Four Sticks

Posted on 25th September 2008

As with most people of my generation, my first exposure to Led Zeppelin was via C.C.S.'s cover of Whole Lotta Love. It was the theme tune for Top Of The Pops throughout most the 70s, and identified the TV show for many years. It was only when I started listening to the evening radio shows on BBC Radio One, that I discovered that the song was originally by Led Zeppelin. It did seem a bit odd to me at the time, as to why the theme tune was a cover and not the original. As I also discovered much later, Led Zeppelin never got to perform on the show due to their rigid stance of refusing to release a single in the UK. They felt that their albums didn't need the promotion that singles would have given them and considering how many number ones and multi-platinum discs they got, I think they were right.

It wasn't really until around 1977 that I started to discover more of Led Zeppelin. Listening to John Peel and Tommy Vance, they both played a variety of tracks that I perhaps wouldn't otherwise have heard on daytime radio, Babe I'm Ganna Leave You and No Quarter being among them. On hearing Rock And Roll, Kashmir, the magestic Immigrant Song and of course Stairway To Heaven, I was quickly taken by the power of the music. It was around 1977/1978 that I started to buy records for myself, perviously they were bought for me as birthday or Christmas presents. I do remember walking into Crewe town centre one day and taking my saved up pocket money and buying Presence. It wasn't the first Led Zeppelin album I owned, as my record buying had started in second hand shops, but this was the first I bought brand new. I'd heard a couple of the tracks already, but it was the amazing Achilles Last Stand that I had bought the album for. To this day it is still my favourite Led Zeppelin track, and one my favourite songs of all time.

In 1979 a friend of mine went with his older brother to see them play at Knebworth. I was quite jealous at the time and wished I was old enough, or had an older brother too, so I could have gone as well. His report the following week, only made me yearn to be old enough to see them in a few years time. On 25th September 1980, John Bonham was found dead. After several weeks of uncertainty, the remaining band members made an official announcement that they were to disband. I was never going to be fortunate enough to see a Led Zeppelin live gig, at least not with the original members.

With Ian Curtis committing suicide in May and John Lennon being shot in December, 1980 was a rather troubled year for music fans of several generations.

The bizarre part of this story is that John Bonham is the only member of Led Zeppelin that I've met. Well perhaps met is too strong, but I did say hello. He had brought his son Jason up to race at North-West Scamble Bike meeting in Cheshire. It just so happened that it was the same club that my next door neighbours also used to race at. He was the first really famous person I'd ever met in real life, so it made quite an impression on this young music fan.

Last weekend I took DanDan to the parish church in Rushock where John is buried. We live only a few minutes drive away from the village, and the farm where his family still live, and I have been meaning to visit the grave for some time. Last Sunday was a nice a day for a change, and DanDan and I had spent a great day out visiting castles. Seeing as we were on the way home, it seemed an ideal time to pay my respects. The village is quite small and the cemetary is really peaceful, looking out on the fields and hills of Worcestershire. DanDan was quite taken by all the drumsticks, and took several photographs. I might get around to putting some of them online at some point, but for now you can see mine here.

Today is the 28th annivesary of John's death. He would have been celebrating his 60th birthday on 31st May 2008. Rock And Roll.


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