Hats Off to Led Zeppelin return to Shoreham to play the Shoreham Centre on April 20, promising a night of classic rock.
It’s 50 years since the members of Led Zeppeliln first got together in a small room in London’s Gerrard Street. Their first album was recorded in nine days and released in January the following year.
To mark this event, Hats Off to Led Zeppelin are embarking on their biggest tour yet.
Hats Off to Led Zeppelin are in their ninth year on the road, having offered concerts from London to Singapore and won glowing endorsements from Led Zeppelin’s tour manager Richard Cole.
It started as just a group of mates together and then snowballed, as band co-founder Kevin Oliver Jones explains.
He reckons it was the organic way they developed which has been a big reason for their success.
“We all come from a theatre background, and we set this up as something that we would do as a bit of fun, nothing heavy, just something for gigs in pubs and clubs in between theatre jobs.
“But as soon as we started, we realised it was more fun than anything else. It turned into what we now do day in day out, and I think it shows, that we are doing it because we love it.
“We didn’t have any contrived effort to put a tribute band together. It was just a bit of fun, but it was ridiculous how quickly it took off.
“Three of us were doing panto at Basildon, and we asked the theatre if we could do a gig there because the theatre did that sort of thing. And then we did another, and so we were doing the theatres. It was very, very quick.
“And I think it was because we didn’t approach it as who are we going to be, who are we going to make money out of. It was just four people at the right time, all with a love of Led Zeppelin.
“My parents were never really into rock ‘n’ roll. They lived through the 60s and 70s and never really picked up on it.
“They were more into musical theatre. I suppose I discovered it in my teens. People were listening to Bon Jovi, and then people said ‘No, you should be listening to Led Zeppelin’, and I was listening to Led Zeppelin II, III and IV constantly for the next several years.
“It was the song-writing that was so varied. Led Zeppelin also had a bit of prog rock about them. The production seemed to be from the drums up. It was a totally-new sound.”
As Kevin says, if you listen to the music of the era, there was good stuff around, but there were also plenty of crooners – and things needed a shift. It was Led Zeppelin who came along and gave it the shift it needed.
“They were in the right place at the right time, but they didn’t just last one album. They had the talent to back it up, and like bands in those days, they just gigged and gigged and gigged.
“They didn’t give their tickets away, but they made them as cheap as they could. They were doing it for the people.”
They folded after the death of their drummer in 1980, but have undoubtedly stood the test of time.
“Just think of the fact that we are still talking about them now. I don’t think we will be talking about One Direction in 36 years’ time!”
Sadly, Kevin never did get to see the originals: “Their last gig in this country would have been Knebworth in 1979. I would have been five!
“But we try to capture what they did.”
For other stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2