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Led Zeppelin
Sports Arena
San Diego, CA
June 19, 1977
Mike Millard Master Tapes via JEMS
The Lost and Found Mike the MICrophone Tapes Volume 77
Mastered Edition

contrast clause

Recording Gear: AKG 451E Microphones (CK-1 cardioid capsules) > Nakamichi 550 Cassette Recorder

Transfer: Mike Millard Master Cassettes > Yamaha KX-W592 Cassette Deck (Dolby off) > Sony R-500 DAT > Analog Master DAT Clone > Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 > Sound Forge Audio Studio 13.0 capture > FLAC > dadgad clean-up and mastering

01 Intro
02 The Song Remains The Same
03 Sick Again
04 Nobody's Fault But Mine
05 In My Time Of Dying
06 Since I've Been Loving You
07 No Quarter
08 Ten Years Gone
09 The Battle Of Evermore
10 Going To California
11 Mystery Train
12 Black Country Woman
13 Bron-Y-Aur Stomp
14 White Summer
15 Kashmir
16 Guitar Solo
17 Achilles Last Stand
18 Stairway To Heaven
19 Whole Lotta Love
20 Rock And Roll

Known Faults: Tape change cut in Jimmy Page guitar solo

Introduction to the Lost and Found Mike the MICrophone Series

Welcome to JEMS’ Lost and Found Mike the MICrophone series presenting recordings made by legendary taper Mike Millard, AKA Mike the MICrophone, best known for his masters of Led Zeppelin done in and around Los Angeles circa 1975-77. For the complete details on how tapes in this series came to be lost and found again, as well as JEMS' long history with Mike Millard, please refer to the notes in Vol. One: :: EzTorrent v0.7.0r495 :: Login.

Until 2020, the Lost and Found series presented fresh transfers of previously unavailable first-generation copies made by Mike himself for friends like Stan Gutoski of JEMS, Jim R, Bill C. and Barry G. These sources were upgrades to circulating copies and in most instances marked the only time verified first generation Millard sources had been directly digitized in the torrent era.

That all changed with the discovery of many of Mike Millard’s original master tapes.

Yes, you read that correctly, Mike Millard’s master cassettes, long rumored to be destroyed or lost, have been found. Not all of them but many, and with them a much more complete picture has emerged of what Millard recorded between his first show in late 1973 and his last in early 1992.

The reason the rediscovery of his master tapes is such a revelation is that we’ve been told for decades they were gone. Internet myths suggest Millard destroyed his master tapes before taking his own life, an imprudent detail likely concocted based on the assumption that because his master tapes never surfaced and Mike’s mental state was troubled he would do something rash WITH HIS LIFE’S WORK. There’s also a version of the story where Mike’s family dumps the tapes after he dies. Why would they do that?

The truth is Mike’s masters remained in his bedroom for many years after his death in 1994. We know at least a few of Millard’s friends and acquaintances contacted his mother Lia inquiring about the tapes at the time to no avail. But in the early 2000s, longtime Millard friend Rob S was the one she knew and trusted enough to preserve Mike’s work.

The full back story on how Mike’s master tapes were saved can be found in the notes for Vol. 18 Pink Floyd, which was the first release in our series transferred from Millard’s original master tapes:

Led Zeppelin, Sports Arena, San Diego, CA, June 19, 1977

We've reached Volume 77 in the Millard Lost and Found series, and like Volume 75, certain numbers are inextricably tied to Mike's body of work, none more so than 77. As such, we've returned to Millard's favorite band, the tapes of which made Mike the Mike a legend: Led Zeppelin.

The long-awaited return of Led Zeppelin is an accurate description for the 1977 tour. The band last played Southern California in the spring of 1975, and the 1977 tour was scheduled to start in the US in the spring, but was delayed due to Robert's health issues. March dates in LA were rescheduled to June (with an additional date added), meaning Mike and Jim had to wait just a little bit longer to see Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham.

As Jim explains, he and Mike often used San Diego shows as a rehearsal to prepare for recording in LA, getting a sense of the setlist to time tape flips, etc. They didn't always record when doing so, but luckily for us, this time they did.

San Diego is the least regarded of Mike's recordings of Zeppelin in 1977 and understandably so given the quality of the performances and recordings that would occur over the next ten days at the Forum in Inglewood. San Diego is also a shorter show, cutting "Moby Dick," which is often attributed to John Bonham being ill that night. But if we didn't have Mike's recordings of LA, surely we would all hold San Diego in higher regard.

Perhaps this release provides a chance to hear the SD show with fresh ears from Mike's masters. San Diego '77 is one of the many shows Rob originally copied from Mike's master cassettes to DAT in the early 2000s. His DAT is the source here, which is why there is no 2496 edition, only 1644. Given myriad versions and remasters of the LA '77 shows out there, San Diego is also a less familiar recording to revisit for our celebration of 77.

Once again we have invited esteemed LZ mastering engineer dadgad to assist on this release. He prepared both a flat transfer edition (fixing only levels, pitch and phase issues, with no EQ or other mastering applied) and a second, "respectfully mastered" edition as he puts it, that fine tunes the sound for what we feel is optimum listening pleasure. Samples provided.

You can draw your own conclusions about the merits of the San Diego performance. In listening to this show anew myself, it may have been an off-ish night for Bonham, but it is a very on night for John Paul Jones. His keyboard work sounds especially strong to me.

Here's what Jim R recalled about Led Zeppelin at the San Diego Sports Arena 1977:

I thankfully attended the Led Zeppelin concert at the San Diego Sports Arena on June 19, 1977. I know we sat in our sweet spot, but I was unable to find my ticket stub.

This show was a couple days before The Forum run started, therefore, it was our first chance to see the band after enduring a marathon, week-long campout months earlier to get tickets to the LA shows. Keep in mind these dates were originally scheduled for March. This made our wait even longer. Talk about torture. Speaking of which, Zeppelin's 1977 LA shows were the first I can remember where scalper prices exceeded $100 a ticket.

The San Diego '75 shows were GA so no taping was done, just timing of tape flips, but the '77 show was reserved seating. We got tickets in our sweet spot, so we rolled the Nak 550. And we are glad we did. By divine intervention, the sound does not contain the usual echo and hollowness associated with the San Diego Sports Arena's terrible acoustics. This is one of the best San Diego recordings I have ever heard.

As usual, Mike drove like a maniac. With a two-hour drive each way plus a three-hour show, it was a long but rewarding day. Oddly for us the show was under three hours, possibly due to John Bonham feeling ill. Dare I say this was a dress rehearsal for the three-hour plus LA shows? 1977 was my fourth Zeppelin tour having previously seen them in '72, '73 and of course '75 with Mike. I also had tickets to the 1980 Rose Bowl concert that tragically never happened.

In San Diego, John Paul Jones played some new instruments, a three-neck acoustic guitar and a stand-up bass. For me, the 1977 tour had a darker feeling to it. They played on a black, taller than normal stage, which put a little more distance between us and the performers than we were used to.

I hope you enjoy the show, my pictures could be from the LA shows so please forgive me. Enjoy!


JEMS is proud to partner with Rob, Jim R, Ed F, Barry G and many others to release Millard's historic recordings and to help set the record straight about the man himself.

We can’t thank Rob enough for reconnecting with Jim and putting his trust in our Millard reissue campaign. He kept Mike’s precious tapes under wraps for two decades, but once Rob learned of our methods and stewardship, he agreed to contribute the Millard DATs and cassettes to the program. Our releases would not be nearly as compelling without Jim’s memories, photos and other background contributions. As many of you have noted, the stories offer an entertaining complement to Mike’s incredible audio documents.

This release greatly benefitted from the contribution of dadgad, who handled all the production work. We thank him for his partnership and continuing contributions to the LZ collecting community. Let's do it again soon. mjk5510 did the outstanding cover art featuring Jim's photos and handled the last mile. I've said it before and I'll say it again, we could not do this without him.

Finally, cheers to the late, great Mike the MICrophone. His work never ceases to impress. May he rest in peace.


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