Today (Nov 23, 2017) is Thanksgiving. How does this relate to Led Zeppelin? Well, their seventh album was almost titled Thanksgiving.
Forced by Robert Plant’s recent car accident in Greece to cancel a planned August 1975 world tour, the band used the downtime to write and record a new album. The result was Presence, often dubbed the “forgotten” Led Zeppelin album, due to its arguably less-memorable material.
The album was completed on Nov 26 of that year, which happened to be the day before Thanksgiving. And in a call to Swan Song records the next day, Jimmy Page supposedly suggested naming the album Thanksgiving. As it turned out (thankfully), meetings with sleeve designers Hipgnosis dictated otherwise. Hipgnosis felt that an incredibly powerful force and presence surrounded the group, and pushed for a sleeve that would reflect that. The rather bizarre result was a series of ten Life magazine prints of everyday events, mostly involving conservative-looking families, interrupted by that “presence” in the form of a mysterious black obelisk called The Object. It was inserted photographically into the various images on the album sleeve.
One outtake from the recording sessions, “10 Ribs & All/Carrot Pod Pod” (otherwise known as “Pod”) was later released on the 2015 deluxe edition of the album. It’s a rather somber piano-based instrumental that would have been great as an end to the Coda album. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg3TKuTFwDs
Today in 1969 Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” debuted on the U.S. singles chart. Released on Nov. 7, 1969 and backed with “Living Loving Maid,” it eventually peaked at #4 and spent a total of 13 weeks on the Billboard chart, becoming the group’s only U.S. Top 10 hit.
This is one of Zeppelin’s most famous anthems, as Robert Plant borrows from Willie Dixon’s “You Need Love,” (resulting in a 1985 lawsuit that was settled out of court). The most impressive part of the song is the middle section, edited out for the single release, where Jimmy Page uses all sorts of crazy sound effects that careen wildly from speaker to speaker. As session engineer Eddie Kramer explained it: “It was a combination of Page and myself twiddling every knob known to man on the control board.”
The song became an integral part of Zeppelin’s live set, debuting in April 1969 and being played at almost every concert thereafter, including such historic events as Knebworth (1979), Live Aid (1985) and the Atlantic Records’ 40th birthday concert (1988). And it holds the distinction of being the last song Led Zeppelin performed live, when it received a 17-minute treatment at their final gig in Berlin on July 7, 1980.
Today in 1971 Zeppelin played their “Electric Magic” concert at the Empire Pool in Wembley Arena, London. The show saw support from various circus acts, and bands like Stone the Crows. This show was a great example of how Zeppelin would often feature cover songs; things like C’mon Everybody and Boogie Chillen, and Yardbirds standards like For Your Love, Over Under Sideways Down, and White Summer. The encore this night was a medley that featured Whole Lotta Love, Boogie Chillen, Hello Mary Lou, Mess of Blues, Honey Bee, and Going Down Slow.
Today in 2003, a folder containing the results of the 1979 Melody Maker Readers Poll, signed on the cover by all four Led Zeppelin band members, sold for $1,076 during a Christie’s Rock & Roll auction held at the Rockefeller Plaza in New York. Most Zeppelin collectors believe the signatures are not authentic however, as evidenced by the low final selling price (an authentic set of Zeppelin signatures should easily fetch five figures at auction).
Today in 1994, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant appeared on the Andrew Denton Show, on the Seven Network in Australia, during promotion for Unledded. They were joined by some didgeridoo players to help them play a version of “Sun Arise” as a tribute to Aussie entertainer Rolf Harris.
Today in 1968, Zeppelin performed their first show in the North of England, providing support for American acoustic guitarist John Fahey. The show was at the Manchester College of Science & Technology, and Zeppelin were paid about $300 for the gig.
Some pre-Led Zeppelin history…
Today in 1949, UK singer Terry Reid was born. In late 1968 Jimmy Page approached Reid first for the vocal spot in his new band (to be Led Zeppelin). Reid was being managed by Peter Grant, who was currently managing Page and The Yardbirds as well. Reid had come to Page’s attention while a member of Peter Jay & The Jaywalkers, but had recently gone solo, signing with Grant and producer Mickie Most. This move, plus Reid’s determination for a solo shot at fame, meant he had no desire to join Page’s new band.
According to Grant and Page, it was Reid who then suggested they check out a singer he knew, Robert Plant. Others (including Plant himself) claimed that Page and Grant were directed Plant’s way by two others: musical matchmaker Alex Korner, who had seen Plant in London in 1967 and played with him later; and Tony Secunda, then managing Procol Harum and The Move. Secunda had long been an admirer of The Yardbirds but felt they were poorly served by Keith Relf’s vocals and onstage persona. He’d known of Plant’s abilities for some time and stayed alert to possible new openings for him.
Reid later went on to do session work with the likes of Don Henley, Jackson Browne, and Bonnie Raitt.