What's out there that we can't
get? Plenty: Here's a look at some video & audio gems known or believed
to exist that are not in circulation.
By Hugh Jones
(Excerpt - full version plus related articles appear in Proximity #32)
- The Earls Court Video
(Pro-Shot Video from Earls Court Arena, London, May 24, 1975)
The Story: The May 24th Earls Court show-and by some accounts, all
six shows of the stand-was captured on video tape for posterity, with a well-mixed
soundboard audio feed as the soundtrack.
Analysis: Safely ensconced in the Zeppelin organization's vaults
for the last 23 years, at least one complete copy of this tape has managed
to escape (reviewed on page 6 of Proximity #32). When the studio version of
"Whole Lotta Love" was set to video to promote the BBC Sessions album in '97,
a few brief clips from Earls Court were included, providing not only proof
that the footage exists but confirmation of its superb quality.
Does It Exist?: Unquestionably, in fact, it's probably the best known
bootleg video in history that [almost] no one has ever seen.
- The Seattle Kingdome Video
(Pro-Shot Video from The Kingdome, Seattle, WA, July 17, 1977)
Story: Another video taken from the camera feed for a giant screen projection
in the venue, with soundboard audio. Apparently Peter Grant himself requested
that the show be taped, and showed up in the booth at the end of the evening
to claim the master. The majority of the show had been recorded onto two tapes,
however the very end of it ("Stairway" through "Rock & Roll") was recorded
on a third tape which Grant accidentally left behind.
Analysis: As with Earls Court, the complete Kingdome video remains
in the vault, though significant clips from it appeared in MTV's 1993 Led
Zep "Rockumentary." The '97 "Whole Lotta Love" video also contains some snippets,
and recently a four minute excerpt containing part of "Achilles" and all of
"Rock & Roll" has slipped out onto the trading circuit, probably sourced from
whatever footage was released to MTV.
Does It Exist?: Yes, and in fact other videos from the '77 U.S.
tour (see entry #9) are also rumored to be out there somewhere.
3 - The Seattle Pop Festival Soundboard
(Unmixed Soundboard Audio Recording from the Seattle International Pop Festival,
Woodinville, WA, July 27, 1969)
Story: The Seattle Pop Fest, actually held about 15 miles northeast of
the city in the town of Woodinville, was reportedly recorded in its entirely
from the soundboard. To date the only stuff to circulate are the Flying Burrito
Brothers' set and a few songs from the Youngbloods, but the rest of the material
came close to surfacing a while back, and there's an interesting story associated
Apparently the master tapes were kept for years in the possession of a soundman
who worked at the festival, and in the late '70s a particularly tenacious
Seattle Zep fan got wind of this and tried to negotiate with the guy to get
the Zeppelin set. Unfortunately, this fan's manner was abrasive and all he
succeeded in doing was pissing the guy off-the result was not only that the
tape man didn't let the show out, he resolved to never do anything to accommodate
any Zeppelin fan.
In the early '90's, however, a different local collector with no particular
interest in Zeppelin managed to procure at least some of the masters from
Seattle Pop, including Zeppelin and The Doors (which is also a greatly sought-after
At this point the story gets a little murky, but in a complicated deal that
reportedly involved the sum of $10,000.00 and some kind of signed affidavit
swearing that the tapes would never be circulated, our Seattle collector passed
along the masters to a deep-pocketed hoarder in Japan in exchange for some
rare Byrds material and the aforementioned cash, effectively burying the recordings
Analysis: One of the saddest and most frustrating stories in Zepdom
(and Doors collectors are pretty pissed about it, too). A very brief snippet
of a backstage conversation with Plant at the festival is in circulation,
but that's all most of us have ever heard. The Byrds guy in Seattle swears
he didn't copy the tapes before passing along the masters, but we find that
extremely hard to believe.
Does It Exist?: Almost definitely. The existence of the Burritos
tape (which sounds great, by the way) and the various accounts of this story
going around the Seattle area from close to the source lend the whole thing
a depressing air of credibility.
- The Bath Festival Film and Audio
(Black & White 16mm Film with Soundboard (?) Audio Feed from The Bath Festival,
Shepton Mallett, England, June 28, 1970)
The Story: Long regarded as one of the best-ever Zeppelin shows,
this concert was supposedly scheduled to be filmed, along with the Iceland
show immediately prior and the Royal Albert Hall show in January, for a BBC
TV documentary film on the band. The Albert Hall show was of course filmed,
but the dismal results caused the project to be scrapped, along with the filming
planned for Iceland and Bath. Rumors have long abounded, however, of film
footage of Bath, as well as a soundboard tape of the complete show.
While nothing in the way of substantial proof exists to support these rumors,
two facts do lend them credence. First, the "Whole Lotta Love" video includes
a snippet of footage that is almost definitely from the festival: it is outdoors
in fading daylight, Robert is walking towards the camera followed by Cole,
Page is carrying his overcoat and wearing the 'farmer Giles' hat, and Grant
brings up the rear chatting with a smiling Bonzo in his leather coat with
the big fur collar-all indications are that the band is walking towards the
stage to go on just as the sun is setting. The color footage is grainy and
could be 8mm, however the fact that it's head-on and obviously shot backstage
suggests that it is authorized, as opposed to bootleg, fan-shot footage.
Second, there is an alternate audio source of this show in general circulation.
To date only two songs have surfaced ("Heartbreaker" and "That's The Way"),
but the sound quality, while not soundboard, is hugely improved from the abysmal
complete show tape. Some sources indicate that it is from microphones strung
above the stage for a recording to accompany the film footage, perhaps to
augment a feed from the soundboard. This audio could also be from a low-grade
camera microphone recording, and at the very least seems to indicate the existence
of a decent audience tape of this incredible show.
Does It Exist?: Quite possibly, though it's also possible that the
film footage consists only of off-stage, non-performance shots.
- The Long Beach '72 Soundboard
(24-track Professional Audio Recording from the The Long Beach Arena, Long
Beach, CA, June 27, 1972)
The Story: Among the incredible studio outtakes that surfaced on
Scorpio's 'Studio Daze' bootleg in the early 90s (see page 15 of Proximity
#32 for an interview with the man who dug up these tapes & released the CDs)
were two excellent quality live tracks from a 1972 soundboard tape-still the
only known board recordings from the U.S. tour. Incorrectly credited as being
from Los Angeles, "What Is And What Should Never Be" and "Dancing Days" are
unquestionably from Long Beach, as is a third track ("Moby Dick") that later
surfaced on 'One More Daze.'
Analysis: The prospect of a complete show pro recording from 1972
is tantalizing indeed; unfortunately, no additional material has surfaced
in the five or so years since these three songs came out, and no one has come
forward to confirm the existence of such a tape. On the other hand, the burning
question is WHY would there be a three-song chunk from right in the middle
of one show recorded, and nothing else from the concert? It seems almost inconceivable
that they would have gone to the trouble of mic'ing up for a 24-track recording
and only recorded 25 minutes of the show-chances are good the remainder of
this show was captured on additional reels exactly like this one, and hopefully
have survived the years.
Does It Exist?: Likely, but there's never been any conclusive proof
- The Troubadour Jam with Fairport, L.A. 1970
(Professional Multi-track Audio Recording from The Troubadour Club, Los Angeles,
CA, September 4, 1970)
Story: British folk/rock stalwarts Fairport Convention were in Los Angeles
for a residence at the Troubadour at the same time as Zeppelin were in town
performing their legendary "Blueberry Hill" concert at the Forum. The band's
bassist Dave Pegg and fellow Brummies Plant and Bonham were long-time buddies,
and Pegg invited the Zeppelin lads over to the Troubadour to sit in after
their gig at the Forum. All four Zeps-plus Peter Grant-showed up at the club
and after a brief between-set dressing room consultation, Page, Plant, Bonham
and Jones joined Fairport on stage for a sloppy but spirited set of rock &
roll chestnuts and traditional folk tunes. And here's where it really gets
interesting-Fairport were recording their entire Troubadour residence with
a mobile 8-track recording studio for a live album, and yes, the tapes were
rolling for the Zeppelin jam! (Note: For a more detailed account of this event,
please see "One Night In L.A." in Proximity #23)
Analysis: According to Fairport's producer Joe Boyd, who was handling
the recording duties that night, "the tapes are buried deep in the Polygram
vaults." The question is, how deep? The Fairport material has been pulled
out and dusted off in recent years, and while one does hear horror stories
about the deterioration or loss of master tapes from the '60s and '70s, it's
hard to believe that anyone involved would not take some care to preserve
a multi-track master marked "Fairport jam with Zeppelin!"
Does It Exist?: Definitely, unless the tape has been lost or destroyed.
And even if the multi-track master is gone, there's got to be a mixdown copy
- The Japan '71 Soundboard Tapes
(Professional Multi-track Recordings from The Seven Japanese Concerts of September,
The Story: When Zeppelin paid their first visit to Japan in 1971
(where they were already extremely popular), Atlantic Records and their Japanese
affiliate Pioneer got the bright idea of recording a Led Zeppelin live album
and releasing it only for the Japanese market. Somehow, they got the band
to agree to this, and all seven of the 1971 Japanese concerts were professionally
recorded on multi-track tape. At the end of the tour the tapes were handed
over to Peter Grant, who obviously scotched the whole idea and absconded with
the masters back to England, where they have presumably resided in a vault
for the last twenty seven years.
Analysis: One of the several recordings to circulate of the September
29th Osaka show has been repeatedly described as a soundboard (presumably
derived from the professional recording), but it is merely an excellent quality
audience tape. The soundboards from Japan have truly never surfaced, and when
you think about it, these might just be the holiest grails of all-Zeppelin
were at their absolute peak on this tour, playing brilliantly every night
and pulling out odd songs and one-of-a-kind improvisations right and left.
On the bright side, this material is exactly the kind of thing that Page &
co. would unearth for a Zeppelin live or rarities package, should it ever
come to be, so there is a possibility we'll get to hear at least highlights
from this material in time.
Does It Exist?: Yes, these shows were definitely recorded and the
tapes still exist.
- The Boston Tea Party Four-Hour Show, January 1969
(Complete Audience Audio Recording from The Boston Tea Party, January 26,
The Story: Of all the legendary Zeppelin shows from days of yore,
this is one of the most famous-and most discussed by the band as one of the
great nights. By all accounts the audience was so blown away by the early
'69 Zeppelin assault, they would simply not let them end the show-so even
after the band had played every song they knew, the crowd coaxed them back
to start jamming on Beatles songs and anything else they could think of.
Analysis: It's been confirmed that Zeppelin played four nights at
the Tea Party in January '69-the 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th. While it's not
absolutely certain, consensus among the experts is that the show in question
was the last night, of which there is a 90-minute audience recording providing
ample evidence that this was indeed a mind-blowing, aggressive, and quintessential
Does It Exist?: Maybe. Though the 90 minutes in circulation is all
that has surfaced to date, there are persistent rumors of a complete recording
existing, and the proliferation of tapers in the Northeast during this era
lends credence to this.
- The Houston 1977 Video
(Pro-Shot Video from The Summit, Houston, Texas 5/21/77)
The Story: Like other arenas around the country (including the Capital
Centre in Landover and Seattle's Kingdome), The Houston Summit has its own
closed circuit television system, and Zeppelin's performance was reportedly
televised within the building during the show. In the late-eighties, a major
record dealer in Texas (NOT connected with Led Zeppelin collectibles) told
a few collectors that video recordings had been made of three major concerts
broadcast via the Summit's closed-circuit system, including the Led Zeppelin
show. The story goes that the tapes are in the possession of the company which
operated the video system for the building, and specifically in the hands
of its owner, who was described as a "former professional athlete" in the
Analysis: The source of the story was good, as the dealer was in
no way connected to the LZ collecting community. The specific detail about
the "professional athlete" also lends an air of authenticity to the tale,
as did his specific mention of at least one other artist (The Who) for which
video tapes are supposed to exist. All that said, this rumor never resonated
much beyond the original source.
Does It Exist?: Perhaps. The tale sounds good enough to be true,
but no pro-shot videos of any artist (with the exception of Prince) are known
to have come from the Summit.
- The Bill Graham 8mm Films
(Silent 8mm Black & White Films from The Fillmore East, January/February and
Story: It's widely reported that Bill Graham, who was often seen at his
Fillmores watching the shows from the wings, was also in the habit of shooting
black & white silent home movies of the bands on stage. Footage of the Allman
Brothers (Graham's favorite band) and other groups of the era have been attributed
to this source, and it stands to reason that he might have shot footage of
Led Zeppelin during one of their many Fillmore performances.
Analysis: The most convincing evidence that such footage exists is
a primitive "video" of "Whole Lotta Love" that appeared on the German rock
TV show "Beat Club" in the '70s. While the studio take of the song plays,
fuzzy black & white images of Zeppelin on stage in front of a light show can
be seen. The clips are never shown for more than a couple of seconds at a
time and are interspersed with footage of dancers and overlaid with 'psychedelic'
effects, but judging from the light show and band's clothing it's almost definitely
from the Fillmore East.
Does It Exist?: If the "Beat Club" footage is indeed from the Fillmore,
than it almost definitely does come from Graham. Of course, the 2 minutes
of fuzzy images seen might be the only Zeppelin material there is, but you
never know . . .
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