Led Zeppelin History – Feb 19

This is a little bit of post-Led Zeppelin history.

Today in 2009, the Robert Plant and bluegrass-country singer Alison Krauss duet album Raising Sand saw a whopping 715% increase in sales following its Album of the Year win at the Grammys. The album debuted at #2 on the U.S. chart in 2007, and has sold more than 1.3 million copies to date.

The critically-acclaimed album consists of 13 cover songs and was produced by T. Bone Burnett, who also played guitars for the album. It debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200, the highest chart position for either artists’ solo work, and sold about 112,000 copies in its first week.

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Led Zeppelin History – Feb 18

Today in 1972, on their only Australian tour, Led Zeppelin rescheduled to the following night their concert at the Memorial Drive, Adelaide, after heavy rain left the stage and equipment unsafe. Zeppelin had brought the largest PA system ever seen in Australia to Adelaide, to produce what was expected to be the loudest rock show ever heard.

Led Zeppelin History – Feb 17

Today in 1972, police raided the Scarborough Hotel in Perth, Australia, where all the members of Led Zeppelin were staying after their debut live performance in the country the night before. Police woke all the members and searched their baggage and belongings, but no drugs were found. Jimmy Page told a local paper: “They came into our rooms and started abusing us – they were very rude.”

Led Zeppelin History – Feb 6

Today in 1971 Led Zeppelin announced a small UK clubs tour, which would see the group playing universities and small venues, with ticket prices set at 12 shillings (about 85 cents). Band manager Peter Grant said “We decided to do the clubs and forget about the bread and the big concert halls for a change.”

Jimmy Page: “The audiences were becoming bigger and bigger, but moving further and further away. They became specks on the horizon and we were losing contact with people – those people who were responsible for lifting us off the ground in the early days. We are playing those clubs like the London Marquee for exactly the same amount as we did in the old days, as a ‘thank you’ to those promoters and the audiences alike. By doing this we will be able to tour the entire of Britain and not just those cities who are fortunate enough to contain large venues. We will establish contact with tour audience and re-energise on their reaction while they have a chance to see a group which the accepted tradition would be appearing only at high prices in large auditoriums.”  

Known as the “Back to the Clubs” tour, the schedule was:
March 5, 1971, Belfast, Ulster Hall*
March 6, 1971, Dublin, National Boxing Stadium
March 9, 1971, Leeds, Leeds University
March 10, 1971, Canterbury, University of Kent
March 11, 1971, Southampton, Southampton University
March 13, 1971, Bath, Bath Pavillion
March 14, 1971, Stoke-on-Trent, Trentham Gardens
March 18, 1971, Newcastle, Mayfair Ballroom
March 19, 1971, Manchester, Manchester University
March 20, 1971, Sutton Coldfield, The Belfry
March 21, 1971, Nottingham, Boat Club
March 23, 1971, London, The Marquee
April 1, 1971, London, Paris Cinema Theatre

*Here the band debuted a number of songs from their upcoming untitled “Fourth Album,” including the first public performance of Black Dog, Stairway to Heaven, Going to California, and Rock and Roll.

Led Zeppelin History – Feb 2

Today in 1969, Led Zeppelin played two sets at The Rock Pile in Toronto to 1,200 fans, where they were billed as “Led Zeppelin, featuring Jimmy Page.” Now-renowned music journalist Ritchie Yorke* was the emcee.

Review (by Yorke):
Above all else and there were highlights aplenty; it was Page’s night. He arrived in Toronto without a record on the market, but with a reputation that long-ago preceded him.

Several critics, myself included, had suggested Led Zeppelin just might be the next so-called super-group, the likes of Cream and Hendrix. Advance airplay and reviews of the debut Led Zeppelin album brought over 1,200 people to the Rock Pile. They expected a lot, and few were disappointed. Considering the group was only formed a few months back, it’s remarkably tight and together.

Led Zeppelin is not Cream, nor will it fill the spot left behind by Cream. Nobody will. But the Zeppelin outfit has a thing going of its own and there’s little doubt that thing is going to be very successful.

Page came off as the finest group guitarist to emerge since Clapton. Already, he is way above Jeff Beck, Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop. His spotlighted work, including riffs with the violin bow, was executed expertly, without pomp or pretension.

Singer Plant is from the English blues school – hard, angry, defiant, gutsy. He could well develop into tone of the big name group singers of the year.

*Amongst the many publications Yorke contributed to, he was the Canadian Editor of Rolling Stone (1969–70), Canadian Editor of Billboard (1970–80), and was the Senior Music Writer for the Brisbane Sunday Mail for 20 years (1987–2007). He has written biographies on Led Zeppelin and Van Morrison, and he regularly contributed to, or was syndicated in, Billboard, the Boston Globe, Chicago Daily News, Detroit Free Press, Hit Parader, Houston Post, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Free Press, Rolling Stone, Washington Post and Zoo World.

In late 1969, Yorke assisted John Lennon with the coordination and execution of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s War Is Over! peace campaign, as well as helping to plan the Montreal bed-in where Lennon’s peace anthem “Give Peace a Chance” as written and recorded.

Led Zeppelin History – Jan 29

Today in 1975, Zeppelin apparently had a bad night. This show in Greensboro, NC has been called one of their worst ever. Robert Plant was still fighting the flu and it was a strain for him to sustain notes in his middle range. And Jimmy’s finger still hadn’t healed from an injury that happened on a train before the tour started; his playing varied from good as ever to sloppy and completely out of key. The version of “Communication Breakdown” was pretty good, but “How Many More Times” was short and forgettable. And by this point they had already dropped “The Wanton Song” and “When the Levee Breaks” from the set a few shows back in the tour. Overall, this show is better to listen to as a comparison against their most brilliant shows.

From Luis Rey’s book Led Zeppelin Live: An Illustrated Exploration of Underground Tapes: This is it: the “Worst Ever!” A real disaster. Neither Page or Plant exist on the stage; their efforts during “How Many More Times” are pathetic. Plant apologizes constantly about the shape of the group, although the rhythm section seems fairly healthy. This even adds a disgraceful effect of unevenness to the already-sluggish performance. Even the rarities from the previous concerts have been dropped. A night to forget!

Setlist: Rock and Roll, Sick Again, Over the Hills and Far Away, In My Time of Dying, The Song Remains the Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir, No Quarter, Trampled Under Foot, Moby Dick, How Many More Times, Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Communication Breakdown.