When he was younger, Mark Dawson watched from the sidelines as Led Zeppelin rehearsed for their concerts.
Now the Southsea-born performer will be returning to the area to play at the Kings Theatre as part of Purple Zeppelin.
The show, which takes place tonight at 7.30pm, sees Mark and his band perform the hits of Deep Purple before changing into suitable attire for a tribute to Led Zeppelin.
So how do Purple Zeppelin attempt to capture the essence of two such iconic bands?
Mark says: ‘One of the challenges is that there are just so many great songs to choose from. We’ve had to develop a new approach that includes as many of the tracks as possible that people expect to hear.
‘We call it playing “the best bits all of the time” and it enables us to include over 30 songs. It’s a theatrical insight into these two giants of rock, complete with special effects, on stage “artistic differences” and even some crowd participation.
We go into the audience to perform Going To California, which gets a great reactionMark Dawson from Purple Zeppelin
‘We go into the audience to perform Going To California, which gets a great reaction.’
After Mark left school, he went to work in Macari’s guitar shop in Charing Cross Road, London. One day a visit from one of Led Zeppelin’s entourage set him on the path to his current career.
‘The band needed some equipment so I was sent along to deliver it,’ says Mark. ‘I remember I kept coming back with more equipment, just so I could see them perform!’
It was on one of these trips that Mark had the chance to meet his idols.
‘They were a very friendly bunch of guys. Jimmy Page showed me how to do the middle riff in Rock And Roll, which I was having some trouble with.
‘There were no online tutorials or training books, so you had to slow down the record and listen to it again and again if you wanted to learn the songs.’
Because of the show, Mark says he is able to inspire young people to perform, much like he was inspired himself.
‘This chap brought his daughter along to one of the shows and when we met her afterwards she said she wanted to start playing guitar because of us.
‘When we returned three years later to the theatre we saw them again and she had just started music college. It is great to inspire people like that.’
Tickets: £13.50-£17.50, call (023) 9282 8282 or kingsportsmouth.co.uk to book.