An updated version of “Evenings with Led Zeppelin”, the definitive chronicle of the band’s live performances, is going to be released on September 9th in the UK and September 23rd in the US. I’ve been friends with Mike Tremaglio, one of the authors, for more than 20 years. We met over a box of Led Zeppelin bootleg CDs at a local record convention. I thought I knew a lot about the band back then, but it was obvious Mike’s knowledge of them was encyclopedic, the kind of details you only get by spending hours in dusty corners of libraries looking for new info in old newspapers and magazines. I later found out that was how he spent much of his free time. As his cache of information grew, he eventually hooked up with Dave Lewis. The pair wrote the liner notes to the remastered version of the BBC Sessions, and the knowledge Mike gathered was also transformed into a series of articles in Tight But Loose examining Zep’s live shows.
With Dave’s contacts in the publishing world, they decided to put out the first edition of “Evenings with Led Zeppelin”, which was released three years ago. The book received rave reviews, including one from Jimmy Page, who was personally given a copy by Dave Lewis and who recently asked Dave for a second copy of “that great book”. Unfortunately, the publisher inexplicably dropped the ball on distribution, so not everyone who wanted a copy could get one. The good news for those of you who missed out on the original edition is that the updated version will be out soon. This new one is jam packed with even more Zeppelin goodness than the first one. Mike was kind enough to send me a copy of it recently, and with his permission I thought I’d give a brief overview of it for those of you who are interested in picking it up.
The new version expands on everything that made the first edition a must have. The level of detail about the shows, already amazing in the original, has been enhanced so much that the new book is 48 pages longer than the first, bringing it to over 600 pages. There were almost 3000 images in the first version, and there seem to be a couple hundred more in the second. The extra pages mean a lot of the images in the new version are larger than they were in the previous one, and they seem to be sharper too, making it easier to see details in them. The cover has also been updated. The sepia tone of the original was replaced with a black background that makes the wonderful picture of the band stand out. For those who are interested, the Tight But Loose website link below has more info about the changes, but I think focusing on one show will help illustrate the level of detail in the book and why I believe this new version is a must have, even if you managed to get a copy of the first one.
The August 17,1969 show at the Oakdale Musical Theater in Wallingford, Connecticut took place the weekend of Woodstock. There’s been a lot of speculation over the years as to why Zep skipped that festival, which was taking place only a couple of hours drive from Wallingford. Whatever the reason, the small tent with the revolving stage saw the band put on one of their classic summer of ’69 shows. The new version of the book includes a two page spread of excellent previously unreleased photos of the performance. JPJ and Bonzo are in tank tops, no doubt hoping for some relief from a humid summer night in New England. Robert’s wearing a top he probably borrowed from a girlfriend, and Jimmy’s dressed simply in a short sleeve shirt and long velvety pants. The six black and white photos include one of JPJ by himself and one of him and Bonzo. The rest are of Robert and Jimmy, either by singly or together, and give a good idea of the presence the band had on stage. The next page has the details of the show, including a picture of the venue and images of three advertisements, two of which tout not only Zep’s performance but also upcoming ones by Liberace and Tom Jones. There’s also the text of an announcement of the show that captures the excitement the group generated in their early days. It reads “Oakdale’s revolving stage will become the center of the acid-rock world Sunday when Led Zeppelin, the English supergroup that has captured the underground, will perform one show only beginning at 8pm. Led Zeppelin consists of four of the most exciting musicians ever to play together in the same group….The announcement that Led Zeppelin would appear at Oakdale has created quite a stir among the state’s underground music population, and understandably so, for the Led Zeppelin show is the greatest trip that any selection of musicians can take an audience on, the greatest feeling of being into a scene, and which the group’s fans are ready and waiting for.”
That promo was from the Norwalk Hour, a local magazine from a small city near Wallingford, and I’m guessing it’s something Mike found hidden in the back of a library in Connecticut. And we’re lucky he did, because it sheds light on the underground status the band had in the early days. It’s hard to imagine they were ever anything but superstars, but articles like this really contribute to an understanding of the evolution of the band, and it’s one of the things that makes this book so valuable. However, the highlight of this page for me is in the bottom right corner. It’s a picture of Bonzo, head down, the stick in his right hand about to crash onto one of the cymbals on his kit, which includes, possibly for the last time, two bass drums. It’s an amazing image of an incredible time in the band’s career, and is just one of the things that makes this book so special. Make sure to get a copy. It’s a must have.
Tight But Loose: http://www.tightbutloose.co.uk/evenings-with-led-zeppelin-the-complete-concert-chronicle-revised-and-expanded-edition-pre-order-now/