Time flies when you're having fun edging closer and closer to Death! Can you believe that The Song Remains The Same was filmed at Madison Square Garden forty years ago this July? While I wasn't born yet, my dad was at one of the shows, and when I was younger we'd try to find him in the audience while watching the VHS tape. So I am like, two degrees away from the classic Led Zeppelin concert. But enough about me and my achievements, let's learn some fun facts about the Greatest Rock Band In History from their time in New York that year.
- A few years before they played three sold out nights at Madison Square Garden for the filming of the rock doc, Led Zeppelin was playing the much smaller Fillmore East, opening for Iron Butterfly.
- The Song Remains The Same was filmed over three nights at Madison Square Garden, July 27th through 29th. However, additional footage was later shot at Shepperton Studios "due to cameramen's unacceptable work at the concerts."
- Before the final performance at the venue, $180,000 of the band's money was stolen from a safe deposit box at the Drake Hotel on Park Avenue.
- The money was never recovered and the identity of the thief has never been discovered. This is manager Peter Grant discussing the incident:
- And this is a photo of Robert Plant and road manager Richard Cole taken on the band's private jet, departing New York City on July 30th, 1973.
- That jet was a former United Airlines Boeing 720 dubbed “The Starship."
- The plane featured the band's name emblazoned on the exterior, and inside: swivel chairs, a bar, a 3/4” Sony U-matic videocassette player and TV, the above pictured master bedroom, shag carpeting, two stewardesses, and a Hammond organ built into the bar...
- It cost $2500 an hour to run.
- According to Peter Grant, at one point drummer John Bonham sat in the co-pilot's seat and assisted in flying the plane from New York to Los Angeles.
- One year before the film's release, the band put out Physical Graffiti—and that album cover features a shot of two buildings on St. Mark's Place. Learn more about it here.
- Back to The Song Remains the Same—its premiere was in New York City in October 1976.
- For that premiere (which the band was in attendance for), Cinema I was equipped with a quadrophonic sound system.
- Among the celebrity guests: Mick Jagger, Carly Simon and Roberta Flack.
- An afterparty was held at the Hotel Pierre with $25,000 raised for the Save the Children Fund charity.
- Though the film performed well at the box office (grossing an estimated $10 million by 1977) and has become a cult classic since, the critics panned it in '76.
- Amongst its critics were the band members themselves— in 1976 Jimmy Page said it was "not a great film, but there's no point in making excuses. It's just a reasonably honest statement of where we were at that particular time." Robert Plant called it "a load of bollocks," and John Paul Jones said it was "a massive compromise."
But we still love it: