Led Zeppelin History – Feb 16

Today in 1972 Zeppelin kicked off a 6-date Australian tour (including one date in Aukland, New Zealand) at the 80,000-seat Subiaco Oval stadium in Perth, Western Australia. This was Zeppelin’s only Australian tour during their 12-year career. But even down under, their shows were sometimes not without incident (see review below).

Setlists during this tour varied, but included Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Stairway to Heaven, Going to California, That’s the Way, Tangerine, Dazed and Confused, What Is and What Should Never Be, and a Whole Lotta Love medley.

Heavy Rock – With Discipline, by John Bryant
The West Australian | February 17, 1972
Perth has probably never seen a concert quite like it. Certainly, a Perth attraction has never been so “heavy”. That Led Zeppelin rock group’s only concert at Subiaco Oval last night at the beginning of an Australian Tour was unique. The pelting rhythm and distinctive brackets of the group – consisting of electric guitarist Jimmy Page, organist John Paul Jones, drummer John Bonham and lead vocalist Robert Plant – were different from any rock group that has appeared in Perth. And the 80,000 people who went enjoyed every minute of the two-and-a-half hour performance. Some were so keen to see the most popular English heavy rock group to ever appear live in Perth that they did not mind climbing fences to get in. Police and officials were kept busy preventing and removing people entering the stadium.

About 4,000 people who were unable to gain entrance to the concert milled outside the main gates of the Oval, and about 500 youths rammed the locked gates, threw rocks and bottles into the Oval and lit fires. Police reinforcements were rushed to the Oval soon after the concert began and at one stage there were more than 20 police vehicles outside the ground. Several people were arrested.

While the battle raged, thousands of gate-crashers came though and over fences around the ground. Youths with wire cutters left a trail of gaping holes in the fence. As police battled to control the riot the stage was left unprotected and more than 1,000 fans mobbed the musicians. As the group drew towards the end of its last song, people began to dance on the stage. The group kept playing and the crowd swamped them. Lead singer Robert Plant had his shirt torn from his back as he tried to run from the stage.

The next morning four drug special police raided the group at a Scarborough hotel where they were staying. Police woke the musicians and searched their baggage and belongings. No drugs were found. Jimmy Page said he and the rest of the group were furious. They thought the raid was retribution for the concert trouble. He said the group had not seen the outside riot, but had only read a report in this morning’s newspaper. Page criticized the police for leaving the group unprotected and allowing the stage to be mobbed at the end of the concert. “I’d like to know if today’s raid was some sort of a rebuff for last night”, he said. “We had nothing to do with any of what happened and then this morning, at some unearthly hour we were pulled out of bed and treated in a totally derogatory manner”. He said the group had not gotten to bed until early this morning and then were dragged out of bed by police about 8:30 am.

“They came into our rooms and started abusing us – they were very rude”, he said. He said he was “sick do death of authorities asserting arbitrary power”. He had experienced riots before and “it was always the police who provoked the crowd”. He said: “I thought we could get away from this sort of thing out here. I’m just dumbfounded by it all. We just didn’t expect anything like this to happen in Australia”.

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Led Zeppelin History – Feb 15

Today in 1973 Led Zeppelin’s fifth album, Houses of the Holy, was to be released, but problems with the sleeve design pushed the release date back to March 23. The gatefold sleeve was designed by Hipgnosis, who had long provided striking album sleeve designs for Pink Floyd (Meddle, Atom Heart Mother, Dark Side of the Moon) and many others, including Argus by Wishbone Ash, which is said to be the impetus for Jimmy Page contacting them here. The initial design concept involved recreating their 4th album’s “zoso” logo on the Nazca plains of Peru, but that idea was scrapped for one based on the ending of the 1953 science fiction novel Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke. The ending involves all the children of the earth climbing towards a special pinnacle, from which to depart for another world.

hoth-us

 

The concept was photographed at a natural basalt rock column formation in Northern Ireland called the Giant’s Causeway. Hipgnosis shot two children (real-life brother and sister Stefan and Samantha Gates) climbing naked up the rocks. Originally intended to be shot in color, 10 solid days of rain forced them to ultimately go with all black & white photos on the 11th day, and then hand-tint them in the studio.

 

When finally finished, Jimmy Page still had to fight with Atlantic for release, as this album, like the fourth, had no cover identification of the band or record label. They settled for a paper band around the midsection, stating the name of the group and the album title. Some early versions also had a sticker on the shrinkwrap. The paper band served a dual purpose in the US, as it was also designed to cover Samantha’s naked rear end. Even with the paper band, the album was still banned in some Bible-belt areas of the country for a few years…

 

Led Zeppelin History – Feb 14

Today in 1972 Zeppelin had to cancel a planned concert in Singapore, which was the start date of their only Australian Tour, when they were refused entry into the country due to their long hair; they were not even permitted to get off their plane. The ultra-conservative government was in the midst of a campaign against the “corrupting” influence of Western culture – long hair, drugs, sex – on the youth of Singapore. The band had to fly back to London and then start the Australian tour directly from Perth two days later.

Led Zeppelin History – Feb 11

This is a little post-Led Zeppelin history…

Today in 1985 the debut album from The Firm was released, featuring Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) on guitar, Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company) singing, Chris Slade (Uriah Heep, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) on drums, and English musician Tony Franklin on bass. [Franklin is generally credited with introducing the fretless bass to heavy metal and hard rock music, as its sound is not something commonly heard in these genres.]

Supposedly both Page and Rodgers refused to bring any material from their former bands, and instead opted for new tracks, a cover or two (“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”), and selections from previous solo work. However, according to Cameron Crowe (who wrote the essay booklet for Zeppelin’s 1990 box set), the last track on the album, “Midnight Moonlight”, is a fleshed-out version of an unreleased Led Zeppelin instrumental track called “Swan Song”, which is supposedly an outtake from Zep’s 1975 Physical Graffiti album.

Led Zeppelin History – Feb 9

Today in 1970 Led Zeppelin scored their first UK #1 album with Led Zeppelin II. Released in Nov 1969 and featuring the US #4 single “Whole Lotta Love”, it went on to stay on the UK chart for 136 weeks. It also reached #1 in the US, with the RIAA now having certified it as selling over 12 million copies in the US alone.

Led Zeppelin II is a dynamic hybrid of rock styles that, among other things, marks the emergence of Robert Plant as a serious songwriter (“What Is and What Should Never Be”, “Thank You”). It also afforded him his first songwriting credits; he’d been absent from the debut album credits due to previous contractual commitments with CBS Records. “Moby Dick” is John Bonham’s spotlight song and “The Lemon Song” (or “Killing Floor”, as it was known in live performances) showed their blues roots, while hard-rockers “Whole Lotta Love” and “Living Loving Maid” made their way to radio. Many critics cite this album as the birth of the “heavy metal” genre…

Track Listing:

1
Whole Lotta Love
What is and What Should Never Be
Lemon Song
Thank You

2
Heartbreaker
Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)
Moby Dick
Bring it on Home