Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Led Zeppelin in Bombay, 1972. The 'Slip Disc' Photos.

The exact chronology of events isn't clear. What is known  is that by the end of October 1972, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of British rock band Led Zeppelin, who were not yet the legends that they were eventually going to be, along with their manager Richard Cole had one night walked into a small pub named  'Slip Disc' in Bombay  and before a dazed Indian audience gave an impromptu performance with support from local musicians. The re-telling by these local rock musicians was going to become the primary source of  this lesser known, lesser documented story involving one of the greatest rock band ever. [Check 'One Muggy Night in Mumbai ...'( Published in Times of India Pune, on 7th July, 2001 ) by Nandu Bhende, one of the musicians who performed with the band.]

All evidence suggests that this was in fact their third visit to the city. But for Indian fans of the band, it proved to be the most memorable event. With the easy on-line availability of the band's 'The Bombay Sessions' [ youtube search link], recorded with Indian classical musician during their third trip, there was a renewed interest in details of Led Zeppelin's Indian experience. Interestingly, there are Led Zep biographies out there that mistakenly claim that the tracks with 'Bombay Symphony Orchestra' were recoded in March (during their second trio. That ain't so. Also 'Bombay Symphony Orchestra' comprised of artists like young Ustad Sultan Khan went on to be quite famous in their own right and some were in fact musicians who worked on music for films from Bombay. There was no 'Bombay Symphony Orchestra'.

The two first visited Mumbai after winding up their Japan tour on September 29, 1971. A second visit followed in February 1972 after they were denied entry into Singapore (on account of their long hair) while on their Australia tour. So instead of Singapore they were walking down the roads of Bombay with a camera in hand [video link], capturing the sights (not the sound) of the city.

While on their third trip someday in October ( maybe on 16th) of 1972, staying at Taj Hotel whose discotheque called 'Blow Up' they didn't find to their liking, they decided to hit the town looking for the coolest joint. They found their way to 'Slip Disc', an establishment at Colaba owned by a man named Ramzan who was back them also known in the film circles. Initially, they did have some difficulty getting-in, no one recognized them, but once they did get in, and as the word spread through the city among the fans, the stage was set for an urban legend among Led Zeppelin fans.

The event was hardly covered by the local media. But the event was photographed, and some claim even an audio recording. But three decades later, it seemed, nothing remained. Even memories were getting hazy.

Six months ago, given the nature of my blog, I was contacted by a die-hard Led Zepplin fan who goes with with the name PlanetPage over at official Zep Forum. He had some queries about this legendary event and asked if I had anything on it. It seemed that the Led Zeppelin's night-out at Slip Disc had been captured on camera. There was one photograph available online, a scan uploaded by musician Madhu Dhas featuring Richard Cole, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and another Indian musician named Xerxes Gobhai (bassist for The Human Bondage) and some beer bottles. There was no other evidence. Little authentic information. Fading memories. Busy time-lines. Little responses. And News Journos [someone who was equally involved, his story].

Although I was able to provide little actual help, I found myself following the interesting quest, providing whatever little bits of information I could provide, following as I was curious about how information is created  in private space and distributed in public space. And I wanted to test how difficult a venture like this can be in India. It proved quite tough and frustrating.

All evidence about those photographs pointed to a publication known as Junior Statesman, Indian's first 'Youth Magazine' started started by Desmond Doig and published by The Statesman newspaper starting 1967 and having a run till late 70s. There was an issue of the magazine in  1972 that carried photographs of Led Zeppelin's India gig.

After exhausting all sources and coming up with nothing, PlanetPage went ahead and got in touch with the staff at Statesman who informed that they did have an archive of Junior Statesman. Three months after first hearing from them, and after getting a affirmative from them about existence of 'Slip Disc' snaps, and after negotiating a price, PlanetPage managed to get the elusive photographs which he generously shared with me.

From November 1972 issue of Junior Statesman, here is Led Zeppelin at 'Slip Disc', Bombay.





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 It must be mentioned that with time as Bombay changed, 'Slip Disc' went on to evolve into a seedy gay bar by the end of 80s. The article next to these photographs, along with an interview of the band in Bombay, ends with line which has a ring of truth even today:


"Led Zeppelin At Slip Disc" will not read as the gripping headlines of any newspaper nor will it generate any excitement for the underground heads in any other part of the world. But, it will remain, in a special corner of the minds of Zep and their audience-of-an-evening, truly as a happening - a deep, personal, re-affirmation of faith on music.

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Update: Here's the interview that they gave to the magazine in Bombay while on this trip:



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PlanetPage believes there's more to the story and that there ought to be more photographs, recordings, photographs of band's  stay at Taj. Any help is welcome.

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Update:


“Sitting outside a brothel in Bombay, during an air raid rehearsal in 1971, using basic recorders to tape street singers –that was what Led Zeppelin was for us. ”


Thanks to Beth came across this quote by Robert Plant published in Times of India dated December 1996 under the article 'The dinosaurs of Rock'. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were in India to attend Channel V Music awards.
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Update: Bombay through the camera of Jimmy Page

via JimmyPage.com (Thanks to PlanetPage!)
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21 comments:

  1. Oh my god! This was really amazing. Thanks for sharing. Now I guess India isn't a Led Zep-deprived country. But it also gets a bit obvious that they had to visit India at some point in their lives. The country was highly talked about back then. A part of the the hippie sub culture was derived from India. Although, their reasons for visiting the country must be highly varying.But they all wanted a piece of it, I surmise.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Absolutely...India was the place to be. The first step to Shambhala. I will update this post with the interview in which they do mention they reason for visit.

    ReplyDelete
  3. nice to see your blog with many color,, i like it,,

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  4. Thank you so much for this gem of a trivia! Its lovely how much trouble you went to, to procure this piece of information! Much thanks again!

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  5. Hi

    Thanks a million my friend,. I was in school those days and we came to know about their performance the next day in school from the guys who's cousins had witnessed the live show and we were burning with jealousy :-).
    Slip disc was extremely popular place along with not so famous disco called @ HELL Worli.
    Man, you brought back memories.

    Thanks once again
    Tom

    ReplyDelete
  6. Vinayak
    What I meant to type was a disco called Hell at Worli.
    Sorry for the typo error!

    ReplyDelete
  7. http://www.timeoutmumbai.net/music/music_details.asp?code=264&source=4

    Here's a link that will give the whole story behind the visit. I can vouch for it because I wrote it. :-)

    Sidharth@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Sidharth,
    I had already linked to your story in the post. And PlanetPage is still working on uncovering the entire story and we have in fact uncovered lot more stuff :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nissim (ex-Combustible)Aug 18, 2011, 7:43:00 AM

    Hi, Vinayak...

    This is incredible; I am Nissim, former rhythm guitarist for the Combustibles who was there on the second night that Plant and Page were at Slip Disc (they came,signed autographs, had many a beer but did not play that second night). Being with the Combustibles, we had played often at Blow Up and also at HELL which is referred to in the comments. My brother, David, played bass with the band (Synthesis) at Slip Disc that night, but Xerses from Human Bondage was the one who actually played with Plant and Page when they got on stage. Jamil Shaikh, drummer with Synthesis filled out the foursome on the incredible night in Bombay and Led Zep rock n roll history! Thanks again and would love to share more.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Nissim,
    it's a pleasure to hear from you.Thanks for all the info. on the events of that night. I think my friend PlanetPage (who actually dug put the photographs) would love to talk to you as he does have some more questions.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Nissim (ex-Combustible)Aug 19, 2011, 12:53:00 AM

    Hi there again, Vinayak: Great to hear back from you. If someone can let me know what might be a good email or phone to make contact on, would love to speak to PlanetPage. Among other things, the famous Slip Disc episode resulted in an incredible meeting I had with both Plant and Page in Sydney, Australia in 1994 December and a backstage pass to meet them in Washington DC when they performed there in March 1995 (along with a great photo with Robert!!). They both very much remembered that incredible night in Bombay, and Robert was particularly gracious with his time and memories. So, if a contact email or phone could be established, would love to follow up further. PS...JS Magazine carries many fond memories due to the number of times The Combustibles featured in it too! Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  12. PlanetPage emailed Joe Ezekiel recently you can get his email from him. He is really hoping to find more stories, photographs of this episode.

    Or you may write to me and I will put you guys in touch. You can find my mail id here.

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Keith and I were childhood friends for many years we both stayed at Khatau Bhuvan that later was called Jony Castle.. I was close to Keiths mom she diedsoonafter her husband Dossbhai Kanga , so a parentless child was bought yo by his grandmother Granna as we called her , she was a Jheovahs Witness , Keith got into Music and was the pioneer of Rock.. I was not into music but we kept in touch I later came to know he died and I have written a few blogs at my Flickr photostream..
    May His Soul Rest In Peace

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks Firoze! I did come across your Flickr posts while working in this.

    ReplyDelete
  15. My God.India has experienced the Gods.No words to describe what I feel now.Little jealous but that's it.Never ever in my life I have read a post on Internet with such interest and happiness.You people are so so lucky.God bless you all for sharing the event of a lifetime in you life.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Namskar, Hello; I thank you all that you enjoyed the rare glimpses of Led Zeppelin in Bombay. In addition to here with Vinayak Razdan, I posted these pictures at Lezeppelin.Com with utmost respect to Led Zeppelin and India. India is no stranger to Led Zeppelin, as their musical/cultural ties to our Land is deeply profound throughout their legendary career. Legendary Founder of Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page has travelled to India at least 5 times, including Nepal in that last decade-Publicly acknowledged visits by him...

    In the spirit of my cultural roots in the 70's I dedicate this post to my favorite Music Composers Sri Laxmicant and Sri Pyrelal Ji, and R. D. Burman Sahib. It is their music on the streets that reminds me of Led Zeppelin in Bombay in the 70's to date. Jimmy Page has captured photos of film posters/billboards associated with these Legendary Composers in his personal collection...right out of streets of Bombay..

    James Patrick Page has recenlty recalled many such memories of India through his personal archival collection via his Official Site JimmyPage.Com.

    Here are the links of visuals shared by the Legendary James Patrick Page while he visited India through his legendary career. (I hope these links work for you). JimmyPage.Com will also be respeating these entries this year again, so please log on to His Official Site everday WWW.JimmyPage.Com (new entry every day)

    http://jimmypage-onthisday.tumblr.com/post/16999697777/4-feb-1967-image

    http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/jimmy-page?before=1329447024

    http://jimmypage-onthisday.tumblr.com/post/13522791643/30-nov-1996-video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wl6wqtI1T_Q
    http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/jimmy-page?before=1329093545

    To date, there remains a lost audio tape of this Jam at Slip Disc. I would say that at least one Tape of Beatles Original Tape was discovered recently after 50 years, sitting in a cellar. I suspect the Lost Led Zeppelin Tape from Slip Disc'72 resides closely with musicians of that era and locality. Perhaps someone has old tapes and not know it. It will be priceless addition to LedZeppelin.Com which hosts all rare archival material of Led Zeppelin with sincerest respect and acknowledgment to all sources.

    God Bless and I thank you to those who appreciated my challenging emails/requests, I think it was well worth it. We have now at least accurately documented the visit to be Oct. 1972.

    Peace and Happiness to All

    Very Special Thanks to V. Razdan for hosting these photos and kind responses to my emails and all the fans here alike.

    PlanetPage
    LZ.Com Member



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was there that night. And had the privelege to sing for Plant and Page. Plant is using my pre-historic Ahuja mike in the photograph displayed on this page. Well, the tape was recorded by Arul my friend (DJ then at Slip Disc) It was in our Bass Player
      Keith's possession for a few years and we played it out quite a few times. After the original Atomic Forest split up, I lost touch with founding members and know that Keith passed on in the late 80s. The tape is lost for certain.
      Madhu (aka Madooo)
      If you have the time, please check out some of my reviews about my earlier life & career in India.
      Madhu's Psychedelicbaby interview covers the Led Zeppelin experience:
      http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2012/09/atomic-forest-interview-with-madhukar.html
      Link to Madhu's interview from UK interview also covers the Led Zeppelin experience:
      http://thequietus.com/articles/08236-atomic-forest-interview
      Seventies Obsession: Mumbai’s Atomic Forest And The Original Hipster
      Era:
      http://rollingstoneindia.com/features/seventies-obsession-mumbais-atomic-forest-and-the-original-hipster-era
      Much success to you all!
      Peace!!
      Madhu (aka Madooo)
      If you get some time, pls do check out my FB pages too:
      http://www.facebook.com/madhu.dhas

      Delete
  17. Thanks for this vintage information and photos of an era and memory that has disappeared in 21st century Mumbai. Had attended the "Zeppelicaine" rock concert at "Hard Rock Cafe" in Mumbai on thursday(31-1-2013).It was a tribute concert to the songs of Led Zeppelin and hence i researched the "Internet" and came across this interesting blog.Check my blog :-http://my.opera.com/mittoo/blog/2013/02/01/lower-parel-in-mumbai-view-of-twin-faces-of-mumbai-s-lifestyle

    ReplyDelete
  18. wow... Its quiet a revelation for me.. I have been watching teh 70s show and Led zeppelin is all over it.. love ur blog.. keep enlightening us.

    Btw where do u get such brilliant ideas to blog about

    ReplyDelete
  19. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhM-nc5H61U
    this might be the absconding recording of their visit

    ReplyDelete

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