One of the most popular Rock films of all time, Led Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains The Same” Premeired at Cinema I in New York on October 20, 2017.
Led Zeppelin had been planning a live film for a documentary since 1969. The band’s manager, Peter Grant, originally planned for a live film in 1970. The filming did happen, but the film was shelved after it was determined that the lighting was too poor.
Peter Grant would then sign a contract with director Joe Massot on the morning of July 20, 1973. The director who was already familiar with the band, had been rejected from filming a live film for the band multiple times. Grant changed his mind when he saw the massive success of the 1973 tour. Massot would then go on to film the band’s three performances at Madison Square Garden July 27-29.
Prior to the New York performances, the band was film exiting the starship and traveling to their concert in Pittsburgh, three days prior. The scene with the police chasing an intruder and Peter Grant putting down a promoter for receiving kickbacks were filmed in Baltimore on July 23rd. Some unused scenes that were shot in Baltimore and Pittsburgh later appeared on a promotional video for “Traveling Riverside Blues” in 1980.
During the band’s three performances in New York they wore the same clothes, except for John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page who switched their clothing during a concert. This led to an issue with the continuation of songs when Jones and Page were wearing different clothes. Jones said on this,”I’d think not to worry, I’ll save the shirt I wore the previous night for the next filming. Then what would happen is that I would get on stage and see the cameras ready to roll.”
The film also featured fantasy sequences with all the band members. Peter Grant and tour manager Richard Cole were seen as hitmen driving around England. John Paul Jones is seen recreating scenes from the film Doctor Syn. Robert Plant is seen as a knight rescuing a fair maiden. Jimmy Page is seen climbing up a snow-covered mountain in the middle of the night. John Bonham chose to simply be himself during the sequence and is shown drag racing around the UK at 260 MPH. The film also shows various scenes of the band relaxing at their homes with their wives.
The production of the film took over three years after the filming. They also decided to redo scenes from the filming in 1974. They set up a fake Madison Square Garden stage and showed close ups of the band members which took up a majority of the scenes in the film. John Paul Jones had to wear a wig during the filming because he had cut his hair after the original filming. The film was 18 months over scheduled and over budget.
The film grossed an estimated $10 million in 1977. The critics still gave the film a negative review as it was seen as average quality. Fans still loved the film as it was the only way to see documentation of the members of the band. The film was later re-issued in 2007 on DVD and featured all 15 songs from the filming.
Watch the band perform “Stairway To Heaven” during the filming below:
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