55 Years Ago: The Day Led Zeppelin Made Their Live Debut
Led Zeppelin performed together for the first time on Sept. 7, 1968, but not under that now-famous name.
The Yardbirds had all but fallen apart that summer. Lead guitarist Jimmy Page picked up the pieces and put together an all-new version of the band for an already-booked tour, calling themselves the New Yardbirds.
The site of this low-key (but clearly now history-making) debut with vocalist Robert Plant, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham was the modest Gladsaxe Teen Club of Gladsaxe, Denmark. "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," according to a newsletter issued by the venue.
The anonymous writer added: "Let me in particular give my praise to Jimmy Page who has made a great job with the three new men. They really succeeded, and in particular, the guitar solo by Page created huge applause. ... We can therefore conclude that the New Yardbirds are at least as good as the old ones were."
Fans Soon Realized They Weren't the Yardbirds
Jorgen Angel, who photographed the performance, later told Kashmir: "It's only a short while before the concert that we realized it wouldn't the 'real' Yardbirds that were going to play. Gladsaxe Teen Club had booked the Yardbirds a few months before, but the Yardbirds broke up, and Peter Grant and Jimmy Page came with other musicians to fulfill those commitments."
He said the Yardbirds had already "signed a contract for a small tour in Scandinavia. Jimmy recruited three other guys and they played all the clubs where the Yardbirds were supposed to play."
READ MORE: Counting down every Led Zeppelin solo album.
The New Yardbirds' first show was a late afternoon gig, beginning at 5:30, and was followed by a second show that evening at the Brondby Pop Club in Norregardhallen, Brondby, Denmark. Though no set list survived, it is safe to say the shows likely included songs such as "White Summer," "You Shook Me," "Dazed and Confused" and "Train Kept A-Rollin," all of which were Yardbirds staples at the time.
Support acts for the first show were Fourways and Bodies, who've been lost to history. Page soon changed the name of the group, either because of legal claims from other former Yardbirds members or out of a desire to start fresh, and the rest is history.
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