Friday, November 2, 2007

Not made for TV

On this day in 1976, British television's Old Grey Whistle Test aired two segments with Led Zeppelin, notably including a rare interview of the group's manager, Peter Grant.

That show also broadcast a clip from Zep's newly opened film, The Song Remains the Same: Jimmy Page's live violin bow sequence from "Dazed and Confused."

Ironically, the topic Grant discussed in his interview was his opinion that the magic Led Zeppelin produced onstage could not be captured on a 26-inch television screen.

In the interview, which will appear on the re-release of The Song Remains the Same to be issued in less than two weeks, Grant is sporting a T-shirt with the message, "In for a Quick Garden." He is accompanied by Robert Plant, and the two are interviewed on a boat on the River Thames.

The man asking the questions was not the regular Old Grey Whistle Test presenter "Whispering" Bob Harris. At the last minute, the host had contracted a throat infection and had to be replaced. There was no way to reschedule this exclusive interview; the alternative was canceling it altogether, which wasn't preferable.

"'Whispering' Bob [be]came 'Totally Inaudible' Bob," said Mike Appleton, founding producer of Old Grey Whistle Test, in 2001. "The only time that [the interview] could be done was at a specific time and a specific date. So, I had to go and do it." It marked Appleton's second onscreen appearance in the five years of the show's history.

Even though Led Zeppelin was not made for TV, modern technology is today giving the band a new life in living rooms and home theaters. The Song Remains the Same is set to be released on DVD with 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound this month (Nov. 19 in United Kingdom and Nov. 20 in United States) and additionally, next month, on HD-DVD and Blu-Ray.

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