In the Summer of 1971, shortly before I turned 15, my girlfriend Donna and I were walking past the local record shop, (Byhoff Bros. Records) on Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood, when we noticed a small sign in the window. It said, "Pair of Led Zeppelin Tickets For Sale". We rushed inside to ask how much they wanted for them and the guy told us, "15 bucks for the pair...face value." UNBELIEVABLE...we asked him if he could hold them for us and he said "YES" !!! Even MORE unbelievable...Unfortunately, we had NO MONEY so we proceeded to beg, borrow and steal. We rummaged in garbage cans for bottles and cans to return for deposit and we even actually pan-handled change up and down the busy main street. We ran errands for Donna's neighbor Frieda and she donated very generously to the fund. Her son, Bob actually worked in the record store. After a day or so of hustling and conniving, we scraped up the 15 bucks and headed back to the record store.
OKAY, ready for THIS?
The pair of tickets were for SECOND ROW IN THE ORCHESTRA at Madison Square Garden!!!
Not only were we both going to the concert for 15 bucks, but we were going to be sitting a few feet away from our heroes!!! This was going to be my second ever major rock concert. I had actually already seen Zeppelin the year before but that time I sat way up in the Mezzanine and it was a "matinee" show. I remember playing with my band at a local block party later that same day and bringing a violin bow along so I could try out this new thing I had just seen Jimmy Page do at the matinee concert. Everyone watching us was wondering what the hell I was doing...it sounded HORRIBLE.
OKAY, back to the story...from what I can remember, almost immediately after Zep walked on, everyone jumped up from their seats and rushed up to the front of the stage. It was about 6 feet off the ground so you had to kind of stretch a bit to see up over it. I can remember the both of us just hanging off the front with our legs wrapped around a support beam underneath. As the time passed and the level of excitement mounted, I was getting too tired to hang on anymore so I simply climbed onto the stage and sat on a monitor cabinet. Can you imagine being just about 15 years old and sitting about 5 feet away from Jimmy Page and watching him play? After a while there were so many people hanging off the stage and sitting onstage that the weight caused the front half of the stage to collapse!!! People and equipment rolled off and fell into the audience. No one got hurt and some kind of order was restored and Zeppelin just continued to play.
It's even chronicled in Led Zeppelin's "Hammer of The Gods" biography.
How about that amazing experience?
I ran the story past Donna (we still keep in touch after almost 40 years) and she added that we actually raised more money than we needed and we went to the city the next day and bought Ten Years After's "Cricklewood Green" album. She also remembered reaching up and touching Robert Plant and that we sat next to Pete Fornatele (a popular radio DJ in New York at the time).
Seeing Led Zeppelin from 5 feet away and being involved in a near riot and making it into a book...and all for 15 BUCKS !!!
Here is the excerpt from the "Hammer Of The Gods" book by Stephen Davis (1985)
depicting the "incident". It starts about 3/4 ways down the first page..."Three hours later, as the band lurched into Whole Lotta Love..."