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Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: San Antonio Texas, August 15th 1969

lz19690815_01From Underground Uprising

San Antonio, TX. August ’69. It was nearing my birthday (Aug 15) and mom had taken me to North Star Mall (actually the second indoor mall in the U.S.). Now the world was different back then, especially in San Antonio. The AM radio did not carry any “concert info” and the “underground” FM stations, well they were on so late, how would I know.

Mom and I walked past a small record store that had a sign up announcing Led Zeppelin tix would go on sale that very day, indeed almost at that moment. No crowds, no fuss, no nothing. So mom got a pair of tix for me and a pal next door for my birthday. She or dad would drive the 20 miles into San Antonio and hang out while we went in. In those days, if our hair touched our eyebrows, ears, or collar, you were sent home for a haircut or suspended. I liked neither! So here I am 13 yrs old with a “bap” haircut and mom buying me tix.

She sprung for the good ones. Row H (whatever that meant). The big night. Guys at school are talking about this “new” sound that Zeppelin is putting out. Jethro Tull is kicking ass too. We go to the Hemisfair Arena and eventually get to our seats which we notice seem to be in the 8th row center!! What good luck!! I do not remember who opened but it was likely The Children or perhaps Bubble Puppy.

Next comes out Ian Anderson. Now I am already a “seasoned” drummer of 4 years and even taking lessons. In band and all at Junior High School. Anderson and crew looked like they stepped out of a Dickens novel, early English outfits, Martin Barre wearing powder all over his face looking dead. And Clive Bunker, the drummer, was just on fire. Ian spun his flute and danced, wow!! It was great!!

So now the wait for Led Zeppelin. My buddy and I got up and walked all around gripping our ticket stubs as though life depended on it (that night it did). Security was different then. Nobody hardly tried to go backstage except chicks. And there were only saw horses standing in your way at that. It is getting later. Finally I want to ask what is up. I see this long (long) haired fellow standing near the stage steps wearing jeans and ladies low heals!! I thought man these English are a bit gone.

So I ask him, “Say, man,” in my squeaky 13 year old voice, “is Led Zeppelin coming on soon?” He turns and pleasantly smiles and says, “Yeah–any minute now.” So we scurry back to our seats, now occupied by two groupies. We are scared shitty. These broads look serious man. Serious. It seems as if everyone is staring at us and pissed. We figure they are gonna steal our seats but squeeze in anyway. I am gonna see the show!! Finally, I get an usher that takes the broads away. The whole line cheers us!! ! Wow!! Far out man! Now we sit down and I look up and who is the lead singer but the dude I was talking to!! Wow!!

Zeppelin breaks into their routine, playing the first album and who knows what. Jimmy whips out a violin bow and has a go at his Les Paul. Bonham plays with his hands. The show absolutely rocked the house. I will never forget that night. Before light shows (blinking coloured lights), they just had on stage lights period, and played their asses off. Of course I still have my ticket stub as I do all of my shows. Zeppelin came through three more times, I believe, and each time it just got crazier.

Recently, Plant and Page came to Orlando on the No Quarter tour. I was afraid to go but had to. I hated to see the guys a parody of themselves but went out of respect. Man, they flat tore the ass off of the stage. I believe that they are better than ever, oddly enough. Many ovations, and my nieces gave me a sudden look of awe. “Like, now we understand what you have tried to tell us about the glory days of rock and roll! “When this new, loud as hell blues was not called “metal”, when bands truly were forming what would be known as Zep!!!

This was a real experience. The second show I ever attended, right after Jimi Hendrix!!

Dan O’Connor

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: San Antonio Texas August 15th 1969 | , | Leave a comment