Led Zeppelin History – July 11

This is a little post-Led Zeppelin history.

Today in 1983 Robert Plant released his second post-Zeppelin solo album, The Principle of Moments. Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label had ceased to function by this time, so Plant created his own label, titled Es Paranza, for its release. Billboard hits from the album included “Big Log”, “Other Arms” and “In The Mood”. Genesis drummer Phil Collins played drums for six of the album’s eight songs (as he did in 1982 on Plant’s solo debut Pictures at Eleven), and former Jethro Tull drummer Barriemore Barlow performed on the other two songs.

Led Zeppelin History – July 7

Today in 1968 Jimmy Page and the Yardbirds played their last gig ever, at Luton Technical College in Bedfordshire, England. The band dissolved after this, and Page would go on to form Led Zeppelin later in the year.

Also today, in 1980, Led Zeppelin performed their last gig ever, at the Eissporthalle in Berlin. John Bonham would die two months later, effectively ending the band’s career. They finished the show with a 17-minute version of Whole Lotta Love.

Zeppelin show setlist: Train Kept a Rollin’, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Out On the Tiles (intro), Black Dog, In The Evening, The Rain Song, Hot Dog, All My Love, Trampled Underfoot, Since I’ve Been Loving You, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Stairway to Heaven, Rock and Roll, Whole Lotta Love.

Led Zeppelin History – July 6

Today in 1969 Zeppelin played the last day of the four-day Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, RI, despite being “banned”.

Setlist: Train Kept a Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Dazed and Confused, You Shook Me, How Many More Times, Lemon Song, Communication Breakdown, Long Tall Sally.

Review: Zeppelin Close Newport, Despite Ban!
The three day event attracted a record crowd of some 80,000, the heaviest attendance figure of 25,000 coming on Friday night, which was devoted entirely to heavy rock. It also attracted the attention of the local authorities who, because of the tension and near riotous situation which prevailed, demanded that Led Zeppelin be cancelled from the final bill on Sunday, and subsequently revoked the permission given them for the opening concert on the Blind Faith tour.

Other British acts there were Jeff Beck, Ten Years After, Jethro Tull, and John Mayall. Beck, Ten Years and Jethro all appeared Friday, along with Roland Kirk and Blood Sweat and Tears. Beck had the responsibility of closing an incredible show, which was literally a six-hour swing through the best in rock. All the excitement caused tension, the tension provoked trouble with the local authorities, and the city of Newport, hardly used to rock, told promoter George Wein to cancel Led Zeppelin’s appearance on Sunday “in the interest of public safety”.

So Wein announced that Zeppelin would not appear, owing to the illness of one of the group. They showed up on Sunday anyway, and at 1:00 am proceeded to go on stage and completely destroy the audience.

It was a strange situation for Zeppelin to be in. Jimmy Page said: “You don’t blow a date like this one. Not after all that. The Newport Jazz Festival was far too important to us to just cancel out and I’m very upset at the whole thing. Wein should never have announced one of us was ill.” (J. Harris, July 1969)

Led Zeppelin History – July 5

Today in 1971, Zeppelin’s last show of this European tour (at the Vigorelli Velodrome football stadium in Milan) ended prematurely when a riot between fans and police broke out about 40 minutes into the show. The band fled the stage and their road crew was seriously injured while trying to save the equipment amidst clouds of teargas. John Paul Jones described the scene as “a war zone”. After an hour of waiting in their barricaded backstage room, armed officers escorted Zeppelin back to their hotel. Fans were still fleeing the area, hanging onto passing trucks and running in the streets. Only a small group of youths were responsible for sparking the entire incident, but police overreactions fueled the incident to a war-like fiasco. By the end of the evening, 40 people were injured, 16 arrested, 4 cars vandalized and the Velodrome sustained an enormous amount of damage.

Setlist: Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed and Confused, Whole Lotta Love.

Also today, in 1980: At a show in Munich, Germany, Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke joined Zeppelin onstage for their “Whole Lotta Love” encore.

Led Zeppelin History – June 29

This one is post-Led Zeppelin history…

Today in 1982 Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant released his first post-Zeppelin solo album, Pictures at Eleven. Genesis drummer Phil Collins played drums on six of the album’s eight songs, while ex-Rainbow drummer Cozy Powell handled drums on the other two. The album was one of the last ever to be released on Zeppelin’s Swan Song label; Swan Song would be defunct by the following year and Plant would create his own label for the rest of his works.

Plant’s first music since the breakup of Led Zeppelin two years earlier, Pictures at Eleven is a valiant effort that fit in nicely with the AOR being played at the time. “Burning Down One Side” and “Pledge Pin” made the Billboard Top 10, but the best track (in my opinion), is “Far Post”, the B-side of the “Burning Down” single. It did not make it onto the album and was only available as that B-side until it was released as a bonus track on the 2007 re-mastered version of the album. Check it out if you get the chance.


Led Zeppelin History – June 28

Today in 1970 Led Zeppelin again played the Bath Festival of Blues in England (they had played there the previous year, to a much smaller crowd). It featured a lineup of the top American west coast and British bands of the day, including Santana, The Flock, Hot Tuna, Country Joe McDonald, Jefferson Airplane, The Byrds, The Moody Blues, Dr. John, Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, Canned Heat, Steppenwolf, Johnny Winter, John Mayall, Pink Floyd, and Fairport Convention. The festival started at mid-day on a Saturday and finished at about 6:30 a.m. the following Monday morning, and about 150,000 fans turned out (as compared to about 12,000 the previous year).

Zeppelin accepted an offer of $30,000 to play the festival, turning down $250,000 to play gigs in Boston and New Haven that same weekend. Why? Because they wanted the same acceptance in England that they were getting here in the U.S. Until that point their success and popularity had largely been only in America; they had been chastised and virtually ignored at home. So they took the stage at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, as the sun was setting, and played for three hours and performed five encores. The performance is widely considered by music critics and members of the band themselves to be one of their most important. It proved to be their breakthrough at home, and afterwards they were accepted in England as a major band in the same league as The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and The Who.

Setlist: Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Dazed and Confused, Bring It On Home, Since I’ve Been Loving You, organ solo, Thank You, That’s The Way, What Is and What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, How Many More Times (medley incl. Long Distance Call, Honey Bee, Need Your Love Tonight, That’s Alright Mama), Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, Long Tall Sally, Say Mama, Johnny B. Goode.