Led Zeppelin History – April 1

Today in 1977 Led Zeppelin kicked off their 11th (and last) North American tour, at Dallas Memorial Auditorium. This was their first live appearance anywhere since May 1975, due to Robert Plant’s Aug 4, 1975 car accident.

The 1977 North American tour was a massive financial success for Zeppelin, as they easily sold out large arenas and stadiums. Band manager Peter Grant conceived the tour as an effort that would reassert Led Zeppelin as the dominant band of the decade. Fifty one concerts were scheduled over a three-leg period, for 1.3 million ticket holders. It was Led Zeppelin’s biggest tour ever; tickets sold at a rate of 72,000 a day.

Audio recordings from many of the tour’s shows have been preserved in bootleg recordings. Notable bootlegs from this tour include Destroyer (a soundboard recording from Cleveland on April 27), Listen to This Eddie (an audience recording from Los Angeles on June 21) and For Badgeholders Only (an audience recording from Los Angeles on June 23). The second disc of the 2003 Led Zeppelin DVD contains semi-hidden (under the promos menu) bootleg footage from the Los Angeles Forum.

Setlist: The Song Remains The Same, The Rover (intro), Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, In My Time of Dying, 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, Jimmy Page solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock and Roll.

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Led Zeppelin History – March 29

Today in 1975, Led Zeppelin saw all six of their albums in the U.S. Top 100 in the same week. Their current album, Physical Graffiti, was at #1.

Also, right around this time in 1974, band manager Peter Grant hired Australian filmmaker Peter Clifton to replace Joe Massot as director of Zeppelin’s vanity project The Song Remains the Same. Clifton said, “It was a complete mess. There was no doubting Joe’s talent, but he was in deep waters with this filming attempt and he did not have the strength to push the band members around.”

Clifton agreed to take on the film, but soon realized a difficult salvage operation was going to be made even more difficult by the conditions in which he had to work. “To be honest, the guys weren’t terribly interested in the film; it was more Peter’s idea.” But Grant’s ignorance of the filmmaking process and the band’s reluctance to pull together on the project meant it was unlikely to progress beyond its muddled beginnings. It’s not surprising then that both the film and its soundtrack ultimately ended up really becoming just a neglected collection of live Led Zeppelin material.

Led Zeppelin History – March 27

Today in 1969, Led Zeppelin made their only appearance on the popular German TV show Beat Club, to be filmed lip-synching “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” and “You Shook Me.” But the Beat Club producers weren’t too impressed by the group’s performance, and did not broadcast the filmed material until a year later, when “Whole Lotta Love” became popular in Germany. Even then, they only used a montage of the original video footage (complete with topless go-go dancers) with the studio version of “Whole Lotta Love” playing over it.  YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOuO4QutJis. The original footage of “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” and “You Shook Me” was eventually broadcast 40 years later.

Led Zeppelin History – March 26

Today in 1970, Led Zeppelin played the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City. The yellow-tinged poster for this show is one of the band’s most iconic. Setlist: Unknown

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But apparently the concert reviewer wasn’t too impressed with the show…
Press Review: Group’s Nothing to Get Excited About
The following notes on Thursday night’s Led Zeppelin concert in the Salt Palace Arena will spell what artists know as a “lukewarm” review – Led Zeppelin is not good, nor is it bad.

Without question, Jimmy Page, the lead guitarist, is a virtuoso. There is seemingly nothing he cannot do in the technical real. He plays one of the fastest guitar necks to be seen. His intonations, his vibratos and his sense of time and syncopation probably are matched by only a handful of contemporary guitarists.

However, one can only carry the wavering in the pitch of a tone so far, and a more conscious sandwiching of pure tones or “white” tones in his runs would have made the music more dimensional and fuller. At times, then, this incredibly gifted musician turned to gimmickry. Still, Page’s White Summer solo was superb, motivated as it was for harmony’s sake.

Ideally, rock concerts should be environmental experiences, and the closer one is to the source, the closer he is to the substance of the art. So those seats at a distance were invited down closer to the stage, and people were everywhere. But, with the push of almost 14,000 in the hall, there was, on the other hand, an invitation to paranoia.
[By G. Raine, Salt Lake Tribune, March 27, 1970]

Led Zeppelin History – March 25

Today in 1969 Led Zeppelin performed “Dazed and Confused” for a British TV show called Supershow. While it demonstrates the difficulties inherent in trying to convey the live Zeppelin experience in the ill-equipped TV studios of the day, the fact that the band still managed to pull it off in such a good fashion is testament to their talent and professionalism. This color performance can be found on the 2003 2-DVD set titled Led Zeppelin. Here’s a link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lkb1R_yif9I

Led Zeppelin History – March 22

Today in 1975 Led Zeppelin started a six-week run at #1 on the U.S. album chart with Physical Graffiti, the group’s fourth U.S. #1 album. On its first day of release in the U.S., the album shipped a million copies – no other album in the history of Atlantic records had generated so many sales. Physical Graffiti has now been certified 16x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for U.S. sales in excess of 16 million copies.

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Led Zeppelin History – March 20

Today in 2012, Jimmy Page released Lucifer Rising and Other Sound Tracks. It was released on vinyl only, and exclusively through his website.

The album consists of the title music for the Kenneth Anger film Lucifer Rising, which in 1972 Anger had asked Page to compose. Later that year, Anger publicly revealed in an interview with Variety magazine that Page was to provide the soundtrack, and erroneously claiming the film was near completion. Page and Anger eventually had a falling out in 1976,  and Page left the project without delivering any music. Why he didn’t compose anything in the four years in-between is not known; maybe he was busy being Led Zeppelin.

“The title music, along with other musical pieces recorded at my home studio in the early seventies, have been revisited, remixed and released for the first time. This is a musical diary of avant-garde compositions and experiments, one of which was to appear on the film Lucifer Rising. The collection has been exhumed and is now ready for public release” – Jimmy Page