Saturday, September 5, 2009

First of 22 for Larry

On this day in 1971, photographer Larry Ratner attended Led Zeppelin's performance at the International Amphitheater in Chicago. It was the first of 22 times he saw Led Zeppelin perform live -- more, he says, than any other photographer.

But Ratner wasn't snapping pictures that day. Instead, what he saw onstage inspired him to shoot some pictures the next time Zeppelin returned. He explained in an interview with Lemon Squeezings last month:

"I had been working for a company where most of my duties were working in modeling schools with young ladies, taking their photos, and I found that to be, um, very interesting and very fulfilling.

"Some friends of mine turned me on to Led Zeppelin, and the first time we went to see them, September of '71 at the International Amphitheater in Chicago, I was pretty amazed at the show. And I said to myself that I wanted to make a serious point of capturing this on film as far as still photos. I wanted to use whatever photographic skills I had to try to capture something special because the experience stayed with me so long and had such an impact, I said, 'If I can do this just from my memory, what can I do with an actual film record of it?'

"... I was at 22 shows. I've only met one person, outside of any member of the band, who's ever saw Led Zeppelin saw more times than that as Led Zeppelin. He was a gentleman whose name was Caesar. He was an artist who was actually friends with Robert. He had been to over 50 Led Zeppelin shows."

1 comment:

  1. Larry wrote me an e-mail adding to his recollections:

    "I'm recalling a few interesting facts about the September 5 Chicago show.

    "It was REALLY loud. I was sitting around 10th row on the floor on Jimmy's side. He was hunched over most of the time, and with his hair and beard, you couldn't see his face most of the time. Robert, on the other hand, was a total live wire. He was almost 'flying' around the stage. Pure energy.

    "The sound sucked, but that was the International Amphitheater, which was built for cattle shows. In those days, the way that bands tried to compensate for the poor acoustics was to play even louder to drown out the echoes. The result was even more echoes. Not to mention that your ears would ring for at least three or four days afterward. We're all lucky we have any hearing left.

    "One of the most memorable moments was during Whole Lotta Love. Some really freaky chick managed to get up on stage, with her halter top falling off. She was dancing around the stage, clearly 'influenced' by some fun substances. Rather than toss her off the stage, Robert seized the moment, and engaged in dancing with her. It got pretty crazy, and almost obscene at moments, on both of their parts.

    "When I think about it, there are some photos of that! I'm gonna have to remember really hard who had them, but they were simply snapshots. I do remember seeing that girl in some of the shots. Crazy stuff.

    "Those were the daze!"


Users agree to avoid posting profanity and defamatory comments.