’s emotive solo and Bonzo’s anchor man drumming.

“Eye thank yew” says Robert, taking this particular crowd through an unfamiliar sketch. Hot Dog has the boy doing his barn dance speciality and John Paul Jones adds some accurate piano work. During Trampled Underfoot Jimmy really lets loose. Pulling the most incredible notes from the Gibson, steely solos, juicy wah wah effects, you know, the whole works, and Robert loves it. Dancing his two-step across the stage, grinning and looning. “Push” indeed. Since I’ve Been Loving You is another Jimmy showpiece and it’s apparent how well this song has matured over the years, having been written something like a decade ago.

“James Patrick Page guitar! This is the first tour we’ve done in three years and it’s been quite an interesting sketch actually.” (Roars from the audience) “One more night then… who knows; maybe we’ll do this again very quickly; maybe not.”

munich live 2

Achilles Last Stand follows that speech. I close my eyes and it’s like being in a 1976 time warp. It’s got that sort of atmosphere having been recorded here in forced circumstances, and it still retains a sense of melodrama (right down to the point Robert echoes the “Atlas” line and leaves Jimmy to stalk the stage in time with the revolving, closing chord passage, flanked by a blue spotlight). After Jimmy’s White Summer/Black Mountain Side interlude, Kashmir explodes forth and Robert unleashes every ounce of drama from within the lyrics. Other highlights include that marvellous “Woman talkin’ to ya” ad lib; the combination of the two front men’s visual tactics; and finally Bonzo’s drumming – “Moby Dick, Dick, Dick, Dick” Robert teases.

Unannounced as usual, Jimmy plays two chords and as those two chords echo around the Olympic complex they’re soaked up by the Munich people and thrown back with a most volcanic-like roar that signals the anthem. “Does anybody remember laughter?” asks Robert on cue and, judging by the reaction, I think they do. Soon after, he’s thrown the tambourine and stands there arm outstretched in classic pose. Behind him Jimmy rips out that solo. By the end of Stairway to Heaven, Zeppelin receive an ovation that sounded like they’d scooped gold, silver and bronze in every event going.

“München… Goodnight!”

The band leave the stage, and Phil from Bad Co. and Mick Hinton proceed to set up Simon’s drum kit to the side of the stage near John Paul Jones’ keyboards. The audience look puzzled. Back come the group for the obligatory encore of Rock And Roll which crushes the hall.

After this, Robert announces to the crowd: “Please welcome an old friend of ours from Bad Company, Simon Kirke!” Simon walks on, takes to the kit, does a few snare beats and before we know it the five man Led Zep are into Whole Lotta Love. This, I haven’t seen before. Incredibly though, it works! Even though this jam had been totally unrehearsed, Simon gets all the breaks right, with eyes fixed on Bonzo, and the sound is sizzling hot. Jimmy joins in on the vocals for the chorus, and then proceeds to fiddle about on theremin, battling with Robert’s vocal interplay. The famous five grind on into the Let That Boy Boogie segment and then it’s on to the home straight, Simon filling in, complimenting Bonzo’s hammerings.

At the close they all take a bow – “Thank you… oh, and welcome back on stage Simon!” Finally they leave the stage, grinning, sweating and satisfied. While the Munich mania continues, the band are already speeding towards the Hilton hotel.

A couple of hours later, the Hilton’s plush bar is doing hectic business in trying to satisfy the thirst of the Zeppelin entourage. Everyone’s here tonight. Bonzo, Robert and Jonesy are already propping up the bar, and not long after, Jimmy completes the line up. “Where’s Robert?” exclaims James, ambling down the stairs anxious to find his buddy.

Robert is holding court. His energy is phenomenal. Even after tonight’s exhausting show he’s still full of life. He holds up his hand to me forming a circle with his thumb and finger, signifying that the evening had been spot on. “Great tonight wasn’t it?… and Simon, well it was such a driving rock ‘n’ roll, I couldn’t believe it. Two drummers, I mean really!”

John Bonham is also well pleased. “Overall, everyone has been dead chuffed with the way the tour’s gone. There were so many things that could have gone wrong. It was a bit of a gamble this one, but it’s worked really well.” I enquire what the next move will be. “A holiday!” replies the beardless Bonzo. “We wanna keep working. There’s lots of possibilities and of course we want to do England. It’s down to a management decision really and we will have to talk about that when we get back.”

As the night progresses, the booze continues to flow, and everything gets a little hazy. Before I crawl back to my room, I can dimly recall Robert singing along to the chorus of Walking On The Moon, cries of “Eye Thank Yew” at regular intervals, and rapping with him about time, the wheel that rolls on… long into the night.

Sunday: the tour is winding to a close. Just one more gig in Berlin tomorrow and then it’ll be back down to the Golden Lion and a bit of English sanity. For me, today is a leaving day. The Spirit of Albion is calling once again. Down in the lobby just as I’m checking out, I literally bump into Jimmy Page as he’s trying to open a loo door! Last words, then James: “Yeah last night was the nearest feeling to that of the big American shows. Just so much energy there – How long did we play for? I tell him 2 ½ hours. “That’s about right isn’t it? We had to get rid of some of the effects really, I mean, it was difficult trying to get a leak in during Dazed And Confused!. I thought it was really exciting last night, really exciting.”

So that’s it. Fond farewells have been exchanged, luggage packed and the taxi ordered. Just as I’m about to leave I notice Fritz Rau again. He’s greeting the Santana crew who are booking in for their gig. For Fritz it’s just another rock ‘n’ roll band from where-ever… I’ll tell you one thing though; I bet he never thought Led Zeppelin were just another rock ‘n’ roll band, during their tour. Led Zeppelin are never just… anything. That’s why they’re special. That’s why they’re here still.

But earlier in the year, even I was beginning to wonder if they were ever going to get back on the road after the silence that followed Knebworth. This tour though, has taken them into the 1980s. Things may change for Zeppelin, but it’s their ability to retain the essence of their existence (ie. their roots), that helps keep it fresh.

Led Zeppelin Over Europe 1980 has been a return to the people. It’s a period of intense activity they all desperately needed. It’s been a rejuvenation, and above all it’s been fun.

It leaves Led Zeppelin in a very healthy position. They’ve still got it and they still care.

Boys… ”Eye Thank Yew… ”

Dave Lewis, July, 1980.

Extract from the book Feather In the Wind- Led Zeppelin Over Europe 1880.

The book is readily available at a bargain price – essential Led Zep summer 2017 reading

Here’s an interview I conducted with Gary Foy at the time of the book’s publication in May 2011:


In the summer of 1980, Led Zeppelin undertook what would be their final tour –a low key 14 date trek taking in Germany, Belgium, Holland, Austria and Switzerland. With a radically streamlined stage presentation and set list, the aim was to get back to being a working band after all the lay offs of recent years and grand scale of their 1979 Knebworth appearances.

This air of rejuvenation would inspire plans for a full scale tour of America in the autumn that would be sadly curtailed with the untimely death of John Bonham.

Vastly under reported at the time, the Led Zeppelin Over Europe ’80 tour has taken on something of mythical status over the years. It found the band anxious to stamp their authority on a changing musical landscape as their reputation tethered like a feather in the wind.

In his forthcoming book, Dave Lewis brings a fresh perspective in chronicling this final era, setting the scene with the build up to the tour, combining on the spot reports of the gigs from the time and retrospective views from those that were there both out front and backstage. The book also includes an in depth gig by gig analysis, full bootleg appendix and is illustrated throughout with many rarely seen photos and images.

The book also offers a unique fans eye view of the era as re-told through Dave Lewis’ diaries of the time and his experiences of being in close proximity to the action during the tour.

It all adds up to an illuminating volume that offers clear light on the final days of Led Zeppelin as they attempted to rejuvenate their career by doing what they did best – performing live on stage.

This is the Led Zeppelin tour that time nearly forgot…remembered and re-assessed in greater detail than ever before.

In an interview with Tight But Loose web site editor Gary Foy, Dave Lewis explains how he came to be up close and personal with Led Zeppelin during their final days and his thoughts on the book.

 GF: So how did you manage to be in such close proximity to the band on this tour?

DL: I guess it was a combination of fanatical enthusiasm, being in the right place at the right time, and sheer luck.

I had been an extremely fervent Led Zeppelin fan from the day I first heard Whole Lotta Love powering from the radio when I was just 13 years old. I was totally hooked, and from then on this band became an integral part of my life. I took in their shows at Wembley Empire Pool in 1971, Ally Pally 1972, five nights at Earls Court, and of course two weekends at Knebworth. Every album they released, every move they made I soaked up with near religious fervour. By 1976 I was already penning my own reviews and notes on the group and had begun to harbour a massive desire to channel my dedication into chronicling the group in print.

This initially bore fruit when I collaborated with Geoff Barton on a four part series marking Led Zeppelin’s tenth anniversary in the late summer of 1978 for the UK weekly music paper Sounds. I had been eyeing creating my own Led Zeppelin fanzine for about a year, and participating in this well received series was the kick start to getting things moving. Ironically, I was inspired by the do- it- yourself punk fanzines of the day such as Sniffin’ Glue and Ripped And Torn.

Led Zeppelin did not do fan clubs and gaining information was strictly down to whatever coverage Zeppelin were afforded in the then weekly music papers NME, Melody Maker, Sounds, Disc and Record Mirror. Back then, there was, of course, no internet, twitter or facebook and in the UK little radio coverage of rock music on TV or radio – and there were no blanket news channels, or even breakfast/daytime TV.

In search of info, and keen to put my thoughts on paper and connect with like-minded fans, I created my own magazine – Tight But Loose (so called after an expression used by both Page and Plant in 1977 to describe their music). I handwrote issue number one (an Earls Court Revisited special), advertised it in the music paper small ads and the response was pretty instant. There were many more like-minded fans out there across the world that wanted to buy into this hub of info I was committed to supplying.

Luckily for me, this self published magazine struck a chord within the band and their organisation. Within a year, I had developed the format from a hastily handwritten stapled booklet to a glossy A4 format with exclusive photos. The then most recent issue – number four published in April 1980, had gone down well within the hallowed walls of their Swan Song record company empire.

Along the way, I had developed a good relationship with their then press agent and office manager, Unity McLean. They saw the intentions of this venture were genuine and seemed more than happy for me to produce it.

With Led Zeppelin preparing to tour in Europe, the objective was a simple one that spring of 1980. To report on it all I needed to be right there where the action was. So I organised all the travel details and then their office via Unity were very helpful with passes.

 GF: How many gigs did you attend?

DL: Along with my TBL colleague Tom Locke, we attended the second night in Cologne, plus dates in Frankfurt , two in Mannheim and the penultimate gig in Munich. There was a real relaxed feel about the affair and compared to previous Zep tours it was all very low key.

On the tour they had a tight knit team of people around them led by Harvey Goldsmith.

I was already on good terms with a number of Swan Song associates and security people. They were more than happy for us to be in close proximity.

For the Cologne show we were ushered into the photo pit to see the show – although bizarrely there were no photographers present.

The next four gigs we were allowed access to view the action from the side of the stage. It was incredibly exciting to be so close to the band. The fact we were accepted into their inner sanctum to the extent of being allowed on to the sacred area of the stage was remarkable. It probably says much about the low key nature of this tour. Could it have happened at Earls Court or Madison Square Garden? Probably not.

I do feel that the close-knit relationship the band shared with their crew and personnel on the Over Europe tour allowed for a certain extent of informality. Peter Grant had no problem with our presence and neither did any of the rest of their entourage. I would like to think that there was also an element of trust in place, knowing that anything I reported back for the TBL magazine would be done so with the highest integrity – a value I continue to uphold in all things I project with TBL to this day.

GF: Given all the press backlash of the last couple of years, what was the morale of the band on the tour?

DL: Compared to previous tours, one thing is for sure. This was a vastly different Led Zeppelin that came out to face the 1980s on the night of June 17th of that first year of a new decade. Firstly, there was the scaled down set list and presentation. No big lights, no large stage, no lasers. No Dazed And Confused, no Moby Dick or No Quarter. A slicker, neater, more compact operation that indicated fresh thinking and something of a rejuvenation within the ranks.

For example, lined up against the run of shows just three years earlier at the Los Angeles Forum, there was much less swagger about them. Too much had gone on not for them to have been affected by the tragedies and lay-offs. Jimmy as can be seen from the photos was very thin. We did see a fair bit of them at the hotels. They all seemed pretty relaxed and just keen to get on with the job of getting out there again and playing again.

GF: Musically how did it compare to say Earls Court in 1975?

DL: As I said this was something of a different band from that glory era. They were somewhat erratic at times but on any given night on the tour they came out packed with intent.

On the nights they really nailed Achilles Last Stand (check out Munich July 5th) or Kashmir (check out Frankfurt June 30th), John Bonham was at the nerve centre of it all and playing with the abandonment of say, the Royal Albert Hall ’70. He still cared as did John Paul Jones, the steady anchor with the Billy Fury haircut (as Plant put it). Performances such as Nobody’s Fault But Mine (check out Brussels June 20th) and the beautifully melodic All My Love (check out Zurich June 29th or Munich July 5th) showcased his undisputed musicianship.

For all his prior misgivings, Robert Plant in the main seemed to be having a great time. The sweat-stained green cap sleeve tops he wore bore evidence of the effort he was putting in. Robert Plant may have been less the hippy Adonis but he was totally immersed in the band again – a full-on interested Plant could always sway the balance – there’s no finer example of that than his performance at the 02. In Europe 1980 he was never swamped by the enormity of the music. He led from the front and yes it did work…contrary to what the critics might have said.

As for Jimmy: stick-thin and enigmatic in white suit, baggy suit, and red or blue sneakers. Jimmy’s application, though not always 100 per cent in delivery, still saw him pushing the songs in different directions – the semi-jammed guitar masterclass performances of Trampled Underfoot being a vivid example. On stage he was still the man to watch. Grinning, cringing, side stepping, duck-walking and constantly battling to be in sync with the music in amongst of the shapes he was throwing.

Musically erratic he may have been at this point, but again when he was on it such as the sonic thrust of Train Kept A Rollin’ (their best opener since Immigrant Song?), the theremin-led Whole Lotta Love, or the night in Zurich when he pulled out all the previous stops that had made Heartbreaker such a compelling tour de force, Jimmy Page recaptured the sparkle and excitement that first lit up the ballrooms of America a decade previous.

Yes, they were erratic and there were nights when it did not always come together with the fluency of their earlier years. When it was good though, the 1980 Led Zeppelin was still very impressive indeed.

I know because I was lucky enough to be there.

GF: Aside from your own recollections what does the book include?

DL: There are also a number of recollections from fellow fans who attended the shows out front –alongside a series of retrospective views from those that were backstage tasked with ensuring the wheels of the slightly reduced Zeppelin juggernaut rolled on across Europe that summer of 1980 -including Phil Carson and Showco sound engineer Rusty Brutsch.

Central to the book is the 58 pages that form the detailed gig to gig analysis of the 14 shows. This documents everything from the set lists, what they wore to what was said in between songs.

From across the water, US fan Larry M. Bergmann Jr. relays some passionate observations of the way this final European jaunt sounded to the ears of a fervent American fan (one of thousands who were somewhat in the dark on the proceedings unfolding in Europe). For many American fans their affair with the band was abruptly cut short with the untimely curtailment of the 1977 US tour.

The final chapter looks at the aftermath effect of the Over Europe tour leading to the tragic events of September 25th, 1980 and the subsequent fallout that would result in that statement of December 4th, 1980 that explained ‘They could not continue as they were.’

There’s also an extensive appendix section that logs the multitude of bootleg CD’s that have emerged plus an illustrated guide tol the tour memorabilia, posters, tickets etc.

GF: I take it there many rare photos featured in the book?

DL: Yes the book is illustrated throughout with an abundance of rarely seen colour photos. It’s something of a paradox, but this Over Europe 1980 tour was one of the least professionally shot of their career. Few official photographers were on hand to capture the shows; however the tour was captured by many fans in attendance on the small instamatic type cameras that were easy to get past security. It’s these photos that light up the book including many of the photos my colleague Tom and I took from the side of the stage are featured that

These photos whilst not professionally shot images capture this era in a candid and honest way that only adds to the mystique of this era. Many of the photos my colleague Tom and I took from the side of the stage are featured.

They are the last great evocative images of the band in action. They help unfold the story with an authenticity that compliments the low key nature of the tour. These last remaining live on stage images of Led Zeppelin as a working unit only adds to the fascination for this little chronicled period of their history.

Another function of this book is that I hope it inspires the reader to search out these recorded remnants, which in the modern age are not too difficult to track on the internet. There are many delights to be found.

Listening to Led Zeppelin performing in Europe all those years back reveals an endearingly vulnerable quality unique to this tour. The cock-sure knowing arrogance of 1973 and 1975 was long gone. Instead, what we hear over those performances is a purity and honesty in their playing.

That mistakes occur only lends to the humility of these four players who had long since needed to prove themselves.

GF: How do you think Led Zeppelin would have fared in the 1980s had John Bonham not have died?

DL: Well I think the planned autumn American tour would have seen them reclaim their crown there. America was a whole different ball game to the climate in the UK. Punk and new wave never fully penetrated there, and they would have been on decidedly more safer ground than here at home.

Looking back, it’s apparent that a proportion of their once loyal home grown fan base was probably fed up with waiting for them to play with some sense of regularity like their earlier days. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, some had chosen to side with the new emerging face of rock.

The musical landscape they one stood over like a colossus, had changed radically. The onset of punk rock and new wave had challenged the status quo of the mega-bands – the so called dinosaur acts.

In fact, Robert Plant made reference to the dinosaur tag on more than one occasion on this tour. Aside from the new wave of bands who relied on sharp, incisive three minute blasts of power pop, a new movement of rock outfits, spawned on the hard and heavy riffs that powered Zeppelin to the top, were in the wings ready to dislodge their crown.

The so called ‘’New wave of British heavy metal’’with the likes of Leppard and Maiden were taking hold. Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, David Coverdale’s Whitesnake, the maturing Rush, the durable Queen and the likes of AC/DC and Motorhead were all ready and primed to take up the interest of lapsed Zeppelin enthusiasts.

The sheer lack of activity over the past two years, and even the ten months that divided their successful Knebworth comeback and the Over Europe dates, did reek of complacency. After the success of Knebworth, it was rumoured they would cash in on that wave of support by staging a UK tour that Christmas. Nothing happened and the news that they were planning a European tour with no sign of any homeland appearances must have beguiled many of their UK fans.

Whilst there’s little doubt they would have gone to America and enjoyed huge acclaim again, it’s quite feasible they may well have struggled to retain their heavyweight crown in the UK come the dawning of 1981 and beyond.

By his own admission, Robert Plant was finding life in Led Zeppelin much less of an attraction than prior to the tragedies that befell him post-1975. So there may well have been solo projects

Led Zeppelin may well have found it difficult to have reigned supreme in the manner they did from 1970 to 1980 . The layoffs, the changing musical landscape, the attitude of personalities within the band may well have taken their toll. However given the freedom of solo projects they could well have come back together periodically, perhaps in the way Genesis did, and sustained the challenges of a new era and continued to make inspiring concert performances and innovative music.

Within the 270 pages of this book of this latter Zep era, I hope some indication of where it might all have headed is revealed. It’s a contentious topic and one ripe for discussion. The spirit was still willing for sure, and there was enough evidence on stage in Europe that they still had it. What they really needed to do was get out and play – and a week at the City Hall Newcastle or London’s Rainbow, or even a ‘’Back to the clubs’’ tour (something Plant undertook himself with the Honeydrippers in the spring of 1981), could well have been all that it would have taken to prove they still cared, still wanted to be seen, and could still cut it. Such a move I personally feel would have put them right back on track.

As it was, the tragic events of that late September day in 1980 rendered all of the above mere speculation. What we do know is that their instant demise would eventually lead to them being rightly heralded and admired for producing a remarkable catalogue of work that has proved to be the absolute barometer and yardstick of all things rock and beyond – as well as an ongoing inspiration for musicians young and old.

We also know from the events at the 02 Arena on the night of December 10th, 2007, that the principal players alongside Jason Bonham are still capable of recreating the magic of their glorious past – and in a way that made it look entirely contemporary. As Q magazine’s Paul Rees commented in his review of the show, ‘’How can they possibly leave all this behind again?’’

That they (or principally Robert Plant) resisted a full scale tour, only enhances that night of December nights, and what went before in the years 1968 to 1980.

GF: Final thoughts on it all?

DL: It’s worth pointing out that producing this book has also been something of a rite of passage for me and a cathartic experience in reliving it all. This book is without doubt a personal journey in recounting one of the times of my life and the various personal photos I have included reflects that. As much as it’s a book about Led Zeppelin, it often unavoidably slips into being something of an autobiographical account of my experiences in being very close to the action back then.

The fact remains that these memories are ingrained on my brain. Being so close to the action that summer of ‘80 left an undeniable stamp on me as a person. I was a mere 23 years old and there was a lot of growing up type personal stuff was going on in my life at that time. As can be seen in the actual diary entries I have reproduced, their music and the whole fabric of Led Zeppelin was a huge part of my world – and the fact that I was able to dip into the inner workings of their organization was also a huge thrill – in between my job as the manager of the WH Smith record department. selling records . There’s no finer example of that than the astonishing events that unfolded when I visited the Swan Song office in Kings Road, London on the afternoon of Thursday, September 18th, 1980.

Jimmy Page was holding court there that very afternoon and I spent half an hour talking to him in the top floor meeting room. Whilst there he showed me a working model of the lighting rig they were assembling for the forthcoming American tour, complete with models of each member. On reflection that was an incredibly poignant episode. For that same time the very next week – seven days on – the tragic events that would bring to an end to all such hopes and dreams of a new era for Led Zeppelin would be unfolding.

That’s just one of so vivid many memories I have from this era. It has long since been my plan to encapsulate all this in book form, and the forthcoming publication of Led Zeppelin Feather In The WindOver Europe 1980 is the result of many years of research and collation that has led to this extensive documenting of the final Led Zeppelin tour.

It all adds up to what I hope is an illuminating volume that pours fresh light on the final days of Led Zeppelin as they attempted to rejuvenate their career by doing what they did best – performing live on stage. Something that they could still do better than any other band on the planet.

This is the Led Zeppelin tour that time nearly forgot until now…remembered and re-assessed in greater detail than ever before.

This is their last journey…If you weren’t there then, you can be now…


Pic below with designer Mick Lowe working on the book at StudioMix March 2011





Led Zeppelin Feather In The Wind – Over Europe 1980 by Dave Lewis.

 Book ordering Details – ORDER AT THIS LINK:


The Feather In the Wind book is also available as a bundle offer with the Then As It Was At Kenworth book for just £18 plus postage – order at the link below


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

Jimmy Page

  • The deluxe, signed edition of Chris Farlowe’s album that was released through Jimmy Page’s website and record label is now sold out.

Robert Plant

John Paul Jones

  • John Paul Jones’ official Facebook page posted a Norwegian newspaper report on his performance at the Sun Station Vadsø music festival last month. See the newspaper report here.

Upcoming events:

Mid-September – The new Black Country Communion album, which will feature Jason Bonham, is due to be released.
October – Andrew O’Hagan claimed that Robert Plant’s new album will be released this month.

Many thanks to James Cook.

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

Led Zeppelin News Website: Check out the Led Zeppelin news website at


It was 32 years ago today….

Led Zeppelin at Live Aid – July 13, 1985:

Much maligned of course but some moments of absolute magic   and watching it all unfold back then live on TV at 1 am in the morning was just incredible…it was the inspiration I’d been waiting for – I started work on what would become my Led Zeppelin A Celebration the very next day – there needed to be a book that referenced and celebrated their music and I was of the mindset that I might be the man to do it…it took the next five years for it to come to fruition (and more than one publisher rejection including Chris Charlesworth at Omnibus – however he did redeem himself by re considering the idea and going with it big time in 1990 -thanks Chris!).

Here’s my review of the day that I wrote for the local newspaper The Bedfordshire Times – an hour by hour run down of how it unfolded watching live on TV. I was right about it being a day to tell our children about…simply one of the most memorable days of all for sure…


Their sheer presence on that day back in July 1985 revived their fortunes overnight – suddenly people were realizing just how important Led Zeppelin’s music was – and their legacy was rightly acclaimed –as it has been ever since…

See YouTube clip at


More TBL Archive:

Five years ago this week…
I had a great night but this show inspired a host of debate…and I was certainly wrong that the Sensational Space Shifters shelf life might be short!
Photo by Gary Foy. 
Robert Plant Presents Sensational Space Shifters – HMV London Forum -Thursday July 12th 2012
Set List: Fixin’ To Die/Tin Pan alley/44/Friends/Spoonful/Bron Yr Aur Stomp/Ohio/No Bad News/Standing in the Shadow of the Hill/Don’t let me Die in Florida/Black Dog/Somebody Knocking/I’m Your Witchdoctor/Who Do You Love –Whole Lotta Love –Steal away –Bury My Body. Encores: Another Tribe/Gallows Pole
Robert Plant returned to London for his first show since The Band Of Joy appearance in 2010. This time he was surrounded by a hybrid band of players that drew on the nucleus of the Strange Sensation, the one string virtuoso playing of Juldeh Camera and a guest slot for Patty Griffin.
Opening proceedings with a relaxed stroll through Fixin’ To Die, Bukka White’s finest moment as he put it, Robert looked well at ease with hair tide back and striped sweat shirt. Tin Pan Valley was suitably tight and moody with the always inventive Justin Adams kicking in the riff. The delightfully jaunty 44 paved the way for their first surprise of the night – an authentic arrangement of Led Zep 3’s Friends performed live by my reckoning since the Page & Plant Japan 96 dates –this was a welcomed crowd pleaser.
A typically off the wall Space Shifting arrangement of Spoonful followed and then it was back to Zep 3 for a singlalong Bron Yr Aur Stomp with Patty adding vocals.
This led into Patty’s solo spot for which Robert took a backseat. Ohio, No Bad News, Standing in the Shadow of the Hill and Don’t Let Me Die in Florida gave the Texan songstress ample opportunity to showcase the strength of her passionate vocals. Whilst entirely admirable this did seem to change the momentum but the clue is in the band title – not for nothing is this billed as ‘’Robert Plant Presents’’…and rather than an out an out rock show this is more of a revue of the performers talents.
That was more than evident when the extraordinary Juldeh Camera added the one stringed African violin effect to an already alternative arrangement of Black Dog – for which Juldeh also added a unique vocal input. An ambitious arrangement of Mighty ReArranger’s Somebody Knocking followed before they romped into I’m Your Witchdoctor led by John Baggott’s swirling keyboards. This was again the highlight for me of the night as it was in Gloucester –Robert totally immersed and taking full command of the classic John Mayall Immediate single that was produced by ‘’a pal of mine’ ’as he noted afterwards.
Finally Bo Diddley’s Who Do You Love which in turn developed into an intoxicating fusion taking in bits of Whole Lotta Love, Steal Away and Bury My Body.
The first encore was a run through Mighty ReArranger’s Another Tribe –a somewhat muted choice. Song To the Siren was listed in the printed set list but for whatever reason did not make the final cut. However it all went out on a high with an absorbing delivery of another Zep 3 standard namely Gallows Pole. This was performed in the Strange Sensation arrangement with the frantic speeded up finale and Skin jigging away on banjo.
‘’Continue to keep smiling’’…was the singer’s parting words.
In summary this was a less vibrant performance than the Gloucester show and the ‘’revue’’ type presentation won’t be for everybody. Whilst overall there was a strong reception from the London crowd, I did hear some mixed reaction in the aftermath of the show.
With reports of a new album recorded in Nashville well on the way, the Sensational Space Shifters may not have a long shelf life ahead of the Womad and two US appearances. So let’s embrace this for what it is – an opportunity to gather some pals and present some of those songs which as he once put it, he carries in his back pocket or as he revealed on stage, can be sourced on the web site Ready Steady A Go Go with it’s freak beat content.
It doesn’t always have to be the next great step or big statement to appreciate the singer applying his undisputed vocal prowess and there were enough impressive moments last night to justify this latest adventure.
Dave Lewis – July 13, 2012
Read more (including a host of mixed comments!) at



Happy Birthday Jason Bonham!

Wishing Jason a very happy 51st birthday for Saturday July 15…have  a great one mate!





Rufus Stone Limited Editions July Sale:

Another opportunity to invest in this book at a bargain price…

LED ZEPPELIN – FIVE GLORIOUS NIGHTS £95 (reduced from £120)

Dave Lewis’s epic chronicle of the bands legendary shows at Earls Court.

A must for any Led Zeppelin fan

Here’s the full July Sale info from Rufus Stone:

With summer really hotting up in the UK we’ve decided to have a short, sharp July Sale (starts on July 6th and finishes at midnight on the 24th). We are currently working directly with a number of international bands and artistes and we need to create some warehouse space for the autumn…so fill your boots. Shipping is completely free and all orders will be sent via signed-for courier.

It will take up to 14 days to ship. To order click on the links below.

LED ZEPPELIN – FIVE GLORIOUS NIGHTS £95 (reduced from £120)

Dave Lewis’s epic chronicle of the bands legendary shows at Earls Court.

A must for any Led Zeppelin fan.


JON LORD – ALL THOSE YEARS AGO £200 (reduced from £240)

The official photographic history of Jon’s life and career. Personally signed by Rick Wakeman and Glenn Hughes.



500 rarely seen and previously unpublished photographs of the Beatles by Norman Parkinson.


BOB TYRRELL – LIFE ON THE ROAD £150 (reduced from £195)

This book covers Bob’s journey as one of the world’s leading tattoo artists.


All prices include FREE worldwide delivery. Thanks for reading.


Ross Halfin Website/Diary:

After a few weeks under construction the always interesting Ross Halfin website and diary are now revamped and back up – check it out at the following links:


Caught In A Trap: The Kidnapping Of Elvis by Chris Charlesworth:

Here’s some more info on the previously mention forthcoming book by Chris Charlesworth:

Caught In A Trap draws back the veil of secrecy on the most dramatic event in the life of Elvis Presley. In October of 1975 Elvis was abducted and spirited away to a cabin in the Kentucky mountains where he was made to sing for his supper. After a week in captivity a ransom was paid to ensure his release, a bizarre episode that was hushed up on orders from the White House, no less.

This psychological thriller not only reveals the dramatic details of how Elvis was snatched but also delves into the innermost thoughts of the King of Rock’n’Roll. How does Elvis react when he is treated like an ordinary person, told to sweep floors and chop wood? How does he interact with his kidnappers? Will his songs grant him his freedom? And how do those close him, among them ex-wife Priscilla and manager Colonel Tom Parker, respond to the crisis?

Caught In A Trap is so believable you’ll be asking yourself why it has taken so long for the real story to get out.

Book Extract:

It is September 1975 and Elvis has been hospitalised after a season of shows in Las Vegas that was curtailed due to ill health. He is convalescing at the Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis…

Elvis Presley bored easily. Like many others upon whom Dame Fortune had showered fame and riches, the mundane was anathema to contentment and Elvis needed a constant charge to keep him amused. It could be any of many things: music, movies, pretty girls, fast cars, motor bikes, funfairs, travel, practical jokes, vandalism, food, sport, drugs or – his current favourite – impulsive gestures of unexpected random generosity. Hospital was boring and Elvis, as soon as he was feeling better than he did in Vegas, wanted out.

When he was first admitted to the hospital immediately after his return from Vegas, huge sheets of aluminium foil were affixed to the windows of his room to keep out the sunlight. This enabled Elvis to maintain his Dracula-like routine of sleeping during daylight hours and coming alive at night, and the hospital was quite willing to bend their rules for such a famous patient.

The official word was that Elvis was under treatment for ‘exhaustion’, but the truth was far more serious. Elvis’ liver was malfunctioning due to a grossly enlarged colon and he was suffering regular and painful intestinal spasms. His constant use of ‘medication’ ­– powerful, numbing pain killers during periods when he was awake and sleeping pills when he chose to sleep – and a junk food diet had upset his metabolic system, causing his weight to fluctuate wildly and putting additional pressure on his heart.

Elvis briefly considered an intestinal by-pass operation but ruled that out when it was explained to him that henceforth he would have to adhere to a strict, frugal diet. Girlfriend Linda Thompson visited his private ward regularly and the pair would watch afternoon game shows on television together, and tune in to the hospital’s internal TV system, so they could check out the action in the public wards. Ever a snoop, this eased Elvis’ boredom for a while. So, after he’d been bedridden for two days, did a surprise phone call from the man who was once the highest in the land.

“Yeah,” said Elvis when his bedside phone rang unexpectedly. The line was silent for a few seconds. Then a voice he didn’t recognise came on the line.

“Is that Mr Elvis Presley?”

“Yeah,” said Elvis curiously. All calls to his bedside were supposed to have been screened by the hospital switchboard. “Who’s that?”

“This is Ron Zeigler, the secretary to Richard Nixon, the former President of the United States. One moment please.”

The one and only time Elvis had met Nixon was at the White House in 1970. Earlier this year he had phoned him when Nixon was himself hospitalised. Now, it seemed, the ex-President was returning the courtesy. The hot line crackled.

“Hello Elvis, it’s Richard Nixon here. I’m speaking from my home in California. I just wanted to call to say how sorry I was to hear that you were unwell, and that I hope most sincerely that you’ll be feeling much better soon.”

Caught off his guard, Elvis was momentarily speechless. “Thank you sir… er, Mr President, sir,” was all he could mumble in reply.

From the library of his San Clemente home, Richard Nixon tried to sound chatty. “What’s the problem, Elvis?” he asked.

“Er, just fatigue sir,” replied Elvis. “I just been working too hard I guess. A bit of a stomach problem too, so the doctors tell me. But I’m feeling better every day sir. I should be outta’ here real soon.”

“That’s good,” said Nixon. “Well just you look after yourself now. You’re an important man in this country, our country.”

“Thank you sir.” Elvis felt deeply flattered. He admired the former President, any President, very much. Emboldened by Nixon’s bonhomie, he decided to share some thoughts on current affairs. “I think you did a fine job up there in the Capitol, Mr President, sir, and I want to say that you had my full support in that Watergate business I kept seeing on television. I know you’re an honest man, Mr President, sir, and you had our country’s best interests at heart. I think that those people who were trying to harm you were, er, unpatriotic citizens who didn’t deserve a President like you, sir, er Mr President.”

Nixon coughed discretely. Elvis’ grasp of the Watergate situation was evidently untainted by political reality. He decided to bring the conversation to an end.

“Thank you very much, Elvis. I am confident that my position in history is secure,” he said, sounding far more confident than he really felt. “I gotta go now… State business, you know. Bye and best wishes Elvis.”

“Of course. Thank you for calling, sir.” Elvis hung up and a swell of pride surged through his huge body. Goddam it, the former President himself calling to wish him well. Wait till he told the boys about that.

Later the same day Elvis took a similar call from Frank Sinatra who also wished him well but his buoyant mood didn’t last. After a few days in the hospital he was itching to get back to his toys at Graceland, so much so that the hospital staff had little choice but to discharge him earlier than they planned.

Linda visited Elvis every day and there was a sack of get well cards waiting to be opened at the foot of his bed. But Elvis was still bored.


Caught In A Trap: The Kidnapping Of Elvis by Chris Charlesworth is due on August 16 – more details and extracts to follow  


DL Diary Blog Update:

A bit u and down here this last week. Firstly last Thursday evening, I chewed on a piece of toast that dislodged my tooth – it was painful and uncomfortable so after the usual Vinyl Barn visit, on Friday morning I went to the dentist. A tooth infection was the problem – due to a crack in the tooth. I was immediately put on a course of anti -biotics and I am due back in to the dentist Friday to see what else needs doing to the tooth. I have to say the toothache that this all caused has been extremely painful for some days. It made it very difficult to sleep properly.

However the anti biotics did kick in and the pain subsided. I was back to the dentist to have a bit of the tooth out today but there is more dental work to solve it ahead.

This all added to a rather testing day as last Thursday afternoon I had my bike stolen.

Around 4pm last Thursday, I was about to take some TBL books to the post and I left my bike  outside the house for two minutes – as I came out to my utter shock and dismay it was gone…

Knowing it had to have been taken in the last minute or so, I ran off into the main road and sure enough, there was the young opportunist blighter (not the word I was using at the time) who had stolen my bike -riding it away on the path.

I set off at speed shouting at him but alas, my attempt at a Usain Bolt failed – he swerved into a side road and I lost him.


The good lady Janet and Adam and I did get in the car and ride around the area for a while but it was a lost cause and I was left Very Angry of Bedford…

On the face of it – this was my fault entirely for leaving it unlocked – but I can be a trusting gullible old fool sometimes and I never for one minute expected someone to run off with it. I was wrong

So I have no bike and a bit of strained stomach muscle from when I was frantically running after said blighter (not the word I have used to describe him around these parts).

As the bike is my main means of transport, it’s an incredibly frustrating not to have it.

I will now have to invest in a new bike, though I am almost loath to given my track record – four years ago another of my bikes was stolen while it was locked up in town. l will certainly have to be more careful locking it up.

Suffice to say, this incident has dented my faith human nature somewhat…

Coupled with the tooth infection I have, it’s been a bit of a challenging week but hey, in the scheme of things these are mere irritants and you to have to get on with it.

As Frank Sinatra would say  ”That’s Life…”

On a brighter note …

It was fantastic to have our Sam back for a few days – we very much enjoyed catching up with her here. Sam is now back to Australia for a second stint at the Mail On Line office in Sydney – we are very much looking forward to her being back with us at Christmas.

Despite the rather black Thursday and ahead of a visit to the dentist, there were Friday treats at the excellent Vinyl Barn and as it was  Ringo’s birthday a mono copy of With The Beatles just had to be had alongside Canned Heat Live and a very nice  Who pic sleeve single – I will be looking for similar inspiration tomorrow …

Dave Lewis  – July 13, 2017

Until next time –  have a great  weekend…

TBL Website updates compiled by Dave Lewis

with thanks to Gary Foy and James Cook

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The TBL/DL Facebook page has regular updates and photos – be sure to check it out.

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YouTube clip:

Led Zeppelin – Munich July 5, 1980:



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


  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    not sure on that

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    It’s a fiction book but very thought provoking!

  • Roxanne Barker said:

    Great to see Jason Bonham! Looks like his dad and in fine form. Looking forward to the new Black Communion album. Thank you, Dave, as always for giving us the best in all things Zep…….

  • Matt Walsh said:

    Great blog! So the new Elvis book contains true stories are are they fiction?

  • Byron Lewis said:

    Is there any figures on how many Chris Farlowe Delux copies were made?

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Great memories Ed!

  • Ed-Washington DC said:

    The entire 1985 spring and summer cycle revolved around Zeppelin for me, having taking in The Firm at the Capitol Centre in Largo, Maryland on 1 May, and then Robert Plant at the same venue at the end of July. Both of those records (The Firm, Shaken N Stirred) along with the Honeydrippers EP formed the soundtrack of those warm summer days.

    But the oddity of that summer was the item I spotted in the newspaper that the Beach Boys would be including Jimmy Page in their then-annual gig under the Washington Monument on the Fourth of July. It was sacked in later years for more saccharin fare, but at the time it was an American tradition to rock the Mall.

    And so it was that I found myself 30 yards or so from the stage, after a very long day of drink and sunburn, to witness Jimmy Page in a cabana shirt with the brown Telecaster slung low blistering through the entirety of the Beach Boys’ catalogue, beginning with Surfin’ Safari. With Mr. T on drums and New Edition providing background singing and dance moves, under a canopy of fireworks above the Monument, watching Jimmy enliven this presentation was surreal.

    It was because I survived this gig with minimal sunscreen, the ensuing traffic nightmare and the requisite hangovers of the day, I opted out of a proposed road trip to Philly the following week for Live Aid. I realized that Page and Plant were slated to appear, but I didn’t expect John Paul Jones to be there and I certainly didn’t foresee the Zeppelin reunion that it became. To this day, my friends who attended were witnesses to history.

    Zeppelin took the stage on television shortly after 8 PM, primetime in America, and it seemed as though the world stood still. Initially ragged and unrehearsed, the evening became sublime and magical by the time Stairway was concluded and the sun was setting on that day. A remarkable moment I shall never forget, 32 years gone.

  • Graham Rodger said:

    Zep on fire in Munich… Superb…!

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