Led Zeppelin North American Tour 1977

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North America 1977
LedZep1977.jpg
Concert tour by Led Zeppelin
Associated album Presence
Start date 1 April 1977
End date 24 July 1977
Legs 3
Shows 44 (51 scheduled)
Led Zeppelin concert chronology
Earls Court 1975 North America 1977 Knebworth Festival 1979

Led Zeppelin's 1977 North American Tour was the eleventh and final concert tour of North America by the English rock band. The tour was divided into three legs, with performances commencing on 1 April and concluding on 24 July 1977. The tour was originally intended to finish on 13 August, but was cut short following the death of Robert Plant's son.

Overview[edit]

This was the first tour embarked on by the band following their enforced layoff caused by Plant's car accident in Greece in 1975. During this sabbatical, the band had recorded their seventh studio album, Presence. Rehearsals for the tour eventually took place at Manticore Studios, Fulham in early 1977, where the band worked for two months on a new set list.[1]

Led Zeppelin's manager Peter Grant conceived this series of concerts as an effort that would reassert Led Zeppelin as the dominant band of the decade.[2] Fifty one concerts were scheduled over a three-leg period, for 1.3 million ticket holders. It was Led Zeppelin's biggest ever tour, and tickets sold at a rate of 72,000 a day.[3]

The tour was scheduled to commence on 27 February at Fort Worth, Texas, but Plant contracted laryngitis and the schedule was postponed for a month.[4] It eventually kicked off on April 1, at the Dallas Memorial Auditorium in Dallas.[5] The delay reduced the amount of time the band had available to rehearse, since all their equipment had already been airlifted to America. As guitarist Jimmy Page explained:

We didn't have any instruments for a month. All the equipment was shipped over there five days before we were due to go. I didn't play a guitar for a month. I was terrified at the prospect of the first few shows.[4]

Page (right) and Plant (left) on stage during the 1977 North American Tour

Led Zeppelin's 1977 North American Tour was a massive fiscal success, as the band sold out large arenas and stadiums. On 30 April they performed to 76,229 people at the Pontiac Silverdome, a new world record attendance for a solo indoor attraction, beating the 75,962 that The Who attracted there on December 6, 1975 for Opening Night, and grossed $792,361.50 (also a record breaker).[4][6][7] Lengthy stints were spent in New York and Los Angeles, where the band performed six sold out shows each at Madison Square Garden and the Los Angeles Forum. In New York alone, the band spent no money on advertising for the gigs, relying solely on street demand to sell out the shows, and enough ticket applications were received to sell out a further two nights had time permitted.

Dave Lewis, an expert on the band, considers that this tour,

For the tour, the band chartered Caesar's Chariot, a 45-seat Boeing 707 owned by the Caesars Palace Hotel in Las Vegas, to shuttle them between cities. This plane should not be confused with the more famous Starship, which had been used by the band on its previous two concert stints in North America, but which was permanently grounded in 1977 due to engine problems.[8]

For many of the concerts on this tour, Jimmy Page chose to wear a striking custom-made white silk dragon suit, as is captured in several famous photographs of the band. It was also on this tour that John Paul Jones introduced a triple necked acoustic instrument which contained a mandolin, twelve string guitar and six string guitar. He used this instrument on Ten Years Gone and the acoustic portion of the setlist.

Problems experienced[edit]

Though profitable financially, the tour was beset with difficulties. On 19 April, over 70 persons were arrested as about 1,000 ticketless fans tried to gatecrash Cincinnati Riverfront Coliseum for two sold out festival seating/general admission concerts while some gained entry by throwing rocks and bottles through glass entrance doors. On 3 June, after an open-air concert at Tampa Stadium was cut short because of a severe thunderstorm, a riot broke out amongst the audience, resulting in 19 arrests and 50 fans being injured.[4] Police ultimately resorted to tear gas to break up the crowd.[9][10] Guitarist Jimmy Page's ongoing heroin addiction also caused him to lose a noticeable amount of weight on this tour, and arguably began to hamper his on-stage playing performances.[2][4][11] During a performance in Chicago on 9 April, Page fell ill and needed to sit in a chair to play "Ten Years Gone" before leaving the stage with severe stomach cramps. The show was concluded after only sixty-five minutes, with Page's illness later being attributed to a case of food poisoning.[11][12] The Greensboro, NC show began one hour late, with Plant stating, "Sorry, we left somebody in New York."

The tour also experienced some unsavory backstage problems, exacerbated by the hiring of London gangster John Bindon as Led Zeppelin's security coordinator. After a 23 July show[13] at the "Days on the Green" festival at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California, Bindon, band manager Peter Grant, tour manager Richard Cole, and band member John Bonham were arrested after a member of promoter Bill Graham's staff was beaten after the performance. A member of the staff had struck Grant's 11-year old son when he was taking down a dressing room sign[clarification needed]. This was seen by Bonham, who then walked over and kicked the man. Later, when Grant heard about this, he went into the trailer, along with Bindon and assaulted the man with tour manager Richard Cole guarding the door. Bindon had stated he was provoked by members of Graham's crew prior to the incident.[14]

Led Zeppelin's second Oakland show took place only after Bill Graham signed a letter of indemnification absolving Led Zeppelin from responsibility for the previous night's incident. However, Graham refused to honour the letter and assault charges were laid against Grant, Cole, Bindon, and Bonham when the band arrived back at their hotel. The four received bail, whereupon a suit was filed against them by Graham for $2 million.[3][15] All four pleaded nolo contendere, receiving suspended sentences and fines.[3]

The following day's second Oakland concert[16] would prove to be the band's final live appearance in the United States. After the performance, news came that Plant's five-year-old son, Karac, had died from a stomach virus. The rest of the tour was immediately cancelled.[17]

In recent years, Plant has reflected on the negative dynamics which increasingly became evident as the 1977 tour progressed:

By 1977, I was 29, just prior to Karac's passing, and that sort of wild energy that was there in the beginning had come to the point where we were showboating a bit. Unfortunately, we had no choice. We were on tours where places were going ape-shit. There was no way of containing the energy in those buildings. It was insane. And we became more and more victims of our own success. And the whole deal about the goldfish bowl and living in it, that kicked in.[18]

According to Jack Calmes, the head of Showco (the company that had provided lights, sound, staging, and logistics for the band's American tours since 1973):

There was an extraordinary amount of tension at the start of that tour ... It just got off to a negative start. It was definitely much darker than any [Led] Zeppelin tour ever before that time ... The kind of people they had around them had deepened into some really criminal types. I think Richard Cole and perhaps some of the band and everybody around the band was so far into drugs at that point, that the drugs turned on them. They still had their moments of greatness (but) some of the shows were grinding and not very inspired ... The Bindon brothers were the thugs that were friends of Peter Grant’s and were on this whole tour as security guards. And they kind of brought an element of darkness into this thing.[7]

Recordings[edit]

At least three indoor concerts from this tour (at Pontiac on 30 April, Houston on 21 May and Seattle on 17 July) were professionally shot by the TV International company for the band and projected live on to a giant video screen.[4] None of these performances have been officially released, and to date, only the Seattle video and audio of the Houston show have been made available on unofficial Led Zeppelin bootleg recordings. Producer Jimmy Page was unable to locate multi-track sound recordings from any 1977 shows, and it is unknown if any exist. However, portions of the Seattle video (minus audio) were used to promote the Led Zeppelin Remasters release in 1990 and some were aired as part of the special MTV Led Zeppelin documentary. In addition, parts were included in the 1997 "Whole Lotta Love" promo.[4]

Audio recordings from many of the tour's shows have been preserved on unofficial bootleg recordings. Notable bootlegs from this tour include Destroyer (the soundboard recording from Cleveland on 27 April), Listen to This Eddie (an audience recording from Los Angeles on 21 June) and For Badgeholders Only (an audience recording from Los Angeles on 23 June).

The second disc of the Led Zeppelin DVD contains semi-hidden bootleg footage from the show at the Los Angeles Forum (under the promos menu). The menu background audio features the complete opening number from the 21 June 1977 show ("The Song Remains the Same") with visuals bootlegged from various shows on the 1977 tour.[19]

Tour set list[edit]

The set list played on this tour included an acoustic section, which had originally been revived by the band at their previous concerts at Earls Court Arena in 1975 and was retained for the 1977 concerts. Technically, only two songs from their most recent album, Presence (1976), were performed: "Nobody's Fault but Mine" and "Achilles Last Stand", although parts of the solo from "Tea for One" would be incorporated by Page during the solo of "Since I've Been Loving You".

The basic set list for the tour was:

  1. "The Song Remains the Same" (Page, Plant)
  2. "The Rover" (intro)/"Sick Again" (Page, Plant)
  3. "Nobody's Fault but Mine (Page, Plant)
  4. "In My Time of Dying" (Page, Plant, Bonham, Jones) or "Over the Hills and Far Away" (Page, Plant)*
  5. "Since I've Been Loving You" (Page, Plant, Jones)/ "Tea for One" (solo)
  6. "No Quarter" (Page, Plant, Jones)
  7. "Ten Years Gone" (Page, Plant)
  8. "The Battle of Evermore" (Page, Plant) (With John Paul Jones on vocals, singing Sandy Denny's parts from the studio version. On some dates John Bonham also sang accompanying vocals along with John Paul Jones)
  9. "Going to California" (Page, Plant)
  10. "Dancing Days" (Page, Plant) (on 26th May and 27th June only)
  11. "Black Country Woman" (Page, Plant) / "Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp" (Page, Plant, Jones)
  12. "White Summer"/"Black Mountain Side" (Page)
  13. "Kashmir" (Bonham, Page, Plant)
  14. "Out on the Tiles" (intro)/"Over the Top"/"Moby Dick" (Page, Jones, Bonham)
  15. "Guitar Solo" (Page) / "Star Spangled Banner"
  16. "Achilles Last Stand" (Page, Plant)
  17. "Stairway to Heaven" (Page, Plant)

Encores typical of the first leg of the tour:

Encores typical of the second and third leg:

Other encores played occasionally:

There were some set list substitutions, variations, and order switches during the tour: "Trampled Under Foot" and "Heartbreaker" were played as part of the main set on some occasions.

*The band performed "In My Time of Dying" during the 1st leg and the first half of the 2nd leg, while they switched to "Over the Hills and Far Away" for the second half of the 2nd leg and for the 3rd leg, although "In My Time of Dying" appeared a few times on the final shows of the 2nd leg.

Tour dates[edit]

Date City Country Venue
North America
1 April 1977 Dallas, Texas United States Dallas Memorial Auditorium
3 April 1977 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma The Myriad
6 April 1977 Chicago, Illinois Chicago Stadium
7 April 1977
9 April 1977
10 April 1977
12 April 1977 Bloomington, Minnesota Metropolitan Center
13 April 1977 St. Paul, Minnesota Civic Center
15 April 1977 St. Louis, Missouri St. Louis Arena
17 April 1977 Indianapolis, Indiana Market Square Arena
19 April 1977 Cincinnati, Ohio Riverfront Coliseum
20 April 1977
23 April 1977 Atlanta, Georgia The Omni
25 April 1977 Louisville, Kentucky Freedom Hall
27 April 1977 Richfield, Ohio Richfield Coliseum
28 April 1977
30 April 1977 Pontiac, Michigan Silverdome
Attendance - 76,229
18 May 1977 Birmingham, Alabama Birmingham–Jefferson Convention Complex
19 May 1977 Baton Rouge, Louisiana LSU Assembly Center
21 May 1977 Houston, Texas The Summit
22 May 1977 Fort Worth, Texas Tarrant County Convention Center
25 May 1977 Landover, Maryland Capital Centre
26 May 1977
28 May 1977
30 May 1977
31 May 1977 Greensboro, North Carolina Greensboro Coliseum
3 June 1977 Tampa, Florida Tampa Stadium
7 June 1977 New York City, New York Madison Square Garden
8 June 1977
10 June 1977
11 June 1977
13 June 1977
14 June 1977
19 June 1977 San Diego, California San Diego Sports Arena
21 June 1977 Inglewood, California The Forum
22 June 1977
23 June 1977
25 June 1977
26 June 1977
27 June 1977
17 July 1977 Seattle, Washington Kingdome
20 July 1977 Tempe, Arizona Arizona State University Activities Center
23 July 1977 Oakland, California Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
24 July 1977
30 July 1977 New Orleans, Louisiana Louisiana Superdome Canceled
2 August 1977 Chicago, Illinois Chicago Stadium Canceled
3 August 1977
6 August 1977 Orchard Park, New York Rich Stadium Canceled
9 August 1977 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Civic Arena Canceled
10 August 1977
13 August 1977 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania John F. Kennedy Stadium Canceled

References[edit]

  1. ^ Liner notes by Cameron Crowe for The Complete Studio Recordings.
  2. ^ a b Gilmore, Mikal (10 August 2006). "The Long Shadow of Led Zeppelin". Rolling Stone (1006). Retrieved 9 December 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c Chris Welch (1994) Led Zeppelin, London: Orion Books. ISBN 1-85797-930-3, pp. 83, 85-86.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Dave Lewis (2003), Led Zeppelin: Celebration II: The 'Tight But Loose' Files, London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 1-84449-056-4, pp. 44-53, 62.
  5. ^ Led Zeppelin official website: concert summary
  6. ^ Led Zeppelin official website: concert summary
  7. ^ a b Steven Rosen, "Led Zeppelin's 1977 Tour - A Tragic Ending!", Classic Rock Legends.
  8. ^ Lewis, Dave and Pallett, Simon (1997) Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-5307-4, p.92
  9. ^ Led Zeppelin official website: concert summary
  10. ^ Robert Plant's Home Page
  11. ^ a b Davis, Stephen (4 July 1985). "Power, Mystery And The Hammer Of The Gods: The Rise and Fall of Led Zeppelin". Rolling Stone (451). Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  12. ^ Led Zeppelin official website: concert summary
  13. ^ Led Zeppelin official website: concert summary
  14. ^ Turner, Lloyd (29 December 1979) "Bindon aiming for return to acting", The Daily Star, p. 23
  15. ^ Welch, Chris (2002). Peter Grant: The Man Who Led Zeppelin. London: Omnibus. pp. 203–204. ISBN 0-7119-9195-2. 
  16. ^ Led Zeppelin official website: concert summary
  17. ^ Stephen Davis (1995). Hammer of the Gods (LPC). p. 277. 
  18. ^ Allan Jones, "Robert Plant: ‘We did what we set out to do...’", Uncut Magazine, May 2008, pp. 38-43.
  19. ^ The Garden Tapes

Sources[edit]

  • Lewis, Dave and Pallett, Simon (1997) Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-5307-4.

External links[edit]