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40 Years Ago Today(July 31, 1969) I Heard Led Zeppelin I


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"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale..."

If you'll indulge me, I'd like to share a little memory about a very important day in my life.

Exactly 40 years ago today, on July 31, 1969, I bought and had my first listen to Led Zeppelin I. Needless to say, it was a life-changing experience and little Strider became a Zephead for life.

Before we get to that momentous day, first a little background.

As 1969 dawned and Led Zeppelin was getting ready to unleash their little platter of sound on an unsuspecting world, I was a wee lad of 6, going on 7, who had, thanks to my parents(especially my dad) already become immersed in the various music of the time.

Like most kids of that era, I had a little portable mono record player and a small collection of records to play; mostly kids music like Burl Ives, Disney movie and tv soundtracks, various pop singles...harmless stuff.

My dad was a classical and jazz music buff who didn't really get into rock n roll until the Beatles and the Rolling Stones came along. He didn't care for the 50's RnR of Elvis, Chuck, Buddy et al. In fact, he didn't really care for the Beatles or Stones either until around 65 or 66. He did love folk and had plenty of Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul & Mary albums.

I remember enjoying whatever music I heard my parents played as I think I have always been one of those people that just digs music...I could never understand people who said they didn't care for music...but I didn't really pay any specific attention to what bands they played. I knew of Beatles and Rolling Stones and such but had only the slightest clue about their cultural significance, and could name very few of their songs or albums. I just knew if something sounded good and bouncy I enjoyed dancing and singing along. "Yellow Submarine" was a particular favourite of mine, and "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" was my favourite Dylan song simply because I thought it was a funny silly song with a great beat to jump around to...at that age I had no idea about the different meanings of "stoned". I didn't even know the proper name of the song until later; I always called it "Everybody Must Get Stoned".

That all changed on June 1, 1967. On that day, my father came home from work with two albums that he had just bought; albums he seemed particularly keen to play.

Those records were:

The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

Jimi Hendrix "Are You Experienced"

So after dinner, I sat and listened as pop played "Sgt. Pepper's" first, my eyes alight with childish delight and wonder as we looked over the album art and the cutouts and the lyrics(the first rock album with printed lyrics). Then came "Are You Experienced" and I knew right then the electric guitar was my new favourite sound.

No need to dwell further on these two records(it should be a seperate topic) but if you are old enough to remember how those records exploded on the scene, then you can probably imagine how it sounded to my 5-year-old ears. From that day in June 1967 on, my relationship with music changed. You could say that is the day I became serious about my love of music.

All of a sudden, my parents record collection took on new meaning...hmmmm, I wondered, what other groovy sounds would I be able to find amongst these shiny black discs. That whole summer of '67 I embarked upon an auditory adventure thru the wilds of that stash of records from A to Z.

Every day was a treat...sometimes I would pick out an album for its cover, other times because I thought the band name intrigued me(The Zombies? Moby Grape? The Who?). By the beginning of 1969, I had already developed certain likes and preferences. The Beatles and Stones and Hendrix ruled my world, with the Yardbirds and Creedence Clearwater Revival rounding out my Top 5. I was slowly making my way through psychedelia(Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead), Acid rock(Jefferson Airplane, Iron Butterfly), and all the other genres and sub-genres including folk and blues.

If I were to list my Top 10 records of that time(pre-1969), the ones I played the most, the list would probably look like this:

1. Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" 1967

2. Jimi Hendrix "Are You Experienced" 1967

3. Rolling Stones "Flowers" 1967

4. Beatles "Revolver" 1966

5. Rolling Stones "Big Hits(High Tide and Green Grass)" 1966

6. Diana Ross & the Supremes "Greatest Hits" 1967

7. Beatles "Magical Mystery Tour" 1967

8. Simon & Garfunkle "Sounds of Silence" 1966

9. Bob Dylan "Blonde on Blonde" 1966

10. The Yardbirds "The Yardbirds Greatest Hits" 1967

I listened to rock and roll radio but not a whole lot...mostly 93 KHJ Boss radio on the AM dial(The Real Don Steele is the DJ I remember most) and when I got a nice stereo(including FM radio) for Christmas '68, I started listening more to the FM rock stations as they played more variety and more underground rock; it was the only place where you could hear songs longer than 5 minutes as AM mostly focused on Top 40.

I wasn't reading Rolling Stone or Creem at this time, nor was I reading much of my dad's copy of the L.A. Times other than the Apollo 11 moon mission and the sports section to check on the Lakers(The 1968-69 season is when I discovered basketball; both college and the NBA).

So while I had some knowledge of what was going on in the world and in music(maybe even more than most 6 or 7 year olds of the time), I was clueless about any such entity called Led Zeppelin. I knew of the Yardbirds, but because my dad only had a few of the early albums, I only was aware of Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck being the band's guitarists. I had no idea that the Yardbirds had broken up or that some new band was forming from the wreckage.

While my dad did have some Donovan records, I don't think I noticed Jimmy's name amongst the credits and I don't think I heard Joe Cocker's "With A Little Help From My Friends" until after I had heard Led Zeppelin.

Okay...now fast forward to May 5, 1969. It is a monday night and I have just had my heart broken listening to the radio broadcast(the tv broadcast was blacked out in L.A.) of the Los Angeles Lakers loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the NBA Championship. Curse that Don Nelson! I just became a fan of the Lakers(and basketball) that year, so I hadn't the psychic pain accrued from years of torment at the hands of the Celtics that old-time Laker fans had, but I hurt just the same.

Eyes red and wet from crying, I make myself a glass of Tang, say my goodnights to everyone, and tumble woozily into bed...only I am too distraught to sleep. So I figure a little music should calm me down and I reach over and plug in my headphones and turn on the radio...most likely either KMET 94.7 or KNAC 105.5.

The usual suspects of that era are played and then a Yardbird song..."Train Kept A-Rollin'"...afterwhich the dj announces that here's a song from the new band that arose from the ashes of the Yardbirds...HUH!?! My ears pricked up at that; The Yardbirds broke up?!? A new band?!?

And then came the song that would change everything for me:"Dazed and Confused"

Those opening doom-laden bass notes and the wah-wah guitar harmonics...then that virile powerful voice, with those long vowel sounds and just the right amount of echo...all brought home with the crashing chorus of drums and guitars playing THAT EVIL RIFF!

A couple more verses, the vocalist sounding like he's hurt and driven mad by some woman, as his vocals are more than matched by the heavyness of the guitars and drums during the ever-increasing intensity of the choruses; choruses marked by the fact that they're not vocal choruses as usually found in rock songs of that time, but instrumental choruses, with the riff being the hook.

Then a sudden shift as the bottom drops out and you feel like your floating, suspended in air as, while the bass and drums rein back and provide a throbbing rhythm, the guitar and voice enter into a pas de deux of spiraling weirdness, the guitars(how is he making THOSE sounds?) and vocals moaning...at times in call-and-response, at other times in tandem...chasing and weaving around in your head.

Holy effin shit...what is THIS I am hearing?!? It is at this point that I had completely forgotten about the game; hell, I don't think I was aware of any reality. I was no longer a little boy in Southern California. No, by now I had achieved lift-off into the stratosphere and warm, fuzzy vibrations were coursing throughout my body. I was flying.

Which only meant that I was gobsmacked by the instrumental frenzy to follow...the crash of the drums slams me back down to the bed and now the bass and drums are galloping pell-mell and the guitarist is firing a fusillade of notes at me, a blazing cascade of notes strafing my brain and body.

There were lots of guitar players who could play fast back then...Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Alvin Lee could all play fast...but at that time of hearing "Dazed and Confused", I couldn't think of anything I had heard that sounded so FAST, so FURIOUS, so TIGHT in my life. It was a sonic revelation!

The Beatles had just come out with "Helter Skelter" which gets pretty guitar heavy at the end, but the tempo is still pretty basic; to this point the wildest I had heard the Stones get was maybe "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby?" "Jumping Jack Flash", "Street Fighting Man", "Sympathy for the Devil" were all still pretty tame tempo-wise. Even Jimi Hendrix' "Fire" which is pretty quick doesn't approach the sustained ferocity and speed that the instrumental break of "Dazed and Confused" does.

And not just the guitar, but the drums...and just the fact that you could HEAR the drums pounding away in your cranium...oh man, this is the sound I had wanted to hear without my even knowing it! All the instruments could be heard, loudly, but with clarity too. Power...Precision...Passion!

I couldn't believe what I was hearing...I kept waiting for the song to spiral out of control, as now the drummer seemed to be playing FASTER...god, are these guys even HUMAN? Or are they of some alien race...able to play harder and faster than mere men? Then, when all hope seems lost and the band seems intent on driving us all over the cliff, a herald of slashing chords and pummeling drums and, wham-bam just like that, the band slams back into the song's main riff as the drummer applies perfectly cadenced cascading drum rolls leading into the final verse.

It's a wonder I didn't have whip-lash from it all...before I knew it the song was over as the band goes out in a blaze of power chords, the last sound being the hum of the guitar as it fades.

I was spent, yet also exhilarated...I couldn't sleep nor did I want to, as I needed to stay awake so I could find out the name of the band and the song I had just heard. After a few more songs, the dj finally came on to id the previous set..and that is when I remember first hearing the name Led Zeppelin and the song "Dazed and Confused". The dj made some comments about some concerts Zeppelin had recently played in Pasadena. Said don't believe the review in the L.A. Times, the band was mind-blowing.

After hearing what I just heard, I thought how could they not be.

And so, Led Zeppelin became a band that I intended to investigate...my birthday was coming up and their album joined the list of birthday gifts i desired. I started noticing other Zeppelin songs being played on the radio..."Communication Breakdown" being the most common along with "Dazed and Confused".

Fast forward now, to July 29 1969...it's my 7th birthday and I am excited..and everyone is still buzzed from the Moon landing just over a week prior!!! I was a big science and dinosaur geek back then, so watching the whole Apollo 11 mission, from launch to splashdown was unreal!

My birthday that year, alas, fell on a weekday, so I had to wait for my dad to get home from work before cake and presents, for which we were going to O'Farrells Ice Cream Parlor, which, if you were a kid, was one of the greatest places on earth. I don't know how wide-spread they were in the U.S., but they were all over Southern California.

If it was your birthday, they had a clown and a parade of people come sing to you with one guy playing one of those big bass drums you see at parades or marching bands at football games. The best thing on the menu was the Pig Trough, and I vowed this year that I would finish the whole thing. To my surprise, I did...and on the way out, I had my dad get me one of the giant jaw-breakers they sold in the candy store.

My presents that year included a chemistry set, a Hot Wheels set, and two albums, none of which was Led Zeppelin I. They were still good ones, Neil Young's "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bayou Country".

Fortunately, I also received from my grandmother $10...don't laugh, $10 was a fortune to a kid in 1969. So at least I knew now I had the money to buy the Led Zeppelin album myself.

Unfortunately, my defeat of the Pig's Trough was Pyrrhic, as the next day I felt sick and miserable. So my mom kept me home and I discovered the joys of Neil Young and Crazy Horse and CCR while putting together my Hot Wheels tracks and loops.

Finally, the next day dawned...Thursday July 31, 1969...and I felt fit as a fiddle. My mom needed to run some errands, which was perfect as then I could come along and spend my birthday cash!

So, after a quick stop at the post office, then the bank, we hit the TG&Y Five and Dime store, but I didn't see any Zeppelin. So after she finished, and I told her they didn't have what I was looking for, she said South Coast Plaza would probably be the best place, as they had a Wallich's Music City, and they had tons of albums. And if not Wallich's, then the Broadway had albums. Even back then, South Coast Plaza was THE shopping place in Orange County.

So off we headed to Wallich's Music City at the South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. As soon as we got there, I asked the guy at the front where I could find the Led Zeppelin album. He asked if that was a rock group and I said yes, so he led me to the rock section and after locating the "L's", there it was staring me in the face...that iconic black-and-white photo of the Hindenburg going down in flames with the orange Led Zeppelin in the upper left-hand corner.

I picked it up, encased in shrinkwrap, and flipped it over to look at the back cover...now I could see what the band looked like for the first time; wow, they looked young. And not a beard in the bunch!

"Led Zeppelin"(there was no 1, as there hadn't been a 2nd yet) in hand, I looked around the record stacks some more. The Zeppelin was just under $3, so I had enough for two more records. I had heard a couple songs on the radio from the new Velvet Underground album that I liked("Pale Blue Eyes" and "What Goes On") and so I looked for that...and lo and behold, just like the Led Zeppelin, it had no title other than the band's name, "Velvet Underground", even though this was their third album.

Then, I just kind of aimlessly wandered...I wanted to make sure my third and last pick was something really good...I pondered Iron Butterfly, Steppenwolf, The Byrds, Otis Redding...until a striking image caught my eye. It was the art work for the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey", which my dad had taken me to see earlier that year and which I found strange yet also hypnotic, and I recall the music made an impression on me. Plus, with the recent moon landings, I was all caught up in the notion of space travel and sci-fi, so that cinched it, the Soundtrack to "2001" would be my third and final selection.

"Led Zeppelin" on Atlantic

"Velvet Underground" on MGM

"'2001: A Space Odyssey' Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack" on MGM.

3 brand new albums, for less than $10.

When I got home, I knew the Led Zeppelin would be the first one I listened to...the only question was do I listen through my regular speakers or my headphones? I decided that since it was still before dinner, I would listen through the speakers, then after dinner, I would listen with my headphones as that way I could listen as loud as I wanted without disturbing the family.

As I scurried to my room, I was tingling with anticipation and delight. I carefully took the shrinkwrap off the album and slid the sleeve out. Then I gently eased the vinyl disc out of the sleeve, taking care not to touch the grooves with my fingers. Checking to see which side was side 1, and recognizing the green and red Atlantic record label(mostly from my dad's John Coltrane and Aretha Franklin records), I placed the record on the turntable and, after turning everything on and making sure the treble and bass and volume controls were set, I started the turntable.

As I sat down on the floor in the middle of my room, with the album cover in my hands, I watched as the tonearm lifted up and slowly moved over and dropped onto the spinning disc, the needle popping a couple of times as it found its way into the sound groove.

And then...DAH DAH..those opening chords of "Good Times Bad Times" start, then that opening catchy high-hat and cowbell pattern...

"In the days of my youth, I was told what it means to be a man,

Now I've reached that age, I've tried to do all those things the best I can

No matter how I try, I find my way into the same old jam"

There was just something about the vocals...they sounded different than the vocals you heard on Beatles, Stones, the Who and Hendrix albums...they were definitely a different breed from Bob Dylan's, haha!

And the way they echoed at the end of the verse...it just sounded cool.

I studied the back cover and committed the names of the band and the instruments they played to memory: from left to right, Jimmy Page, John Bonham, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones. I noticed another name, Viram Jasani, who was credited as playing tablas on "Black Mountain Side".

Back to the song, and by now I was grooving, as when the song went into the chorus of "Good times bad times you know I've had my share" there was such a surge of sound that filled the room. I noticed those little things Bonham was doing with his bass drum that gave the song an extra kick...and of course, after the little bass riff after the first couple verses, Jimmy comes screaming in with that guitar solo that just sends the song soaring(wasn't until much later that I found out it was recorded through a Leslie speaker).

The song was over in a flash and I barely had time to take a drink from my coke before the delicate acoustic guitar signaled the beginning of the next song, "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You". Looking at the back cover I noticed that this song was much longer than "Good Times"...in fact, I noticed quite a few songs lasting around the 5 to 6 minute mark.

Well, that's just more music to listen to I thought, so good...most albums back then barely crossed the 30-35 minute mark, and as I mentally calculated the song times, it looked like the album would be about 40 minutes long(of course, it proved to be longer as Jimmy purposely had a shorter time listed for "How Many More Times" to fool the radio stations into playing it).

"Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" continued, and I once again I was knocked out by several things.

1) The power and range of Plant's voice and how effortless it seemed to flow between the lows and highs. Also, I loved the effect, whether accidental or on purpose, of what I would come to call the "ghost vocals" that happens around the 1:41 mark of this song and would make other appearances on other Zeppelin songs. It's when you hear him say "I can hear it calling me".

2) How Bonham seems to want to destroy his drums. I don't think I had ever heard a drummer hit his drums with such animalistic force before...and yet no matter how hard or fast he played, he never lost sight of the groove, he kept a steady beat.

3) The overall "sound" of the band. Led Zeppelin sounded so cinematic, especially compared to most other bands of the time. They had an huge overall panoramic sound, yet you also could pick out each instrument and voice in the sound-spectrum and concentrate on just that instrument if you so desired. It wasn't just the muddied mush that so many other bands who tried to play loud blues-rock ended up sounding like.

4) The drama the band could stir up. At 7 years old, I had no idea about girls and relationships, yet listening to "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You"(and the whole album basically) it was obvious that Plant was worked up about something...and it sure wasn't sports or cars.

A fact made even more clear in the next song, "You Shook Me".

"You Shook Me" opens with that amazing guitar lick, with that thick, fuzzy, juicy tone, and then follows with Bonham laying down the law with his kick drum. Both drums and guitar hit you hard...as do the bass, harmonica and Plant. Like I said, I had no clue about girls; how to talk to 'em or what to do with 'em. But as I listened to this song, as Plant moaned "You shook me all night looooooooonnnnnnggggg", and Bonzo and Jimmy and Jonesy were making mincemeat of my loins, I think I subconsciously began to understand what the band was about. As I was laying on the floor on my stomach, kicking my legs back and forth, while feeling the music coming from the speakers vibrate through my body, I think it hit me: ooooh, this band is singing about S-E-X! This was no band for little kids...this was for the BIG KIDS and maybe not even them, but for GROWN-UPS. I felt a little guilty, a little sly for having gotten away with buying this album. They didn't let kids see certain movies, surely there were bands that they would restrict, too, I thought. Would my mom burst through the door and demand I take that record back? I knew somehow, whether instinctively or not, that this music was changing me...I would be different somehow than I was before putting on this record. Somehow more knowing, even if what I was suppose to "know" was still a mystery...if that makes any sense. At any rate, girls would suddenly hold a new interest for me.

I had heard "You Shook Me" many times before...from my dad's blues albums all the way to the Jeff Beck album. But this was blues of a different sort...it was a sort of souped-up blues of the future. Neither a parody nor slavishly beholden to tradition, it was...well, to me it sounded different, modern. Jeff Beck can complain all he wants, but to me, Zeppelin's version has a completely different impact on the listener than Beck's, to the point where it is like it is a completely different song.

As the song drove on through that steady beat, Jones, Plant and Page each took their solo turn, each solo ratcheting up the level of intensity incrementally until I thought the song would burst. And then things really got weird...after Page's solo, he and Plant go into that singular call-and-response thing that about fries my brain. I don't know whether to laugh or be in awe...here's a vocalist I thought, who has no fear, who will go anywhere. He is not just using his voice to "sing", to utter mere words, but he is using his voice as another instrument, to complement the guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums.

"WOW! Did I just hear what I thought I heard?" was all I could say to myself before the song ends and is immediately followed by those legendary bass notes that begin "Dazed and Confused". No rest for the wicked, I guess...this band doesn't even give you time to catch your breath.

Of course, "Dazed and Confused" was the song that introduced me to Led Zeppelin, and in the weeks that followed I had heard it a few more times on the radio, until it was one of my favourite songs of all-time by the time I got the record.

As it was then, it still is today...just sheer power and psychedelic pandemonium and a song I never get tired of, and never will. By now, I am up and bouncing around the room, alternating between air-guitaring and air-drumming.

Who can blame Plant for those crazy random shouts as the solo section comes to a close...the band sounds like they are having such good fun playing together I don't wonder that the singer gets carried away...I would have, too!

You have to remember, most bands in 1969 still had problems getting good sound in the studio...even wealthy bands like the Beatles and Stones could end up having their studio recordings sound dodgy, with weird sounding stereo mixes and such. A band like Cream could play like lions but it would be all for naught as their records sounded distant and tiny, with the drums sounding like they were no more than a cardboard box.

You would listen to records on headphones and all the intruments would be crammed into one channel while a tambourine would be isolated in another and the vocals overwhelm everything else. It would make bands sound disjointed.

The revelation of Led Zeppelin, was that here was a band that sounded like a BAND.

This wasn't Jeff Beck, whose guitar on his first record practically overshadows everybody else on the record. Even on some of the Hendrix records, Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding get lost in the mix.

Led Zeppelin, on just their first record, already sounded light-years ahead of most, if not all, of everybody else. The bass and drums had a solid presence in the mix, where they should be, holding down the groove and the beat. Each snare hit, each club of the tom-toms, each kick of the bass drum and flick on the cymbal was audible...these were drums as they were MEANT TO SOUND! Drums that sounded like DRUMS, not tupperware.

The guitars had a real presence and depth, and there was a variety of tonal colour and effects so you never got bored. Each song had something that made you say "wow, listen to that guitar!"

But mostly the thing I noticed, whether I listened to "Led Zeppelin" through speakers or headphones, was that it sounded like the band was in the room with you playing. Or that you were in the studio with the band. In other words, whereas with most records of that era, you always were aware that you were listening to a record(whether because of the shoddy recording or shoddy mix or shoddy playing or all three), with "Led Zeppelin" the music sounded so hot, so fresh, and there was an immediacy and power to the recording that you simply forgot what you were listening to was coming from a needle on a phonograph and instead imagined yourself in the same room with the band.

That's another thing about Zeppelin...they left in room detail on their recordings; you could "hear" the sound of the room which gave added depth to their recordings.

When "Dazed and Confused" came to its dramatic close and ended side 1, I had to stop and gather myself a bit before flipping to side 2.

If side 1 was mostly pure rock power and energy, side 2 showcases a more eclectic sound, as everything from church organ and country-esque rock("Your Time Is Gonna Come") to Indian folk-raga(Black Mountain Side") to proto-punk-metal("Communication Breakdown") to heavy blues("I Can't Quit You Baby") to psychedelic-rock-jazz-blues-free-for-all("How Many More Times") gets a work-out.

Again the playing knocks me for a loop(ooooh, there's those weird guitar sounds again during "How Many More Times"! and Hey, this song is way longer than 3:38!) and while listening to side 2, I look again over the back cover, noticing the little Zeppelin graphic at the bottom, and noting the look of confidence in their eyes, especially Jimmy.

Again, they look so young, so good looking. Thanks to people like Bob Dylan and the Band and Canned Heat, many bands of this time were growing beards and attempting to appear as wizened old hillbillies. Even some of the Beatles were growing beards.

So it was refreshing to see a band that didn't look like your Uncle Burt. A band that was young, skinny and brash...unafraid to rebel against conventional wisdom on how a band should sound and how the "blues" should be played.

It is telling that my dad never took a liking to Led Zeppelin when I played it for him...it was too loud, too hard, too this, too that. In a way, that endeared the band even more to me, as Led Zeppelin would be "MY" band...a band I discovered on my own, and not through my dad's record collection. Eventually, he would grudgingly admit to liking some of their later stuff...certain songs from Led Zeppelin III or "Going to California"...but for the most part, when it came to Led Zeppelin(and as I was also to discover, Velvet Underground), I was the only one in my family at that time that liked them.

And so...back to that night of July 31, 1969 and by the end of my first listen to that first Led Zeppelin album, I knew I had found a band that I would cherish for life. It would take another year or so, before I would rank them above the Beatles and Stones, but by the time Led Zeppelin III was released in 1970, Led Zeppelin had indeed become my favourite band. They have remained so these nearly 40 years.

That's all for now...if this receives a positive response, I might open the memory vault again in the future.

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WOW!!!!!!! This was EPIC!! I LOVED reading this. You have quite a way with words...are you a writer?? You had me feeling all the emotions as I read this....feeling as giddy and breathless as you must have been at points in this discovery!

I must say---your memory is excellent! And your musical taste was FAR advanced of mine when i was age 7, THAT is for sure!! I can't believe the great music you were already into at that age. I guess I was on the slow train in catching up to good music. I think at age 7 I was still listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks! LOL!! :D

Thank you for this enormously enjoyable read! I would love it if you would open up the vaults again someday!! :)


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That's just a wonderful post, Strider - thanks! Probably one of the longest I've ever read on these forums, but absolutely no effort to read from start to finish. You were almost unbelievably young to be listening in this way to the music - and what great music! - but your dad will have helped immensely. And then when you discover Led Zeppelin it gains this little extra bit of significance because it was really - secretly, so to say - about grown up stuff, and yet you discovered the band yourself.... Really interesting story. Keep on reminiscing!

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Thanks Sharon, Otto and Stargroves(LOVE THAT Avatar name!) for the kind words.

One reason I haven't been as forthcoming with my Zeppelin experiences as you might think I would/should be, is that while I have some happy memories of my childhood, most of my childhood was not so happy. And sometimes the good(Zeppelin)times intertwined with the bad times, and I'd rather not go through reliving that stuff again, so I leave it all under lock and key in my head.

But as I've gotten older, and also as every new Led Zeppelin book leaves me unsatisfied and wondering if there will ever be a good Zeppelin biography written(sorry but Davis' "Hammer..." and Cole's "Stairway..." don't cut it with me), I have come to realize that this official Zeppelin board provides a unique opportunity for those of us old enough to have experienced the band, it's records and concerts and cultural influence, as it happened from 1968-1980, to enter into the public record an accounting of what Led Zeppelin meant to us fans, so that perhaps those younger fans, and future fans and biographers will have a bigger well of information from which to draw from, especially crucial given the small amount of official press devoted to the band in its heyday, as compared to the Beatles and Stones.

When the official record is inadequate, it falls to us fans to fill in the gaps and provide a fuller picture of the effect of Led Zeppelin beyond the usual lazy journalistic reductions of the band's legacy to heavy metal, mud-sharks and drugs.

And so, I figured I would start getting my Zep tales down before I got too old to remember them. Not that they are inherently any better than someone else's...or that they require multiple responses of awe and thanks; my ego isn't that large or in need of stroking, even if I am a Leo.

But this IS a Led Zeppelin board...and not just any board, but the OFFICIAL site of Led Zeppelin's board, so what better place to accumulate the fan's perspective of Led Zeppelin as a corrective to the often ludicrous wrongheaded attempts to explain the band by the official "media" than here?

Now, I have to correct something...actually there's a lot I would love to correct(wished I had proofread my post before posting as it is filled with grammatical errors...the syntax is not quite consistent) but I was in a rush, as I had a date that night and only had an hour or so to write that post between finishing work and going out. Unfortunately, now it is too late to edit.

But I have to make note of a factual error: when I listed the two records I received as presents on my birthday as being CCR's "Bayou Country" and Neil Young's "Everybody Says This Is Nowhere", I was only half-right.

The Creedence was correct...but upon reflecting I realized I made a mistake about the Neil Young. You see I definitely remember taking "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" over to a girl's house after my birthday and listening to it with her...the reason I remember it so vividly is because it was while listening to that record with that girl that I had my "FIRST KISS".

Well, I had no girlfriend the summer of 1969, so obviously it was the following year, which means I got the Neil Young album for my 8th birthday in 1970. The other clue that lead me to think it was later was that I don't think I knew about Neil Young until after my dad bought the CSN & Y album "Deja Vu".

So what was the second album other than CCR that I received? After further review, I have narrowed down the possibilities to two: either it was Simon & Garfunkle's "Bookends" or Tommy James and the Shondells "Crimson and Clover".

Given the fact that I recall really loving that song "Crimson and Clover", not too mention "Crystal Blue Persuasion", I have a feeling that it was most likely the Tommy James album.

How does someone who likes Tommy James and Simon & Garfunkle also get into Led Zeppelin and Velvet Underground? Well, to paraphrase that old philosopher: I am human...I contain multitudes. To wit, I had loads of Alvin & the Chipmonks records, too! LOL!

Oh, and Sharon, my memory is good, but as the above shows, it's not perfect. You see, I had a little help in remembering certain things...namely some of my old diaries and writing assignments that I did in school.

It seems when I visited some of my relatives this past Christmas and New Year's for the first time in 30 years, I discovered some of them had pictures and stuff that I had assumed lost or destroyed long ago. Among these were some old journals and scrapbooks and homework. A veritable treasure trove of memories.

Anyway, I shall be back when I have time with some more of my Zeppelin experiences...I assume the concert ones will be the more interesting to most, so I will make my next one a concert memory.

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Hi Strider!

Loved your second post here, too!! :) And I agree that this is a great way to share Zep experiences/etc in a way the media would NEVER portray!!

And yes..I also nominate you to write the book for us. :D

How very cool that you discovered some long lost scrapbooks/etc. What a fun find that must have been and going back down memory lane (<---well, just the good ones, right!?? :) keep it to those!).

Thanks so much...I can't tell you how much I am enjoying your posts. This is fun! (and no I am not trying to stroke your ego..LOL!! just stating the truth :) ).



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btw, love your sig..... who is that quote from?

That sig(well the old "Robert Plant/Charles Darwin"one anyway, as you can see I've changed it) was something I found in a book or magazine and wrote down in one of my old journals...unfortunately, there's a spill stain and I can't quite make out the source I wrote down...the quote itself is accurate and dates from around 1969 or 1970.

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  • 9 months later...

Longtime lurker, first time poster. Had to resurrect one of my favorite threads of all time in light of the Celtics playing the Lakers in the Finals again. I remembered reading this great Led Zep memory and that there was something about the Lakers/Celtics in it!

Strider, for those of us born in 1968 or later, please do open the memory vaults again and share more of these great detailed memories. I'm sorry that some of the childhood ones are not positive, but hopefully the healing power of the great music did help for coping.

Go Celtics!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow! What a brilliant post! Hats off to you Strider! Your writing skills are just phenomenal! Thanks for sharing this really interesting tale with all of us! I hope you can share other Zep related tales with us in the future! I remember when I heard my first Led Zeppelin song! I was 12 (about 10 years ago) (yep! I am one of the younger Zep heads!). I was at the Dentist getting a filling done (I was pretty scared about the whole procedure!) and little did I know that my dentist was a total Zep head! During the procedure, I got to hear (for the very first time) "Black Dog" and "Stairway To Heaven", for my dentist who had his own private practice, always made it a point to play some music while working. When "Black Dog" came on, I completely forgot about my filling! I was in music heaven! I honestly could not believe what I was hearing! I had just begun at the time to get into the music of Queen and Jimi Hendrix, so I hadn't got the chance to explore Led Zeppelin yet! That was indeed the best Dentist appointment ever! I really loved what I was hearing so much that he practically had to chase me away from his office telling me I had to leave as there were other patients waiting! LOL! I was pretty much asking the guy all these questions with regard to the name of the song, the band, the album, the history behind it all, etc.

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WoW that trip back was just AMAZING!,

THANK YOU so much loved reading how the sound made the 7year old you feel!

and also the fact you bought the Velvet Underground too, it just WoW'd me

once again, THANK YOU so much for sharing!!


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Thanks for the post. I particularly enjoyed the historical context. Although a decade younger than you, I get very nostalgic for the era of American culture that gave rise to the beatniks and hippies. I was around in the 70s and experienced some of it but my musical awakening was more, I hate to say it, an MTV thing. At least I was able to find Zeppelin a few years later and reconnect with the days of my youth.

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  • 8 months later...

I had never read this before. What a great read Strider and well told! :thumbsup:

This reminds me of the movie "Almost Famous", when William's sister leaves home and shares with him a secret. She tells him where her album collection is (which she left for him) and says that it will change his life forever. When you discovered Led Zeppelin and their first album, it completely reminded me of that part of the movie.

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  • 3 months later...

Damn man, I am starting to think I was born in the wrong decade. tongue.gif

I need a button that automatically types in "Love the story Strider!"

Just out of curiosity (and to get you to write more stories wink.gif), what were your impressions of the third album?

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Damn man, I am starting to think I was born in the wrong decade. tongue.gif

I'm sure your kids don't think so... :lol:

Just out of curiosity (and to get you to write more stories wink.gif), what were your impressions of the third album?

Hahaha...I'm beginning to feel like a short-order cook; that'll be one LZ III for MissMelanie, a LZ IV for Friends, a 6-21-77 for SuperDave, 6-25-72 for whomever.

Oh well, as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait.

Just got off from work and am heading for dinner and the LA Film Festival. Enjoy your weekend everybody! :cheer:

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks Strider. One thing you mentioned that was so true was the studio sound of Led I. It was clean and huge yet intimate at the same time. You're right, it didn't sound like the typically recorded LP back then.

Great post.

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hey -strider, that is some great writing and an amazing mind you have there. been reading while lurking for awhile and really appreciate all your writing and memories, very cool. there have been times where i wanted to comment on something particular that was funny, or so right on, but i will wait, cause i forget right now and know these threads will be bumped for the next 300 yrs.

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