Astonishing high quality film of Led Zeppelin at the Bath Festival has surfaced

Robert Plant singing at the Bath Festival
(Image credit: ledzepfilm)

Less than a month after seven minutes of footage of Led Zeppelin at the Inglewood Forum in Los Angeles in 1970 found its way onto YouTube, a significant archive of pro-shot, close-up film of the band shot at the Bath Festival the same year has emerged.

The footage, which has appeared on the ledzepfilm YouTube account,  was shot on June 28, 1970, at the Bath & West Showground in Shepton Mallet, where Led Zeppelin joined a weekend lineup that also featured Canned Heat, Steppenwolf, Pink Floyd, Johnny Winter, Fairport Convention, Jefferson Airplane, Frank Zappa, the Moody Blues, The Byrds, Santana, Dr John and many more.

In 2017, Professor Steve Chibnall from De Montfort University in Leicester claimed that up to 30 minutes of official footage of Led Zeppelin's show – shot by director Peter Whitehead, who also filmed the Rolling Stones tour documentary Charlie Is My Darling – was in storage, and it's that film which has now emerged online. 

"When Led Zeppelin played, they played in the dark and there was insufficient stage lighting for his cameras," Chibnall told Tight But Loose Editor Dave Lewis during a panel discussion at London's Royal Albert Hall. "So he reckoned that the footage, the live footage, was not usable. It is usable because, I mean, it can be, it can be restored now. So you can raise those lighting levels, you can see more digitally."

The same year, Chibnall told Classic Rock, "What we need to do now is talk to Zeppelin’s management, find out who owns the copyright, and see if we can work on this, improve it and get it realised in time for the 50th anniversary of the festival. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?”

Of the footage uploaded to YouTube, one ten minute segment was synced to audience recordings of the show, while the remaining 16mm footage is silent, and includes clips shot backstage as well as onstage. [Update: the synced footage was removed from YouTube after a copyright claim by archive film agency Kinolibrary). 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.