The Pompous Plant

Rumors are flying that Led Zeppelin may be preparing to tour again. A November 26 London date has been booked to honor the late Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. With 25 million ticket requests for the 18,000 seats available, a tour is almost a certainty. If so, odds are that the band will make it to San Diego.

Six out of the seven times Led Zeppelin came to town, the band performed at the Sports Arena. The exception was their local debut on January 13, 1969, at the Fox Theatre (now Symphony Hall).

When Led Zeppelin played at the Sports Arena on March 10 1975, it was the last time they did so under the old first-come, first-served "festival seating" floor plan. According to concert attendee Chuck Heck, some people had camped on the arena grounds for weeks to ensure their spot up front. The situation inside was worse than the lines outside: with no chairs on the floor, the sold-out crowd surged forward.

"Bouncers on top of the stage were leaning over, pulling fainted victims out of the crush," remembers Heck. "This continued throughout the show. By the end of the second song, Plant was pleading with the crowd to step back because people were now being pulled from the crowd right and left, in what appeared to be unconscious states."

The 1975 tour reportedly used the loudest sound system available.

"Their music was so loud that it was almost impossible to tell what was being played," says Heck.

The band's three-hour set included a 30-minute version of "Dazed and Confused." During the encore of "Heartbreaker," a young woman in front of the stage got up on some guy's shoulders and pulled off her blouse and bra. As the band played, a spotlight was aimed at the girl and Plant began to rub his crotch and point, incorporating the antics into his performance. John Bonham threw his sticks and derby into the audience and began to gesture with his hands on his chest in reference to the young lady. According to Heck, the band appeared to be surprised by the fever pitch of the San Diego audience.

"At one point, Robert looked at Jimmy and the rest of the band and threw up his arms as if to say, 'My God -- really?' Even the pompous Plant appeared to be humbled."

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