The rock juggernaut that became the Led Zeppelin that we know now has an anniversary that you might have missed. December 30th, 1968, before the first “Led Zeppelin I” album was released in the United States the first live bootleg recording of the band occurred.  

As the Yardbirds broke up Jimmy Page had an idea for a new band, “The New Yardbirds” with John Bonham, John Paul Jones, and Robert Plant. The New Yardbirds played a few dates in Europe but by the time they came to the states they had become Led Zeppelin. 

The sound of the band was the brainchild of Jimmy Page and that sound would shock and baffle some listeners but the majority of the audience embraced the sonic thunderstorm that exploded from the stage. 

On December 30th, 1968 Led Zeppelin played a show at Gonzaga University in Spokane Washington opening for Vanilla Fudge (another band to check out). At the time Zeppelin was so unknown that they were listed on the bill as “Len Zefflin.” A bootleg of that show recorded by a student with a small portable tape recorder has been circulating for decades.  

Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records

Two weeks later the band's first LP “Led Zeppelin I” was released. I remember the first time I heard Zeppelin on the radio, I was not even sure what I was hearing. Later I would raid my sister's record library for “Led Zeppelin I” and “Led Zeppelin II.” It changed the way I thought about music and the way it was recorded. 

So happy anniversary to Led Zeppelin and the enterprising student who bootlegged “Len Zefflin” at Gonzaga all those years ago. 

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