Due in large part to the release of the Live on Blueberry Hill LP, which is often cited as one of the earliest rock bootlegs, the September 4, 1970 performance by LED ZEPPELIN at the LA Forum is one of the band’s most famous shows. Only this week did seven tantalizing minutes of footage from the performance appear on YouTube. Learn more about it here.
Eddie Vincent, a dedicated fan, slipped a Kodak Brownie 8mm camera inside the arena and filmed the clip. Vincent explains in the video’s opener, “When my pals and I got to the Forum, I tucked it beneath my jacket.” To paraphrase a famous saying, “In those days, there were never any problems with the door. The seats in the first row just behind the stage were fantastic. Unfortunately, we were hidden by John Bonham’s gong and missed most of his performance, but the music was terrific.
Even though he turned off his wind-up camera for the majority of the night because it could only record for 30 seconds at a time, he still managed to catch fragments of numerous songs, including “What is and What Should Never Be,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Thank You,” and others.
During the acoustic session, “John stepped behind the gong to have a smoke and quite generously appreciated our fawning applause,” Vincent remarked. He posed for my still camera twice, but the flash went off neither time. Those photos were a complete bust. Only a handful of them and the 8 mm film made it.
John Waters, a fellow admirer of Led Zeppelin, received Vincent’s tape after digging it out and uploaded it to YouTube with the Live on Blueberry Hill soundtrack. He told Classic Rock that “the music needs to get out there.” It’s a shame, but I know many collectors and traders who aren’t willing to part with their items for free. Today, more than ever, the world needs music as a means of escape from madness. And if this movie makes plenty of people happy, then we succeeded.
Fearing the material would end up in the hands of bootleggers, Led Zeppelin had very few of their shows taped. For a Led Zeppelin DVD released in 2003, the band searched through the scant live material and used fan bootlegs to fill in the gaps. Vincent’s film could reach a bigger audience if the publication released an updated version.
His experience is a cautionary tale, showing that old film cans stored in basements and garages may hide priceless treasures. It’s crucial that old concert films be kept around for posterity. A YouTube post by Waters. We must preserve these, so please do so if you shot the movie in the past, traded and collected reels, or even bought them from the classifieds of rock magazines in the ’70s and ’80s. If you have any rock music films, I would appreciate it if you would contact me.
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