I Saw Led Zeppelin

I used to rock it, sometimes I’d roll it. I always knew what it was for.


Photo courtesy of Paste Magazine

Big news! Led Zeppelin (minus John Bonham! John Bonham! John Henry Bonham!) are reuniting for a one-time concert at London’s O2 Arena.

I shan’t be going. For you see, I saw Led Zeppelin once, and once was all that was meant to be. Plus they’re all old as hell and look terrible. Still, I count Led Zeppelin as my all-time favorite band, and seeing them in concert was an experience I’ll never forget.

It all started the first time I heard “Stairway to Heaven.” I was 15. Suddenly, music made sense. A bustle in my hedgerow? Man, they were speaking to me personally. No more American Graffiti soundtrack in the morning before school. I had a new god to worship, and his name was Led Zeppelin.

Luckily I had a friend with whom to share my obsession. We thought we were so cool. We brought a Creem magazine to school and casually showed it to our Latin teacher, Mrs. Klazura, who was probably around 30 and therefore ancient. We were pretty sure our love of this dangerous rock and or roll band would blow her square mind.

She took a look at the full-page photo of Robert Plant in all his tight-jeaned glory.

“Yeah, Plant’s okay, but Page is the one with the talent.”

Our heads proceeded to explode. We couldn’t fathom that this ancient crone not only seemed to know of “our” band but had an opinion about its members.

We saw the rockumentary of the 1973 Madison Square Garden concert The Song Remains the Same 14 times. Only one of those times was on acid. We thrilled to Jimmy Page’s 20-minute guitar solo, complete with violin bow. We imagined ourselves in Robert Plant’s fantasy sequence. We kinda zoned out during “Moby Dick.” We debated the significance of why that one guy in the beginning is a werewolf.

(I love reading the comments for Song Remains the Same on IMDb.com. One guy asks, “Why did Jimmy Page’s eyes turn red?” Dude, you didn’t take enough acid!)

When we found out Led Zeppelin were comin’ to our town, we screamed and fainted and cried. Then we camped out in the parking lot of the Woolco shopping center for tickets. I’m sure my mom, who dropped us off, parked nearby and spied on us, as a good mother should.

As tickets were about to go on sale, the peaceful crowd turned into a crazed mob. When we tried getting close to the ticket window, someone punched me in the stomach. See, kids? This was when music was real and dangerous. I bet Fall Out Boy fans don’t get punched in the stomach. Luckily, we were able to get tickets from a scalper. Unluckily, as we were to find out, the seats totally sucked.

The day was April 9, 1977. We weren’t old enough to drive to the Stadium (now the United Center), so my brother dropped us off (I’m sure he didn’t stick around to spy on us). I wore my jeans jacket with the Zoso symbols Magic Marker’d on the back.  We hadn’t brought any pot, but we didn’t need to; there was plenty being passed around. Our seats were so far to the side we were almost behind the stage, but we could see them. Damn! How exciting was that moment that they came on stage?

They played:

“The Song Remains the Same”

“The Rover (intro)/Sick Again”

“Nobody’s Fault but Mine”

“Since I’ve Been Loving You”

“No Quarter”

“Ten Years Gone”

And then: tragedy struck. Jimmy Page became ill from “food poisoning” (musician-speak for “too much heroin”) and the concert was abruptly over.

The tour was supposed to be rescheduled but ended up being cancelled altogether when real tragedy struck: Robert Plant’s six-year-old son, Karac, died of a stomach virus. The band broke up in 1980, shortly after John Bonham died at the age of 32 from choking on his vomit.

Did You Know?
  • Page, Plant, and Jones reunited for Live Aid in 1985 but refused to include their performance on the DVD, as they felt it wasn’t good enough (it was).
  • I’m sorry to say that the Hard Rock Park has a rollercoaster called “Led Zeppelin – The Ride.”
  • Rolling Stone magazine once called Robert Plant “as foppish as Rod Stewart, but nowhere near so exciting.” HA!
If you want to experience Led Zeppelin in concert:

And so, my little bloglings, if I can wish just one wish for you, it would be that you have seen or will see your favorite band live at the time in your life when it was/is most meaningful, even if it is only part of a concert and you never get to see them again. For, to experience this— (oh, please do shut up—Ed.)