Led Zeppelin once released a song on K-Tel: the result was one of the great all-star photos

Dire Straits, Thin Lizzy, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company and Electric Light Orchestra at the launch of The Summit
(Image credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

It's quite the photograph. Robert Plant. Eric Clapton. Phil Lynott. Mark Knopfler. Members of Bad Company and Electric Light Orchestra. And they've all gathered together to celebrate the release of The Summit, a compilation released on the most famously budget of all budget labels, K-Tel.

What's more, they're all on the album, including Led Zeppelin, a band whose commitment to not giving tracks to compilation albums released by record labels other than their own was only matched by their refusal to issue UK singles. 

So what's the story behind the album? 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's charity that's brought the stars out to play. More specifically, it's UNESCO's International Year Of The Child, an initiative set up by UN secretary General Kurt Waldheim in early 1979 to highlight issues faced by poor children around the world: lack of education, malnutrition, homelessness. 

Waldheim also offered high-profile support to the Concerts for the People of Kampuchea, a series of shows held late the same year starring Queen, The Clash, The Pretenders, The Who, Elvis Costello and Wings, and his involvement with rock royalty proved invaluable in luring the big names to the compilation, with Led Zeppelin's Swan Song label doing the organising while K-Tel looked after the manufacturing. 

The Summit was released the following January, and included tracks from the musicians in the photo, as well as Pink Floyd, Elton John, Supertramp, Yes, Gerry Rafferty and even Cliff Richard (who donated his rockiest track, the great Devil Woman). Six of the songs had been UK Top 10 singles. 

The release of The Summit was celebrated with a launch party in London on January 16, which is where the extraordinary all-star photo was taken.    

Back row: Boz Burrel (Bad Company), Scott Gorham (Thin Lizzy), Eric Clapton, Robert Plant, Mik Kaminski (ELO), Pick Withers and John Illsley (Dire Straits), Brian Downey (Thin Lizzy), Mark and David Knopfler (Dire Straits).

Front row: Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke and Mick Ralphs (Bad Company), Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy).

Bonus photo: Phil Lynott, Robert Plant and Eric Clapton standing at a bus stop (opens in new tab)

The Summit tracklist

Electric Light Orchestra - Shine A Little Love
Wings - Jet
Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street
Dire Straits - Sultans Of Swing
Eric Clapton - Let It Grow
Elton John - Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
Cliff Richard- Devil Woman
Supertramp - Give A Little Bit
Thin Lizzy - Boys Are Back In Town
Yes - Don't Kill The Whale
Pink Floyd - Welcome To The Machine
Bad Company - Rock & Roll Fantasy
Led Zeppelin - Candy Store Rock

The Summit front cover

(Image credit: K-Tel)

The Summit rear cover

(Image credit: K-Tel)
Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 37 years in music industry, online for 24. 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.