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 figures 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 1am 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 once of us was ill.” (J. Harris, July 1969)