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SteveAJones

Led Zeppelin // Pontiac Silverdome // April 30th 1977

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A MIDNIGHT RIDE WITH LED ZEPPELIN

Touring The Heartland With a Legendary Rock Band

Led Zeppelin Will Appear at the Pontiac Silverdome Next Saturday Night

Minneapolis - The 727 jet glides across the runway and halts gently at a private terminal. Floodlights along the perimeter cut through the gathering dusk to pick out the outline of a naked angel painted on the exterior of the cockpit, the logo of Swan Song Records, and just beneath it, the stylized lettering "Led Zeppelin"

The Zeppelin has landed; another performance during its 1977 tour of America, the first in two years. And witnessing a Led Zeppelin concert is like watching the last convertible roll off the assembly line. You know they won't be making classics like this anymore.

The band and its sizable retinue of roadies, technicians, tour administrators, hangers-on, and this journalist scramble across the tarmac and pile into a fleet of seven limousines with engines running, waiting to sprint to Minneapolis' Metropolitan Sports Arena. A police escort of eight motorcycles positions itself around the cortege like linesman circling the quarterback and, with sirens wailing, speeds through traffic lights and intersections to the arena.

Security people are barking into walkie-talkies. The bandsman storm into the backstage garage where ushers yank open doors and push them into the dressing room. This is no ordinary band.

During this five-month expedition, Zeppelin is expected to gross anywhere between $8 and $10 million in some two dozen cities. Easily a third of that will go to expenses.

"You wouldn't believe what it costs for this band to tour", says Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant, standing backstage. "I probably won't have any accurate idea until months after it's over".

Grant, sporting a large gold earring in his left earlobe, is a bear-like man whose beard spills over his stomach, which spills over his belt. His steady speech and manner is that of a Peter Ustinov though his appearance brings to mind a massive Long John Silver ala Robert Newton. Grant is easily as responsible for the Zep's longevity as the band itself. In the dressing room, he is a guardian hovering over his four charges amid reports from tour personnel concerning the mood of the audience, security measures, the arena's acoustics, and a brief meet with the box-office manager who hands a healthy cut of the gate's receipts over to him.

The atmosphere here is one of complete bedlam. Outside of a few revelers dipping into the ice-filled coolers of Heinekkan and Liebfraumilch, the mood is reminiscent of what Allied Forces headquarters' must have been like the morning of D-Day. It is a marked contrast to the folderol aboard the Zep's chartered 727 less than an hour ago.

Aboard the SS Zeppelin, the passengers wash down caviar with Pina Coladas, a favorite of the band's staff, or sip champagne all served from behind an elaborately stocked bar. Surprisingly, there are few drugs in evidence, some grass, a little cocaine – a pittance compared to the average superstar road extravaganza.

Robert Plant meanders through the plane chatting here and there with small cliques. Drummer John Bonham staggers from compartment to compartment alternately offending and charming passengers, and swilling from a quart of beer (the band doesn't refer to him in private as 'Bonzo' because he's genteel). Lead guitarist Jimmy Page remains fairly aloof, coming out only for an occasional sortie to the bar. And Bassist- keyboard player "Jonesy", John Paul Jones, settles down for a game of backgammon.

"We all have different personalities offstage," he says flicking the end of a Marlboro into an ashtray. "I think that's why we have lasted so long. Robert and Jimmy dote on the recognition, and that's great for them. Bonzo and I prefer the anonymity. I like the idea of being able to go anywhere without a lot of people carrying on. I'd rather Robert and Jimmy take the spotlight because someone in the band has to be exciting, y'know, capture the imagination of the public. I think if all four of us wanted the glory, there'd be fights. We'd have broken up years ago like the other bands that started out the same time we did."

Jones' features resemble the patrician looks of Rudolf Nureyev, that timelessness about the eyes that soften the fact that Jones is 33, married, and with two children. "I can see most of our audience now is under 21," he says, "but I don't feel silly performing for a 15 year old crowd. We've been doing that for quite a few years and each new generation of 15 year olds likes our music, so we must be doing something right." He swirls the ice around in his glass and sits back. "I don't see why Led Zeppelin can't go on past all of us turning 40," he says. "Jimmy and I are 33, Robert and Bonzo are 28. I guess 40 isn't so far off, right?" "But the band is doing what it wants, and we're still making fans, still making people happy. There's nothing else I want to do. We're all happy with each other and no one wants to split as a solo act." "Our secret is, we're flexible and we like each other."

The area behind the stage looks like the movie set to "Frankenstein", an array of pre-amps, monitors, laser-beam units, highly sophisticated consoles for mixing and balancing the audio, a score of "flashboxes" electronically triggered on cue and all of this wizardry operated by a small army of technicians. In the smothering darkness pierced only by the rows of fire-red idiot lights on the consoles, Jimmy Page stands by and watches until satisfied all is in working order. He ambles past and into the dressing room. He is wearing a Nazi officer's cap, Wehrmacht jodhpurs and jackboots. It is an ensemble he is apparently infatuated with for he's seen around the hotel before Showtime or backstage which he sheds only to don a white satin suit for the concert. Page, slim to the point of exaggeration with dark, curly hair framing his androgynous face, is not only the band's architect and inspiration, but also Led Zeppelin's resident Sphinx. In concert, he has been known to get so caught up in his lengthy acoustic instrumental that he is unaware he has strayed too far from his amplifier, thus plucking the cord from it, and playing without sound until one of the stage crew crawls onstage to replace the errant cord.

The legions of Led Zeppelin fans have never been known as docile but this evening's audience in Minneapolis is particularly feisty. Roman candles whistling around the rafters, firecrackers hurled onstage and two assaults by fans determined to mount the stage. As Bonzo begins the drum shuffle to his "Moby Dick" solo, a firecracker lands inches from Plant who dives from the stage. "We're used to rowdy crowds," walking back to the dressing room, "but this is crazy. A lot of times it breaks up our concentration. I'm watching Jimmy or they're watching me for a cue and suddenly a Frisbee sails out of the audience and none of us sees it. We've all been hit by them onstage, but the crackers are much worse; scares the hell out of us."

We retire to the dressing room since Bonzo will be flailing away for another 10 minutes. Plant sips from a plastic cup of honey and lemon and lights up a Camel. Drenched in perspiration, he sheds his soggy shirt, revealing a long, blue-black scar near the left elbow. a remnant from his near-fatal collision last Summer while driving his family during a holiday in Greece.

Though the three-hour set always begins with "The Song Remains the Same," and closes with "Stairway To Heaven," the band changes each show's line-up of about 15 songs. "It keeps things interesting," Plant explains, "You can picture what a drag it would be to do the same set night after night. I think that's why so many bands get sick of touring."

Another novel, though expensive, practice Zeppelin has adopted to reduce the rigors of the road is to set up a permanent base of operations for each section of the country they're playing. During their tour of the Midwest, the Zep has stayed at the Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago, flying out early each evening to wherever they're appearing that night, then back to Chicago. "You'd be amazed at what a difference that makes," Plant says "Instead of packing suitcases every day, doing the show, unpacking at a different hotel that night, then repeating it all the next day, we just fly out early, do the show and fly back to our rooms. When we do the East coast, we'll stay in New York and do the same thing there."

Peter Grant surveys the unruly audience and shakes his head. "I think the cause for a lot of this is the 'festival seating,' no reserved seats on the floor. These kids get in here and start pushing each other about, tossing bottles, firecrackers, anything they can throw. I'm afraid it might be the same situation in Detroit next Saturday," he says. "It's festival seating on the field at the Silverdome and they might get rowdy."

Is the band not courting disaster by cramming so many fans into so large an arena ? Why not two nights at a smaller hall ? (they played three nights in Chicago). "I'm afraid that's my doing," Grant says. "The band didn't want to cut into the two week break after the Detroit show. They're flying back to England for two weeks, and then returning for the last leg of the tour. I knew they'd only do one show so I thought it wisest to play the largest venue in the area. We were hoping to fill the place to capacity, 75,000, but the Fire Marshall would only allow us 72,000 tickets maximum."

Grant admits the $10.50 ticket price at Pontiac is stiff but qualifies it after listing tour expenses – fueling a jet, carting along tons of equipment, the technicians, and even a physician who keeps an eye on the band's health.

By Stephen Ford

Detroit News Entertainment Writer

4-24-77

'Zeppelin Scalpers Play Safe, Run Ads'

Led Zeppelin fans who desperately want to see the rock group tonight are being offered scalper's prices – and they can even conduct the whole transaction by phone.

The person in front of the sold-out rock concert selling tickets for three times the amount he paid at the box office may not be obsolete, but the wiser ones have almost eliminated chances of being charged with any violation. Their secret is "classified".

In the area newspaper classified pages last week, more than a dozen ads offered tickets to the upcoming Led Zeppelin concert at Pontiac's Silverdome, sold out for weeks. Of those contacted, four were selling tickets for 3 to 5 times more than the $10.50 they paid for them.

Michigan statute 750;465, passed into law 46 years ago, describes scalping as "…offering tickets for sale in any public place or thoroughfare in excess of the advertised rate." The practice is prohibited and violations are a misdemeanor, punishable by up to $100 fine and 90 days in jail.

"It's a very interesting legal question," says Richard Padziewski, deputy chief of the criminal division at the Wayne County prosecutor's office. "There is no precedent in Michigan for charging anyone with ticket scalping via a newspaper's classified ads. There is no clear legal opinion on this. The statute also refers to scalpers setting up 'agencies or sub-offices' to sell overpriced tickets as illegal, but whether someone selling them from their home can be considered establishing a sub-office is arguable." He added, ""We've found that if we have to stretch the wording of a statute for a suspected violation, it probably wasn't the intent of the Legislature to make it illegal."

By Tuesday of this week, all but one of the classified scalpers had unloaded their tickets on desperate Zeppelin fans willing to part with exorbitant sums.

Stephen Ford

Detroit News Entertainment Writer

4-30-77

The Show

The weather couldn't have been more cooperative, the crowd more enthusiastic or the reason better for an estimated 80,000 young people to congregate at the 'Pontiac Silverdome' Saturday.

British rockers Led Zeppelin were in town for their first performance in the Detroit area in two years.

Fans reveled in the day's festival-like atmosphere, enjoying picnic lunches and barbeques, vigorous Frisbee contests or just basking in the sun.

Those entering the Silverdome when the gates opened at 4pm used similar activities to pass the five-hour wait before the band appeared.

Police and Silverdome security personnel seemed unperturbed by the thousands of youthful drinkers or the clusters of indiscreet marijuana smokers. They concentrated on moving traffic and crowds as smoothly as possible.

Fans' impatience with the 90 minute delay fueled a few scuffles but their discontent vanished when Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant started the three-hour set with the band's familiar "Song Remains the Same." He gradually led the audience through an anthology of Led Zeppelin's prolific 10 years together. The lengthy performance was highlighted by their classic "Stairway To Heaven", solos by each band member, and two encores.

Fans appeared content that the lofty $10.50 admission was well spent.

This small article appeared beside 5 photos on a full page. These included the parking lot, the fans inside, and an awesome picture of Jimmy on his knees with his arms stretched wide holding his guitar.

'Beautiful Day' For Fans As Zeppelin Packs Dome

It took Toledo truck driver Brian Coup a couple of weeks of skimping to afford to hear one of the world's most popular rock'n' roll bands Saturday at what turned out to be the biggest Pontiac Silverdome concert ever. "Man was it worth it," he sighed, sitting on a parking lot fire hydrant long after Led Zeppelin, an explosive quartet of English musicians, had ended a high-energy three hour performance before more than 76,200 fans.

"This was the biggest and most subdued audience for a rock concert here yet," said Silverdome's special events promoter Gerry Baron. He looked happy as he gazed over a sea of blue-denimed humanity shuffling easily from the stadium floor and seats to the exits. "It was just a beautiful day." And not just for Baron.

Roger and Marcia Mulheren watched the whole concert, thanks to a Silverdome friend, from the plush second level press box. They were still in their wedding outfits, hours after being married before 100 friends in a Pontiac church. Roger, a 24 year old nurse, and his 20 year old bride were joined by their best man and maid of honor dressed in matching peach outfits. "It's a joyous occasion and I feel what better way to spend a joyous occasion than with friends," said Marcia as Zeppelin kicked into "The Song Remains The Same." "And what better friends than Led Zeppelin."

But Zeppelin's fans have not always been as friendly as the band's touring entourage would have liked. In Cincinnati last week, a fan was pushed from the third level of the outdoor Riverfront Stadium into traffic below and was killed. There was much concern that such a mass of Detroit fans also could get out of hand. Barron said radio and television spots advising against early arrival, plus the decision to open the doors two hours early avoided a restive crowd outside the stadium. The audience had to wait 80 minutes beyond the scheduled 8:00pm start for the performance, but it did not get rowdy.

Fewer than 20% of the tickets were for so-called "festival seating" on the stadium floor-first come, first sit. The remaining $10.50 tickets, steep by most rock concert standards, were for reserved seating.

But there were usual problems. The stadium staff of four doctors and nine nurses treated well over 100 people for everything from hangovers to drug overdoses. Pontiac police made 44 arrests, 21 of them drug related and many for open liquor bottles and the disorderliness caused by the drinking. "Things went very well for a crowd of nearly 80,000 young people enjoying what they call nice music," said Lt. Robert Verhine of the Pontiac police. And the music was "nice," if the thundering crowd that demanded and got two encores can be believed.

Robert Plant, the 28-year-old singer, gave exactly what his legion wanted. Wearing jeans and his leather jacket open without a shirt, he went through stage gyrations befitting the best English rock performer. His piercing high voice, showing strain of the tour, still was exhilarating.

Jimmy Page, spending considerable time with his double-necked guitar, laid out thrilling heavy metallic licks, the sound signature of Led Zeppelin. Only on their classic tune "Stairway To Heaven" did Pages playing really shine. But the mesmerized crowd did not seem to notice. They were over-whelmed with the well-staged lighting scheme, complete with lasers and exploding powder pots, and the well-honed sound. For those far from the several ton mountain of sound equipment on the stage at one end of the stadium, the stadium's gigantic video screen provided televised close-ups.

For Zeppelin's efforts, the band took home over $600,000 for the night, a considerable portion of which covers the tremendous expenses incurred on the 5 month U.S. tour.

For the Zeppelin fans' efforts, like fighting the mobs for tickets weeks ago, fighting traffic to and from the Dome, and waiting for the concert to start 80 minutes late, it all seemed worth it. Sixteen-year-old Elaine Alexander of Mt. Clemens, with friends after the concert, shrieked: "Words can't even explain it. It was great "

Detroit Free Press

May 2nd, 1977

Rock Alchemy: Led into Gold

Robert Plant showed up for work 90 minutes late Saturday night. So did his Led Zeppelin cronies Jimmy Page, John Bonham, and John Paul Jones.

When they finally arrived it was by a massive entourage of bodyguards, publicity flacks, valets and a cast of underlings too numerous nor worth mentioning.

But nobody – neither their bosses nor their customers – voiced a single complaint. In fact Led Zeppelin was given the kind of tumultuous welcome at the Pontiac Silverdome that should be reserved for the scientist who conquers cancer or the person who comes up with the formula for world peace.

Zeppelin was on the job three-and-a-half hours and then they jumped back into the plane for a two-week holiday in Cairo and London. And their rate of pay was $3,500. Not for the day. Not per hour. That was per minute. Nice work if you can get it.

Led Zeppelin, four British musicians, walked onto the Pontiac Silverdome stage at 9:30pm Saturday and walked off at 1:am Sunday with – unofficially - $642,000, their take of the total gate of an estimated $840,000 after bilking 80,000 of their most die-hard fans $10.50 each for the pleasure of their company.

The lucky ones – those with the 14,000 floor seats – got to actually see the band but they paid for it by being pushed and shoved by the zealots behind them.

The rest – those in the arena seats – were so far away from the activity on stage that the band must have looked like four ants prancing around on top of a marshmallow. The simulcast closed circuit screen overhead was their only assurance that there were; in fact, real live people on the stage. Otherwise, Page's guitar would have looked like a double-necked electric toothpick.

The screen, which has been used at all the Silver dome's rock concerts, was originally vetoed by the band. No way, they said, were they going to all the expense of renting the screen and cameras for a lousy $840,000 gate. But the stadium management persisted and they relented.

The Pontiac date was the largest venue on Led Zep's '77 American tour. In fact, it was probably the biggest indoor concert ever and the band marked the occasion by doing absolutely nothing special on stage. Their concert set Saturday night was the same routine they've been using all over the country with one exception, a second three-minute encore.

The band went mechanically through the motions. They had clearly left all inspiration back on the private plane. There was no art being made at the Silverdome Saturday, only money. The band displayed arrogance and indifference toward the audience which was best exemplified by their over-all air of nonchalance; for instance, showing up 90 minutes after the scheduled starting time. In Cincinnati, just four nights before the Pontiac date, a fan was killed when an impatient throng accidentally knocked him off a tier of the stadium and into the street.

After that incident one would expect the band to reduce the possibilities of a similar tragedy. Yet they were unable to get to the hall on time and left the audience hanging. They didn't arrive at the site until 9:10pm and it was another 20 minutes before they actually took the stage. The band had refused a stadium offer to fly them directly to the parking lot by helicopter to expedite things and instead took a bus. On stage they attempted to create a sense of community but Led Zeppelin, in reality, keeps their distance, compliments of an abnormally huge stage barricade and an army of security personnel. Even the tour manager of the group wanders through the arena with a bodyguard prepared to stiff-arm anyone who approaches.

"I had an easier time getting to the President," mused a disgruntled reporter after a persistent but futile series of attempts for five minutes of the band's time for his readership. "Even Zeppelin's PR people are inaccessible."

The band also strongly objected to giving the thousands of Detroit fans who missed out on the sold-out show a filmed documentary. Finally, after three frustrating attempts, one photographer did manage to wrangle his way to the stage to film the band.

There were no major incidents at the concert despite the size of the crowd and the delay, thanks to the cooperation of stadium officials, Pontiac Police, and the strangely serene crowd entering the gates like lemmings prepared to fall into the sea or where ever else Plant, Page, Bonham and Jones might dump them.

Bill Gray

Detroit News Columnist

5-2-77

Zep plays to largest audience ever for single-act rock show

PONTIAC, Mich. (1977) - The attendance at Led Zeppelin's Silverdome concert tonight triumphantly shattered the band's own previous attendance record, a number unmatched by any other group in the last four years.

The audience of 77,229 at the Silverdome is the largest audience for a single-act concert. The previous record was 56,800 set in May 1973 at a Zeppelin show in Tampa Bay. On that historic day, the group surpassed the Beatles' 1965 attendance record of 55,000. Making a sum of £467,000 tonight, Led Zeppelin has finished the first leg of its 11th tour of North America. Upon returning, the band will tour the southern United States, beginning May 18 in Birmingham, Ala.

Associated Press Release

Edited by SteveAJones

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A MIDNIGHT RIDE WITH LED ZEPPELIN

Those entering the Silverdome when the gates opened at 4pm used similar activities to pass the five-hour wait before the band appeared.

That's NOT how it happened. Several fences were pushed down by the crowd and about 2000 of us were inside at about 12 pm! I ended up 20 yards from the stage. Now they might have put the fences back and order restored until 4 pm like that artical says but it was wild on the floor. Lots of pushing and shoving during the concert itself. Body Gaurds were keeping fans away from the stage with fists my best friend told me. I didn't see that myself as i had to stand on my toes to see the band as I'm short.

Edited by wep363

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We were inside by noon that day as well. It was utter pandemonium. Pontiac, Oakland Cty police and security guards had no control over anything, seems to me they just went with the flow and only manhandled the really flipped out folks.It was just party city.We left and re-entered off and on throughout the day.There were well over 150,000 people there just to be there tix or not.Our seats were up in the nosebleed section and that was after waiting 18 1/2 hours in line in windy 20 degree weather on the tix selling date. After 30 + years the memories are foggy at best( as my head was) but it was like a mini Woodstock.I was 23 yrs old in '77 and the younger generation hippies were a rowdy bunch, responsible for the firecracker bit. The firecrackers started up and I remember Robert coming out and saying to "stop it !" They would not go on if firecrackers persisted. The fireworks stopped, maybe just a couple went off after, and those folks got their azz beat by the folks nearest them.IIRC Jimmy was pretty buzzed that night, we could tell the rest of the band was getting a bit miffed at him. We were trying to record the concert so we had to be careful, but the concert was so loud that our mics were overwhelmed.All we got were wooshing sounds and alot of Bonzos heavy hitting drums.We had binocs and am pretty sure that Bonzos hands were bleeding after his solo drumming without sticks ! The Silverdome acoustics were terrible anyhow.Being there and seeing all the love for Zeppelin was amazing. If my scanner wasn't dead I could post what pics and newsprint I have here.I didn't think that they stayed in DetRiot that night as we ladies went looking for them and couldn't find them in any of the old haunts. It was truly a night that will be inprinted in my mind forever !

Thanks Steve, for the memories, buddy...

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A MIDNIGHT RIDE WITH LED ZEPPELIN

Touring The Heartland With a Legendary Rock Band

Led Zeppelin Will Appear at the Pontiac Silverdome Next Saturday Night

Minneapolis - The 727 jet glides across the runway and halts gently at a private terminal. Floodlights along the perimeter cut through the gathering dusk to pick out the outline of a naked angel painted on the exterior of the cockpit, the logo of Swan Song Records, and just beneath it, the stylized lettering "Led Zeppelin"

The Zeppelin has landed; another performance during its 1977 tour of America, the first in two years. And witnessing a Led Zeppelin concert is like watching the last convertible roll off the assembly line. You know they won't be making classics like this anymore.

The band and its sizable retinue of roadies, technicians, tour administrators, hangers-on, and this journalist scramble across the tarmac and pile into a fleet of seven limousines with engines running, waiting to sprint to Minneapolis' Metropolitan Sports Arena. A police escort of eight motorcycles positions itself around the cortege like linesman circling the quarterback and, with sirens wailing, speeds through traffic lights and intersections to the arena.

Security people are barking into walkie-talkies. The bandsman storm into the backstage garage where ushers yank open doors and push them into the dressing room. This is no ordinary band.

During this five-month expedition, Zeppelin is expected to gross anywhere between $8 and $10 million in some two dozen cities. Easily a third of that will go to expenses.

"You wouldn't believe what it costs for this band to tour", says Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant, standing backstage. "I probably won't have any accurate idea until months after it's over".

Grant, sporting a large gold earring in his left earlobe, is a bear-like man whose beard spills over his stomach, which spills over his belt. His steady speech and manner is that of a Peter Ustinov though his appearance brings to mind a massive Long John Silver ala Robert Newton. Grant is easily as responsible for the Zep's longevity as the band itself. In the dressing room, he is a guardian hovering over his four charges amid reports from tour personnel concerning the mood of the audience, security measures, the arena's acoustics, and a brief meet with the box-office manager who hands a healthy cut of the gate's receipts over to him.

The atmosphere here is one of complete bedlam. Outside of a few revelers dipping into the ice-filled coolers of Heinekkan and Liebfraumilch, the mood is reminiscent of what Allied Forces headquarters' must have been like the morning of D-Day. It is a marked contrast to the folderol aboard the Zep's chartered 727 less than an hour ago.

Aboard the SS Zeppelin, the passengers wash down caviar with Pina Coladas, a favorite of the band's staff, or sip champagne all served from behind an elaborately stocked bar. Surprisingly, there are few drugs in evidence, some grass, a little cocaine – a pittance compared to the average superstar road extravaganza.

Robert Plant meanders through the plane chatting here and there with small cliques. Drummer John Bonham staggers from compartment to compartment alternately offending and charming passengers, and swilling from a quart of beer (the band doesn't refer to him in private as 'Bonzo' because he's genteel). Lead guitarist Jimmy Page remains fairly aloof, coming out only for an occasional sortie to the bar. And Bassist- keyboard player "Jonesy", John Paul Jones, settles down for a game of backgammon.

"We all have different personalities offstage," he says flicking the end of a Marlboro into an ashtray. "I think that's why we have lasted so long. Robert and Jimmy dote on the recognition, and that's great for them. Bonzo and I prefer the anonymity. I like the idea of being able to go anywhere without a lot of people carrying on. I'd rather Robert and Jimmy take the spotlight because someone in the band has to be exciting, y'know, capture the imagination of the public. I think if all four of us wanted the glory, there'd be fights. We'd have broken up years ago like the other bands that started out the same time we did."

Jones' features resemble the patrician looks of Rudolf Nureyev, that timelessness about the eyes that soften the fact that Jones is 33, married, and with two children. "I can see most of our audience now is under 21," he says, "but I don't feel silly performing for a 15 year old crowd. We've been doing that for quite a few years and each new generation of 15 year olds likes our music, so we must be doing something right." He swirls the ice around in his glass and sits back. "I don't see why Led Zeppelin can't go on past all of us turning 40," he says. "Jimmy and I are 33, Robert and Bonzo are 28. I guess 40 isn't so far off, right?" "But the band is doing what it wants, and we're still making fans, still making people happy. There's nothing else I want to do. We're all happy with each other and no one wants to split as a solo act." "Our secret is, we're flexible and we like each other."

The area behind the stage looks like the movie set to "Frankenstein", an array of pre-amps, monitors, laser-beam units, highly sophisticated consoles for mixing and balancing the audio, a score of "flashboxes" electronically triggered on cue and all of this wizardry operated by a small army of technicians. In the smothering darkness pierced only by the rows of fire-red idiot lights on the consoles, Jimmy Page stands by and watches until satisfied all is in working order. He ambles past and into the dressing room. He is wearing a Nazi officer's cap, Wehrmacht jodhpurs and jackboots. It is an ensemble he is apparently infatuated with for he's seen around the hotel before Showtime or backstage which he sheds only to don a white satin suit for the concert. Page, slim to the point of exaggeration with dark, curly hair framing his androgynous face, is not only the band's architect and inspiration, but also Led Zeppelin's resident Sphinx. In concert, he has been known to get so caught up in his lengthy acoustic instrumental that he is unaware he has strayed too far from his amplifier, thus plucking the cord from it, and playing without sound until one of the stage crew crawls onstage to replace the errant cord.

The legions of Led Zeppelin fans have never been known as docile but this evening's audience in Minneapolis is particularly feisty. Roman candles whistling around the rafters, firecrackers hurled onstage and two assaults by fans determined to mount the stage. As Bonzo begins the drum shuffle to his "Moby Dick" solo, a firecracker lands inches from Plant who dives from the stage. "We're used to rowdy crowds," walking back to the dressing room, "but this is crazy. A lot of times it breaks up our concentration. I'm watching Jimmy or they're watching me for a cue and suddenly a Frisbee sails out of the audience and none of us sees it. We've all been hit by them onstage, but the crackers are much worse; scares the hell out of us."

We retire to the dressing room since Bonzo will be flailing away for another 10 minutes. Plant sips from a plastic cup of honey and lemon and lights up a Camel. Drenched in perspiration, he sheds his soggy shirt, revealing a long, blue-black scar near the left elbow. a remnant from his near-fatal collision last Summer while driving his family during a holiday in Greece.

Though the three-hour set always begins with "The Song Remains the Same," and closes with "Stairway To Heaven," the band changes each show's line-up of about 15 songs. "It keeps things interesting," Plant explains, "You can picture what a drag it would be to do the same set night after night. I think that's why so many bands get sick of touring."

Another novel, though expensive, practice Zeppelin has adopted to reduce the rigors of the road is to set up a permanent base of operations for each section of the country they're playing. During their tour of the Midwest, the Zep has stayed at the Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago, flying out early each evening to wherever they're appearing that night, then back to Chicago. "You'd be amazed at what a difference that makes," Plant says "Instead of packing suitcases every day, doing the show, unpacking at a different hotel that night, then repeating it all the next day, we just fly out early, do the show and fly back to our rooms. When we do the East coast, we'll stay in New York and do the same thing there."

Peter Grant surveys the unruly audience and shakes his head. "I think the cause for a lot of this is the 'festival seating,' no reserved seats on the floor. These kids get in here and start pushing each other about, tossing bottles, firecrackers, anything they can throw. I'm afraid it might be the same situation in Detroit next Saturday," he says. "It's festival seating on the field at the Silverdome and they might get rowdy."

Is the band not courting disaster by cramming so many fans into so large an arena ? Why not two nights at a smaller hall ? (they played three nights in Chicago). "I'm afraid that's my doing," Grant says. "The band didn't want to cut into the two week break after the Detroit show. They're flying back to England for two weeks, and then returning for the last leg of the tour. I knew they'd only do one show so I thought it wisest to play the largest venue in the area. We were hoping to fill the place to capacity, 75,000, but the Fire Marshall would only allow us 72,000 tickets maximum."

Grant admits the $10.50 ticket price at Pontiac is stiff but qualifies it after listing tour expenses – fueling a jet, carting along tons of equipment, the technicians, and even a physician who keeps an eye on the band's health.

By Stephen Ford

Detroit News Entertainment Writer

4-24-77

'Zeppelin Scalpers Play Safe, Run Ads'

Led Zeppelin fans who desperately want to see the rock group tonight are being offered scalper's prices – and they can even conduct the whole transaction by phone.

The person in front of the sold-out rock concert selling tickets for three times the amount he paid at the box office may not be obsolete, but the wiser ones have almost eliminated chances of being charged with any violation. Their secret is "classified".

In the area newspaper classified pages last week, more than a dozen ads offered tickets to the upcoming Led Zeppelin concert at Pontiac's Silverdome, sold out for weeks. Of those contacted, four were selling tickets for 3 to 5 times more than the $10.50 they paid for them.

Michigan statute 750;465, passed into law 46 years ago, describes scalping as "…offering tickets for sale in any public place or thoroughfare in excess of the advertised rate." The practice is prohibited and violations are a misdemeanor, punishable by up to $100 fine and 90 days in jail.

"It's a very interesting legal question," says Richard Padziewski, deputy chief of the criminal division at the Wayne County prosecutor's office. "There is no precedent in Michigan for charging anyone with ticket scalping via a newspaper's classified ads. There is no clear legal opinion on this. The statute also refers to scalpers setting up 'agencies or sub-offices' to sell overpriced tickets as illegal, but whether someone selling them from their home can be considered establishing a sub-office is arguable." He added, ""We've found that if we have to stretch the wording of a statute for a suspected violation, it probably wasn't the intent of the Legislature to make it illegal."

By Tuesday of this week, all but one of the classified scalpers had unloaded their tickets on desperate Zeppelin fans willing to part with exorbitant sums.

Stephen Ford

Detroit News Entertainment Writer

4-30-77

The Show

The weather couldn't have been more cooperative, the crowd more enthusiastic or the reason better for an estimated 80,000 young people to congregate at the 'Pontiac Silverdome' Saturday.

British rockers Led Zeppelin were in town for their first performance in the Detroit area in two years.

Fans reveled in the day's festival-like atmosphere, enjoying picnic lunches and barbeques, vigorous Frisbee contests or just basking in the sun.

Those entering the Silverdome when the gates opened at 4pm used similar activities to pass the five-hour wait before the band appeared.

Police and Silverdome security personnel seemed unperturbed by the thousands of youthful drinkers or the clusters of indiscreet marijuana smokers. They concentrated on moving traffic and crowds as smoothly as possible.

Fans' impatience with the 90 minute delay fueled a few scuffles but their discontent vanished when Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant started the three-hour set with the band's familiar "Song Remains the Same." He gradually led the audience through an anthology of Led Zeppelin's prolific 10 years together. The lengthy performance was highlighted by their classic "Stairway To Heaven", solos by each band member, and two encores.

Fans appeared content that the lofty $10.50 admission was well spent.

This small article appeared beside 5 photos on a full page. These included the parking lot, the fans inside, and an awesome picture of Jimmy on his knees with his arms stretched wide holding his guitar.

'Beautiful Day' For Fans As Zeppelin Packs Dome

It took Toledo truck driver Brian Coup a couple of weeks of skimping to afford to hear one of the world's most popular rock'n' roll bands Saturday at what turned out to be the biggest Pontiac Silverdome concert ever. "Man was it worth it," he sighed, sitting on a parking lot fire hydrant long after Led Zeppelin, an explosive quartet of English musicians, had ended a high-energy three hour performance before more than 76,200 fans.

"This was the biggest and most subdued audience for a rock concert here yet," said Silverdome's special events promoter Gerry Baron. He looked happy as he gazed over a sea of blue-denimed humanity shuffling easily from the stadium floor and seats to the exits. "It was just a beautiful day." And not just for Baron.

Roger and Marcia Mulheren watched the whole concert, thanks to a Silverdome friend, from the plush second level press box. They were still in their wedding outfits, hours after being married before 100 friends in a Pontiac church. Roger, a 24 year old nurse, and his 20 year old bride were joined by their best man and maid of honor dressed in matching peach outfits. "It's a joyous occasion and I feel what better way to spend a joyous occasion than with friends," said Marcia as Zeppelin kicked into "The Song Remains The Same." "And what better friends than Led Zeppelin."

But Zeppelin's fans have not always been as friendly as the band's touring entourage would have liked. In Cincinnati last week, a fan was pushed from the third level of the outdoor Riverfront Stadium into traffic below and was killed. There was much concern that such a mass of Detroit fans also could get out of hand. Barron said radio and television spots advising against early arrival, plus the decision to open the doors two hours early avoided a restive crowd outside the stadium. The audience had to wait 80 minutes beyond the scheduled 8:00pm start for the performance, but it did not get rowdy.

Fewer than 20% of the tickets were for so-called "festival seating" on the stadium floor-first come, first sit. The remaining $10.50 tickets, steep by most rock concert standards, were for reserved seating.

But there were usual problems. The stadium staff of four doctors and nine nurses treated well over 100 people for everything from hangovers to drug overdoses. Pontiac police made 44 arrests, 21 of them drug related and many for open liquor bottles and the disorderliness caused by the drinking. "Things went very well for a crowd of nearly 80,000 young people enjoying what they call nice music," said Lt. Robert Verhine of the Pontiac police. And the music was "nice," if the thundering crowd that demanded and got two encores can be believed.

Robert Plant, the 28-year-old singer, gave exactly what his legion wanted. Wearing jeans and his leather jacket open without a shirt, he went through stage gyrations befitting the best English rock performer. His piercing high voice, showing strain of the tour, still was exhilarating.

Jimmy Page, spending considerable time with his double-necked guitar, laid out thrilling heavy metallic licks, the sound signature of Led Zeppelin. Only on their classic tune "Stairway To Heaven" did Pages playing really shine. But the mesmerized crowd did not seem to notice. They were over-whelmed with the well-staged lighting scheme, complete with lasers and exploding powder pots, and the well-honed sound. For those far from the several ton mountain of sound equipment on the stage at one end of the stadium, the stadium's gigantic video screen provided televised close-ups.

For Zeppelin's efforts, the band took home over $600,000 for the night, a considerable portion of which covers the tremendous expenses incurred on the 5 month U.S. tour.

For the Zeppelin fans' efforts, like fighting the mobs for tickets weeks ago, fighting traffic to and from the Dome, and waiting for the concert to start 80 minutes late, it all seemed worth it. Sixteen-year-old Elaine Alexander of Mt. Clemens, with friends after the concert, shrieked: "Words can't even explain it. It was great "

Detroit Free Press

May 2nd, 1977

Rock Alchemy: Led into Gold

Robert Plant showed up for work 90 minutes late Saturday night. So did his Led Zeppelin cronies Jimmy Page, John Bonham, and John Paul Jones.

When they finally arrived it was by a massive entourage of bodyguards, publicity flacks, valets and a cast of underlings too numerous nor worth mentioning.

But nobody – neither their bosses nor their customers – voiced a single complaint. In fact Led Zeppelin was given the kind of tumultuous welcome at the Pontiac Silverdome that should be reserved for the scientist who conquers cancer or the person who comes up with the formula for world peace.

Zeppelin was on the job three-and-a-half hours and then they jumped back into the plane for a two-week holiday in Cairo and London. And their rate of pay was $3,500. Not for the day. Not per hour. That was per minute. Nice work if you can get it.

Led Zeppelin, four British musicians, walked onto the Pontiac Silverdome stage at 9:30pm Saturday and walked off at 1:am Sunday with – unofficially - $642,000, their take of the total gate of an estimated $840,000 after bilking 80,000 of their most die-hard fans $10.50 each for the pleasure of their company.

The lucky ones – those with the 14,000 floor seats – got to actually see the band but they paid for it by being pushed and shoved by the zealots behind them.

The rest – those in the arena seats – were so far away from the activity on stage that the band must have looked like four ants prancing around on top of a marshmallow. The simulcast closed circuit screen overhead was their only assurance that there were; in fact, real live people on the stage. Otherwise, Page's guitar would have looked like a double-necked electric toothpick.

The screen, which has been used at all the Silver dome's rock concerts, was originally vetoed by the band. No way, they said, were they going to all the expense of renting the screen and cameras for a lousy $840,000 gate. But the stadium management persisted and they relented.

The Pontiac date was the largest venue on Led Zep's '77 American tour. In fact, it was probably the biggest indoor concert ever and the band marked the occasion by doing absolutely nothing special on stage. Their concert set Saturday night was the same routine they've been using all over the country with one exception, a second three-minute encore.

The band went mechanically through the motions. They had clearly left all inspiration back on the private plane. There was no art being made at the Silverdome Saturday, only money. The band displayed arrogance and indifference toward the audience which was best exemplified by their over-all air of nonchalance; for instance, showing up 90 minutes after the scheduled starting time. In Cincinnati, just four nights before the Pontiac date, a fan was killed when an impatient throng accidentally knocked him off a tier of the stadium and into the street.

After that incident one would expect the band to reduce the possibilities of a similar tragedy. Yet they were unable to get to the hall on time and left the audience hanging. They didn't arrive at the site until 9:10pm and it was another 20 minutes before they actually took the stage. The band had refused a stadium offer to fly them directly to the parking lot by helicopter to expedite things and instead took a bus. On stage they attempted to create a sense of community but Led Zeppelin, in reality, keeps their distance, compliments of an abnormally huge stage barricade and an army of security personnel. Even the tour manager of the group wanders through the arena with a bodyguard prepared to stiff-arm anyone who approaches.

"I had an easier time getting to the President," mused a disgruntled reporter after a persistent but futile series of attempts for five minutes of the band's time for his readership. "Even Zeppelin's PR people are inaccessible."

The band also strongly objected to giving the thousands of Detroit fans who missed out on the sold-out show a filmed documentary. Finally, after three frustrating attempts, one photographer did manage to wrangle his way to the stage to film the band.

There were no major incidents at the concert despite the size of the crowd and the delay, thanks to the cooperation of stadium officials, Pontiac Police, and the strangely serene crowd entering the gates like lemmings prepared to fall into the sea or where ever else Plant, Page, Bonham and Jones might dump them.

Bill Gray

Detroit News Columnist

5-2-77

Zep plays to largest audience ever for single-act rock show

PONTIAC, Mich. (1977) - The attendance at Led Zeppelin's Silverdome concert tonight triumphantly shattered the band's own previous attendance record, a number unmatched by any other group in the last four years.

The audience of 77,229 at the Silverdome is the largest audience for a single-act concert. The previous record was 56,800 set in May 1973 at a Zeppelin show in Tampa Bay. On that historic day, the group surpassed the Beatles' 1965 attendance record of 55,000. Making a sum of £467,000 tonight, Led Zeppelin has finished the first leg of its 11th tour of North America. Upon returning, the band will tour the southern United States, beginning May 18 in Birmingham, Ala.

Associated Press Release

Your Welcomed. :angry:

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It's interesting how it's written-up. Fans described as "nice" and the band portrayed as arrogant and going through the motions. I wonder how accurate that is. I listened to the bootleg and I didn't think they played with much passion that night.

I was never a fan of stadium shows. I remember seeing the Stones in Buffalo in 1981, and figured that you went to these for the "event", and not to walk-away with any musical moments.

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I listened to the bootleg and I didn't think they played with much passion that night.

Nothing like a bus trip from Detroit Metropolitan Airport to the Silverdome and a ninety minute delay to take the wind out of one's sails.

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Nothing like a bus trip from Detroit Metropolitan Airport to the Silverdome and a ninety minute delay to take the wind out of one's sails.

True, but don,t you agree that when a show gets that big, and given what we know of the band's state of mind in 77, they just didn't have it in them half the time?

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True, but don,t you agree that when a show gets that big, and given what we know of the band's state of mind in 77, they just didn't have it in them half the time?

This being the last show before a two-week break one would think they'd bring the fire power to make it one for the ages. Unfortunately, only the crowd size was remarkable and this one was just another "what could have been" as you quite rightly suggest.

Edited by SteveAJones

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I was there that day. I was on the floor , never saw any fighting in front of the stage. In fact i

climed the wall in front of the stage during the show. Both page and plant saw me . There was no fence when i climed the wall. I still have all the newspaper clippings about the show. I was outside the dome around noon. Bought a shirt from some girl who told me the shirt was 5 bucks

i gave her a 10 and she gave me 7 dollars change. Pot was good in those days. I was smokin

thai stick all day. In all it was an event i'll never forget. Seen a bunch of shows there. Zep was one of the best.

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Funny how so many people in this forum want to believe that the Zeppelin 77’ tour was the greatest events ever, sorry it wasn’t. By 1977 Led Zeppelin wasn’t even the best selling band for their official records, Punk Rock was storming the scene. Many articles on the tour were critical of the shows some of the statements used were “ sluggish, overdramatizes solos, terrible performance.” Even Robert plant has made comments about the tour saying “some nights we were just “there” ) The vibe of the tour with a coked out Richard Cole, a disgruntled Peter Grant who was in a middle of a a divorce. I contacted the local Popular DJ here in Seattle and he was fortunate enough to meet Zeppelin when they came to Seattle to kick off third leg of their tour he said Jimmy page was so drunk he couldn’t walk straight, couldn’t believe this man would even attempt to do a concert. As we all know another lackluster show was given. Then there is the issue that no one wants to admit. John Bonham was an abusive drunk, way to many reporters of his  drunk rude behavior. Furthermore another thing we all look away from is Jimmy Page is or was a pervert. #metoo wasn’t around in the 1970s so he was lucky. I personally don’t care about the individual members of Led Zeppelin it was their music that makes other bands cry. Though their live shows after 1973 Led Zeppelin wasn’t the best live band. 

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I'll go by the first hand accounts here and elsewhere given from those that were fortunate enough to attend a 1977 gig.

Best concert experience ever.

life altering impact.

Nothing ever came close.

Yeah, there might be some truth to that rant, but many 1977 boots have spectacular performances. And yeah they liked young groupies, but isn't it amazing how the main ones have written books, given interviews, and NONE of them talk about Jimmy / Robert as grubby or sleazy. Indeed they have fond memories. Nothing perverted about it. They all indulged willingly in a 1970 scene. Remember, 1970. The girls were treated well and they knew exactly what they were doing and loved that scene. It was a different world then. Fucked if you can judge actions from other times against today. And if you can, how about you get ready to cop what a shit bunch of cunts this generation is when in 50-100 years, we are held against a completely different standard that we presently don't really consider.

The guys were Rock Gods. They had 1970 Rock God problems. But they were unbeatable even in 1977 form the FIRST HAND ACCOUNTS.

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On 2/21/2019 at 7:18 PM, buckeye said:

Not sure if you all have seen my report on this concert.  You can find it here:   http://www.oldbuckeye.com/pontiacsilverdome77/

Great story - thanks for the memories.  You captured many of the thoughts and memories I have of seeing them in New York June 11 that year.  The sound was overwhelming.  The event was overwhelming.  One sound that is forever etched in my brain is the tone of Jimmy's guitar during the Rover riff intro to Sick Again.   And as I have noted elsewhere, the drums sounded like artillery shots.  I was so amazed I could hear Plant over all that but there was his voice, filling Madison Square Garden to the rafters.  The only 1977 recording that comes close to capturing the sound is Listen to this Eddie, but even that cannot really do it justice.  The bass was so powerful - it sounded nothing like it does on soundboard recordings we have from 1977, even the well remastered ones.  One of these days I will try to write up a complete story like yours.  One thing that struck me was the delirious reception to the new songs Nobody's Fault and Achilles Last Stand.  They had been out over a year and the fans at the show certainly went nuts for both of them. 

Thanks again for sharing  your story.

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