In The summer of '95, drummer James Hogg put an advert in a London paper looking for musicians to form a tribute band to both Led Zeppelin and Queen. I (Raff Achour) responded and we met up in a pub in Covent Garden. After some music talk and several pints of bitter, we hit it off and decided to get into a rehearsal room and see what would happen.
Auditions took place and musicians were recruited. After a few personel changes, the queen material was dropped and the band concentrated solely on Led Zeppelin. The line up consisted of myself on guitars, James on drums, Naeng Sapsin on bass, Charlie on vocals and Harry Waters on Keyboards. We called ourselves Boot-Led-Zeppelin
Intensive rehearsals took place, building up the repertoire from the mellow acoustic numbers to the heavy rock stompers. We played our first gig on 2nd December 1997 at The Man In The Moon pub in Chelsea, London. The gig was a success and a great boost for the band.
Charlie decided to leave the band after a couple of gigs, but fortunately a replacement was quickly found. In February 1998 Luke Ward filled in the duties of vocalist and showed to be the perfect candidate for the job. Numerous gigs followed played to enthusiastic crowds. In July, to mine and James' disappointment, the rest of the band decided to call it a day and played their final gig at the Bradford Rio.
We reunited for a handful of gigs in 1999. In March 2000, we recorded our set in a studio in Camden (part of which appeared on the band's CD "Early Demos and Latter Gigs"). In October James moved to Yorkshire.
I decided to reform the band from scratch with Luke on Vocals. Mark Wingfield joined on Bass, Matheu Martin on Drums and Steve Watts on keyboards. The band have now taken a more serious approach and are playing better than ever. The new line-up played their first gig on April the 15th at the Cartoon in Croydon. After a two and a half hour set the crowd were still asking for more. In July, Mark took a 6 months sabbatical due to other commitments. He was replaced for that period by Dan Davies.
Mark is back on Bass. We are now playing more regularly, venturing as far as Crewe in the north and Exceter in the west..
In September we performed at the Annual Led Zeppelin Fan Convention and gave an electrifying performance. This was the first gig with me wearing a replica of Page's dragon suit. Luke meanwhile raided more charity shops for blouses and ridiculously tight jeans..
A fairly quiet year playing the usual haunts of pubs and small clubs. In July Mark left the band again to spend more time with his wife and new-born baby girl. The bass duties were fulfilled by various deps until Jevon Beaumont joined at the end of the year, completing the current stable line-up.
Not satisfied with the small venues we had been playing so far, and wanting to put on more of a staged show, myself, along with friend Dennis Fitzpatrick, booked and promoted a show at the Reading Concert Hall. We played to a 750 strong audience, our biggest gig to date. The show was a sell out and a great success. It nearly never happened when the fire alarm went off just before the start of the show. The whole building had to be evacuated! Allegedly it was triggered off by someone lighting a cigar in the non-smoking auditorium.. ( This was in the days before the smoking ban! ) But 15 mins later everybody piled back in and the show went on uninterpreted. Oh, and the bar ran out of beer!..
This was a turning point for the band, where we realised there was a potential of putting on bigger shows with bigger production.
The full band returned to the Concert Hall in Reading performing to a full house. This time with no fire alarm and a well stacked bar! As well as a lighting design, production included pyrotechnics, dry ice, costumes and stage props. It was a great night which was filmed and recorded. A potential DVD release may still materialise one day!
In May, they performed at Zep Express, a Led Zeppelin Convention of which all proceeds went to the ABC Trust.
In December, we headlined the First Night of the Progs, a three band event which took place at the Hexagon in Reading. This again was a record for us playing in front of 1500 people.
This year also saw Jev, Luke and myself perform boot-Led-Zeppelin acoustic gigs for the first time. Initially planned just as a promotional excercise they turned out to be a great success in their own right.
2006 saw Boot-Led-Zeppelin go international, performing our first gigs in Switzerland, Ireland and Austria. In the UK we performed at some prestigious venues such as the Cambridge Corn exchange, building our reputation and establishing ourselves as the premier Led Zeppelin tribute band.
In 2007, on the occasion of Led Zeppelin's reunion concert. we were invited by Sky News and Channel 5 to give interviews and perform an acoustic set outside the O2 Arena a couple of hours before the Led Zeppelin show.
Our now yearly escapade abroad took us to Gozo, Malta where we performed to 1000s in Victoria's main square.
In 2008 we did two russian tours as well as a visit to Kazackstan. An electrifying performance headlining at the Marvellous Festival in July was filmed and recorded.
Going from strength to strength, Boot-Led-Zeppelin continue performing at clubs and theatres all over the UK, culminating with a show at the Shepehers Bush Empire in April 2009. We were introduced on stage by TV and radio presenter and great supporter of the band, Fearn Cotton.
In June 2010, we were invited by the BBC to appear live on the TV programme " I am in Rock'n'Roll band" hosted by Jonathan Ross helping the nation to vote Led Zeppelin
Ten years gone and we're enjoying ourselves more than ever! We visited France in 2011, Portugal in 2012 and Belarus in 2013.
After countless great gigs and memories, Jevon and Steve leave the band at the end of 2013 and Luke at the end of 2014. It's the end of anEra.
Jesse Smith replaces Luke on vocals, and James Watson replaces both Jevon and Steve making Boot-Led-Zeppelin now a 4 piece band.
Both Jesse and James are outstanding musicians with a real passion for the music Led Zeppelin, reinvigorating the band.
We are currently working on an all new production "Earls Court '75 revisited' celebrating the 40th anniversary of Led Zeppelin's legendary shows at Earls Court.