Today marks the 52nd anniversary of Led Zeppelin‘s first-ever public performance. Billed as “The New Yardbirds,” the quartet was assembled as a means of fulfilling tour contracts put together by Jimmy Pages then-main band, the Yardbirds, long after Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton had both left the group. Zeppelin’s first show took place at Gladsaxe Teen Clubs in Gladsaxe, Denmark (near Copenhagen), in front of 1,200 curious fans who were interested to check out Page’s new version of the popular blues-rock outfit.
Eager to press the boundaries of the British blues revival, it was Page who took the crumbling Yardbirds and put together a new lineup. Bassist/pianist/mandolinist John Paul Jones was an obvious choice for the band, as the talented multi-instrumentalist was a well known and respected session musician in England at 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 and brought Bonham along from his previous project.
“I knew this was going to be great … We locked together as a team immediately,” said Jones in an early interview in regards to their first rehearsals. Just a few weeks after playing together for the first time, the band made their live debut in Denmark. A local news outlet reported, “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 known as Led Zeppelin, a name that reportedly came from Keith Moon of The Who predicting that the band would “Go down like a lead zeppelin.”
The band returned to Denmark the following year in March 1969, where they taped their performance for a lucky group of fans which was aired on TV BYEN. The band played a selection of original tunes that appeared on their debut album, released just two months prior, including “Communication Breakdown”, “Dazed and Confused”, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”, and “How Many More Times”. Relive the performance in full below.
Led Zeppelin – TV BYEN – 3/17/69
[Video: Led Zeppelin Rarities]