I received an e-mail from Richard M. Houghton, the author of the book I posted about recently, Jimi Hendrix – The Day I Was There. He was letting me know that he had signed copies of that book available. He also informed me that he was starting his Led Zeppelin The Day I Was There book. He was accepting stories from fans. So I decided I would document my Led Zeppelin concert experience for inclusion in his next book.
I have been meaning to create a concert and memorabilia database, blog site so what better opportunity to kick it off with this blog post 😉
Madison Square Garden
New York City, NY
The Day I Was There
Led Zeppelin first occurred to me as music phenomenon when I was a senior in high school in 1968. I hung around with a group of friends and we were passionate about rock music. We would meet in the cafeteria before school and at lunch to discuss who we were listening to on WNEW-FM radio. We devoured Rolling Stone magazine cover to cover.
A member of our discussion group had friends in England. They had told him about Led Zeppelin. He raved about this new supergroup which was creating a stir across the pond in the fall of 1968. Led Zeppelin did not release their earth-shattering album Led Zeppelin until January 1969. It was everything I had heard about and more. I took that album with me everywhere. I played it relentlessly on my hi-fi system and in art class at school. Lots of people borrowed it from me.
I wanted to see Led Zeppelin live in concert after bonding with their first album. Progressive FM airplay stirred that need even more. On July 3rd, 1969 on the way home from The Fillmore East in the East Village, New York City after a Jethro Tull/Jeff Beck concert I bumped into two friends from high school. We rode the subway from Astor Place to Grand Central Terminal to catch the train back to Connecticut.
They were psyched about having seen Led Zeppelin at The Filmore East a couple of months earlier. I listened intently as they talked about sitting in the balcony with binoculars studying Jimmy Page’s guitar mastery. They watched his hands the entire show as they both played guitar in a band. They were knocked out by his musicianship and urged me to see Led Zeppelin if I ever got the chance. I made a personal commitment to make that happen.
Eight years later that became reality. I purchased tickets at a Ticketron ticketing terminal to see Led Zeppelin at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Led Zeppelin had booked a six-night engagement at this famous venue, June 7, 8, 10, 11, 13 & 14 ,1977. I scored tickets for Saturday evening June 11th.
I recall that my sister-in-law drove us from Norwalk Connecticut in her Volvo. Travelling by car to the Garden added to the excitement of the evening. There is a thrill in witnessing the streets and atmosphere of New York City at night. The lights, the people, and the stores. We parked at The Garden and joined our fellow Zep freaks as we headed into the venue.
I was handed this pin by a Garden employee. I refer to it often in my pin collection. WPLJ-FM 95.5 was one of two major FM rock stations in New York City in the mid 70s.
Our seats were fantastic for $10.50 each. We sat on the left side of the band as they faced out into the audience. We had a great view of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Bonham. John Paul Jones was tucked behind Bonham so we couldn’t see him as well.
Led Zeppelin proved to be everything I knew and felt about them in concert. My visual recollection of their performance centers around a couple of songs in their 21-song set list.
The Song Remains the Same, (The Rover intro) Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault but Mine, In My Time of Dying, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, Ten Years Gone, Battle of Evermore, Going to California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, White Summer ~ Black Mountainside, Kashmir, (Out On the Tiles intro) Moby Dick, Jimmy Page solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway to Heaven, Heartbreaker.
I remember being tired that night and starting to drift off to sleep in my seat (I know who falls asleep at a Led Zeppelin concert?). They had played several acoustic numbers seated at the front of the stage. I snapped awake after Black Mountainside as I witnessed Jimmy Page kicking a three-legged stool as it slid fast behind him under Bonham’s drum kit. He grabbed his double neck guitar launching us into “Kashmir”. It was a powerful moment that swept me along for the ride. Ever since then “Kashmir” has been my favorite Led Zeppelin tune.
“Kashmir” was followed by the greatest drum solo I ever saw. John Bonham played “Moby Dick” with drum sticks, his hands, and the Gong. I have seen a lot of great drummers in my 49 years of live concerts. But no one has impressed me or reached me with their drumming skills like John Bonham. I realized after he passed away why Led Zeppelin did not want to reform without him as Bonzo was integral to their sonic experience.
The evening ended with the encore of “Stairway to Heaven” which is the classic Led Zeppelin hit. Hearing Robert Plant’s voice echo across the sea of people in Madison Square Garden as the huge disco ball cast its light on us was breathtaking to witness. His hair was golden as was the memory.
I’m always reminded of this concert when I see this rock t-shirt being worn. It’s a shirt I must add to my rock t-shirt wardrobe.
April 20th Universal Music drops a 3-LP / 2-CD set of The Who’s stunning 1968 live performance at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East theatre in New York.
The Who were in New York and near the end of a grueling tour on April 4, 1968, the day that Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. America was already a country divided; Anti-Vietnam demonstrations, civil rights disturbances and militant student activism. With this turmoil as a backdrop on Friday and Saturday, April 5 and 6, 1968 The Who performed two incendiary live sets at Bill Graham’s legendary Fillmore East on the lower East Side of Manhattan.
The venue had only just re-opened in March by Graham from its previous incarnation as the Village Theatre where the band had played on a couple of occasions the year before. The Who was the first British rock act to headline the Fillmore East and were booked to play four shows over the two nights. However, because of feared social unrest in the wake of Dr. King’s assassination, it was decided to compact the shows into one per night.
The Who’s time in New York City in 1968 can best be described as ‘lively’. Keith Moon’s antics with cherry bomb explosives had meant that the band had to move hotels. When installed in the plush Waldorf Astoria he then somehow managed to a blow a door off its hinges and, they had to move once more.
On the morning of the Fillmore rehearsal, the band was photographed for Life magazine by Art Kane and legend has it that they were so tired from Moon’s antics that they nodded off under the large Union Jack draped over them at the base of the Carl Schurz Monument in Morningside Park. This iconic image was later used as the album cover and poster for The Who’s classic film The Kids Are Alright.
Both nights were recorded by Who manager Kit Lambert with the intention of releasing the results as The Who’s fourth album after The Who Sell Out and before Tommy. Disaster struck when it was discovered that due to faulty equipment or human error only part of the first night was captured. Thankfully the second night was recorded and has now been fully restored and mixed by longtime Who sound engineer Bob Pridden (who was the band’s roadie on those nights in 1968) from the original four-track tapes. For the 50th anniversary of these legendary shows, the unreleased recordings are to be issued on triple vinyl LP and double CD.
Due to an acetate reaching the bootleg market in the early ‘70s, The Who’s reputation as rock’s most dynamic live act quickly grew. The show is regarded by fans as something of the ‘holy grail’ of Who live shows equalling the legendary Live At Leeds album. The tapes have been meticulously remastered for optimum sound quality and will only serve to enhance The Who’s reputation as the best live act of the time.
The 3LP set includes three Eddie Cochran numbers; ‘My Way’, ‘Summertime Blues’ and the never before released Who version of ‘C’mon Everybody’.
Also featured is a rare cover version of ‘Fortune Teller’ written by Allen Toussaint, originally recorded by Benny Spellman but made famous by The Merseybeats, the Rolling Stones, and several English beat groups. These shows also showcased ‘Tattoo’ and ‘Relax’ from The Who Sell Out as well as stunning extended versions of ‘A Quick One (While He’s Away)’ and ‘My Generation’ which becomes a 30-minute-plus jam with the climax of guitar-smashing and drum demolition!
Disc One / Side 1
- Summertime Blues
- Fortune Teller
- Little Billy
Disc One / Side 2
- I Can’t Explain
- Happy Jack
Disc Two / Side 3
- I’m A Boy
- A Quick One (While He’s Away)
Disc Two / Side 4
- My Way
- C’mon Everybody
- Shakin’ All Over
- Boris The Spider
Disc Three / Side 5
- My Generation (Part One)
Disc Three / Side 5
- My Generation (Part Two)
To pre-order the 3-LP click here
To pre-order the 2-CD click here
I vividly recall experiencing the Pink Floyd concert documentary, “Pink Floyd:Live At Pompeii” in the early 70’s. It was a feast for the eyes and senses which I found transfixing.
45 years after Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour filmed ‘Live At Pompeii’ in the legendary Roman Amphitheatre there, he returned for two spectacular shows in July 2016. The performances were the first-ever rock concerts for an audience in the stone Roman amphitheater, and, for two nights only, the 2,600-strong crowd stood exactly where gladiators would have fought in the first century AD.
‘David Gilmour Live At Pompeii’ is an audio-visual spectacle, featuring lasers, pyrotechnics and a huge circular screen on which specially-created films complement selected songs, but paramount above all is the astonishing music and stellar performances.
I have two favorite cover artists, Joe Cocker and Richie Havens, who both played at Woodstock. I was fortunate to see both perform live in Connecticut concert settings. Each person generated special magic channeling famous songs by well-known musicians they made their own. What I love is the dimensionality and how much more I came to appreciate the original selections.
Joe Cocker crafted Beatles songs among other tracks with his unique phrasing. If I had to name one song that signified Joe Cocker’s Beatles stamp it would be, “With A Little Help From My Friends”, which I saw him do in the Woodstock film. His performance was both commanding and endearing.
Sir Paul McCartney stated he would be “forever grateful” to Cocker for turning With A Little Help From My Friends into a “soul anthem”.
What I love about Richie Havens is the extra breadth and depth he injected in Bob Dylan’s songs. His interpretation brings Dylan’s songs to life in amazing ways. The gem of Haven’s Dylan’s cover selections is “Just Like A Woman”.
My favorite rendition is Richie Haven’s performing at the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration Madison Square Garden event. The audience reaction on the refrain echoes how wonderful Richie knew and understood Dylan.