Led Zeppelin History – June 24

Today in 2009 a 1962 handwritten letter from Jimmy Page to his American pen pal Ronnie Kellerman (at the time, head of the Jerry Lee Lewis fan club and Page’s frequent correspondent) sold at a Christie’s Rock & Roll auction for $12,500. Page was 18 years old at the time it was written, and it would be another 6 years before he would form Led Zeppelin. In the letter Page talked about living on next to nothing as he was trying to pay off his guitar and amp, going to art school, and a new local band called The Beatles. Full text of the letter is below, unedited:

“Dear Ronnie, I’m sorry for the lapse in correspondence but there has been a very good reason. When I last wrote to you I told you the discs would be ready in a couple of days, but when I went to collect them I found that they had messed up the transcription and had to have them done again and in the circumstances I couldn’t write to you in case you thought I was stalling and had ruined the tapes or something. Anyway you’ve got them now, I hope the recording is what you wanted.

In the package I’ve included an L.P. of a show that was on T.V. over here in 1961 called Drumbeat, it has some lousy tracks but it also has good ones, ie the Roy Young’s and John Barry’s.

Have you heard from Sutch lately; his record didn’t get anywhere over here, probably not enough publicity.

I wonder if Sun are going to release any more Jerry Lee tracks now his contract has nearly expired. I know “Cajun Style of Lovin” was never released.

Liverpool groups seem to have swamped the scene over here, but the Beatles are the only ones any good. I expect you’ve heard of them.

In September I am going to Art School which will probably come as a surprise to you. But the truth of the matter is that lately all I want to do is paint and make sculptures so I want to further my education in Art.

I submitted some of my work to the authorities and they are trying to get me a grant which amounts to about $12 a week spending money after your fares, fees and meals are paid, so I’m pretty pleased about it at the moment. However I’m living on next to nothing at the moment as I’m feverishly trying to pay off my guitar and amp which are on hire purchase. You can imagine how much of a struggle it is when I tell you that it was spread over two years and I’m trying to pay it off in 6 months!!! 

I did a recording for a radio broadcast with a group (not ours) and I’ll send you a copy; there are 5 numbers. 

Another surprise: I am now having a bash at classical guitar and I’m finding it fascinating.

Regarding your questions – I wasn’t on Scarlet O’Hara as Jer and Tony formed their own group after the success of Diamonds and they used their own guitarist, but he doesn’t get much of a hearing till the very end on the fade out.

How’s your group coming along? O.K. I hope, and that you’ve got lots of bookings. I’d still like to hear you playing if you could send me a tape.

I wonder if you could send me an L.P. in payment of the transcription as I think that should be just about equal. Anyhow the L.P. is a new release called Chuck Berry On Stage on Chess Records.

You can send whatever you like for the L.P. With this package I am also going to post some papers; I hope you’ll enjoy looking at them too as well as these enclosed.

Anyhow Ronnie I hope everything is O.K. now, I really must apologise for the gaps before but you know how busy it gets at times.

Hope to here (sic) from you soon.

Your Pal, Jim

P.S.  Could you send me any cuttings on modern sculpture and art in the U.S.A. Don’t worry if you can’t.”


Led Zeppelin History – June 23

Today in 1977 Who drummer Keith Moon joined Zeppelin on stage at the L.A. Forum. Moon played throughout the nearly 20-minute drum solo “Moby Dick” and returned later for two encores (“Whole Lotta Love”, “Rock and Roll”). The footage can be heard on the bootleg recording for this concert titled For Badgeholders Only.
YouTube link to the audio:

Also today, in 2016, a jury found Led Zeppelin not guilty of copying the “Stairway to Heaven” intro from the Spirit song “Taurus”.
More info: 


Led Zeppelin History – June 22

Today in 1970 Zeppelin played one show in Reykjavik, Iceland, participating in a cultural exchange program representing the UK. Band manager Peter Grant did not travel with them and mentioned in the UK press that a film crew would document their visit. Despite this plan, only local news footage captured the group’s arrival at the airport, hotel, and a short clip of Dazed and Confused. Also, Robert Plant was interviewed on the day of the show; some of this news footage is included on the 2003 official DVD. Setlist: Unknown.
YouTube link to an interview with Robert Plant about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qpij-eSKIBk

Led Zeppelin History – June 21

Today in 1977 Led Zeppelin started a 6-night sold-out gig at the L.A. Forum in Inglewood, CA. This show was taped by a fan and can be found now as the bootleg title Listen to this Eddie. It’s one of the best known and best quality Zeppelin recordings out there. Apparently Jimmy Page liked it too; he used a fragment of it on their official 2003 DVD.

Setlist: The Song Remains The Same, The Rover (intro), Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over the Hills and Far Away, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, Ten Years Gone, Battle of Evermore, Going to California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Out On the Tiles (intro), Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Jimmy Page solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock and Roll.

Led Zeppelin painted a mural of musical abstractions for 18,000 screaming fans, who buried the first five minutes of the show in continuous applause. It took a mere 40 minutes to sell out the tickets for five nights at the Forum. Another night was added later, and it too sold out within minutes.

Zeppelin, acknowledged as the world’s hottest rock group, finally made it to the Inglewood Forum Tuesday night in the most touted Southland concert since the Rolling Stones. They opened a six-concert stand and will play to 108,000 people – a Forum record.

They opened with “The Song Remains the Same”, the title cut from their latest album for Swan Song. At one point, Plant threw back his head, thrust the microphone against his mouth and yelled. “We finally made it. Last time we were here (the Forum) we played with Bad Company. Tonight — no beating around the bush, we’re gonna play ‘cause that’s what we’re here for.” And that’s exactly what they did for a marathon three-hour set. (The Telegram – June 1977)


Led Zeppelin History – June 20

This is post-Led Zeppelin history.

Today in 1988  former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page released a solo album titled Outrider. While Page also has several collaborative albums out, to date this remains his only solo effort. Robert Plant sings on one track (“The Only One”), and the late John Bonham’s son Jason plays drums for the first time on record.

The album reached #26 on the Billboard 200 chart. Years later, Jimmy Page reflected on the album in rather positive terms: “Outrider’s all right. It’s demo-like compared with those overproduced albums that came out at the time. It didn’t do very well – doesn’t matter – but I did tour. I was playing music going right back to The Yardbirds days on that tour.”

Led Zeppelin History – June 19

Today in 1969 Zeppelin performed “Communication Breakdown” and “Dazed and Confused” in a Paris studio for the French TV show Tous En Scene. This performance can be found on the 2003 2-DVD set titled Led Zeppelin, and here is a YouTube link to it:

It begins with a backstage shot of the band getting ready to go on, doing well to battle against an ailing monitor system. But the French variety show was a bizarre out-of-place setting for a group like Zeppelin, as evidenced by the straight-laced, middle-aged crowd looking bored (in the audience you can see a kid with his fingers in his ears).

Zeppelin always disliked performing on TV, and hated the quality of the audio-video presentation that TV provided. According to Plant, no matter how well they performed, they were always at the mercy of the in-house studio engineers, most of whom had no idea how to record a live band. Indeed, after this French TV appearance, they did no more TV ever; they’d be seen live on stage or not at all from this point on.