Skip to main content

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.

 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.

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

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.



“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.
Update: Bombay through the camera of Jimmy Page

via (Thanks to PlanetPage!)


  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.

  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.

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

  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!

  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

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


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

  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 :)

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.


  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

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

  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.

  16. 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 :-

  17. 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:
    Link to Madhu's interview from UK interview also covers the Led Zeppelin experience:
    Seventies Obsession: Mumbai’s Atomic Forest And The Original Hipster
    Much success to you all!
    Madhu (aka Madooo)
    If you get some time, pls do check out my FB pages too:

  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

    this might be the absconding recording of their visit


Post a Comment

I always like to hear back :)
However, irrelevant comments and irrelevant links will not be published. Needless to say, same goes for abusive comment and spam. Leaving back links related to the topic is encouraged. I know it can be tempting but try not to leave your email ids, phone nos and CVs in the comment.

Popular posts from this blog

Famous Old Faces of Doordarshan

Some people recall the faces and some people recall the names. Here are images of some of the famous readers and presenters of Doordarshan down the years. If you recognize any of them, leave a comment. [ Update 1 : Most of the faces now have names thanks to helpful comments by olio-gallimaufry ] [ Update 2 : Included image of one of the earliest presenters, Gopal Kaul. Send in generously from personal collection by son, Ashutosh Kaul. Sept, 2010.] [ Major Update 3: Got a tip-off about a documentary about the famous faces of Doordarshan from the makers   of     “The Golden Trail , DD@50 :Special feature on Golden Jubilee of Doordarshan ” from which these caps were taken. I managed to catch the incredible documentary and am adding some more faces/name and part of the docu here. New ones can be found after the image of  Narotam Puri. 30th Oct, 2010]  Pratima Puri. Believed to be the first Doordarshan reader.

Indian Cigarette Vintage Ads

He put a cigarette in his mouth and, as a matter of silent routine, offered one to Gwyn, who said ‘No thanks.”Richard looked at him.”I packed it in.”"You what?”"I stopped. Three days ago. Cold. That’s it. You just make the life choice.” Richard looked up and inhaled needfully. He gazed at his cigarette. He didn’t really want to smoke it. He wanted to eat it. Almost the only thing that he still liked about Gwyn was that he still smoked…Paradoxically, he no longer wanted to give up smoking: what he wanted to do was take up smoking. Not so much to fill the little gaps between cigarettes with cigarettes (there wouldn’t be time, anyway) or to smoke two cigarettes at once. It was more that he felt the desire to smoke a cigarette even when he was smoking a cigarette. The need was and wasn’t being met… While it would always be true and fair to say that Richard felt like a cigarette, it would now be doubly true and fair to say it. He felt like a cigarette. And he felt like a cig

Woman by Arun Kolatkar

a woman may collect cats read thrillers her insomnia may seep through the great walls of history a lizard may paralyze her a sewing machine may bend her moonlight may intercept the bangle circling her wrist a woman my name her cats the circulating library may lend her new thrillers a spiked man may impale her a woman may add a new recipe to her scrapbook judiciously distilling her whimper the city lights may declare it null and void in a prodigious weather above a darkling woman surgeons may shoot up and explode in a weather fraught with forceps woman may damn man a woman may shave her legs regularly a woman may take up landscape painting a woman may poison twenty three cockroaches - a poem by Arun Kolatkar from year 1967. Translated by Adil Jussawalla. Found it in New Writing in India (1974) ed. by Adil Jussawalla.