Since 1978 my friend Dave Lewis has been documenting the careers of Led Zeppelin and its individual members with diligence and fortitude that borders on the psychotic in a high-end fanzine called Tight But Loose, TBL for short, that he publishes quarterly from his home in Bedford. By and large his endeavours have been supported by the group, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones, not to mention the family of John Bonham, all of whom have come to the sensible conclusion that he has their best interests at heart and that his continued support for all things Zep can only benefit their cause, both collectively and individually.
Interviews with Robert and John Paul have appeared in TBL over the years, and in 1993 he even managed to snag former manager Peter Grant, but Jimmy had proved elusive until, that is, last month when the Dark Lord of the Strings was doing a series of interviews to promote the trade edition of Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page, his book of personally-selected photographs, and the upgraded re-issues of the Zep albums Led Zeppelin IV and Houses Of The Holy. So it was no doubt with a spring in his step and joy in his heart that Dave made his way last month to the Kensington Hotel where the interviews were taking place. Dave was on Jimmy’s schedule. TBL had finally found the Holy Grail, and it is to the Holy Grail’s enormous credit that he has finally acknowledged Dave’s dogged persistence and long term encouragement in this way.
There are two types of fanzines, the most common being those that have zero interaction with the focus of their fandom and act merely as a forum for fans to air their views, share their memories and experiences, or simply make contact with one another. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but far more interesting, albeit considerably less common, are those like TBL that attract the patronage of the subject and in this day and age, when the internet is rapidly destroying the printed media, I – and evidently Jimmy Page – believe they deserve all the support they can get. TBL reaches out to over 36 countries and although the circulation is only just under 1,000, every single one of that number loves their Led Zeppelin and will still love them even if the sun refused to shine.
I’ve known Dave Lewis for about three decades now. Since being made redundant five years ago from the record retail business – he managed Bedford’s Our Price shop for many years – he has given himself over to full time Led Zep chronicling, thus becoming the world’s only fully professional Led Zeppelin archivist. He has written several books on the group, some of them published by Omnibus, some privately and sold through TBL. His first, published in 1983, was called The Final Acclaim, a title that always seemed a little premature to me bearing in mind the acclaim that continues to rain down on Led Zep, not least from TBL itself. I’ve written the odd article for TBL myself, most recently defending myself against Led Zep’s notorious press-bashing, but I think that’s all forgotten now.
This morning I received the latest issue of TBL with Dave’s much-prized interview with Jimmy which I’ll settle down to read when I get home tonight. I strongly suspect it’ll be the most interesting of all the many interviews JP has given recently, because no one – and I mean absolutely no one in the world – will have done their research better than TBL’s editor and publisher. If there’s any Zep fans out there reading Just Backdated and haven’t cottoned on to Tight But Loose, here the website: http://www.tightbutloose.co.uk/