Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Led Zeppelin - Live in Seattle, '73 Tour

In 1999 the Anti-Piracy Unit of the British Phonographic Industry (that's the APU of the BPI to you and me) released a list of the most bootlegged rock recording artists. Led Zeppelin landed in the number one position with 384 titles. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan trailed behind with 320, 317, and 301 titles, respectively. I was surprised to see Prince next on the chart with 270 titles to his name ... whatever that name (or symbol) might be these days. This 1999 BBC News article notes that the bootleg chart was compiled by the BPI using their own archive of approximately 10,000 illegal recordings confiscated between about 1974 - 1999. Quite a nice record collection they've put together there!

According to another source (link at bottom of page) there are over 4,000 Led Zeppelin bootleg titles out there, spread across the vinyl, CD, and DVD formats! I guess the odds would have it that the first, and one of only two bootlegs I've found at the thrift store so far would be one of theirs. The other one being the previously posted Neil Young - Young Man's Fancy.

Hammer of the Managers
Apparently, even the determined efforts of (Led Zeppelin's notoriously aggressive manager) Peter Grant to squelch the bootleggers did little to stem the tide of illegal recordings of his band that flooded the market. Known to confiscate illicit Led Zeppelin albums he'd find in the English record shops, one well-known story has Grant, and Zeppelin's equally imposing tour manager Richard Cole, paying a little visit to a man who had just been named in a Melody Maker article as the distributor of a new double live Led Zeppelin bootleg. Grant put a closed sign on the unfortunate bootlegger's shop door while Cole threatened him with his life until he handed over his stock of prohibited Zeppelin LPs.

Richard Cole mentions in his book Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin Uncensored, that while on tour, they would often "rough up bootleggers when we caught them at work." A story documented both in Cole's book as well as in Stephen Davis' Hammer of the Gods - The Led Zeppelin Saga describes an incident in Vancouver during their fifth North American tour, when Peter Grant spotted a man in the audience blatantly wielding a large shotgun microphone attached to what looked like a sophisticated tape recorder. Grant pointed "that bastard" out to Cole, who stormed over with some roadies to confront the audacious bootlegger. It wasn't until after a physical assault and the smashing of expensive equipment that it was learned from a stagehand the man was actually a government official sent by the city to measure the decibel levels during the concert! Vancouver police arrived before the show ended, but luckily for Cole and crew, after they were questioned for an hour and agreed to pay for the recorder, the matter was dropped.

Tale of Two Bootleggers
This particular album was put out by the Trade Mark of Quality label. The owners of which are said to be the biggest bootleggers in music history and have been credited with kicking off the modern American bootlegging industry. Briefly, "TMQ" was started sometime around 1968-'69 by a couple of young guys in Los Angeles named Ken and Dub. Their first release, a collection of Bob Dylan songs known as Great White Wonder, is widely noted as the first significant rock bootleg and it swiftly got the pair up and running.

Using high quality materials such as colored, virgin vinyl and printed, color covers they earned a reputation as purveyors of fine unauthorized audio artifacts. However, the partnership ended after a few short years. Allegedly, Ken was fired by Dub's father who had now joined his son's lucrative venture. Dub kept the label going, continuing to use the realistic looking "farm style" pig logo while Ken started his own rival "Trade Mark of Quality" label with the cigar smoking "Pig Daddy" logo as seen on this Led Zeppelin cover insert.

With the help of someone at the pressing plant, Ken began copying all of his former partner's releases by routinely having his own set of vinyl stamping plates made from Dub's mother plates. Whenever the original TMQ label would put out something new, Ken's TMQ would follow with a less expensive duplicate release on black vinyl and with a cheaper cover.

Led Zeppelin - Live in Seattle, '73 Tour bootleg album track list
Definitely a no-frills affair, this particular two record set came in a generic, white, single slot cardboard jacket with a one color, plain paper cover insert (which had been sloppily Scotch taped onto the jacket at some point). The record labels are blank except for a small "SIDE ONE" / "SIDE TWO" etc... printed in plain text just below the spindle hole. Record one has an off-white label. Record two's label is a yellowish color. The matrix numbers stamped in the runoff groove areas match those in the listing for this album at the Discogs site and they are: Side 1: Z820-A / Side 2: Z820-B / Side 3: Z820-C / Side 4: Z820-D.

Further Reading

For a great, detailed list of Led Zeppelin bootlegs and lots of info about the labels and bootlegs in general, visit

See the book Bootleg! The Rise & Fall of the Secret Recording Industry by Clinton Heylin for additional info about the TMQ label and much more