Tag Archives: led zeppelin

Golden Years

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, May 2021

Every generation tends to think there era was best.

And why wouldn’t they… typically, every era has access to more ‘stuff’ and better lifestyle choices than the previous one.

For our generation (late Baby-Boomers born between 1954-1964), I think we hit the sweet spot culturally…. particularly when it comes to music.

My musical awareness began around 1968, just in time to catch the Beatles, and all the brilliant 70s artists that followed.
I look back now and realise that the 70s wouldn’t have been so prolific without the 60s…. with The Beatles, Dylan, Hendrix, Motown, Stax and the Laurel Canyon scene inspiring what was to follow.

And what was to follow was pretty special…….

The Rolling Stones, The Who, Steely Dan, David Bowie, Marvin Gaye, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, The Eagles, Earth Wind & Fire, James Brown, The Doobie Brothers, Roxy Music, T-Rex, Little Feat, Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklyn, Carole King, Carly Simon, Bob Marley, Parliament/Funkadelic, Bobby Womack, Pink Floyd, Al Green, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Queen, McCartney, Lennon, Harrison , Yes, Genesis, AWB, The Bee Gees, Deep Purple, Linda Ronstadt, Curtis Mayfield, George Benson, Rory Gallagher, John Martyn, Todd Rundgren…. and many more

Whether you were a fan of some of these acts or not, the one thing they all shared was a prolificacy of output…. amazingly they all managed to release multiple albums of exceptional quality, whilst still finding time to compose, record, tour, collaborate and live a 70s rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, with all the excesses that entailed.

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I’m with the band – On the road with Zep

Indeed, there was so much quality being produced in the 70s that for the first five or six years of the decade it seemed like there was a landmark release every other week.

Take 1971 as an example.

  • The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
  • Carole King – Tapestry
  • Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV
  • David Bowie – Hunky Dory
  • Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
  • Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells a Story
  • John Lennon – Imagine
  • Joni Mitchell – Blue
  • The Who – Who’s Next
  • T Rex – Electric Warrior
  • Cat Stevens – Teaser and the Firecat
  • The Doors – LA Woman
  • Sly and the Family Stone – There’s a Riot Goin’ On
  • The Faces – A Nods as Good as a Wink to a Blind Horse
  • James Brown – Sex Machine
  • Don McLean – American Pie
  • Gil Scott Heron – Pieces of a Man
  • Jethro Tull – Aqualung
  • Pink Floyd – Meddle 
  • James Taylor – Mud Slide Slim 
  • Isaac Hayes – Shaft 
  • Yes – Fragile
  • Paul McCartney – Ram 
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71 A Classic Year

Included in this list from 71 are two of the top three albums of all time, according to Rolling Stone magazine….
Marvin Gaye’s – What’s Going On and Joni Mitchell’s – Blue.
Both seminal and often cited as landmark recordings by other artists and critics, but in truth just two excellent albums from a catalogue of exquisite releases.
There is a neat book about the quality of the music released in 1971 by David Hepworth who describes the year as ‘the most creative in popular music’

Anther remarkable thing about the 70s was the diversity of the music.

Rock, pop, soul, reggae, jazz, punk, folk, glam, funk….. it was one big melting pot where you could find Benny Hill rubbing shoulders at the top of the charts with Jimi Hendrix, Abba with Pink Floyd, and The Wombles with Stevie Wonder.

The 70s record buying public represented a ‘broad church’ of musical styles and tastes and they were all represented in the weekly top 30.

There was also a constant flow of talent breaking through in the 70s.
Take the chart below from July 1972 and you will see the emergence of a few acts making their chart debuts that month, who went on to do pretty well….
Roxy Music, Mott the Hoople, Alice Cooper, ELO

Another barometer of how good an era is, can be measured I think, by the interest in it from future generations.

Based on my own anecdotal evidence, I have a daughter who loves Gladys Knight and Marvin Gaye as much as she loves Beyonce or John Mayer and I have sons who dig Steely Dan, The Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder as much as they dig Kings of Leon, Foo Fighters or Kanye West.

That only happens when the music is timeless…..

Talking of timeless music, the updated 70s Jukebox links are below.
There are 250 songs on the master playlist now, with the common thread being that they are all singles that would almost certainly have been playing on a jukebox somewhere in the 70s.

Thanks to everyone who contributed, it’s a playlist that’s been curated by you and not surprisingly our choices have proved to be a microcosm of the record buying public with a wide range of tastes and musical styles covered.

It was clear from the song choices coming through at the start that there were two distinctive threads –
Soul/Disco
Classic Pop/Rock

Therefore I’ve prepared two playlists….

1) The Ultimate Playlist which is the master playlist and features all 250 songs, tracks 1-150 are classic pop/rock songs and tracks 151-250 are soul/disco tracks…. select shuffle and it will churn out 17 hours of hit after hit, just like a great jukebox should.

2) The Boogie Nights Playlist features the 100 soul/disco tracks taken from the master playlist which you can boogie or smooch to….. just like a night up Joannas or your favourite 70s nightclub of choice!

Within each playlist I have tried to group the songs in a running order that makes sense but if you’re like me you’ll probably just hit ‘shuffle’, pour out your beverage of choice and boogie round the kitchen like it’s 1975…

To save the playlist to your Spotify library….. press the Spotify icon in the top right hand corner of the playlists above and when you’ve been transferred to the playlist on your own Spotify account, click the Heart icon to save the playlist to your library.

School Bands and Laughing in the Face of Danger

Ray Norris: Helensburgh, April 2021

Silas Wood – Original Line-up

Ah yes…. perhaps it was the unbridled enthusiasm of youth, or merely the relentless pursuit of musical mediocrity that kept us going in those school band days.

None of yer fancy guitar tuners or modelling amps back then … no sir, it was cheap transistor amps, Jedson guitars (£19.99 from Cuthbertsons) and home-made speaker cabinets sporting unconvincing “Marshall” logos.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll limit my insight into life on the road (mainly Milngavie Road) to two anecdotes united by the thin and fraying thread of danger and scant regard for life and limb when transporting musical equipment.

Probably the stupidest example was when Ronnie Taylor and I borrowed a speaker cabinet from David Gillespie (Ges), who lived at the top of Boclair Hill.

“Do you have transport?” says Ges.  “Mm…hm” was our reply. 
This speaker cabinet was a monster, made from a solid door, lined with carpet, it weighed a ton.
Our task was to get it back to Ronnie’s house in the Switchback. 

Fortunately, it had been snowing heavily, and Ronnie had a sledge. Sorted!

I have no idea how we got it down that hill without speeding towards the busy Milngavie Road at a rate of knots.

who needs strings??

The band that I played in was called Silas Wood, with Ian “T” Thomson, on keyboards, Hubert Kelly, on drums, Russ Stewart (of this parish) on bass, and myself on guitar…

In case you’re wondering about the band’s name – my brother came up with it on a bus journey along the Great Western Rd one day whilst passing “St Silas Church” and “Woodland Drive”…. it could have been worse I suppose!

Our set-list was a mix of covers, from Humble Pie’s (Stone Cold Fever) to Bowie’s (Moonage Daydream), as well as some original material – “Free Fall” by Russ, and the inspirationally titled “The Wah-Wah” (a song written by me after I had just bought a wah-wah pedal …. hmmm).

You can check out some of the songs we covered on the Spotify playlist below…

Selection of Silas Wood covers…

The band’s regular rehearsal venue was the “Tenants Hall” in Castlehill – very handy as we kept our equipment in Hubert’s flat a short walk away. 

It may have been that we were double booked or that the hall was finally condemned (I once fell into a hole in the floor, mid-solo, didn’t miss a note!) but I digress…. on this day we were due to rehearse at a different venue – Kessington Hall. 

Kessington Hall – Bearsden

There was nae transport in them days, it was too far to walk with amps, drum kit, etc and there was no convenient sledge (or snowfall)…. so the obvious solution was to take the good old bus. 

This seemed like a logical solution until we worked out that it would take several bus journeys to schlep our entire kit from one side of Bearsden to the other. 

Gearing up for our multiple journeys, we packed ourselves and as much kit as we could into the limited space at the open entrance to the old style blue bus… generously leaving a small gap for people to get on and off.

Grasping to bass drums and high-hats for dear life, we were entirely at the mercy of the driver’s brake foot.
What could possibly go wrong?

Rock and Roll! 

Led Zeppelin had an aeroplane
Kiss had a customised truck
Silas Wood had an Alexanders bus
Or a sledge….!!

A bit about Silas Wood ….

As you can see from the material we covered, we loved a 3-4 minute rocker but we also had a melodic side as well.

We played a few gigs at Kilmardinny House with other bands from the area as well as gigging locally (nae transport, you see!). 

One such gig was at our school – Bearsden Academy, where I happened to hear some loud banging in the afternoon when we were setting up. 

The source of this was Hubert nailing a piece of wood to the stage floor to prevent his drums from sliding forward….Drummers!!

Cue assistant Headmaster and perpetually angry man…. Deuchars!

In the words of David Crosby, “it’s all coming back to me now”

Paul Fitzpatrick (Ed)
Ray is too modest to blow his own trumpet but he is still playing and composing 48 years on (as is Russ), and he’s still sounding pretty good to these old ears.
For anyone interested in hearing the 2021 version, here’s a link to Ray’s Spotify page that he’s kindly given us permission to share.

Five Past Kennedy near The Houses of The Holy!

Mark Arbuckle: Glasgow, April 2021

When it was announced in late 1974 that Led Zeppelin were going to play Earls Court, London in May 75 my great friend Peter Milligan and I vowed to get there any way we could!

We had already seen them perform a stunning gig in Glasgow but Earls Court would be at another level!

Peter decided he would ask his Dad to borrow the work’s van, a two seater Ford Transit, and drive the 800 mile round trip!

He had passed his driving test in the previous Spring but had never driven further than Loch Lomond! (I hadn’t yet learned to drive).

Our tickets were for Sunday 25th, the last night of the tour, but we decided to leave on Friday evening to have two full days to explore all the delights that London had to offer two 17 year olds. 
(‘I’ve been to London, seen Seven Wonders’ – The Rover by Led Zeppelin)

We cleaned out the joinery tools from the back of the van, put in a mattress, 2 sleeping bags, pillows, bags of food and drink and enough clothes to last us till Monday.

We set off around 7pm.

Our excitement was already reaching fever pitch.

The van only had a basic radio and it was my job to search for rock songs to suit our journey…not an easy task in 1975 with Donny, ABBA and Bay City Rollers dominating the dire Radio1 playlist!

We stopped at services to eat and use the facilities.

Around 11.30pm we decided to get off the M6 and park up for the night. I spotted a sign for Knutsford (the name appealed to our teenage sense of humour!) so we drove into the middle of an affluent housing estate not far from Manchester to stop-over for the night.

The next morning we set off bright and early onto a very foggy dual carriageway heading back to the M6.
We had travelled about half a mile when I realised I could only see the reverse side of the road signs!
That’s because….we were on the wrong side of the road!! 
Planes, Trains and Automobiles!!

Luckily it was quiet and there was no other traffic about so Peter got off at the next ‘ON’ ramp and crossed over to the correct side of the road!

We got to London in about 3 hours without further incident.

Amazingly without the use of SatNav (not commercially available for another 20 years) Peter drove straight to the designated hotel’s underground  car park in Kensington.

Once parked up we got the tube into central London and headed for Carnaby Street and Soho.

Distracted by our own adventure I had completely forgotten that Scotland were playing England that same day at Wembley in the Home International’s.

Yes it was the infamous ‘What’s the time?
It’s 5 Past Kennedy!’
5-1 defeat to the Auld Enemy.


The city was full of Scots fans in varying degrees of tartan and sobriety.

Beer was on average 18p per pint but we heard of some London bars charging up to a £1.00!

That was probably just an outrageous rumour but whatever the price it was certainly no barrier to yer average Scot!
The streets and bars cleared around 1pm as they all headed to Wembley and we continued to explore.

That evening after Scotland’s 5-1 thrashing you’d have actually thought that they had won!
The city centre was once again invaded by thousands of tartan clad fans. However most of the bars and restaurants were barring Scots from entering.

Tempers became frayed which led to outbreaks of violence and vandalism.

Mark & Peter (in the shades)

None of this impacted on Peter and I as we had changed into smart shirts and suits and easily gained entry to the pubs and clubs.
We were taking it easy though because at last we were nearing the prime reason for our pilgrimage…..The Mighty Led Zeppelin gig at Earls Court.

The next day we made our way to the venue around 4pm and went into the large pub across the road.

It was already busy with a sea of long hair, denim, leather.

My brother Paul and his friend Gerry had tickets for the gig too and had travelled down by train, they were already in the pub….not that much of a coincidence I suppose as nearly every Zep fan in London was in that pub!

The concert itself was just incredible! From the opening drum intro of ‘Rock and Roll’ everybody was on their feet!

Earls Court 1975 – Rock and Roll and Bonzo’s intro

Song after song and solo after solo, amazed and delighted the fanatical 20,000 strong audience. 

Robert Plant’s soaring vocals and commanding stage presence, John Bonham’s incomparable drumming, John Paul Jones’s mesmeric keyboard patterns and pounding bass and of course the Maestro himself, Jimmy Page with his incredible, intricate guitar playing and glorious riffs!

They played 16 songs, most of them extended 10-15 minute versions to increasingly ecstatic applause!

The crowd were hearing songs from the band’s most recent album, Physical Graffiti, played live for the first time including the majestic, awe inspiring Kashmir!

Earls Court 1975 – Kashmir

The three plus hours they were on stage seemed to pass in an instant.
Then they bowed and exited….but we knew they’d be back on as they hadn’t yet played the anthemic ‘Whole Lotta Love!’ 

After 5 minutes of thunderous applause and foot stomping they reappeared and played two songs including WLL.

Off they went again as the crowd screamed for more!
They did come back and I don’t even remember what they played for their third encore as the crowd threatened to blow the roof off. 

Then it was all over, the house lights were turned on and most of the crowd reluctantly headed for the exits.

Peter and I and hundreds of fans were actually out on the street when we heard Plant’s blood stirring vocal intro to ‘The Immigrant Song!’

Everybody turned and ran back in to the arena!

No Health & Safety in those days! 
Nobody tried to find a seat and we all just surged as close to the stage as you could possibly get!
After 15 minutes or so they left the stage for the final time!

They had played for over four superb, magical hours and everybody including the band was exhausted! 

Dazed and Confused you might say!

It has been said many times that going to a Led Zeppelin concert is akin to a deeply profound, religious experience but I fear that my lack of vocabulary prevents me from accurately describing the true essence of this phenomenal gig.

Truly they were/are The Hammer of The Gods!!

It was a wonderful experience and still to this day the greatest gig I have 
ever attended.

And nobody ever mentioned that awful football game ever again!…..well apart from the media, pundits, punters, fans etc

Anyone interested in reliving the 220 minutes of magic can watch it here