Date Published – June 24, 2013 – Classic Rock Radio (UK) Facebook Page
Uncle G’s FUN Concert Memories
Spotlight: Led Zeppelin 1977
By Gary “Uncle G” Brown
American Correspondent for Classic Rock Radio (UK)
In June of ’77, I was fifteen years old. In August I would turn sixteen. Made me a, Leo. Living in a foster home on the Jersey Shore. Hated it! Thank god, the overall experience wasn’t all bad. I made friends, while out and about all the time. Sometimes it was school. In this case, I had a friend named James West (really, I did and still do) whereas his friendship, led me to know a then fourteen-year-old girl, that as time progressed, I became super interested in. Her name was Loretta. Lived in the same neighborhood he did. Straight up, she was a pretty young lady. A little baby-fat back then that I’m fairly confident over time, she lost. I was as skinny as a rail. Arms like toothpicks. I processed an inner strength that took care of me. In my 50s I got to be 240 pounds. I have a picture of myself that looks like I swallowed a basketball.
Back in the twentieth century, when a lot younger, both Loretta and I ran with the same group of teenagers. Not that we were a gang. More a collection of like-minded individuals. If you didn’t drink, do drugs, or got high, odds are you wouldn’t have fit in.
Regarding music, besides the progressive rock band Yes, Led Zeppelin was a top favorite of mine. She dug the hard-rock band from the UK, as well. It was in the news, that Led Zeppelin was playing in New York City. Making plans while catching a rather strong buzz from beer and marijuana, Loretta and I decided it would a cool thing to do if we went and hung out there. Party with other Led Zeppelin fans. We had no tickets to anything. Just go to New York City because Led Zeppelin was there. In the next state over. Close enough! Made perfect sense to us that we should be there. Ends up we seriously lucked out.
Come daybreak, the morning of June 13th, Loretta walked by herself, at least a couple of miles to where I was staying in Long Branch (West End) to pick me up. From there we hitch-hiked to New York City. We found ourselves there late morning in front of the address that was on the current Led Zeppelin albums. In other words, we crashed their office building. I remember their office being on the 35th floor. Of course, Loretta and I went directly to Led Zeppelin’s office. We had no business there. The both of us swore we heard Robert Plant laugh from a distant room while we were there.
We left Swan Song on the 35th floor, or thereabouts, and ended up just hanging out in the office building itself, for the next few hours. A gigantic building. Both of us, Loretta and I, interacted with other people we encountered. Being in New York City we, of course, ran into some real characters. One guy told us how we could go down to the subway and beg for money. I was absolutely broke. Ended up pawning a watch I was wearing for around $15 or $25. It was worth a lot more according to the aunt who gave it to me, now passed on. God rest her soul. I was a strange and shitty nephew, I’m sure.
Loretta had some cash but not a huge amount. It was cool…we survived. No need to actually ask strangers for cash. Another guy, a complete stranger, gave us a lucky quarter. He voluntarily did so. And that’s what he called it. While sharing an elevator with us, just us three, he said that with the lucky quarter, all our dreams would come true. No shit. That we would see Led Zeppelin in concert, that night. Remember, we were lacking tickets. I took the quarter. We thanked him. My initial thought was that he was crazy. Ends up he wasn’t. I would days later accidentally spend the quarter coin on beer, which Loretta got really super-pissed about. I felt bad, and could not blame her.
Thanks to the nice lady at the Led Zeppelin Swan Song office, we got to sit in Robert Plant’s limousine. The limo driver wasn’t thrilled. Told us we had to behave ourselves. Unfortunately, we never met Mr. Plant. He would have kicked us out, anyway. The fact of the matter of, we were still kids and Loretta had ‘jail bait’ written all over the top of her head.
Thanks to the elevator guy in the Led Zeppelin Swan Song office building, as well. Because of him, we got to meet Led Zeppelin bassist and keyboardist, John Paul Jones. He stood right in front of me, looked me dead right in the eye, and denied being the famous bass/keyboard player. But he was. I was at first bewildered. Then, a salesman whisked him away behind a set of doors as fast as he could. Loretta watched the whole thing. Next door to the building we were spending time at, was an electronics shop. Mr. Jones was there to look at something. I can’t swear to it, but I think it was a Tv set he was interested in. This place seemed to have all the latest and greatest newfangled stuff there. After I directly approached him, he was whisked away. Am sure no one wanted a riot started by two young teenagers whose actions could have been misinterpreted as stalking. Yes, Loretta and I were inside the store, while at the same time, a small army of young people had gathered just outside. And then we were thrust outside as well. Was time to ramble on.
Finally bored, we made our way to Madison Square Garden. This iconic concert and sports arena would be the first place Loretta and I ever kissed. This is where I officially “asked her out”. And she said: “Yes!” How cool is that, right? Outside, the Garden had a super party atmosphere. Marijuana and angel dust mostly are making their way around the crowd. Remember, this is the nineteen seventies.
Walking around and getting totally wasted, Loretta and I come across two young guys with a wad of money. Asked me if knew of anyone with tickets to the show. The concert just started. I looked at them and told them to give me twenty bucks. No one around near the door but the guard. I walked up and when he asked for a ticket, I gave him the twenty. The dude looks at me and asks; “how many are there total?”. I replied; four of us. He walks away. I stand there and patiently wait. Remember, the concert has begun. We can hear Led Zeppelin playing. They were mighty loud. The guard comes back saying; “I need forty more bucks”. In 1977 that was considered a good chunk of change. I replied with; OK. Walked over to the guys and told them. They gladly gave me the cash. Within a few minutes, all four of us are running up a long-ass flight of stairs leading to the top floor of Madison Square Garden. Who needs tickets? We were given three blue ticket stubs. The ones who paid both got one, and I’m hoping while typing this, that Loretta got the other one.
Once all the way upstairs, we decided it would be wise to try to make our way up near the stage. This unwise decision included climbing down the wall at Madison Square Garden. Called those seats up there; blue heaven. The cheap seats. We descended with Loretta going over first. Her candy ass butt in tight faded blue jeans, got all the guy’s attention and participation, making sure she made it safely all the way down. And she did! didn’t get hurt, at all. Me not so much. I fell and landed on my knee in the back of the chair down below. Limped the rest of the night, and many nights after that. By the time Led Zeppelin were playing Stairway to Heaven, we were 3/4’s of the way upfront. The most awesome thing. These guys were gods in our minds. And talk about LOUD. Holy shit!! Was a mind-blowing concert.
Hitchhiking out of New York City after the concert, was harder than hitchhiking into the city that never sleeps. This would be my first time experiencing this. Still, we made it back, and Loretta and I concluded the evening in the woods near her house, making out (kissing) until her Mother started yelling for her at the top of her lungs while walking the neighborhood looking for her daughter. Understandable! By now it was very late in the evening. Loretta’s mom knew we all hung out in the nearby woods. Thank god she didn’t know what we were doing.
For myself, it was the best day/night ever!! I saw Led Zeppelin, and Loretta became my girlfriend.
And then it happened. My sweet Loretta broke up with me only weeks later saying booze was more important to me than she was. Already by that time, I had a drinking problem. Loretta broke my heart. Our relationship was fun while it lasted. Our friendship was awkward, to say the least, after that. I think she attended my wedding, in which I tied the knot with a lady five years older than me when I was 18. But the truth is I never stopped liking Loretta. Not as a friend. And I never stopped liking Led Zeppelin. They turned out, at least it’s my opinion; to be one of the best hard rock bands from the 20th century. I’m grateful to have seen them (with Loretta) the one time that I did.
Cover Picture: 1977 Official Led Zeppelin Tour T-Shirt (Uncle G still has one) – A friend from back in the day, Lisa Heckman, gave me my first LZ tour t-shirt on my 16th birthday in 1977. She was a sweet gal. I have pleasant memories of us all hanging out. Through the decades, the t-shirt managed to get lost. Good news! Check it out! One day, and I’m much older, while shopping in Targets, I found another one. Exactly the same. It was indeed official, and not a bootleg. How could I not get a replacement? Wearing the t-shirt nowadays, I occasionally get comments. I’ll smile and sometimes say back; It’s been a long time since I rock n’ rolled.
End of Story
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Wish I’d seen ’em. I’m envious. I’m about three years older than you, and as far as I’m concerned, they were THE rock band of the 20th century. Absolutely awesome!
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