Led Zeppelin – The Day I Was There

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 😉

Led Zeppelin

June 11, 1977

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.

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.

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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.

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