Whole lotta Led Zeppelin love

From left,  Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Bonham at a Melody Maker awards ceremony in 1970
From left, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Bonham at a Melody Maker awards ceremony in 1970

A music historian who has written books on several leading rock acts is asking for help in putting together a ‘people’s history’ of Led Zeppelin.

The band, who were the biggest live attraction of the 1970s and responsible for Stairway to Heaven, arguably the most famous rock song ever written, played in Sheffield four times between 1968 and 1973.

Now writer Richard Houghton wants to hear from Star readers who witnessed any of those shows, at Sheffield University and at City Hall, for the book he is putting together.

Richard said: “Sheffield is unique in terms of visits by Led Zeppelin in that no other city outside London hosted as many shows over such a time period.

“Led Zeppelin became the biggest band on the planet, honing their live act in front of huge audiences in America and then coming back to England to play what were relatively small shows by their standards.

“The gigs they played in Sheffield - in 1968, 1970, 1971 and 1973 - gave concert-goers in Sheffield the chance to see that evolution and, in the process, the birth of heavy metal.”

Richard added: “The first show in 1968 was in front of an audience of no more than 200 people and took place before the band’s first album had been released.

“The stage began to fall apart at one point as it was constructed from tables that had been pushed together.

“Some of the audience, being blues purists, didn’t like what they heard at all.”

By contrast, the show in January 1973 was a complete sell-out.

The Star’s reviewer of that night’s show predicted that a week of gigs at City Hall would not have sated the demand for tickets.

Richard said: “The 1973 show almost didn’t happen.

“Singer Robert Plant was suffering from flu and his car broke down on the way to the gig.

“But he made it and the audience were treated to a set which included Rock and Roll, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, The Song Remains the Same, Dazed and Confused, Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love and Heartbreaker.”

He added: “Robert’s voice wasn’t in the best of shape that night but audience feedback - and bootleg recordings of the show - suggests that the rest of the band were on fire that night.”

Led Zeppelin did not return to Sheffield after 1973, only playing a handful of gigs in the UK after that second City Hall visit before splitting up in 1980 following the death of drummer John Bonham.

Despite reported offers of several hundred million pounds to re-form, the band have played only one show since 1980 and fans are left with just their memories.

Richard said: “I’d love to capture those memories of the Sheffield shows for posterity.”

Anyone who was at any of those shows is asked to contact Richard via email at iwasatthatgig@gmail.com or write to him at 1 Totnes Road, Manchester, M21 8XF.

Richard’s latest book, Jimi Hendrix - The Day I Was There, is out now. It features more than 500 stories from fans of the guitar genius.

The book is available in paperback for £9.60 from www.amazon.co.uk

Visit his website at richardmhoughton.com