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Flashback Friday. 50 Years Gone. September 4, 1970. Los Angeles, California.These are a few of the albums that were spawned on this night in Los Angeles 50 years ago. All of which I have. It is one thing for one random night of the year to generate one legendary live album. But when two concerts on the same night in the same city create two legendary live albums...one official, one unofficial...then, that is some music history. To top it all off, both bands and up jamming together at the end of the night. Fairport Convention was beginning a three-night stand at the Troubadour Club...Friday-Saturday-Sunday Sept. 4-6. They were professionally recording all three nights for a prospective live album. Sandy Denny was gone. This was the "Full House" Fairport Convention lineup of Richard Thompson, Simon Nicol, Dave Swarbrick, Dave Pegg, and Dave Mattacks. Joe Boyd and John Wood were overseeing the recording of the gig. I think they were using gear from Wally Heider Recording Studios. The tapes recorded over the three nights were used to make the "House Full: Live at the Troubadour 1970" album. Released in the UK in 1974 and in the U.S. (with a different cover and slightly different songs) in 1986. This would prove to be the only live recording of the Richard Thompson era of Fairport Convention, as he would leave the band at the end of 1970 and join forces with his wife, Linda Thompson. Meanwhile, a few miles south of the Troubadour Led Zeppelin was playing their concert at the Fabulous Forum of Inglewood. They were in the middle of their 1970 North American tour and had just become the first band to topple the Beatles from #1 in the Melody Maker Music Poll. Their new album Led Zeppelin III was still a month away from being released but they felt confident enough in the new material to play three or four new songs from the album on this tour, even though nobody in the audience had heard them before. Plus, they were still riding the jet trails of Led Zeppelin II, which had cemented and expanded their popularity by leaps and bounds. By 1970, Los Angeles had become like a second home to Led Zeppelin. This was their sixth tour to come through Southern California. They loved playing here and some of their most inspired shows happened at the Fabulous Forum and other venues in the area. Maybe the charms of Miss Pamela and her friends had something to do with that? Led Zeppelin did not professionally record this night at the Forum, apart from a soundboard from the mixing desk which has yet to see the light of day. Most likely buried deep in Jimmy Page's archives. But there were some intrepid audience members who recorded the concert secretly. One guy was known as Rubber Dubber. Another team were Ken Douglas and Dub Taylor, known as the TMOQ guys...Trademark of Quality. These were the guys who were also responsible for the Bob Dylan "Great White Wonder" and Rolling Stones "LiveR Than You'll Ever Be" bootleg albums. Rubber Dubber released his tape on double vinyl under the title "Led Zeppelin Live at the LA Forum 9-4-70".Rubber Dubber's tape is slightly better sounding than Ken & Dub's tape...both teams used portable reel-to-reel recorders at the Forum...but it is woefully incomplete. It is missing the first half hour and chunks of "Whole Lotta Love" and the encores. For this reason, it is Ken & Dub's bootleg album "Live on Blueberry Hill" that became the more famous bootleg. First released on double vinyl under the Blimp Records label, then shortly reissued under the Trademark of Quality label. Both Rubber Dubber's and the TMOQ's bootleg albums were released mere weeks after the concert and before Led Zeppelin III was even released. Which is why "Immigrant Song" was titled "From the Midnight Sun" on the bootleg...nobody knew what the song was yet. "Live on Blueberry Hill", along with the earlier Dylan and Stones bootlegs, confirmed there was a sizeable bootleg market for certain bands. The bootleg industry took off from that point. Led Zeppelin played Fats Domino's "Blueberry Hill" as the final encore. They also threw in a rare performance of "Out on the Tiles" (one of only two known in existence) and some other special treats that night at the Forum. So far, there are no less than six different audience source tapes of Led Zeppelin's concert at the Forum September 4, 1970. Each of varying length and quality, but taken together we now the complete concert available with the songs in proper order. After Led Zeppelin finished their 2 and 1/2 hour concert, they zoomed up to the Troubadour Club. If you had been standing outside of Pink's Hotdog stand on LaBrea Ave. that night around midnight you would have seen Led Zeppelin's limousines heading north up LaBrea before they turned left on Santa Monica Blvd. to the Troubadour Club. It was no secret that Led Zeppelin loved Fairport Convention. They arrived around the end of Fairport Convention's second set. Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham eventually joined Fairport onstage for some songs and jams. The tapes were all rolling. "Morning Dew" and "Hey Joe" and "Mystery Train" have been mentioned as some of the songs played. Richard Thompson tried to teach Jimmy some jigs and reels. Dave Mattacks said his drums looked like they'd been through a hurricane after John Bonham got through with them. Okay, so where are the tapes to this jam session? Dave Mattacks, Robert, Jimmy, Joe Boyd, John Wood, everyone confirms the jam session at the Troubadour happened and the tapes were recording but nobody seems to know or be willing to confess where the tapes are located. I have read Joe Boyd says he has them but fears the Ghost of Peter Grant....which doesn't make sense in this day and age of youtube and internet. Peter Grant is long gone. Another time Joe Boyd mentioned the tapes were stored at Universal. Well, this could be a problem. Because a huge fire ripped through the Universal archives a few years ago. It could be those tapes were destroyed in the fire. That would be ghastly news for Fairport Convention and Led Zeppelin fans...the Troubadour tapes are one of the Holy Grails. One last note about this night of September 4, 1970...after the jam session was over, John Bonham, Dave Mattacks, and Janis Joplin drank the night away at Barney's Beanery on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood.
The images below are from someone who was a teenage in LA during the 1970s. He went to a lot of great shows and brought his camera. He got as close as possible to the stage, often making it to the front row, and snapped close up shots of the bands. Luckily for us, he saw Zep a number of times and published his photos for all of us to see. Here are some samples. If you want to see the rest, here's the link: https://www.instagram.com/frommyseat/. He also sells some of the images at https://stratfordrockphotos.com/gallery.php?band=Led_Zeppelin (FYI, I'm not affiliated with him, just thought some folks here would like his work.)