Led Zeppelin’s September 4, 1970 concert at the LA Forum is one of the group’s most famous concerts, thanks to the Live on Blueberry Hill LP that is widely credited as one of the first rock bootlegs. But footage from the show wasn’t seen until earlier this week when seven tantalizing minutes hit YouTube. Check it out right here.
The footage was shot by a fan named Eddie Vincent, who snuck a Kodak Brownie 8mm camera into the arena. “When my friends and I got to the Forum, I tucked it under my jacket,” Vincent says in the introduction to the video. “There weren’t any problems at the door back in those days. The seats were excellent, first row behind the stage. We were behind John Bonham’s gong, so you couldn’t really see him much, but the sound was great.”
The wind-up camera could only film for 30 seconds at a time, and he kept it off most of the night, but he did manage to capture snippets of “What is and What Should Never Be,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Thank You,” and several other tunes.
“During the acoustic set, John ducked behind the gong to grab a cigarette and very graciously acknowledged our slavish praise,” Vincent said. “He even posed twice for my still camera, and both times the flash failed to go off. Those pictures came out worthless, unfortunately. But a few others, along with that 8 mm film, survived.”
Vincent recently unearthed his footage and sent it over to fellow Zeppelin fan John Waters, who paired it with audio from Live on Blueberry Hill and put it on YouTube. “The music needs to be out there,” he told Classic Rock. “I know a lot of collectors and traders that don’t give their stuff away, and that’s a shame to me. Music’s to be shared, and today you need it to get away from the crazy world. And if this film brings a lot of people happiness, hey, we did a good job.”
Led Zeppelin filmed very few of their concerts due to concerns the footage might fall into the hands of bootleggers. In 2003, the band combed through what little live footage does exist for a Led Zeppelin DVD, and they relied on some fan bootlegs to fill in the gaps. If they ever get around to an updated edition, Vincent might get the chance to share his film with an even wider audience.
His story is a reminder that dusty canisters of film in attics and garages might contain amazing gems that need to be shared. “Old concert film is important and must be preserved!” Waters wrote on YouTube. “If you shot film in the past, traded and collected reels or just bought them from the classifieds of rock magazines in the 70s and 80s, its important we save these. Please contact me if you have any rock music on film.”