Today marks the 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin‘s first show as a band! Billed as “The New Yardbirds,” the band was assembled as a means of fulfilling tour contracts put together by the Yardbirds, long after Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton had both left the band. The group’s first show took place at Gladsaxe Teen Clubs in Gladsaxe, Denmark (near Copenhagen), in front of 1,200 eager music fans who were interested to check out the new version of the seminal outfit.
Eager to press the boundaries of the British blues revival, it was Jimmy Page who took the crumbling Yardbirds and put together a new lineup. John Paul Jones was an obvious choice for the band, as the bassist was a well known and respected session musician of the time. Though Page wanted Terry Reid to front the new band, Reid was unavailable, and suggested Band Of Joy singer Robert Plant for the job. Plant eventually agreed to join “The New Yardbirds,” bringing along Bonham from his previous Band Of Joy project. When the four first rehearsed together, there was magic in the room.
“I knew this was going to be great … We locked together as a team immediately,” said Jones in an early interview. Just a few weeks later, the band made their live debut. A local news outlet reported that, “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.”
While footage of that fateful day isn’t in circulation, the band returned to Denmark just one year later with some new music. They were now Led Zeppelin, a name that reportedly comes from Keith Moon predicting that the band would “go down like a lead zeppelin.” This 1969 TV taping is a true classic, with a baby-faced Robert Plant and Jimmy Page rocking it throughout! John Bonham looked as much the rock star in 1969 as he did during the band’s heyday.
Zeppelin opens with a raging “Communication Breakdown,” before turning to Yardbirds track “Dazed and Confused.” Page shines on this version, as usual, showcasing his skills while using a bow on the guitar. Even at this early of a stage, he was experimenting with the sounds he could create while using his guitar. The “Dazed and Confused” jam is lengthy and wild, with the song eventually clocking in around ten minutes long. They then bring things to a close with a delicate version of “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.”
Enjoy the videos of early Zeppelin below, courtesy of Led Zeppelin Rarities, in honor of the band’s first ever show!