Friday, August 19, 2005

A Page for Plant

August 20th is Robert Plant's birthday. (August is such a big month for birthdays!!) I have to reminisce on Led Zeppelin for a few minutes here. Every year I get more like Old Blevins (Lounge Lizards character), and this blog post is my version of boring you from a barstool with stories of the great things that happened in the 60s and 70s. They say if you remember the 60s you weren't there, but just because you were high doesn't mean you don't remember something like it was yesterday. The memories just happened to form with a few special effects attached, that's all.

Try to imagine this: when I first saw Led Zeppelin, I was at the 1969 Atlanta Pop Festival, July 5. The band Spirit had just played, and Spirit were one of my top favorite bands. Oddly enough, Mark Andes of Spirit lives here in Austin and when I mentioned it to him, he remembered the show too... anyway, Led Zeppelin played right after Spirit (right at twilight/sundown), and I had NEVER HEARD OF THIS BAND! (I think their first album had just been released) It's hard to describe the stunning effect the amazing awesome power of this band had over me. It was a transforming experience, nearly as bad as hearing the Beatles and Stones for the first time in 1964 when all you'd been listening to was stuff like the Louvin Brothers and Tennessee Ernie Ford.

The following year, April 9, 1970 at Curtis Hixon in Tampa I saw them again. This is my best instamatic pic from the show. Yessss.... I was that close. Security was looser in those days, at least sometimes, maybe when they weren't expecting trouble. Anyway, as soon as the show started everyone left their seats and rushed to the stage. Immediately between the band and the audience was a row of police holding up a makeshift barrier made of nightsticks, which were shoved into our guts but we didn't care! I was 17 years old, and I dearly hope that there is even just the smallest glint of lust there in Plant's eyes. Page also provided fodder for the perfect fantasies of fairly innocent young girls and boys. Page was really more my type anyway... scrawny and mysterious with pretty eyes.

Our whole crowd loved Led Zeppelin (including my very hip 50 year old mother), especially one young friend named Warren Gay who was being treated for leukemia. He got so sick from the chemo that he'd say that it was as bad as the disease. He lived every day like it was his last. Then he started giving away his things, very personalized hand-picked endowments to friends. He was going to go to Woodstock for a big bash of a time, but it fell through for some reason and went to the West Palm Beach 1969 Festival instead. That was a huge bash capped off by the Rolling Stones (one month before Altamont). Then he ended his life voluntarily at the age of 19. In his will he requested that his friends celebrate his life by dancing to Led Zeppelin at his gravesite. And it was so.
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