TBL History 1: Comebacks, Conventions, Sequels & Reunions – The TBL Years 1992-1995
Tight But Loose|Issue 42

In a follow up feature to the early years of the TBL magazine in TBL issue 40, Dave Lewis unfolds the story of how he re-established the TBL magazine with issue 7 in 1992 through to the chronicling of the 1995 Page & Plant world tour in issue 11

So to pick the story up from TBL issue 40:

During 1989 and 1990, I worked solidly on producing my book Led Zeppelin A Celebration. It was published in early September of 1991. I had a launch signing at WH Smith in Bedford on August 31 – sadly my Dad had passed away two days before (my Mum had died nine months previously). On a brighter note, the first review of the book had appeared in Vox magazine – it was highly complementary as were further reviews in NME and Q. In mid-September I went on a book tour of radio stations to promote it. The last station we went to was BBC Radio Nottingham. To my surprise, John Bonham’s legendary roadie Mick Hinton was at the station. He had heard a trailer for the show and as he lived locally, decided to come and meet me. I had not seen or heard from him since about 1981 when I saw him in the Swan Song office. We did the interview together and afterwards, I told him of a plan I had to stage a Led Zeppelin Convention in London and invited him to be a guest speaker.

We kept in touch over the next few months. In the autumn of 1991, I met with Andy Adams – Andy was a massive Zep collector and enthusiast and had assisted greatly on the A Celebration book.

We drew up some ambitious plans to co-stage a Led Zeppelin Convention in London the following spring. We settled on running a two day event over the weekend of May 23 and 24 – coincidentally the 17th anniversary of the Earls Court shows. In early January 1992, we had a meeting at the London Royal National Hotel where at some vast expense, we booked that venue for the Convention.

The story of how we staged Celebration Days the 1992 Led Zeppelin UK Convention deserves a chapter of its own – and I will get to that subject in a futue TBL. Suffice to say, it was an incredible event with fans converging on the hotel from all parts of the globe. Financially, it was a bit of a disaster and we all ended up well out of pocket on it. We were very naive about a lot of the business dealings and one of them was the decision to invite Mick Hinton for the weekend as a guest speaker – and put him up in the hotel. There was absolutely nothing to complain about Mick’s performance in the role of guest speaker – the audience loved him. However, dealing with him was something of a nightmare. His bar bill was not inconsiderable and he was also unpleasantly demanding in some of his requests. Anyway, we got through it. I should have realised the writing was on the wall earlier in February when I went to interview him for TBL 7. By then I had decided to use the Convention platform to bring back the TBL magazine - yes, issue 7 was going to appear after an eleven year absence.

I based much of the content on it being an update to the A Celebration book. Reaction to the book had been very encouraging. I had a lot of correspondence about the text and it was evident that more information was surfacing about a variety of topics I had presented in the book. So began the task to update each chapter with the additional material I had now amassed. It was this text that formed the bulk of the pages that would evolve during early 1992 as TBL issue 7. Design wise, I went back to the crude but effective and cheap method of pasting it all up myself from pre typeset pages of text. I went back to Japycopy, the shop in town I had used to produce the early TBL issues. John Jones did the typesetting and the printing of the finished layout.

The updated A Celebration chapter text for issue 7 was complemented by a couple of key interviews. Both were from former members of the Zep road crew. First up was Mick Hinton. I travelled to Nottingham in February to interview him. During my time with him a fair few cans of Tenants extra strong lager went down during that interview.

So much so, that on the way back I slept though the Bedford stop and ended up in London! I have to say though, that Mr Hinton gave very good copy – his interview was most illuminating and set the tone for many subsequent interviews I would conduct for the TBL magazine.

Mick had also put me back in touch with Phil Carlo – Phil had been road manager for Bad Company and had worked on Zep’s Over Europe tour in 1980 where I first met him. He later worked with Jimmy in The Firm and Outrider era. I interviewed Phil on the phone in a lunch break at the Our Price record shop I managed – not the first or final instance of me using the shop as an additional TBL hub!

Phil also gave an excellent interview and Andy and I also arranged for him to be another guest speaker at the LZ Convention. By and large, that arrangement worked well.

There was one other major topic to feature in the magazine and that was an old TBL fall back – the subject of Led Zeppelin bootlegs. In 1992, we were in the burgeoning era of Led Zeppelin CD bootlegs.

The extended playing time offered by the CD format was a perfect vehicle to present Led Zep concerts on CD – often double or triple CD sets to capture the whole show. Record fairs in the early 90s were stacked with such items and of course your TBL editor soaked these up aplenty – oh yes! Over three pages in TBL 7, I summarised the Zep CD market as it stood then.

On the cover, under the grand heading “The return of the Led Zeppelin Magazine Special issue The sequel to the book Led Zeppelin a Celebration”, the seventh issue went to the printers – the colour cover image of an outtake photo from the Knebworth photo call was kindly supplied by Howard Mylett.

I produced this issue as a one off as I was unsure quite where the TBL mag might now stand in the scheme of things. I need not have worried – sales were good and the overall reaction was excellent.

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