Front Row Center.
Three simple words. In the Rock Concert Lexicon these words hold special meaning. There is only one seat designated Front Row Center. There is no Second Row Just Left of Center. It is the rarest of birds. Not likely to be seen in one’s lifetime. The Halley’s Comet of the concert experience.
Life affirmed. The Real Gospel Shit.
Two weeks after turning 16, I saw Jimmy Page from the center of the front row.
Jimmy Page. Founder of Led Zeppelin. Composer of “Whole Lotta Love.” The Mystical Guitar Alchemist. The William Blake of the Sunburst Gibson Les Paul.
One of my heroes from one of my favorite bands, Jimmy Page Live in Concert was a dream come true. From Front Row Center, it was the dream in Blasting Sonic Technicolor.
The Golden Ticket.
It was February 20th, 1986, and Page was touring with The Firm, his first proper outfit since the end of Led Zeppelin in 1980. Jimmy’s new band played South Florida’s Hollywood Sportatorium, a venue Zeppelin had played once in September of 1971.
My buddy Mark won tickets from WSHE, South Florida’s Classic Rock Radio…She’s Only Rock N Roll.
He answered a call-in question about some arcane Zeppelin lore, on which we were experts.
DJ: What’s “A bustle in your hedgerow?”
Mark: Um…that thing in Robert Plant’s jeans?
Score. We were on our way.
Jimmy Page, from the front row. Happy Sweet Sixteen.
Page definitely played The Bow, and maybe the double neck Gibson SG. Did he conjure the theremin? Not sure. He did sport a Hawaiian shirt. A possible nod to the hometown crowd?
It wasn’t exactly Led Zeppelin ’75 and the embroidered Dragon Suit, but it didn’t matter.
Mark snapped two photos, then was booted from his seat. Somehow he made it back.
There was precedent to this fateful moment. My parents saw The Who Front Row Center on the 1969 Tommy tour at New York’s Fillmore East. My mom was pregnant with me. This is why you now have The Rock File.
Front Row Center.
I guess it runs in the family.
Photographs by the Rock File, 1986