Concert Dates :: Robert Plant
||October 0, 1972
||Colaba, Bombay, India
||Slip Disc Club
|One afternoon, in the winter of 1972, I got a call from an excited Ramzan, the owner of Slip Disc, the happening discotheque and live band show place of our time. He told me that Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin were in town and are to visit the Slip Disc and perform that evening so please get there as early as I could. If only you could imagine the excitement and turmoil that took place for the next few hours in the life of this fledging young Rock singer! A hundred telephone calls later I was on my way to distant Colaba from our bungalow in Chembur and reached the Slip Disc to find it almost full. And this was a good four hours before their scheduled arrival! Good news sure travels fast and as we waited for the arrival of our Rock Icons, we prepared for their performance with a last minute check on the music equipment available. Those were the tough days of import control and we had really poor stuff that was scrounged and smuggled with the help of relatives from abroad and rich benefactors. We were hoping that this would not mar the enthusiasm of the Rock Superstars who were used to the very best!
As the next few hours slowly crawled and H hour arrived, the Slip Disc began to burst at the seams and the crowd was getting difficult to manage, It was weird seeing a discotheque with no music playing, filled to capacity with people just waiting for the stars to arrive and the excitement levels were at danger levels. We received minute-by-minute information about the progress of their arrival from the Taj Mahal Hotel where the duo was staying. Fortunately it was just a hop skip and a jump away and Ramzan was in their room waiting to escort them to his noisy club on Bombay's waterfront. Just as it seemed that the wait was getting unbearable, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page made their entrance into the discotheque to the spontaneous applause of their crazy fans myself included.
The next hour was like a blur to me especially after all these years, as just too much seemed to be happening. As Robert and Jimmy were busy signing autographs for the crowd that descended on them, for a brief instance, I could not help but feel a sense of disappointment on seeing my idols in person. I had imagined a very strong male and macho presence especially from the tall Plant and their music exuded such incredible energy, yet both of them were so soft-spoken and almost effeminate in their behavior! Their apparent frail exteriors made me more aware of the thousands of misconceptions that we must have been carrying around with us. Don?t forget we did not have television at that time and we were always craving for information. We only had their music to inspire us and we were using our imagination to carve out the entire personas of our idols!
Soon these thoughts were out of my mind as it was time for the duo to perform. It had been decided that Xerxes Gobhai, the talented bassist from the Human Bondage and Jameel Shaikh, the drummer from my band would back them but nobody had any idea what they would perform. There was just no time to get into any details, as anything would do for us music-starved fans and before we knew it, Led Zeppelin, Bombay style were announced to the audience. Jimmy and Plant got into the groove from the word go as they launched into Rock and Roll, the hit from Led Zep 4 and the audience went wild! They followed that with an extended blues where their stay in Bombay seemed to feature a lot. Black Dog followed and before we knew it was all over. They must have been on stage for a maximum of 25 minutes and we savored every second of that. At that time, Led Zeppelin were on top of the charts and it was a great opportunity for us to see at least two of them perform live in Bombay and they were just a few feet away!
In later years, the story of the Plant/Page visit took on an unbelievable aura around it and everybody seemed to have different recollections of that night? myself included. But I guess that is what legends are made of. Today it even seems ridiculous as it to how much hysteria a couple of Rock Stars could generate! Yet this was the barometer with which you could judge the passion with which we loved our music. Please, keep the fire burning and Rock on!
Nandu Bhende (Thanks to PlanetPage)
Amanda Barokh: I'd love to know more about the Mumbai nightclub scene. Tell us some tales from your days at the Slip-Disc and Blow Up. Led Zeppelin visited Slip-Disc. Did you jam with them?
Madhukar Dhas: Slip-Disc was a very small venue, about thirty feet deep by eighteen feet wide. No tables, nothing. The ceiling height might have been about fourteen feet maybe. I used to climb on the speakers, touch the ceiling and jump off the top of them. The atmosphere was always very dark with psychedelic lava lamps, strobes and UV lights. The ideal place for teenagers to come in and neck as much as they wanted without being recognized.
I was at Slip-Disc one evening, just hanging out. I was not on contract to perform there. It was nothing out of the ordinary until three gentlemen walked in. Some of their faces seemed unbelievably familiar. It was Robert Plant and Jimmy Page and another guy who I later learnt was Richard Cole.
Ramzan [owner of Slip-Disc] was one of the shrewdest businessmen I knew. But he had no clue who Led Zep were. I can recall him snapping his fingers at Jimmy and calling him Plant. "Come on Plant, Plant, Plant, have another drink.? The beer was pretty bad. It was called "Bombay Beer", when you opened a bottle it had no head. It looked more like soap bubbles. Nevertheless Plant and Page had quite a few and got tipsy.
I was commanded by Ramzan to go and talk to them. My feet were colder than ice but I did it. I looked like a total geek. I was introduced to Plant as India's No. 1 rock singer. Plant asked me. "What kind of music do you do?" And I went,"Hummana... hummanaa... hummanaaa... we try to copy you." Clearly Plant was not impressed. His next question to me was, "Where are the chicks man?" I promised that a few would show.
Ramzan's next command to me was, "Sing."
Not being under contract, and also with such cold feet, I refused. He dug his fingers into my left ribs, commanding me, "Go sing, you bastard!" And I did. I sang ?Honky Tonk Women'. Robert Plant was sittings about ten feet away from me. When I was done, he gave me a thumbs-up. That image is forever etched in my mind and perhaps why I will never stop singing.
I have a faint feeling I enthused Plant and Page to get up and jam with the band after my cover rendition. Plant went into a wild ad-lib and after a ten-minute ramble, went into ?Whole Lotta Love'. Jamal who was drumming and Xerxes were very familiar with the song and did a great job backing them. Keith Kanga's rented equipment was very inadequate for the power of the Zep. Richard Cole fed one amp into another and managed to get a pretty good sound. I used a guitar amp to sing through, a Fender Super-Reverb and my mic was Indian made and had to be screwed on to the stand. Not the kind where one could whisk the hand-held off the stand. Towards the end of that song, Plant tried to do so and realized it was screwed on and began to spin it off the stand, wrapping the mike cord around the stand. The soldering broke loose and just as he was doing his famous "Loooooooooooooooooove" it started cutting off. I wish I could vocally express how it went, but in type, more like "Looo uu..ooo...uuuu...oooove" I went to his rescue and held the mic wire to the mike to keep it from cutting out. I was shoulder to shoulder with Plant and wished someone had taken a photograph. I even tried to get the attention of the photographer, but he was looking the other way.
The evening ended weirdly. I think Plant and Page had quite a bit of booze. This also ended my 'hero-worshipping' them. They went upstairs to a whore-joint where then you could get a dozen women for a few bucks. I waited outside for a few hours. Richard was talking to me. I was asking him if they would ever consider playing in India. His answer to me was, "Fuck man, the Government of India cannot afford us." I felt let down and went home because I also had to be at work at my advertising job in four hours.
The next night Rumzan capitalized on the incident. Slip-Disc was packed to capacity and beyond. Plant and Page had promised to show and eventually did but I think they were hugely disappointed. The first night was so tranquil and innocent. The second night was a fiasco. Girls were trying to sit next to them. I remember Plant shoving a few off his row. Plant threw a glass of beer into a photographer's camera and both of them left in a huff.
(Thanks to kenog)
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