"Jimmy's very lucky to be even playing tonight": Watch an ailing Jimmy Page lead Led Zeppelin through a truncated show as unseen live footage emerges

Jimmy Page onstage in Chicago
(Image credit: Speedy's Films)

Last week nearly an hour of previously unseen live footage of Led Zeppelin performing live in Montreal in 1975 appeared online. Now the same source has delivered another 25 minutes of film, this time from a controversial Led Zeppelin show two years later in Chicago. 

The footage comes from the third night of four Zeppelin played at the 18,000-capacity Chicago Stadium in early April 1977. The band had based themselves in the city for the North American tour, flying out to shows in other cities and returning "home" after.

"It was easier to leave at three or four in the afternoon, go to our plane and fly straight into the city we were performing in, leave straight afterwards and go back to Chicago,” said tour manager Richard Cole. 

On April 9 there is no flight. Just a 20-minute ride from the band's base at the Ambassador East Hotel to the venue. One problem? Jimmy Page is sick, with what production manager Jack Calmes describes as the "rockin’ pneumonia". It's a description that covers a multitude of possibilities, but, either way, Page struggles, and the band curtail the set after just six songs: The Song Remains the Same, Sick Again, Nobody's Fault but Mine, Since I've Been Loving You, No Quarter and Ten Years Gone.

The 8mm footage, which captures the drama as it unfolds, comes – like the Montreal footage – from the archive of late photographer Jim Kelly, a.k.a. Speedy, and shows Page suffering (the solo on Ten Years Gone is truly not his finest work) before Robert Plant eventually calls for a pause. 

"So we're going to take a necessary five-minute break," Plant tells the crowd. "You must bear with us, because Jimmy's very lucky to be even playing tonight. OK? Will you give us five minutes, please?"

They wouldn't return to the stage until the following night. 

Like the Montreal footage, the Montreal film was transferred to digital by the Genesis Museum. Subsequently, further work was carried out by three names familiar to the Led Zeppelin collector's community: Production by ikhnaton, film restoration by Etienne, and syncing to audio by YouTuber LedZepFilm.    

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.