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Strider   

Post #1: Led Zeppelin Tickets: Top Priority of the Winter

Hello. :wave:

It is 2012...which makes this year the 40th anniversary of my first Led Zeppelin concerts(1972) and the 35th anniversary of my last(1977). Only five short years. Yet at the time it seemed to encompass a lifetime.

When I wrote last year about going to the 1973 shows, many asked for a similar take on the anniversaries of the 1972 and 1977 LA Forum gigs I attended. I foolishly said I would. That was so many months ago, I figured I had plenty of time to recharge my batteries. Don't know if you realize this, but I put so much into those posts, trying to personalize and contextualize them so that the reader can imagine him or herself there, that it is taxing mentally and physically. After each of those three posts I wrote last year I was wiped out, exhausted. Not that I'm complaining...nobody asked me to be so thorough, and it was fun reliving a fun part of my youth.

So now 2012 is already upon me and I realize that if I am going to do the 1972 and 1977 shows justice, I better get cracking. So here we go again as we take a stroll down memory lane.

I will do two separate threads...one for 1972 and one for 1977. They will encompass everything about those shows from getting the tickets to the concerts themselves and the aftermath. That is why I am starting this thread today...it will save me from having to write an unholy long post on June 21, haha.

I will begin the 1972 thread at the appropriate time. I hope the mods are okay with this...if they feel this best belongs in the Live section or elsewhere, I'm fine with them moving it.

At each appropriate signpost date, I will add a post. In between feel free to comment or not. All I ask is please no trolling or spamming. Any legitimate questions I will gladly answer to the best of my ability, whether asked here or via PM.

As I said last year, my primary reasons for doing this, besides it allowing me to relive a fun part of my life, is to provide the younger readers here a window to the past, a small slice of what a Led Zeppelin concert was like to experience in the flesh. Everything from the anticipation to the post-show exhaustion/euphoria.

Let's begin...it's Thursday, January 27, 1977. Exactly 35 years ago today.

I am a freshman in High School now...and far from my relatively buccolic Southern California beach-bum life in 1973, I am now living in the comparative hick environs of Riverside. Which is even further away from the Forum of Inglewood and other choice concert venues. Which makes going to concerts a task that sometimes requires military-esque tactical planning. Another difference from 1973, other than being older and taller, is that my family situation has changed. I'm not gonna get specific...only that my new stepmom is even worse than the last one. My dad was smart in many ways; picking wives was NOT one of them. All that means is that sometimes I have to be coy and cagey when it comes to going to concerts, especially after what happened with Zeppelin's 1975 tour. Concerts during the summer or on weekends are relatively hassle-free, but if there's a show on a school night, I have to handle it with care...or outright lie.

Anyway, the story of Led Zeppelin's 1977 U.S. Tour in a way begins all the way back in August 1975, with the news of that horrific crash in Greece involving Robert Plant, Maureen and their family. The Rose Bowl show was immediately postponed, and postponed again, before finally being cancelled outright.

Then the months of silence and rumours about the band's future before finally in April 1976, "Presence" dropped and gave us Zepheads some relief and hope that the band would hit the stage again. Then, in May, a shock and welcome sight...at the May 23, 1976 Bad Company concert at the Forum, who should appear for the encore than Mssrs. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page themselves! On stage...in the flesh! The Forum roof nearly exploded.

After that night, expectations and anticipation for a Zeppelin tour were rampant...every Sunday in the LA Times Calendar section, ticket agencies such as Good Time Tickets and Troy Tickets ran ads saying they were taking deposits for Led Zeppelin tickets. Week after week, month after month went by, with still no official word.

October came and finally something happened..."The Song Remains the Same" had it's premiere at the Fox Theatre in L.A.(no, I did not go...I wasn't that connected). But I did see it shortly after upon its general release. At that time, at that age, I probably thought it was the greatest thing on earth. I must have, for I saw it 10 times by the end of 1976 alone. By then, I was starved for anything Zep...many of us Zepheads were...and we were willing to overlook the flaws of the film to cherish the bits that showed OUR BOYS on stage, or amongst their family!

In fact, I think seeing TSRTS was the first time I really got an idea what Plant's, Bonzo's, and JPJ's families were really like...and the first time it registered with me that these guys had families. Jimmy, of course, remained mercurial and mysterious in the film.

As I recall, as 1976 drew to a close, there were various hints and announcements on the radio and in the press that a tour was coming in early 1977, but that LA dates weren't yet specified. It seemed every report ended with the promise of "more details to come". Argh, the agony of waiting when you're 15!

Finally, on January 23, 1977, there were two items in the Los Angeles Times Sunday Calendar Pop Music section that sounded the alert that the time was near and that Led Zeppelin tickets would be going on sale soon. The first item(first photo below) was a blurb in a list of the biggest anticipated concerts written by Robert Hilburn, the head rock critic of the L.A. Times. The second was a cryptic ad(see second photo below) with a phone number. It turned out the number was to Good Time Tickets, one of many ticket brokers in LA who charged premium prices for tickets...legal scalpers basically. I had already used ticket brokers before, but only as a last resort, and even at that young age, I knew you couldn't always trust the info they gave you.

But when I called the number I was told Zeppelin would be playing the Forum in March, as well as the San Diego Sports Arena, and tickets would be available in a week. Hmmmm, ok.

I had my Christmas money saved, not to mention money I always saved for my concert fund in the bank; money earned from odd jobs here and there babysitting or washing cars or yardwork. At that point in time, most rock concert tickets ran from $8 to $10 depending on the popularity of the act and the venue. I had already purchased tickets in January to two upcoming concerts: Electric Light Orchestra(ELO) at the Forum January 27, and Queen/Thin Lizzy at the Forum in March.

I had about $50 total on hand...which would just barely cover 5 tickets...and that's only if they weren't over $10. I set about that Sunday January 23 to trying to find any additional way to get some cash in the next few days...selling some of my records was one way, stealing some of my dad's pot to sell was another.

I think it was Wednesday night, January 26, that I first heard concrete specifics about dates and time of sale for Led Zeppelin's 1977 tour stop at the LA Forum...it was at night and I had the radio on my favourite station: KMET 94.7 FM...The Mighty Met! I usually listened to it at night on my headphones when I went to bed...I would go to sleep listening to Jim Ladd, who had the 10pm-2am shift. Mary "The Burner" Turner had the slot prior to Ladd, 6pm-10pm.

The Thursday morning of January 27, 1977 delivered confirmation that what I thought I heard the night before wasn't a dream. Every morning before classes started at school, I would go to the library and read the day's LA Times. So there, in that day's edition of the paper was the blurb you see in the third photo below...Led Zeppelin would be playing the Forum March 9, 12 & 13 and tickets went on sale Monday, January 31 at 10am!!! There it was, in black and white, the moment I had been waiting for since that 1975 Rose Bowl concert was cancelled...LED ZEPPELIN WAS BACK IN BUSINESS!

I immediately checked the calendar and saw that while March 9 was on a school night, March 12 and 13 were on the weekend. Not that trying to go to the 9th would be impossible but I was already going to the Queen concert the week prior on a school night, and I didn't want to push my luck.

First things first, though. One, I had an ELO concert to go to that night at the Forum. I was going with one of my stoner friends and his older brother. I had already set it up, thanks to the fact that my new stepmom was a racist bitch. You see, that very week of January 23-30 1977 was the premiere of the ABC miniseries adaptation of Alex Haley's "Roots". It was a landmark television event and if you were around in the 70s, you remember all the hoopla about it. Hell, I think every social studies or history class in California made it mandatory viewing, with a group discussion and report to follow. Well, after watching the first few episodes, my stepmom was sick of having to watch Roots, and wanted to watch her shows(we only had one tv at the time). So, I'm saying it's my homework...it's kind of mandatory.

Then a light flashed...I still was trying to figure out how I was going to sneak off and see ELO that Thursday night and this would provide perfect cover. I suggested I could watch the rest of Roots at my friend's house and his mom could drive me home after. That seemed to placate her...as long as it didn't involve her having to drive me anywhere or pick me up, she couldn't care care less.

The second thing, after the ELO show, was that we had a decision to make...should we get tickets at one of our local Ticketron locations or go to the Forum box office? It was widely thought that it was only at the Forum box office that the good floor seats were sold...usually when you bought tix through an off-site Ticketron agency you got either Loge or Colonnade seats.

Since we were going to the Forum that night, we could check out the situation and see if anyone was already camping out for tickets. Man, I'll tell ya'...school seemed to DRAG ON that day. I couldn't concentrate or think about anything but getting Led Zeppelin tickets...how and how many.

My friend was also going to get tix, and so was his older brother, as well as a few others I knew...which would be of some help to us. In fact, all thru the school day, all the rockers and stoners were asking each other who was going and trying to get their buddies to buy tix for them. Because the shows were in LA, a surprising number said they were going to the San Diego show instead. Lots couldn't go either because of lack of money or parental restrictions. After school, I went to my friend's house as planned, and called my parents to let them know I was there and everything was fine...we even had my friend's mom talk to her to assure her everything was cool and that I wasn't being a bother. She hated my. stepmom so loved the fact that she was part of our plot.

It was arranged that she would suggest to my stepmom that I would come over Friday after school and stay the weekend to watch the rest of Roots and keep me out of my stepmother's hair. Luckily, my stepmom thought that was a great idea.

So now, not only did I have cover for going out to the ELO concert, but we'd be able to wait all weekend in line at the Forum until Zeppelin tix went on sale.

So 35 years ago we are at the ELO concert at the Forum in Inglewood. ELO was good(they've always been a guilty pleasure of mine...I LOVE cellos), but what I most remember about that show was seeing Steve Hillage for the first time. He wasn't even on the bill originally...it was supposed to be Firefall. Christ, what was that horrible Firefall song they always played on the radio? Shoot, I can't remember...was it "Wildfire"?

Anyways, for some unexplained reason, by showtime Firefall was off the bill and instead of their bland soft-rock, we got introduced to Steve Hillage doing spacey versions of "Hurdy Gurdy Man" and "It's All Too Much".

After the concert, we could see that there was already a line of people started camping out for Zeppelin tickets. We had school on Friday and so my friend's brother had no choice but to drive us back before heading back to the Forum to stake out our place in line. Friday, after school, my friend and I would gather our sleeping bags, blankets, snacks, drinks, as much cash as we could lay our hands on, Zeppelin tapes...oh, and my paperback copy of Roots to read, since I was missing the miniseries.

As I lay in my bed that night after we got back from the ELO show(the last time I would sleep in my bed for a few days), my mind kept buzzing with thoughts of Led Zeppelin. I still wasn't sure how many tickets for how many shows I would be able to get...or if we had a chance to get tix close to the stage...it was all whirling in my mind.

The 1977 Led Zeppelin Ticket Buying Adventure was just getting underway.

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Thanks for the post Strider....I look forward to chapter 2 after you rest up a bit. :D

Riverside isn't what you would call a hick town any longer. A sprawling city that still retains some country in the areas that are still preserved for the orange groves that Riverside prides its heritage on. I lived in Corona at the time and going to Riverside was going to the city for me.

Isn't funny as a teenager how slow life seemed to move along. When I think back on those times they new seem to have moved too fast as alot of prime living was packed into those times.

"A little bit of heaven....94.7.....KMET.....Tweedle-Dee." Oh I listened to that station back then. Jim Ladd was on KLOS on the night shift until just recently. I didn't get to listen to him much since it was past my preferred bed time but did enjoy a listen once in a while. He was so laid back and had a good following of listeners. They must of went balistic when KLOS took him off the air.

I saw ELO at the Long Beach Arena in umm.....1975... what a great show. I was blown away and really impressed with all the electrical string instruments. There was a deep bright blue cello that reflected the stage lights deep into my memory banks. They opened for Deep Purple at that show. So I was very happy to see two great shows in one.

When I read yours and other writers stories of LZ experience I become a little bit green with envy that I never got to see them. I just have to be content to live vicariously through these stories.

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Great story Strider! Thank you for sharing.

Now I am going to practice patience for the next part. Ummmmmmm....<waiting, waiting, waiting...> Hurry up!! :lol:

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I went to that Queen / Thin Lizzy show, too, Strider. And LedZepFvr, I was at that Deep Purple / Elo show as well! Elf opened up - with Ronnie James Dio. What a great gig that was! My friend fainted at that one, he just went down onto the concrete floor. Then he scrambled to his feet, looking at us like what happened? Haha! Good times! Also had a ticket to that LZ Rose Bowl show too.

What I remember about tickets for LZ '77 was a tiny blurb in the LA Times that went something like "tickets also on sale tomorrow for Led Zeppelin at the Forum...." Holy cow, I had less than 24 hrs to formulate a plan...

Edited by badgeholder

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Walter   

Great start! Thank you Strider for giving us such great recollections of those times, must've been one hell of a time!! Thanks to the others for giving good "side bar" information - multiple impressions are cool to help round everything out!

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As always Strider, you never cease to amaze me with your beautiful writing skills! What can I say except that I am deeply grateful that you take so much of time and effort to share all this with us! :thanku: I do look forward to more of course, ;) but don't worry, no pressure! :lol:

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Strider   

Post #2: Hunters and Gatherers...or Do we camp out or play it safe?

Before I begin the post proper, I just wanted to address a couple members:

badgeholder: Whoah, that was cutting it close...the Sunday paper before the tix went on sale Monday had a big ad as well as a blurb...do you recall seeing that? I'll be posting it tomorrow. So you didn't hear the news on KMET or KLOS during the days leading up to Monday the 31st? It's good that even on such short notice you were able to scramble into action and get tix...by your screen name, I assume you were also at the June 23rd show.

Ledzepfvr: Yes, compared to Corona, Riverside was a metropolis, even back then. But compared to Costa Mesa and Fountain Valley, where you were a short bike ride from the beach and instead of going to a high school of 4,000 I was now in a high school of 1,300 where the Future Farmers of America(FFA) was the popular group on campus, it was a culture shock to me. And we didn't live in the city proper...we lived out in the hills of Woodcrest, where Van Buren meets Washington on the way to March Air Force Base. There literally was a square dancing hall named Cow Town USA near where we lived, I kid you not. The primary smell in the air was a mix of horse manure and horse feed.

But I do have my time in Riverside to thank for two activities I took an interest in and learned while there: horse riding and motocross. :thumbsup:

Now back to the thread...

The date: Friday, January 28, 1977

First thing in school that morning, reading the LA Times there was a notice about the Zeppelin tour in the Newsmakers section on page 2 of the Main New section(see first photo below).

The other thing happening was the traveling Dunking Circus that was that year's Philadelphia 76ers team was coming to town and playing the Lakers at the Forum that night...see second photo below. This was Julius "Dr. J" Erving's first season in the NBA after many years as an ABA god, and he and the 76ers were tearing the league up. Dr. J, George McGinnis, World B. Free, Steve Mix, Doug Collins, Harvey Catchings, Caldwell Jones, Darryl Dawkins(who named his dunks), and Joe Bryant(Kobe's father). Gene Shue was the coach. At a time when most games didn't sell out, Philadelphia was drawing SRO crowds everywhere they played...and tonight's game at the Forum was no exception. Plus, just to show you how times have changed in the NBA, the top ticket price for Laker games that year was $8.75. That's right, $8.75 got you near Jack Nicholson.

After a couple of dismal seasons of missing the playoffs, the Lakers were also looking pretty good in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's second season with the Lakers. LA was in a dogfight with Bill Walton and the Portland Trailblazers that year, and they had recently tied the Laker team record for home victories in a row at 17. Tonight at the Forum against Philly, they would go for the record. Besides Kareem, there was Cazzie Russell, Don Ford, Don Chaney, Kermit Washington, and a spectacular talented rookie out of Marquette, Earl Tatum. And who was coaching our Lakers? None other than Mr. Laker and Mr. NBA himself, Jerry West.

Do I sound like a sports nerd? Well, at that time and in that situation I was. I was in a new school in a strange town that was culturally and demographically radically different than what I was used to...I went into a shell and basically kept to myself. I was out of my comfort zone and clung to the things I loved most.

Which, besides Led Zeppelin and music, were reading and sports...and when I could combine the two(reading about sports), that was the jackpot. So, besides poring over the Calendar section of the LA Times every day, I also read the Sports section front-to-back. And my two favourite teams in sports were the Oakland Raiders in football and the Lakers in basketball.

Which again didn't exactly allow me to fit in at school...baseball and football were most popular, with most kids liking either the LA Rams or San Diego Chargers in football. Basketball was, at best, an afterthought in those days...although Dr. J's move to the NBA increased the league's profile a little bit. But Magic and Bird were still a couple of years away.

It was my love of Zeppelin and the Raiders that led me to my first, and only at that time, friend my freshman year. He was a Raider and Zep fan, too. Even better, he had an older brother with a car and occasional access to marijuana. Not that we were regular stoners or anything like that...at most, we might smoke a couple times a month; and usually only on a weekend. And we weren't drinkers yet, either. I had snuck a couple sips of my dad's Coors once and hated it. Still hate Coors to this day. Plus, my experience in 1975 convinced me that I should slow down and stop rushing into things, and that drinking and getting drunk was overrated.

Marijuana though, always left me feeling calm and good...but, again, at our age and with limited funds and access, we weren't exactly tokin' it up every week. I mean, I was getting nearly straight A's...I had to for that was one of the requirements if I wanted to go to concerts. I had to maintain my grades.

Another benefit about my friend was that his parents were ultra cool and mellow. Very laid-back. Totally the opposite of my stepmom, which is one reason my friend's parents felt sorry for me and helped cover for me.

Like allowing us to camp out in line for Zeppelin tickets and covering for me with my stepmom.

Speaking of which, we still were quibbling about whether it was worth the hassle of camping out or if we should just try our luck with one of the Riverside Ticketron outlets(May Co., Licorice Pizza, Music City, Robinson's, Sears). But in the end, we decided we should camp out at the Forum with his older brother and his friends. Whether we were given bogus info or not, but the conventional wisdom at that time was that you only had a chance of getting floor seats at the Forum box office. The word was that floor seats were never sold at Ticketron agencies. Whether that was true or not, all I know is that I NEVER got floor seats buying thru Ticketron. They were the Ticketmaster of the 70s. Only service fees were a lot lower and tickets sold a little slower back then.

Once we decided we were in it for the long haul, we had to decide a couple of things...1) what we needed to bring to occupy ourselves for the weekend; and 2) how many tickets for how many shows would we need, and how many others we could get to join us, in case there was a ticket limit per person.

I didn't have a girlfriend so I only had to worry about getting tix for myself. There was a girl I had thought about asking in my algebra class but I was too scared, too shy. On the last couple of Zeppelin tours, I had managed to see one more concert than I did on the previous tour. So, whereas I saw Zeppelin 3 times in 1973, I saw them 4 times in 1975. The only dates confirmed so far in 1977 were the three dates in March: the 9, 12 and 13.

Which was kind of a problem being that even if they added one or even two more shows, it most likely would be the 10 and 11...and it was a school week. I was thinking I would probably have to resign myself to only going to a couple shows this tour.

As it turned out, money probably wouldn't be a problem for me, no matter if tickets were $10 or even $12 dollars. Along with my $50, I had, during the week, been able to finally collect on some of the bets I made on the Raiders in the Super Bowl earlier in the month. They had obliterated the Vikings, 32-14...I can still see Sammie White's helmet flying through the Pasadena air after a vicious hit from Jack Tatum.

Anyway, as there were a lot of Raider-haters, I cleaned up on the Raiders playoff run...so I had an additional $40 to add to my $50.

During the school day, as we met between classes, some people who had heard we were getting Zep tickets asked if we could get some for them. But without knowing yet the exact cost and if there was a limit, we couldn't guarantee anything. My friend also had a girlfriend he had to get tickets for, and he wanted to go to at least two of the concerts, too. A few people said they might be able to come down Saturday or Sunday if we could let them join us in line, they'd help with buying any extra tickets we needed, as they were only buying two. We said sure, as long as no one hassled us for letting them join ahead of them.

By the end of school, on the bus ride home, I made a list of things I would need: sleeping bag, pillows, blankets, deck of cards, notebook, portable radio, some Zeppelin cassette tapes I recorded...both official albums and live bootlegs. And my copy of Alex Haley's "Roots" that I needed to read over the weekend, as I would be missing the ending of the Miniseries on ABC that was our homework assignment in class. My friend had his own copy as well.

Naturally, it took a while for me to hunt everything down and gather it into a tidy package. The plan was as soon as I was packed and ready to go, I would call my friend and his mom or dad would come pick me up. We would stay the night at his house and then his mom would drive us Saturday out to the LA Forum parking lot, where at that very moment the Lakers and 76ers were getting ready to play and a crowd was already forming of people camping out for Led Zeppelin tickets. One of those people being my friend's older brother and his mates. We only hoped he was pretty close to the beginning of the line.

It ended up being the dad who picked me up, which allowed my friend's mom to cook dinner for us. It was ready as we pulled up to my friend's house...or nearly ready. Either way, I remember that we were done eating soon enough for me and my friend to get settled in his room and listen to the Laker game on the radio...the great Chick Hearn, of course, on the call, giving his "words-eye-view".

I was looking forward to tomorrow, as it would be one day closer to the day Zeppelin tickets went on sale. But as excited as we were, we figured it would behoove us to get as much sleep as we could. So, after the Laker game, we didn't stay up too much longer and dozed off.

Oh, the Lakers won, coming from behind and outscoring the 76ers 40-20 in the 4th quarter, winning 117-104. Breaking the team record with their 18th consecutive home victory(last photo).

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Edited by Strider

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Strider   

Post #3: There's A New Kid in Town

Date: Saturday, January 29, 1977

My friend and I woke up around 9 or so in the morning. Had some cereal for breakfast, and got our stuff together in his mom's car. I had a little portable radio, but he had a nice (for it's time) portable boom box for us to play our tapes on. The only portable tape player I had was a cheap Panasonic mono player. It sounded like crap.

Then, we watched the Saturday morning cartoons until his mom was up and ready to drive us to the Forum in Inglewood, which is just east of the LAX airport. Probably around 11 or so, we hit the highway...first making a stop at the Mad Greek burger joint in Riverside near the freeway for some lunch to take with us. They had awesome fried zucchini sticks and french fries which they would serve in a tall cup. Oh, and here's a tip if you're ever in Southern California: any Burger Char-broil with a Greek name is usually going to have good burgers.

There was a 7-11 nearby, and we stopped there to get some snacks(chips, candy, drinks) that would tide us through the next couple days...but I also wanted to get a Los Angeles Times. But not just any LA Times, the Sunday LA Times. How could I get the Sunday LA Times on a Saturday?

Well, back in the day when people actually READ newspapers, many of the larger big city papers would put out multiple editions. You would have the morning edition, the one that most people received, where you would hear the thunk of the paper hit the driveway in the morning as the paper boy made his rounds. You could read all about the previous day's events and sporting events...at least you could if you lived on the West Coast.

I found out when I lived in the midwest and the East, that thanks to the time difference, the papers there were published before many games on the West Coast were completed. You could never get the Monday Night Football score from the Tuesday morning New York Times.

Anyway, in LA, the LA Times published a morning edition and a late afternoon edition(which would have that day's final Dow and NYSE figures, as the Stock Market closed at 1pm PST) of the daily(Mon-Sat) paper. Then, for its gigantic Sunday edition, which had the Comics, Home, Sunday Calendar, Travel, and other extra sections, there was the edition that came out on Sunday, which had all news about Saturday's events.

But there was also an early Sunday paper that was published on Thursday night and delivered to newstands and stores on Friday or Saturday. This wouldn't have Saturday's news or sporting events coverage obviously, but it would have all the other Sunday sections, all of which(the Comics, Home, Calendar, etc.) were published on Thursday.

The reason I wanted to get the Sunday paper as early as I could was this... Because the Led Zeppelin tickets were going on sale on Monday, I knew that the ad for the concert would be in Sunday's Calendar section; when you're a regular reader of the newspaper you find out these things.

I also knew that the ad would probably have all the details we needed about ticket cost, etc. As soon as we got back into the car and hit the free way, I took the paper and found the Sunday calendar and went immediately to the Pop Music section where most of the concert ads were located. Sure enough, on page 59, taking up the entire right half of the page, was a big ad announcing the Led Zeppelin Forum dates and ticket information (see first photo below).

Tickets were $9.75, $8.75, and $7.75. There usually was a tax of .25 of some kind, too. But more importantly, there it was...confirmation in big black-and-white print. I don't know why, but it gave me a kind of comfort seeing that advertisement...like since there was an actual ad in an actual newspaper like the Times, it couldn't be a mistake, this wasn't a dream. This was actually happening.

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More importantly, the ad also specified "First Come, First Served", which meant the Forum wasn't going to be doing that new-fangled random number wristband draw that was starting to catch on, and proved to be more trouble than it was worth.

The road from Riverside to Inglewood is basically west on the 91 Riverside Freeway until you hit the 405 San Diego and head north to the Manchester exit. Look for the giant Randy's Donut(as seen in the "Iron Man" movie). It's a long haul, so we had plenty of time to munch our burgers and fries and ogle the ad...I told him he could have it since we got the Sunday paper delivered at home. About half the ride we each read our respective copies of "Roots".

When we got to the Forum, unmistakable with its bright white pillars and Forum blue walls(you can see my photos in the "Houses of the Holy" thread), we knew we were in the right place, as there was already a mob of people in line, sprawled out in lawn chairs, beach chairs, sleeping bags, coolers, pup tents, whatever. Because the Forum was still having events like Laker games and concerts in the days leading up to the Zep ticket sale, they had everybody camped out along the street that separated the Forum from Hollywood Park, a horse racing track. The street is now called Pincay Dr., named after jockey great Laffit Pincay, but I have no idea what it was called back in 1977.

It was quite a scene...at least five hundred, maybe close to a thousand...it was hard to tell the way the line snaked and bulged at certain points. Anyway, we located my friend's older brother and his mom dropped us off, asking one last time if we needed anything and to be good, etc. There was a gas station/market at the intersection of Prairie and Pincay, with pay phones if we needed to call, so we were good. Quite a change from today where everybody is a cellphone, iPhone or iPad away.

It looked to us that we were somewhere within

100 people from the front of the line. Of course, that could depend on how many people in front of us had other friends that were arriving between now and Monday morning.

The main thing is that we were finally there, present and accounted for...5 of us total counting my friend's older brother and his two friends.

There was no Laker game at the Forum that day or night, so other than the Zeppelin and other usual rock tunes(Aerosmith, Skynyrd, Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, ZZ Top, Nugent) that people were blasting, it was fairly uneventful the rest of the day. With all the people, I was a little nervous, which tends to exacerbate my shyness, so instead of socializing I tended to just huddle on my sleeping bag and read my book.

There was another more practical reason for me to lay low. Periodically, a local news reporter or TV crew would come by...probably shooting B-roll, or taping a segment for the late news. The last thing I needed, after such careful planning, was for my stepmom to see me on the evening news surrounded by a bunch of misfit rockers at the Forum, when I was supposed to be watching "Roots" at my friend's house in Riverside.

So over the next few days, anytime I spotted anything that looked like a reporter or camera, I feigned sleep in my bag.

Surprisingly for a couple of 15-year olds...well, ok, technically I was still 14, but I would turn 15 that year, haha...we managed to ration our cache of snacks pretty good. Meaning we didn't wolf everything down by sunset.

People were mingling and all that, but I just kept quiet and reading my book. I could detect a whiff of some pot, and someone even offered me a hit, but I politely declined. I didn't want to imbibe or smoke anything that 1) had a chance of getting me busted; and 2) had a chance of getting me sick or worse.

I was kidded of course, for being so quiet. The older brother even asked if anything was wrong...he had never seen me this quiet. I told him not really, but that I was just nervous about being this close to my goal and worried that something would happen to screw it up. I considered myself to have bad luck, if I had any luck at all, so sometimes when I wanted something, I could feel doom just around the corner.

Usually in the form of my stepmother.

He assured me nothing was going to happen...that he had done this ticket thing many times and even though there were lots of people, we were in pretty good shape where we were in line. He also felt pretty sure they would add more shows than the three dates mentioned in the ad.

Which made sense once I thought about it. They had played a total of 5 concerts in LA in 1975, and they had only grown MORE POPULAR in the two years since. Led Zeppelin was the most MASSIVE band around. It would be nuts for them to only play three concerts now.

Nobody had played 6 nights at the Forum; could Zeppelin be the first?

The older brother said I needed to cheer up and he had just the thing; a little surprise for me and my friend. One of his buddies was coming by later to pick him up and they were going to go see this band playing the Whisky that night. A local band from Pasadena that had a hot-shot guitarist that he said would blow you away.

It seems they were playing a three night stand at the Whisky a Go Go on Sunset, site of Led Zeppelin's LA debut, and the final night was tonight. The band's name was Van Halen.

post-1470-0-98278400-1327902812.jpg

Of course, the first thing I thought to say was "Well, he can't be better than Page". Maybe not, but he's pretty damn close, he said...hell, he may be even faster. He said Ritchie Blackmore was his favourite guitarist but that seeing this Eddie kid made him question his loyalty. You know, there's all these great guitar players that have been around awhile...Page, Beck, Blackmore, Clapton...and they're like the gunslingers of the old west. There's always some new kid that comes into town and wants to test his speed against the best.

He also said that Van Halen was a fun band and that it would be impossiblefor us not to be in a good mood after the show.

What about our place in line? What about tickets? Don't worry, he said, my two friends here will keep our place and watch our stuff. I'll bring back beer for the people behind us to keep everything cool. As for tickets, he would buy them for us, so we didn't have to worry about cutting into our Zeppelin money for Van Halen.

So that, my little droogies, is how I came to see my first Van Halen concert...ironically the same weekend I was getting Led Zeppelin tickets. The young and the old.

To say that seeing Van Halen that night was like a bomb going off is an understatement. Sure, they were a little rough still, but they were miles above the usual local band you would see playing covers in a club or party.

You could see where they took part of their cue from Led Zeppelin...blonde hunk of a singer and dark haired guitar whiz. But this was something more. Unlike the early years, Led Zeppelin had, by now, moved into their mature-phase. Party bands don't write subtle or haunting tunes like "Rain Song", "Ten Years Gone" and "Kashmir".

While Zeppelin could still summon the primal power of rock, by 1977 they were about more than just screaming "Hello Cleveland! Are you ready to rock?!"

Van Halen didn't have anything more on its mind than having a good time...LOUDLY! They were young, fun, and out-of-control. Everything was like the best parts of hard rock souped up to the nth degree...with all the flab cut out. They left you no time to grow bored, because there was always something happening on stage.

If you didn't like something, no matter, because there would be something new coming along in another minute. They were an ADD hard rock band.

And the singer...jesus christ, the singer. David Lee Roth was something I couldn't comprehend. His stage patter, his athleticism, his confidence...nay, his bravado was simply off the charts.

And I had seen Black Oak Arkansas...I knew about Jim Dandy, God love him. But this was Jim Dandy at warp speed.

Of course, there was Eddie...yeah, it didn't take long before you knew this kid was GOOD! His guitar was making dive bomb runs and screams and even then, he was working on that "brown sound".

And fast? Shit yeah, he was FAST!!!

My friend and I didn't even know what hit us. We just looked at each other in disbelief. I don't even know what songs they played exactly...some covers, some originals we had obviously never heard before, as the first album was still a year away.

But you could tell...you just KNEW...these guys were going to be huge. That these guys might be the ones to give all the older bands a run for their money. Their songs had hooks, and with Michael Anthony and Eddie, amazing backing vocals...which was kind of a rarity in hard rock and metal back then.

They were younger, better looking and more athletic than just about every current hard rock back that had a record contract at that time. And compared to the flaccid likes of Kansas, Styx and all that boring midwestern rock, they were a godsend.

Here, finally, was a local band to counter the dreary FM rock coming from the heartland. Of course, there was the nascent local punk scene, too. But they had as much chance being played on KMET or KLOS as I did...to their everlasting detriment.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...all that was to come as I saw Van Halen a few more times over the year before their first album dropped.

Back to that night of January 29, 1977, standing in the Whisky by the stairs that lead up to the VIP tables, the only thing my friend and I were thinking as we watched Van Halen was how much fun they seemed to be having and how much fun we were having. My friend's older brother was right...this band absolutely put you in a good mood. It was impossible to wipe the smiles from our faces.

Oh...there was one other thought I had. Jimmy Page, watch your back...there's a new kid in town.

Edited by Strider

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Sorry about the missing part of Post #3...it's been fixed now. My apologies if you read it earlier and felt left in the lurch.

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Thanks Strider, as usual a good read. The suspense is building. Can't wait for the climax! ;)

BTW, I looked it up, Pincay Dr. was formerly 90th St.

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January 27th 1977 is the one you were at in LA? I skimmed the post Strider but its a bit long for me. Read most of the relevant details I posted my story in the Timeline back in 2007 when I first found this site. I saw them four months almost to the day after your concert and 3000 miles to the east in Landover MD. the kid that went with me I no longer see. Have not seen him in over 30 yrs. We were robbed the night before in DC but were dropped across from the Capital Centre unharmed, just almost broke and with our Led Zeppelin tickets. Slept outdoors behind a church. Spent the day with two girls from PA. some town called Red Lion. I believe my post is the first one for the day of May 30th 1977 in Landover. In the timeline. I assume you posted yours there? I have certiainly not had time to read all the posts. But someday I play to go through them methodically. We were lucky the kid had a $20 bill stuffed in his shoe. I really did not care about the money. Had our bus ticket back, a 12 hour bus ride. I still remember the road going through the woods leading to the old Capital Centre. The footage Sam posted from that guy in Utica brought back memories. My post in the Timeline I use my real name by the way. It was truly a miracle that i got the tickets. And maybe more of one that I was somehow able to hang on to it to this day. I was already out of high school unlike you. I was almost 20. Was 19 and would turn 20 two months after I got to see them.

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Well Strider, I just read this entire thread. Great story and I can't wait for the rest!! You know I love EVH^^. Thanks for a fun read. :peace:

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Sorry, I meant "Monday" not "tomorrow" . I saw the tiny blurb on Saturday, before the giant ad on Sunday. So I did have a day and a half to prepare. BTW - I was at the Whiskey VH gig that night as well - doing sound. Did you notice the skinny teenager in the crows nest? Yours truly. I had a friend accquire the Zeppelin tickets. But you know what, I do not remember the March dates being postponed to June, even though that is what happened. Your memory is much better than mine, that's for sure!

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^^^Don't worry LZF77, you don't have to read the entire thing. No, the concert wasn't January 27, that was the article about the LA Forum dates and ticket sales. The actual concerts at the Forum wouldn't be until months later...about a month after your Largo shows.

I won't write about going to the actual concerts until the actual date arrives...to give the reader the same sense of waiting and anticipation that you and I and others back then had to go through.

Hence, since the 31st is the day the tickets went on sale, tomorrow is when I'll write about that. I realize some people won't have the patience and will get bored and drop out before I reach the end. C'est la vie. It's my thread and that's how I'm doing it.

Regarding your Largo 77 experience, I didn't read the Timeline...I don't have the time to get over there much. But I do remember you mentioning it on one of the Zeppelin concert threads.

Didn't you also have tix to the Rich Stadium show in Buffalo in 77? The one they had to cancel after Karac's death? That had to hurt. Since you lived in Buffalo, did you go to the Buffalo show in 73?

Thanks Strider, as usual a good read. The suspense is building. Can't wait for the climax! ;)

BTW, I looked it up, Pincay Dr. was formerly 90th St.

Thanks Ledzepfvr...nice detective work. Makes sense, as most of the streets down there are numbered sts: 110th, 103rd, and so on.

By the way, that Mad Greek in Riverside is long gone, but I hear there's one in Corona. You ever been there?

Edited by Strider

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January 27th 1977 is the one you were at in LA? I skimmed the post Strider but its a bit long for me. Read most of the relevant details I posted my story in the Timeline back in 2007 when I first found this site. I saw them four months almost to the day after your concert and 3000 miles to the east in Landover MD. the kid that went with me I no longer see. Have not seen him in over 30 yrs. We were robbed the night before in DC but were dropped across from the Capital Centre unharmed, just almost broke and with our Led Zeppelin tickets. Slept outdoors behind a church. Spent the day with two girls from PA. some town called Red Lion. I believe my post is the first one for the day of May 30th 1977 in Landover. In the timeline. I assume you posted yours there? I have certiainly not had time to read all the posts. But someday I play to go through them methodically. We were lucky the kid had a $20 bill stuffed in his shoe. I really did not care about the money. Had our bus ticket back, a 12 hour bus ride. I still remember the road going through the woods leading to the old Capital Centre. The footage Sam posted from that guy in Utica brought back memories. My post in the Timeline I use my real name by the way. It was truly a miracle that i got the tickets. And maybe more of one that I was somehow able to hang on to it to this day. I was already out of high school unlike you. I was almost 20. Was 19 and would turn 20 two months after I got to see them.

They were going to play the Forum in March but was post poned to June because of Robert's health problems.

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Sorry, I meant "Monday" not "tomorrow" . I saw the tiny blurb on Saturday, before the giant ad on Sunday. So I did have a day and a half to prepare. BTW - I was at the Whiskey VH gig that night as well - doing sound. Did you notice the skinny teenager in the crows nest? Yours truly. I had a friend accquire the Zeppelin tickets. But you know what, I do not remember the March dates being postponed to June, even though that is what happened. Your memory is much better than mine, that's for sure!

Holy shit badgeholder! I'm so jealous of you...that must have been sweet working the sound back then. You must have a lot of tapes from back then. That Van Halen Whisky show was one of the first, if not THE first time I went to the revived Whisky. They had a spell there in the mid-70s where they stopped booking bands and went to more of a discotheque direction.

I'm curious as to how long you worked there? It wasn't long after the Van Halen show that we went back to see Blondie and Tom Petty there.

Elmer was a trip...later, I worked for a brief time as a bouncer/doorman at the Roxy and Whisky for Elmer and his grandson...this was around the late-80s early-90s. His grandson and I shared the same name...but different spellings.

That was when the Strip was hopping and the sidewalks and street would be clogged with girls and dudes hawking their bands. There must have been a ton of band flyers for the trashmen to sweep up every morning. Grunge killed that scene lickity-split.

I'm always sorry I wasn't able to go to Elmer's memorial...I was visiting family in another state. Did you go?

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Post #4: Sunday...a day of rest...plus Jerry Weintraub.

Date: Sunday, January 30, 1977

Okay, I'm kind of fatigued already from writing the first three chapters so I'm kind of taking today off. Besides, it was a Sunday, a day of rest. And that's prettty much all that happened that day...rest. Resting from the Van Halen show the night before and resting up for the big day on Monday.

Besides finishing up the book "Roots", the day pretty much consisted of walking back and forth to the gas station/market to use the restroom, get an icee or something, or make a call on the pay phones. Tedious and not something worth writing about.

When we woke up Sunday, there was less than 24 hours to the time tickets would go on sale. It would be the slowest day of my life...time seemed to creep by.

The crowd of people had certainly expanded throughout the night. There was a sizable increase in people from the night before. But Sunday the 30th is when it really got LARGE! People by now had seen the Sunday ad and heard the news on the radio, and the line swelled with newcomers...a lot of them probably had to work during the week, so Sunday was their first opportunity to join the line.

How large was the line by Sunday? God only knows...it seemed like a couple thousand or three, at least.

Other than people watching, nothing of note happened until the crowd started arriving for that night's Laker game. This time Pistol Pete Maravich and the New Orleans Jazz...yes, that's right, NEW ORLEANS!...were in town to take on the Lakers and their 18-game home winning streak. I had my portable radio with me so I could listen to Chick Hearn call the game.

Every so often as the basketball crowd arrived, you'd hear catcalls, people laughing about us stoners and freaks camping out for tickets.

The Lakers pulled out a squeaker 101-99, and won their 19th home game in a row.

People sometimes ask me why I didn't go try to see either the 76er or the Jazz game, to see Dr. J or Pete Maravich in person...wasn't I tempted to go across the parking lot and get a ticket for the game?

And I always say that there would be plenty of opportunities in the future to see a Laker game, to see Dr. J or Maravich. But MY TOP PRIORITY was getting Led Zeppelin tickets for their 1977 tour. NOTHING SUPERCEDED, nothing was bigger than that!!!

Now that I was so close to the moment at hand, I wasn't going to take a risk of losing my wallet or having it pickpocketed, or being jumped after the game...or any number of scenarios I could picture in my mind that prevented me from being able to buy tickets the next day.

LED ZEPPELIN WAS IT!

Anyway, so I'll be going now...but before I leave, I want to draw your attention to one thing. If you looked at the ad that I posted yesterday, you might have noticed the name Jerry Weintraub, along with Concerts West.

If you're not familiar with the name Jerry Weintraub, you should be...he's one of the great showbiz legends. One of the last of the true showmen of the 20th Century. He had his finger in so many pies...music, movies, Broadway, Vegas, you-name-it.

He had the chutzpah to convince Colonel Parker to let him put together Elvis Presley's first national tour. He founded Concerts West and put on the first world satellite concert broadcast: Frank Sinatra at Madison Square Garden...The Main Event.

He also worked with Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, even John Denver. And of course Led Zeppelin.

I highly recommend you check out two sources about Jerry Weintraub. One is his book "When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man". The other is the fun HBO documentary on Jerry Weintraub titled "His Way".

Edited by Strider

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It's almost 10pm...which means it was 10pm 35 years ago on the eve of the tickets going on sale. The Laker crowd was going home and I was going to sleep.

12 HOURS TO GO!!!

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Ooh it's coming to a nail-biting finale! Does Strider get his tickets? Will he get abducted by a gang of tough-yet-sweet Zep groupies who make him their mascot? Tune in folks, for the next exciting episode of Strider's 1977 Tour Thread!

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