The iconic Knebworth Festival, located Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, welcomed the sell-out two concerts headlined by Led Zeppelin in August 1979.
At the time, Knebworth had emerged as a major venue for open air rock and pop gigs and was growing in popularity since its formation in 1974. That said, even the festival’s vastly experienced veteran promoter Freddy Bannister couldn’t have predicted what was to come when he booked Led Zeppelin for the 1979 event.
The band, having not performed since the death of lead singer Robert Plant’s five-year-old son, Karac, who had died from a stomach virus two years earlier, marked their first show in the UK for four years with a headline slot at Knebworth.
With fans desperate to see Led Zeppelin once again, their manager, Peter Grant, decided that the band should perform at Knebworth instead of taking on the stresses of a lengthy tour. Marking their biggest event to date, the festival stumped up a sum of money for the band’s fee which was reportedly the largest ever paid to one single act at that time.
According to the official website of Knebworth House, the 1979 Knebworth Festival involved:
“The largest stage ever constructed, 570 loo seats, 750 feet of urinals and the biggest rock band in the world. Led Zeppelin played their last ever concerts (in the UK) at Knebworth, and it was the end of an era for the Knebworth shows. Both concerts overran, noise complaints were received from 7 miles away.”
Here, photographer Steve Vaughan was in attendance with his buddies and captured the even on film.
Armed with enough Newcastle Brown Ale to water a thirst mob and denim flares large enough to make a tent out of, Steve was able to capture the spirit of the event perfectly:
Led Zepplin’s set list for Knebworth:
‘The Song Remains the Same’
‘Celebration Day’ (Jones, Page, Plant)
‘Out on the Tiles’ (intro) (Bonham, Page, Plant) / “Black Dog” (Jones, Page, Plant)
‘Nobody’s Fault but Mine’
‘Over the Hills and Far Away’
‘Misty Mountain Hop’ (Jones, Page, Plant)
‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ (Jones, Page, Plant)
‘No Quarter’ (Jones, Page, Plant)
‘Ten Years Gone’
‘The Rain Song’
‘White Summer’ / “Black Mountain Side” (Page)
‘Kashmir’ (Bonham, Page, Plant)
‘Trampled Under Foot’ (Jones, Page, Plant)
‘Achilles Last Stand’
‘Page Solo’ (Page)
‘In the Evening’ (Jones, Page, Plant)
‘Stairway to Heaven’
‘Rock and Roll’ (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant)
‘Whole Lotta Love’ (Bonham, Dixon, Jones, Page, Plant)
‘Heartbreaker’ (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant)*