Posts Tagged ‘Peter Grant’

The Knebworth Festival 1979 consisted of two concerts performed by the rock band Led Zeppelin and other artists at Knebworth House, Hertfordshire, England, in August 1979.

Led Zeppelin had not performed live for two years, since the death of Robert Plant’s son during the band’s 1977 North American tour, and they had not performed in the United Kingdom for four years. Their manager Peter Grant decided that the band should perform at Knebworth instead of embarking on a lengthy tour.

The whole [Led Zeppelin touring] operation had become too big. Page’s experience from the 1971 club tour ruled out any small dates. They had played the biggest indoor arena in the UK (Earls Court 1975) four years earlier. As Peter Grant saw it, they had to come back in the grandest style possible. Knebworth was the answer and after negotiations with promoter Freddie Bannister the 4th August date was scheduled with a second date on hold. The demand for tickets for the first date was enormous, leading to the second date being added.

The band’s fee for performing was reportedly the largest ever paid to one single act at that time. In the lead-up to the concerts Led Zeppelin undertook extensive rehearsals at Bray Film studios near London, and attended the venue at Knebworth in order to inspect the site, complete a publicity photograph shoot and perform a soundcheck.  In addition, they performed two low-key warm-up shows in late July at the Falkoner Theatre, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Also performing at the Knebworth concerts in 1979 were The New Barbarians, featuring Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards (The New Barbarians played only at the second concert on August 11); Todd Rundgren and Utopia; Southside Johnny; Marshall Tucker; Commander Cody; Chas & Dave; and Fairport Convention. According to the official website of Knebworth House, the 1979 Knebworth Festival involved: the largest stage ever constructed, 570 loo seats, 750 feet of urinals and the biggest rock band in the world. Led Zeppelin played their last ever concerts (in the UK) at Knebworth, and it was the end of an era for the Knebworth shows. Both concerts overran, noise complaints were received from 7 miles away. The rubbish team struggled to cope with clearing the arena between the shows. The police believed that 200,000 people had turned up each night, Sainsburys lost 150 trolleys and Tesco 75% of their stock, and Lord Cobbold [owner of Knebworth House] ended up in Court. For many in attendance it was their first ever concert experience. For many it would be the only time that they would get to see Zeppelin perform live. For that reason alone it holds a special affection in their live history. The first show in particular, with so much riding on it, was perhaps the most important they ever played.[

In an interview he gave in 2005, Plant elaborated on the difficult issues:

I was racked with nerves. It was our first British gig in four years and we could have gone back to the Queen’s Head pub. We talked about doing something like that. But instead we went back in such a flurry and a fluster to 210,000 people in a field and 180,000 more the next day surrounded by Keith and Ronnie and Todd Rundgren. Nobody’s big enough to meet those expectations. But because there was some chemical charge in the air, it worked. It didn’t work for us. We played too fast and we played too slow and it was like trying to land a plane with one engine. But it was fantastic for those who were there.

Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant stated after the event that Led Zeppelin’s performance at Knebworth was “a bit rusty”. In the opinion of many the gigs were a “nervous, rather tentative attempt [by Led Zeppelin] to step back into the limelight … Some of it was breathtaking, some musically woefully inept and sometimes it wavered between the two in the space of a few minutes.” music writer Chris Welch, who also attended the concerts, similarly suggests that:

The two concerts were professionally recorded on the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio (engineered by George Chkiantz) and also filmed, with live images beamed directly onto a giant screen behind the stage. The filming was done by the TV International Company under the direction of Chris Bodger.There was a plan for the footage to be used on a television special (this is one of the reasons the band members wore the same clothes on both nights) but this idea was never realised. Only short clips of some of the songs were used by Atlantic Records for promotional purposes.

For many years, bootleg copies of this audio and video material circulated amongst fans. The first audience-recorded bootlegs became available in early 1980, However, aside from the promotional snippets, Led Zeppelin never officially released any of the recordings until 2003, when parts of the footage were digitally remastered and included on the Led Zeppelin DVD.

Led Zeppelin at the Knebworth Festival, on August 11th, 1979.
It was felt it was necessary to include the date in the title because this is the Knebworth concert that wasn’t remastered on the Led Zeppelin DVD.
The video footage is from the Return of the Dinosaurs bootleg. The only available (and therefore best) complete footage of the concert.

Setlist:

1:00 The Song Remains the Same*
6:11 Celebration Day**
9:46 Black Dog
15:22 Nobody’s Fault But Mine
21:25 Over the Hills and Far Away**
27:35 Misty Mountain Hop*
32:53 Since I’ve Been Loving You
41:42 No Quarter [medley]*
56:45 Hot Dog
1:00:45 The Rain Song
1:08:30 White Summer/Black Mountain Side
1:14:20 Kashmir
1:23:44 Trampled Underfoot
1:30:25 Sick Again**
1:35:37 Achilles Last Stand
1:45:25 Guitar Solo
1:51:30 In the Evening
1:59:08 Stairway to Heaven
2:13:59 Rock and Roll
2:23:56 Whole Lotta Love [medley]
2:34:29 Communication Breakdown

The Story: This was pieced together from two different bootlegs, one that sounds flat but perfectly matches the video, and one that sounds The space in-between songs is made up of the former of those two, because the latter basically omits everything that isn’t a song. It took forever to match the good-sounding soundboard to the bad-sounding one (the speeds were slightly off for every song), then match all the audio to the video. It became somewhat trial and error, especially with Kashmir. The good-sounding bootleg had the Kashmir recording at varying speeds, meaning it would match up to the video at one point, then it would gradually get further and further ahead of the video, while accelerating in its increase in speed (if that makes sense). It became way too extravagant to even attempt to match it up, The version of Kashmir that is used is from the flat-sounding bootleg, although it’s honestly acceptable in quality.
You may notice that the overall sound quality of the concert dips after The Rain Song. That’s because of the bootleg, I don’t know why it does that. There’s not much I can do to make the end of the concert sound as lovely as the beginning, without having access to the original soundboard tapes. Regardless, it’s all the best sounding stuff for this concert.

Led Zeppelin 1

Whether you mark the genesis as the death of  The Yardbirds, the Scandinavian tour by The New Yardbirds or the band’s first show under the new name, Led Zeppelin’s birth, however gradual, takes place in 1968, on way to its crowning moment, the release of the band’s self-titled debut not two weeks into the new year, January 12th of 1969.

The story arguably begins back in 1966, when Jimmy Page joined The Yardbirds, first on bass as replacement for Paul Samwell-Smith, but then switching to guitar, where he shares those duties with Jeff BeckBeck was soon to depart, in October that year, Jimmy’s thoughts wandered off to bigger things, a supergroup of sorts, while he bides his time for nearly two more years with an act proving to be somewhat directionless. The Yardbirds would play their final show, a Bedfordshire gig, in July of 1968. At this point Jimmy is already in possession of most of the riffs and song ideas he would need in his next incarnation.

“We were a vehicle for what Jimmy wanted to do when he came in,” explains Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty. “He had a pretty free rein, as all the guitar players did and he pushed The Yardbirds sound into more of a heavy metal context. He really was the master of the riff.”

Everyone was paying attention to the band’s star axeman. Recalls Steve Lyman, of legendary Michigan rockers SRC, who caught the band just before their demise, “The first British group that I actually saw perform live was The Yardbirds, at a small club in Ann Arbor, Michigan called The Fifth Dimension. I already had two albums by The Yardbirds at that time, so it was a real thrill for me to see this British group performing live. Jimmy Page was the guitar player at the time, because The Yardbirds went through various incarnations. Eric Clapton was their first guitar player, Jeff Beck and then Jimmy Page. I was mesmerized by that Yardbirds show. I was the lead guitar player in a band The Fugitives, which became the SRC, so seeing Jimmy Page play became a real thrill for me because I had been listening to these Yardbirds records on my record player and trying to figure out what they were playing.”

But in the summer of ’68, The Yardbirds, now splitting up, but nonetheless still committed to a Scandinavian tour. A new lineup to fulfill these dates was called for. After Chris Dreja bows out to begin a career as a photographer, session stalwart John Paul Jones is recruited. In the all important vocal slot, Jimmy had wanted on the team Terry Reid, but Reid demurs, suggesting a young Birmingham singer named Robert Plant. Robert is the one who brings along local drummer and hard-hitter John Bonham. Before the new foursome would hit the road, they perform a session for the P.J. Proby album Three Week Hero. A track there called “Jim’s Blues” would live on as the band’s first session together, on the technicality that Robert is present blowing some harmonica.

Original Judas Priest vocalist Al Atkins happened to be there to watch the formation of what would be called The New Yardbirds, the makeshift name the band used to fulfil those Scandinavian dates.

“I used to know Robert,” says Atkins. “We used to go for a beer together, and sometimes he’d borrow my microphone because he couldn’t afford one, if I wasn’t playing. We had one mic between the two of us. I had the best one. And a buddy of mine, ‘Are you playing tonight?’ ‘No, oh go on.’ It was great times. Robert’s roots have always been blues. He’s a very intelligent guy when you’re talking to him about the blues stuff. He knows everything about that. You can’t argue with him about anything on that subject. But I saw him before Zeppelin, when he was playing at Henry’s Blues House and Alexis Korner was playing on his own, a solo gig he got there, like a one-man band thing or something, and Robert got up and played harmonica and sang along with him.

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“And then with Jimmy Page, they joined The Yardbirds, went over to Europe, came back, and next thing they were called Led Zeppelin. I went to see them play at Mother’s in Erdington. They were supporting Blodwyn Pig, and I think they got 75 quid or something. But when I saw him with Jimmy onstage that night I was totally blown away. And Bonham was absolutely out of his head. He was drunk, I think. And they did a set, and it was very mixed, including a lot of stuff that was going to be coming on the new album. They were loud, but they were brilliant. Robert’s voice had just changed overnight. I couldn’t believe the difference in his voice. Fantastic vocalist. And yeah, John Bonham, he couldn’t come back onstage. They did the encore and the drummer from Blodwyn Pig came on and played this blues thing with them and they just jammed the encore. The good ol’ days.”

Jimmy had made his mind up that they were going to blow everyone off the stage,” adds (now deceased) engineer Andy Johns, soon to be working closely with the band. “That’s what my brother told me. This is when Jimmy still had The Yardbirds thing going. Glyn said, ‘I was with Jimmy the other day, and Jimmy said, I’ve got this new lineup now, and we’re going to blow everyone offstage.’ So that was an intentional thing, to be as dramatic and as riff-conscious as possible. And Jimmy was a fabulous writer, and had a lot of great ideas in the studio, and was just wonderful to work with.”

But in August of 1968, even before the band’s dates in Scandinavia, Jimmy’s Yardbirds mate Jeff Beck would release his album Truth, which many a rock historian debate as the blueprint for what Led Zeppelin would become.

“Well, it was right around the same time,” explains Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. “I was on that Jeff Beck album and Jimmy was with The Yardbirds at the time, so my influence on the Jeff Beck album would probably be similar to my influence on the Led Zeppelin album, just like Jimmy. I don’t know, I suppose. You can come to the same conclusion with any number of blues-based rock bands. But it soon took off from there. Most of the songs we had done on the first album had been done by Jimmy and The Yardbirds as well. It was only things like “Good Times Bad Times,” which was a riff I brought in, that I wrote in the studio. That’s got John’s famous drum part, of course. John never used double bass. He did in fact bring in a double bass drum for rehearsal, and we played a couple of songs with it, but then we hid it when he went for lunch. When he came back it was gone.”

“We loved Zeppelin,” says Nazareth guitarist Manny Charlton, also there to watch the band being born. “They were just an extension to what was going on with the guitar bands like The Who, on from The Beatles. It went from The Beatles to The Who and then into that blues boom thing, with the Jeff Beck Group. The Yardbirds and Cream, really, initially, we were doing the electric blues thing. The Yardbirds moved from that blues thing to another area, where they kept the same sound but they started writing what you would call riffs, and in some cases, like pop songs. A pop song but played with that power-trio lineup. Because initially when Cream started, they were doing ‘I Feel Free’ and stuff like that, basically writing pop songs to get away from the blues, to get away from ‘You Shook Me.’ But the Jeff Beck Group took it to another level, and then Led Zeppelin obviously did as well. But their first album was basically electric blues songs.”

Into the fall, The New Yardbirds would play their first date, September 7th, 1968, at the Gladsaxe Teen Club in Gladsaxe, Denmark, following up with another 10 days around Scandinavia. Significantly, the band have in their set  “Communication Breakdown,” which is recorded as soon as the band get back, in October of that year. It’s a small thing, but one might also call the recording of this bedrock Zeppelin track as the birth of the band. Indeed the song is a step up in intensity, away from other songs in the set at this time such as “Hush,” “The Hunter,” “Somethin’ Else” and “Train Kept A-Rollin’.”

In any event, 1968, as it pertains to the birth of the band, is next marked by the first show on British soil, October 4th at the Mayfair Ballroom, Newcastle upon Tyne. Conducting a brief British tour, the next benchmark is the band’s first show under the new name — Chris Dreja had issued a cease and desist order on the use of The Yardbirds moniker — on October 25th, at the University of Surrey in Battersea. And for the record, as the story goes, the band chose for its new title Led Zeppelin, because John Entwistle had suggested to Jimmy that his new “supergroup” would go down like a lead balloon. Into November, rough and tough manager of the band Peter Grant negotiates a $143,000 advance for his boys from Atlantic Records and the hype machine lurches into operation, never to wane across a full decade of dominance.

“We didn’t move into a style; I think we kind of created it,” muses John Paul Jones, on what the band brought into being over the nine-day burst of creativity in late 1968 that would result in the band’s debut album. “And if you would have asked me in 1969, as people did, what sort of band I was in, I would have said a progressive rock band. But then that became to mean something else. There you go banging up against categories again. That came to mean something else entirely. And then it was just sort of like blues rock, because the band was quite blues-orientated. And it was just the style, the way the members of the band played together. But in terms of actual riffs, well, anything with notes, lots of notes, like ‘Black Dog,’ ‘Good Times Bad Times’… those were my riffs. And anything that was kind of lurchy and chordy were Page’s riffs. That’s how you tell them apart.”

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The impact of the band’s first album would be felt far and wide. “Led Zeppelin had just come out,” remembers Blue Cheer’s Randy Holden. “They were doing something entirely different. I went to see them at their gig at the Whisky, which was their first gig in California as far as I know. I liked their album; I thought they got a really heavy sound on the album, but then live they used these Rickenbackers and they’re the most god-awful sounding amps I ever heard, which really surprised me. But the record really came off great.”

Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, “Led Zeppelin influenced me a lot because I was in a pop group called Episode Six and we were trying to get heavier and weren’t making it because we were just playing the same music but louder. When the album first came out, you could tell it wasn’t the loudness so much as a feeling, what you felt about the music rather than how they played it. Episode Six, as we were, weren’t the right combination of people to be heavy, and I gradually gained the impression that heavy music wasn’t for me because I didn’t like what we were playing — loud pop music. And I decided for a time to go into folk music. I’ve never been so struck by an album as I was by Led Zeppelin. It really left me open-mouthed. What they were playing was very simple stuff, loud and exciting, and it moved me. I suddenly wanted to be in a club playing that music — loud, straightforward, with simple guts. And by pure coincidence, just about that time I was offered a job with Deep Purple! But for Zeppelin, I might never have been in Deep Purple.

“I remember Jimmy played me the first Led Zeppelin album,” chuckles Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty. “There was ‘Dazed and Confused’ and there was a Howlin’ Wolf-type thing, ‘How Many More Times” which is very similar to the stuff we’d been playing; it was similar to ‘Smokestack Lightnin’,’ I thought. And then there was another one which was similar. It was very well done, the first Zeppelin album; I thought it was very good. You can see the links, how easy it was to go from us to them.”

And like so many others that were there to bear witness to the birth of this great band, Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones had also found himself impressed with what Jimmy had put together. “At the time, I was cutting my teeth in France,” explains Jones. “Don’t ask me how, but I’d become sort of the musical director and producer of Johnny Hallyday, who you’ve probably heard of. He was sort of the French Elvis, as it were. And so we would go over to England to record, and we ended up with an engineer named Glyn Johns, who at that time, he worked with Steve Miller Band and later the Eagles. I think he had been working with the Eagles even before their record came out. But he had worked a lot with John Paul and Jimmy when they were session musicians.”

“And they happened to be session musicians on the stuff that I was doing for Johnny Hallyday. And so I was fully aware of who they were. And every time I was playing with Jimmy Page, he blew me away every time we went into the studio. I had so much respect for him as a guitar player. So that’s where our friendship developed. He would even come over to Paris with Glyn Johns and cut tracks over there. In fact, some of the music that we were doing with Johnny Hallyday provided the opportunity for Jimmy to work closely with Glyn Johns in preparing the first Zeppelin album. And I remember the day that Glyn took me into the studio, the back of Olympic Studios in London, and he said, ‘I’m going to play you a couple things on Jimmy’s project.’ And he sat down and played me ‘Communication Breakdown’ and it just blew me away. Just blew my mind. I couldn’t believe it. I had never heard anything as mean and powerful in my life. It just left me staggered.”

Millions across the planet were soon to feel equally staggered, but again, the groundwork and indeed so much more, was set in 1968, and really, much of it packed into the back half of the year. The breakdown in communication that caused the demise of The Yardbirds to the recording of “Communication Breakdown” takes no more than an astonishing four months, and by the end of the year, is a record that will forever change rock ‘n’ roll. Fully 50 years later, the impact of Led Zeppelin is still reverberating.

Words By Martin Popoff

Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin - 1st [B] - Uncorrected - G vinyl LP album (LP record) UK ZEPLPLE672541

Day on the Green

Led Zeppelin’s eleventh—and final—American jaunt was in support of their seventh studio album, Presence ..

The 1977 tour was plagued by unfortunate incidents, with the most notorious occurrences taking place backstage at one of the last shows and a most tragic event bringing an end to the outing.

The vibes were bad before they even played a single gig. Large, menacing manager Peter Grant had recently gone through a nasty divorce, while guitarist Jimmy Page was incredibly thin, reportedly in the throes of heroin addiction. Throughout the tour, police had to be brought in to quell audience violence, culminating in a riot in Tampa; nineteen were arrested, 50 were injured. At multiple stops, a new crop of younger, wilder fans threw lit firecrackers on the stage, which would explode inches from the band members. During a Cincinnati show, a fan died after falling from the third level of the coliseum—the first tragic event of the tour. The trek was to run for three legs of dates from April through August. For the final leg, eleven stadium shows were scheduled. The band only played four of them.

On July 23rd and 24th, Zeppelin performed in front of sell-out crowds at Oakland Coliseum. Rick Derringer and Judas Priest opened. The shows were part of the recurring “Day on the Green” concerts organized by Bill Graham. The stage set was constructed to resemble the Stonehenge monument, and was likely the main inspiration for one of the funniest moments in the brilliant mockumentary, This Is Spinal Tap    (and before you say, “But what about…,” we debunked the theory that Black Sabbath’s Stonehenge stage influenced the film).

Led Zeppelin

Two nasty backstage episodes took place on the 23rd. The first happened when Peter Grant was asked by a member of Graham’s crew if he needed help getting down some stairs, which Grant perceived as a slight on his weight. John Bindon, a London gangster brought on by Zep as their chief enforcer for the tour, stepped in and knocked out the stagehand, who banged his head on the concrete floor. Later, Grant’s teenage son was about to remove a temporary sign to keep as a souvenir, but was sternly rebuffed by a member of Graham’s security team. This prompted drummer John Bonham to kick the guy in the balls, and then Grant and Bindon beat the man so badly that a shocked Graham had him rushed to the hospital. Graham also claimed that his production manager was hit on the head with a lead pipe.

 On the 24th, Graham’s security were looking for revenge, yet the show concluded without further incident. The following day at the band’s hotel, the SWAT team showed up and arrested Bonham, Grant, Bindon and tour manager, Richard Cole, who were charged with assault. After they were bailed out, the Zep entourage flew to New Orleans for the next show. Once they were settled in, Plant received a call from his wife and learned that his young son, Karac, had died suddenly on the 24th. Plant immediately flew home to England. Led Zeppelin would never play stateside again.

Footage from the July 23rd gig is available online. This first video appears to be professionally filmed, and was perhaps meant as B-roll for a TV news piece. The first note of the Zeppelin show is heard at the 5:55 mark. At 6:10, the camera zooms in for a closer look at the band and the Stonehenge stage set.

thanks dangerousminds.net