Led Zeppelin History – May 16

Today in 1973, Atlantic Records issued the following press release:

Not long ago, the Miami Beach city council was considering a bill to ban rock concerts in the city. However, last week, when English group Led Zeppelin began their American tour using Miami Beach as their base for the first three concerts in surrounding cities, Mayor Chuck Hall offered them the keys to the city.

While Led Zeppelin didn’t play a concert in Miami Beach, they did play in Tampa, where they drew 56,800 people, setting an all-time USA concert attendance mark breaking a record held by the Beatles. 10,000 tickets were sold in the Miami area, which is a three and a half hour drive away. Where Led Zeppelin is concerned, Miami Beach loves rock and roll after all.

Also today, in 1977, the London Evening Standard reported that Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant had been arrested at Atlanta Airport for being drunk and brandishing a knife. Since Plant was at his home in Wales at the time of the incident, it turned out the person arrested was a man impersonating Plant, and the British paper ran an apology the following night.


Led Zeppelin History – May 12

Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant and band members John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant attended the Ivor Novello Awards (nicknamed The Ivors) at London’s Grosvenor Hotel, where Led Zeppelin received an award for “Outstanding Contribution to British Music.” The songwriting and composing awards, named after the entertainer Ivor Novello, are presented annually in London by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

Led Zeppelin History – May 8

Today in 1969, Led Zeppelin jammed with shock-rocker Screaming Lord Sutch* at Thee Experience, a psychedelic nightclub on the Sunset Strip. Apparently Zeppelin carried Sutch out on stage in a coffin, then later joined him onstage with his group, which also included ex-Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Noel Redding.

*Screaming Lord Sutch was a crazy British musician known for his horror-themed stage show (he commonly dressed as Jack the Ripper), which pre-dated the shock rock antics of Alice Cooper. Accompanied by his band, the Savages, he started shows by emerging from a black coffin. Other props included knives, daggers, skulls and “bodies.” Sutch’s 1970 debut album, Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends, was named in a 1998 BBC poll as the worst album of all time, despite the fact that Jimmy Page, John Bonham, Jeff Beck, Noel Redding, and Nicky Hopkins performed on it and helped write it.

Also today, in 1973, Atlantic Records released the following press release:


May 8, 1973 – The Led Zeppelin’s first U.S. tour in almost a year opened like a house afire last week. The group opened in Atlanta on Friday (4) on the first leg of a tour that will keep the group busy performing at U.S. venues until June 2. The second leg of the tour is now being set for July.

The group’s Atlanta date was a complete sellout at the Atlanta Braves Stadium, and marked one of the biggest crowds ever to attend a rock concert in that Southern City. The Zeppelin’s Tampa date on Saturday (5) at the Tampa Stadium, broke all records for the huge arena, with the group outdrawing every other rock act ever to play the Florida West Coast City.

Led Zeppelin continue their tour with dates in Jacksonville, St. Louis, Mobile, New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Albuquerque, Denver, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The group’s new Atlantic album, “Houses of the Holy” is now No. 1 on all best-selling charts.

Led Zeppelin History – May 1

Today in 1969 Zeppelin played the Crawford Hall at UC Irvine, CA, with Lee Michaels (best known for his 1971 hit “Do You Know What I Mean”) opening for them. The psychedelic poster for this show is now one of the most sought-after by Zeppelin collectors.

Some of the fans at this show have sworn that the event was oversold, as it was jammed and standing-room-only inside. The promoter for the show has said, “For the record, we didn’t ‘oversell’ the hall. We could never prove it, but assumed Zeppelin’s management or someone connected to them did it in LA or through Capitol. We strictly limited tickets printed. To our shock, one to two thousand people (at least) showed up with tickets we did not authorize, and were understandably pissed when we couldn’t let them in. Crawford Hall was jammed shoulder to shoulder. The County tac squad was called out to keep order outside, as the doors were rushed a couple of times. And we got ripped off by Zep’s management, as they demanded a different percentage of the gate than we had agreed upon and literally left with duffel bags stuffed with cash. My in-person protests at Capitol went nowhere. As I recall, it cost UCI about $10K to put on the show and we never saw a dime in return.”

Led Zeppelin History – April 29

Today in 1982 a California State Assembly Consumer Protection and Toxic Materials Committee heard testimony from “experts” who claimed that when “Stairway to Heaven” was played backward, it contained phrases such as “I sing because I live with Satan”, “Here’s to my sweet Satan”,“He will give you 666”, and “I live for Satan”. The alleged messages supposedly occur during the middle section of the song (“If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now…”) when played backwards.

The band itself has for the most part ignored such claims. In response to the allegations, Swan Song Records issued the statement: “Our turntables only play in one direction—forwards”. Led Zeppelin audio engineer Eddie Kramer called the allegations “totally and utterly ridiculous. Why would they want to spend so much studio time doing something so dumb?” Robert Plant expressed frustration with the accusations in a 1983 interview in Musician magazine: “To me it’s very sad, because ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was written with every best intention and as far as reversing tapes and putting messages on the end, that’s not my idea of making music”.

Led Zeppelin History – April 28

Today in 1975, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant attended a Manhattan Transfer concert at the music venue Bottom Line (closed in 2004), in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. Elton John was also in the audience.

Also today, in 1990, the three surviving members of Led Zeppelin performed at Jason Bonham’s wedding reception in Kidderminster, England. Jason is the son of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, who died in 1980. The set list consisted of “Custard Pie,” “It’ll Be Me,” “Rock and Roll,” “Sick Again,” and “Bring It on Home.” The event fueled rumors of a Led Zeppelin reunion, but it was not to be.