On this day in 1979, Led Zeppelin geared up to perform the second of two performances at England’s Knebworth Festival. Although they had managed to squeeze in a couple of lower-key warm up shows a few weeks prior it was the first time in over two years the band had played to a large crowd after their 1977 North American tour was cut short following the tragic death of Robert Plant’s son.
It was also to be their last show on British soil with drummer John Bonham. Bonham – one of the most respected and influential drummers in rock history – sadly passed away the following September, after which Led Zeppelin’s remaining members disbanded. It was the end of an era.
“Ladies and gentlemen! Jones, Bonham, Page, and Plant: Led Zeppelin!” comes the announcement over Knebworth’s PA system as an estimated 200,000 fans eagerly await “the biggest band in the world” to take to the stage.
In this historical film, Led Zeppelin kick off their typically substantial two-and-a-half hour set with “The Song Remains the Same” – the first track from their 1973 album Houses of the Holy.
During this opening number, Page can be seen playing his iconic cherry Gibson EDS-1275 double-neck electric guitar using the upper 12-string neck, before swapping to the lower 6-string neck to perform the second song in the set, “Celebration Day” from 1970’s Led Zeppelin III album.
Further footage of 1979’s Knebworth Festival can be found on the excellent Led Zeppelin DVD collection. Buy a copy here.
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Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World, Guitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.