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Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: Oakland, July 23rd 1977

lwsm_c40-0_ledzeppelinc_147From ledzepconcerts.com

From: David Borgonovo

After a cocktail, my memory’s back!

I was fourteen at the time I saw Zeppelin in 1977. I was turned on to them by a good friend several months earlier, and only really new the Led Zeppelin 1, 4 and Presence albums, and loved them. Then there was a June issue of Circus magazine that came out with a close-up of Jimmy with a smoke in his mouth on the cover (my first rock magazine purchase), and a mention about the Zeppelin tour. Getting the picture? I’m young, innocent and clueless.

Anyway, one day on the back page of the front section of the San Francisco Chronicle there’s a small 2 x 5 picture of Jimmy in the white dragon suit, and below the picture says that Led Zeppelin tickets are going on sale on Thursday (I believe). My best friend, who turned me on to Zeppelin, is in Europe on vacation. Anyhow, on the sale day I go down to Bill Graham’s Rock Shop to get a ticket. In those days, Graham’s Rock Shop was located at the foot of Columbus Avenue across the street from the Cannery (for those familiar with San Francisco).

The store sold posters, t-shirts, stickers, and always had some cool memorabilia on display. So, I arrived early in the morning to get in line. Tickets went on sale at 11am, were $11.50, general admission, and a person was limited to 6 tickets. After waiting 4 hours, I bought one (again, clueless). The shows were billed as A Day on The Green #6 and #7 (July 23 & 24).

When my friend returned, I told him that I purchased my Zeppelin ticket and didn’t get him one. Disbelief, on my friend’s part, was at the least what was said to me. Naturally, the shows were sold out. In fact, the ad for the shows appeared in the following Sunday Pink Page (main weekly entertainment section of the Chronicle) and was the same image of the poster. However, a week or so prior to the shows, additional tickets were made available, and my friend got one. Next problem, was how do we get to Oakland? We’re only 14.

Well, my friend knew this 17 year old, who was taking his girlfriend. So we bummed a ride in the family wagon. We arrived at the Oakland Coliseum at around 6:30am along with thousands of others. I couldn’t believe it. The lines snaked around the parking lot. Security (BGP) walked around and passed out (threw out) bubble gum to the masses. Finally, 11am and the doors opened. We found seats that were center stage and about 20 rows up from the lawn. Needless, to say, the people on stage look quite small.

Judas Priest (not listed) opened the show and played for about 30 minutes, followed by Rick Derringer, who kicked ass. Then the moment arrived, a hugh blimp was lifted above the stage and out they came. The roar was thunderous as was the first chord struck. I never heard anything so loud and distorted in my life. I couldn’t tell at first what the hell was being played, but I didn’t care, I was seeing Led Zeppelin. As the show progressed, Page had some trouble keeping his pants up, which Plant humorously commented on (exact words I can’t remember).

3177355Being at my first concert, I was just in a tizzy between the music and the crowd, and therefore the specifics of the show are a blur. The shows were panned by the local press, and I found myself afterward on the defensive in explaining the performance to others. Especially, after the backstage antics that resulted the following day.

Yet, that experience catapulted me into the Zeppelin world which still stands strong today, as some of you collectors out there know. Thanks for reading. I can’t believe it’s been 22 years.

From: C.Cimino

I was at both Oakland shows, and yes, Jimmy was not looking (or playing very well) IMHO.

After all this time, my fading memories are more a meld of both days although some things do stand out.

Well, I won’t bore everyone with the details of our journey from Sacramento to Oakland, although I will add that it included a large thermos (yep, I said thermos) of Old Crow which we snuck out of a friends house. We arrived very early in the morning for the first show and stayed the night in the car for the second. I don’t know if they still do this (I doubt it) but they used to let you come into the parking lot as early as the night before and line up.

It was obvious that many people had been there all night, because the line was huge. We spent the morning plotting our strategy of where to go in the stadium and how to get the best location in between gulps of Old Crow and Red Grape Malt Duck. We felt we were seasoned concert veterans of the Coliseum because we had been there a little while earlier to see Pink Floyd (awesome). Being young and stupid, we tried to pick up girls by asking them if we had seen them at Floyd. Didn’t work.

While in line, I remember tickets being scalped for a much as $40 which was a huge amount of money for a scalped ticket. If memory serves me, most scalpers were asking for $25 before the show. There were a lot more scalpers than usual at this show and I think a lot of them ate tickets. I think I paid $12.50 face value at Ticketron but I’m not really sure. I do remember a ton of people in the third base dugout! For those of you unfamiliar with the Coliseum, it was the infirmary for drugged out, passed out folks. What a waste.

We ended up in about the center area of the rear third of the lawn on the first day and we were much closer on the second but slightly off to the right of the stage. Judas Priest opened on both days and was heavily booed on the second day. It was a riot! Rick Derringer was incredible, though. In my opinion, he was the best performer of the shows.

Don’t get me wrong, Zep is still Zep, but Derringer was incredible and was probably hitting the high point in his career at about that time. Aside from being in awe of my idols, one of the memories that lingers most in my mind is the incredibly long wait for Zeppelin to come out to the stage. I’m still not sure if it was because of Bonhams violent antics or not, but I’ve been told that it was.

When they walked out, it was very inspiring. Page was my idol and I just remember thinking about how cool his boots looked. Haha… funny the things that stand out in your mind when you’re young! As for the show, I remember The entire band seemed tired and unenergetic. It didn’t really matter to me, though. I was happy to be there. The high points for me were SIBLY, Achilles, and of course STH. I just remember staring with a big grin on my face as they played THE song. Uninspired or not, it was still incredible to be in the same stadium with them.

Sure wish I still had the shirt I bought. I also found some unused tickets on the ground as we walked out on the 24th. Sure wish I knew what happened to them. Above all, I sure wish I’d known that it would be the last time I’d ever get to see them.

Chris

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January 16, 2014 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: Oakland July 23rd 1977 | , | Leave a comment