Jump to content

Fan recalls Led Zeppelin gig at Newcastle Mayfair (1968)


Recommended Posts

  • Administrators

Fan recalls Led Zeppelin gig at Newcastle Mayfair

Oct 14 2012 by Ruth Lawson, Sunday Sun

A NORTH music fan has lifted the lid on the night Led Zeppelin played their first ever gig in Newcastle.

Billed as one of the greatest rock bands of all time, Led Zeppelin went on to sell millions of albums worldwide and conquer American stadiums in the late 1960s and 1970s.

But it’s a little known fact that the four-piece started their gigging life on stage at the now defunct Mayfair Ballroom in Newcastle in October, 1968.

As the 44th anniversary of this historic gig passed, North East musician John Woods shared his memories of the night the then relatively unknown band performed together as a foursome for the very first time.

The 68-year-old, whose band Junco Partners supported Led Zeppelin that very night, said: “It’s a long time ago but I remember being asked by the Mayfair promoter to play, supporting them with a couple of other local bands but I didn’t really know much about them.

“I had heard of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page but didn’t really know much about the band.”

It was Jimmy Page’s band the Yardbirds that had originally been booked to play the venue on October 4, 1968 but they had since split.

Page wanted to honour all the pre-booked gigs so he saw it as an opportunity to introduce his new band which was made up of drummer John Bonham, bassist John Paul Jones, Page on guitar and singer Robert Plant

Initially going under the name the New Yardbirds, the hundreds of gig-goers who squeezed into the Mayfair that night were unaware that history was in the making.

“They came on the night and we shared a dressing room back stage with them and they were a good bunch,” said John.

“They weren’t as mad as they came to be but a couple of them were a bit bonkers. Jimmy Page, in particular, definitely seemed a bit bonkers.”

The Junco Partners took to the stage before the New Yardbirds to warm up the crowd before joining the audience to watch the newly-formed band.

John, of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, said: “We all watched John Bonham on the drums and just remember thinking what a killer drummer he was.

“He had so much power and feel. If a drummer has got the feel it makes the band 20 times better.

“For a four-piece they were loud as hell which is what I like.

“They played all their songs well and they wrote their own material, it all seemed to be going well for them.”

He added: “Playing with a band like that I thought ‘these guys know what it’s all about’.

“It was a good crowd but it wasn’t full because they didn’t have the name at that stage.

“But within one or two years Led Zeppelin were big business.

“After the gig we just sort of put them on the mental back-burner in our heads but when I saw they had done so well I was really chuffed because that’s the sort of story you can tell to your mates.”

John, who owns Flip Vintage in Newcastle City Centre, says he still looks back on the night with fond memories and counts himself lucky to have been involved in the now monumental night.

“Looking back now I think we did watch them and appreciate what they did and, even though Robert Plant was a little vain, he was a great singer,” remembered John.

l In 2007, 20 million rock fans applied online for 18,000 tickets to Led Zeppelin’s one-off reunion at the O2 Arena, London. Now, five years on, that concert will be finally released on the DVD, Celebration Day, next month.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I imagine Jimmy being shy and pretty reserved at this early stage, i cant see how he'd be bonkers. Hmm

I think I may agree with this. Did he drink at all, back in the early days of Zep? I thought, I may have read that he didn't. Could be wrong about this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did he drink at all, back in the early days of Zep? I thought, I may have read that he didn't. Could be wrong about this.

Of course he did, and there are photographs from '69 to prove it.

I must say I cannot yet accept everything John Woods (the Newcastle attendee) stated as a historical fact. Specifically, so far as I know only Scandanavian tour dates remained unfulfilled for The Yardbirds.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Sunday Sun article was 'inspired' (I wouldn't dream of saying 'nicked') by my article in Classic Rock 176 (the October 2012 issue, published mid September) which is three pages long and miles more comprehensive than the one you've quoted. I speak to Brian Greenaway, the manager of Newcastle Mayfair at the time, Fraser Suffield the promoter, Terry Reid (who was credited on the advance tickets as the support but couldn't do it because ie was supporting Cream on their 'Farewell' tour of the US), Tez Stokes from New York Public Library (who played instead) and members of the local supports. Ray Laidlaw from Downtown Faction and Bob Sargeant and Charlie Harcourt from the Junco Partners, along with Charlie Foskett, a member of the audience who'd sold his stick bass to JPJ the day before! Plus also a friend of a now-deceased member of the audience who demanded his money back because it wasn't The Yardbirds! About the only available person I didn't interview was John Woods because I'd heard he wasn't in the best of health and didn't want to bother him.

There's more about this on the North East Music History Facebook site, which is probably where the Sunday Sun's Ruth Lawson found out about it.

The promoter booked the gig in February before The Yardbirds split up. So this was an unfulfilled gig that Jimmy Page was honouring.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ian researched his article extremely well, his sources all stand up.

This is possibly irrelevant, but I recall a couple years ago Sam_webmaster told me how to contact the promoter for the Scandanavian tour that preceeded this date as I had wanted to know how far in advance those dates were booked. I regret not following up on it now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...