This Day in History (January 6)

Jan 6, 1975: Two thousand Led Zeppelin fans trash the Boston Garden

History.com

On January 6, 1975, a crowd of 2,000-plus lines up outside Boston Garden to buy tickets to the rock band Led Zeppelin. Some in the crowd then broke in to the near-empty arena, and caused thousands of dollars in damage.

“For years and years, we had people line up overnight to wait for tickets,” recalls Steven Rosenblatt, the ticket-office manager at Boston Garden on that January night, “but we never had anything like this.” Someone pried open the Garden’s locked doors around midnight, and soon hundreds of beer-drinking, bottle-throwing Led Zeppelin fans had the run of Boston Garden. “You couldn’t have this kind of crowd running around un-tethered inside the building,” says Rosenblatt, “so we decided to open the ticket windows.” The near-riot was calmed by around 2:30 a.m., when the Garden staff began selling tickets hours ahead of schedule. By 6:00 a.m., all 9,000 seats were sold out and the crowd had dispersed, but not before causing upwards of $50,000 to the Garden and infuriating the Boston’s mayor, Kevin H. White.

No one could accuse Mayor White of failing to understand the power of rock and roll. Back in 1972, he had personally intervened to free the Rolling Stones from a Warwick, Rhode Island, jail rather than risk a riot by angry Stones fans if a scheduled concert in Boston that night were cancelled. White came down hard on the Led Zeppelin rioters. Not only did he cancel the concert scheduled for February 4, but he also announced that the band would not be allowed to perform in Boston for the next five years. In fact, Led Zeppelin would never perform there again. Banned in Beantown, the group moved on to the next stop on their 1975 North American tour and bypassed Boston on their next one in 1977. That tour would be Led Zeppelin’s last in the United States, as the group disbanded following the death of drummer John Bonham on September 25, 1980.

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This Day in History (December 30)

Dec 30, 1968: Led Zeppelin captured live for the first time in Spokane gym

History.com

Within a year, they’d be big. Within two, they’d be huge. And within three, they’d be the biggest band in the world. But on December 30, 1968, the quartet of British rockers preparing for their fifth-ever gig in the United States were using propane heaters to keep themselves and their equipment warm while they waited to go on as the opening act for Vanilla Fudge at a concert in a frigid college gymnasium in western Washington State. A few serious rock fans in attendance had at least heard about the new band formed around the former guitarist from the now-defunct Yardbirds, but if those fans even knew the name of this new group, they might not have recognized it in the ads that ran in the local newspaper. The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Washington, ran an advertisement on this day in 1968 for a concert at Gonzaga University featuring “The Vanilla Fudge, with Len Zefflin”—a concert of which a bootleg recording would later emerge that represents the first-ever live Led Zeppelin performance captured on tape.

At the end of the now widely available recording known as Gonzaga ’68, Robert Plant can be heard introducing himself and his bandmates—John Paul Jones on bass, Jimmy Page on guitar and John Bonham on drums—to a smattering of applause. But some of those who were in attendance that day remember their reaction as being stronger. In a Spokesman-Review article published 29 years after the night in question, Bob Gallagher, a teenage record-store employee at the time, recalled the show’s opening number: “”Bonham came out and started drumming on ‘Train Kept a-Rollin’,” Gallagher said, “and everybody went, ‘Holy crap.'”

“What I mostly remember is when Jimmy Page took out a violin bow and began bowing his double-neck guitar,” said another concertgoer, Jeff Nadeau. “The house was universally mind-blown. It was the most stunning and awesome sound ever.”

There is nothing raw or un-Led Zeppelin-like about the sound captured by an unknown Gonzaga student on a small, portable tape recorder that day. The Gonzaga ’68 bootleg features the band performing tight and thrilling versions of some songs that are now considered classics but were then unknown to those in attendance. Indeed, halfway through the set, Robert Plant introduces one number as follows: “This is off an album that comes out in about three weeks time on the Atlantic label. It’s called Led Zeppelin. This is a tune called ‘Dazed and Confused.'”

Going To California

Going To California
By: Led Zeppelin

Spent my days with a woman unkind,
Smoked my stuff and drank all my wine.
Made up my mind to make a new start,
Going To California with an aching in my heart.
Someone told me there’s a girl out there with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair.
Took my chances on a big jet plane,
never let them tell you that they’re all the same.
The sea was red and the sky was grey,
wondered how tomorrow could ever follow today.
The mountains and the canyons started to tremble and shake
As the children of the sun began to awake.

Seems that the wrath of the Gods
Got a punch on the nose and it started to flow;
I think I might be sinking.
Throw me a line if I reach it in time
I’ll meet you up there where the path
Runs straight and high.

To find a queen without a king,
They say she plays guitar and cries and sings… la la la
Ride a white mare in the footsteps of dawn
Tryin’ to find a woman who’s never, never, never been born.
Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams,
Telling myself it’s not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.