Led Zeppelin

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Led Zeppelin
Photo: Chris Walter/WireImage

On 7th Sept 1968, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham made their live debut as Led Zeppelin but billed as The Yardbirds at Teen Club in Gladsaxe (a suburb in the outskirts of Copenhagen), Denmark. Around 1,200 youngsters attended the show at Egegard School. Teen Club President Lars Abel introducing ‘The New Yardbirds’ on stage introduced Robert Plant as Robert Plat. A local review stated; “Their performance and their music were absolutely flawless, and the music continued to ring nicely in the ears for some time after the curtains were drawn after their show. We can therefore conclude that the new Yardbirds are at least as good as the old ones were”

Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham played together for the first time on 12th Aug 1968,when they rehearsed at a studio in Lisle Street in London’s West End. The first song they played was “Train Kept A-Rollin.” Released in 1951, written by Tiny Bradshaw and co-produced by Ahmet Ertegun – the man who would sign Zeppelin to his Atlantic label and who eventfully would be the reason that the greatest rock band ever would reform over 40 years later for a tribute to the great man.

Funny how things work out.

According to John Paul Jones, the room “exploded” on that day in 1968 as they kicked into the song ‘Train Kept a Rollin’, they knew they had something. They subsequently played the song as their show opener on tours during 1968 and 1969.

It’s hard, even with hindsight, to describe the impact that Zeppelin had on music. Jimmy Page had grown up in the safe haven of post-war suburban Surrey, England, the same breeding ground that had spawned two other guitar colossi, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, and his devotion to the guitar had led to him leaving school at the age of fifteen to take it up as a career.

Having become a highly-regarded session musician by 1965, he recommended his friend Jeff Beck as Eric Clapton’s replacement in the groundbreaking Yardbirds, only to join the band alongside Beck in 1966.

Two tough years of gigging followed, mostly in the USA, and after Beck quit to form the first of a line of Jeff Beck Groups, Page carried on the torch. His fellow band members wanted to go in a different musical direction, but ceded Page the group name, so in the Summer of 1968 he set about creating the band to crystallise his musical vision, who initially fulfilled Yardbirds live dates as The New Yardbirds.

The story has been told many times of how the group came together: Page’s first choice vocalist Terry Reid recommended the young singer Robert Plant (who had already been in three bands); Plant pushed for his friend John Bonham, who was drumming for artists of the calibre of Tim Rose and had several offers to juggle.

Fellow session player and veteran pop arranger/bassist John Paul Jones called up Jimmy Page and the lineup was set. Even so, things might not have jelled, but they did.

Bonham’s solidity and Jones’ fluidity, coupled with a mutual love of soul music, proved the ideal bedrock for Page’s structured folk and blues influences, combined with a talent for rock song arrangement that ensured the audience’s interest. On top of that came Robert Plant’s unique vocal style, rooted in blues but with incredible power in the upper range, plus a range of lyrical interests that extended beyond the straight pop and blues references of the time.

If you consider that the UK Number One singles of Autumn 1968 included Mary Hopkin and Hugo Montenegro, it gives some idea of the alternative that Zeppelin offered, one that was gratefully received by the nation’s concert goers. They wouldn’t be hearing much of Zeppelin on UK radio, but the band were to travel the breadth of the country, offering their phenomenally powerful show to anyone prepared to put them on, conquering Britain and the US in short order with drive, excitement, and most of all, musicianship.

Led Zeppelin’s debut album took only 36 hours of studio time to complete at a cost of just £1,782, with most of the tracks being recorded ‘live’ in the studio with very few overdubs.

The album exploded on the rock scene in January 1969 and arguably rock music has never been the same since. Zeppelin have been much maligned for their allegedly one-dimensional approach to rock music – mostly from people who’ve never properly listened to them. The blame for the many sub-Zeppelin imitators who have taken only the hard riffology of Page’s vision and added none of the band’s additional funk, soul, blues and folk influences can’t be laid at Zeppelin’s feet. But that is also why their music and their albums are still listened to in 2011, when that of their younger copyists has fallen by the wayside.

Zeppelin’s performances still remain supreme, long may the train keep a-rollin’. Get on board…

We have a new book Led Zeppelin – The Day I Was There available for pre order. This hardback edition is limited to 500 copies, each numbered 1-500 and signed by the author Richard Houghton.

Led Zeppelin – The Day I Was There is a collection of over 500 eyewitness accounts of seeing the band live, with fans recalling memories of the earliest Yardbirds and Zeppelin shows at UK and European clubs right through the record breaking US tours and the O2 Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert in 2007. With personal photographs, memorabilia, fascinating anecdotes, and fan stories that have never been published before. Published June 16 2019.

Led Zeppelin The Day I Was There



  1. Ron Wigglesworth

    March 7, 2019 at 11:48 pm

    Led Zeppelin has no comparison to any other bands I’ve been listening to since the 60’s. Their music completely transforms my soul like no other band. I will become mesmerized listening to every note and lyrics. I especially love listening through my headphones when I’m completely relaxed and alone in my being. The music takes me to places that I never knew existed. They are in my opinion the BEST rock band ever.

  2. Sylvian Paquette Bradley

    March 8, 2019 at 2:46 am

    Hahahaha hilarious

  3. Kathleen Urich

    March 11, 2019 at 12:27 am

    Led Zeppelin not only changed the rock & roll landscape but how rock was performed live and recorded. They changed how bands toured. They will always be my number one. These four amazing musicians still dominate 50 years later.

  4. Will

    September 8, 2019 at 11:58 am

    They covered a lot of blues songs from the early days and gave them a Zeppelin touch,wich was unique! They just,like Eric Clapton did,
    should have paid royalties to their blues heroes, instead of letting people believe that THEY wrote the songs (like Whole lotta love etc.)

  5. Mike

    September 8, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    Led Zeppelin stole scores of songs. Lyrics are sophomoric at best. Greatest rock band is clearly the Stones or Who that wrote their own material and produced some of the greatest rock anthems ever.

  6. Andrew

    September 9, 2019 at 6:46 am

    Lol. Mike. Greatest rock band the the who or stones???!!!

    First, the stones. As has been said many times, Keith Richards has made living regurgitating Chuck Berry. He supposedly loves the blues. He could only dream of having written “since I’ve been loving you”. The greatest blues song ever written outside of Chicago or the delta.

    As for the Who. The album Who’s Next has a valid claim for greatest ever rock album but everything else they have done is pretty average. Quadrophenia is the most overrated album ever.

    The last word should go to the NME encylopedia of Rock. It says on their night nothing comes close to Plant and Page exercising their considerable talents.

    Btw it was beyond the metre of Townshend or Richards to fuse English folk witn hard rock.

  7. Don

    October 27, 2019 at 4:29 am

    No band compares to Led Zeppelin. The who would not be in the top 10 bands that Led Zeppelin would consider to open up for them.

  8. Andrew Chislett

    November 1, 2019 at 9:21 am

    Don. Have you seen Woodstock? “See me. Feel me” by the Who is pretty amazing. Highlight of Woodstock. Even better than Hendrix doing the Star spangled banner.

    Actually the Who would be the perfect band to open for Zep.

  9. Notthought

    March 9, 2020 at 4:37 am

    A few songs I’ve heard in my time that impacted me so much I remember clearly where I was when I first heard it and how I grooved to it. Kashmir is one of them.

  10. Lawrence B

    April 17, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    The great thing about Zep is that you can listen to a song multiple times; each time concentrating on one of the musicians and it sounds different every time. They were all masters in their field. Daltry could sing but he’s no Plant. And Plant is no Cornell… Stones are a lot of fun but ….

  11. Paul Nicholson

    August 13, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    No, nobody could ‘open’ for Led Zeppelin. I have seen them live and seen live all the other bands of the same decades and many others since and no, nobody could open for Led Zeppelin. The Who are not even anywhere near the same ballpark, mere child nursery rhymes for the mediocre mod taste compared to Zeppelin.

  12. mark c pluta

    August 26, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    Best band ever and will always be. Enjoy every song .I grew up as a drummer since 7 yrs old and 1st album was physical Graffiti. Now i’m 56 and know a lot of the Zep music note for note playing it and enjoy drumming to it all Thank u Led Zeppelin.

  13. Johnny Moore

    March 30, 2021 at 6:01 pm

    The Yardbirds were successful for years before Led Zeppelin. I’m 68 years of age and my first album was the original Yardbirds. They were great! So, I wonder how accurate the rest of the article is. You lost me in the first paragraph.

  14. Rick Hocks

    April 20, 2021 at 1:02 am

    I love Led Zeppelin and think they are one of the absolute best bands of all time – quite obviously, a lot of people think this is so. I wouldn’t be so quick to put down the Who – quite obviously, a lot of people do that these days. I bought the first Zeppelin album as a kid in the spring of 1969 – and then every other album pretty much when it was released. I saw Zeppelin live three times. A lot of people back then accused Led Zeppelin of “stealing the Who’s act” – which is ridiculous – but the Who were a huge influence – which is natural. Zeppelin took off as Cream broke up – and in those days everyone considered Eric Clapton the better guitarist. I say Page passed him up some – but to my mind they are more or less equals. We have been reliving the “Bigger than the Beatles” headlines (I still remember reading them) and lots of people say Zeppelin was much better than the Beatles … But where would Zeppelin or any of us be without The Beatles? Jimi Hendrix was more innovative and amazing – but he had flaws and a too short career. And Jimi never had a band as powerful as Zeppelin or Cream. People will laugh at me – but I love the Grateful Dead as much as Zeppelin. My point is all of these bands played off one another and existed in a flow of music. There were moments with Led Zeppelin that I thought were silly – and I grew tired of them for a while – but not for long. They deserve the reverence they get from me and so many others. Musicianship and Creativity just flowed – and they never made a single album that was less than amazing (give or take a song or two). And the songs I don’t like – others love.

  15. Lisa Boland

    August 13, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    I saw Led Zeppelin open for the Who in 69. They played in Maryland. Unbelievable show. I never wanted them to stop. The Who came on and played TOMMY! There was no contest. Zeppelin stole the show. I love them both. Musically, vocally, Zeppelin all the way. 6 more concerts and they only got better. I don’t hate the Who. I just love Zeppelin.

  16. Brian Downey

    December 7, 2021 at 2:37 pm

    Saw Zepp live at Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto in Sept ’71, awesome live show! Saw many live bands back then but Zepp concert will always be the best hands down.

  17. Bear

    December 7, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    I know everyone has their own opinion but Led Zeppelin is one of the best rock bands in history. The memories I have of them and seeing them in person is second to none. I also like the Stones but the two times I saw them they weren’t very good. I do like their music and their right up there with Zeppelin and the doors.

  18. Nigel White

    August 13, 2022 at 11:46 am

    The Stones are the greatest rock band ever, even Zep would agree with that. Over 60 years and still selling out to massive audiences. Without them, the other bands would not have done what they did.

  19. Todd Werley

    August 13, 2022 at 9:27 pm

    I think they are an Awesome Band. I had tickets to go see them in 1980 but unfortunately John Bonham passed away so I cashed my ticket in and got a half barrel of beer and drank to them all night. Lynyrd Skynyrd is the best American Band.I like all types of music well almost all music.

  20. Ron

    September 8, 2022 at 2:17 pm

    Except history shows that Steve Marriott was Jimmy’s first choice as vocalist. The Terry Reid story is always well published, but not the facts

  21. Jim

    September 8, 2022 at 9:45 pm

    Stop it. Greatest band of all time. The Beatles!!!. Then whatever order you want to put the Stones and the Mighty Zep in. The Who. A ton of great songs, but not the same as these first three.

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