Led Zeppelin Played Spokane 50 Years Ago Today
Dec. 30, 1968. It's been a long time, indeed.
Fifty years ago today, Led Zeppelin played Spokane and Gonzaga University's 3,800-seat Kennedy Pavilion, opening for Vanilla Fudge, and that night's bootleg recording has become known as the first live recorded performance of the band.
The Spokane newspaper at the time mislabeled them "Len Zefflin" in the runup to the show having misunderstood the real name and having no clue on the cultural impact this band would have on rock music for generations to come. I mean, how could they?
But talk to some of the people there that night and they knew they were witnessing something spectacular. It was only the fifth concert the band had performed together and most of the dates were to satisfy "The New Yardbirds" shows that had been booked in the interim between Jimmy Page finishing his commitment in the Yardbirds and cranking out his new project that Who drummer Keith Moon famously said would go over "like a lead zeppelin."
Here’s how lead singer Robert Plant introduced one of the songs: “This is off an album that comes out in about three weeks time on the Atlantic label. It’s called ‘Led Zeppelin.’ This is a tune … called ‘Dazed and Confused.’ ” Goosebumps.
And it was cold. Spokane was in the midst of deep freeze snap (minus 10 degrees) and because of poor heating at the facility, it literally took three hours for the equipment to warm up. Those who were there remember how cold it was in there.
The show cost $3 to get in. Almost 9 years later, Zeppelin played their final gig in the Northwest in front of 62,000 people at the Kingdome on July 17, 1977.
Fans who were hoping for a quick set from the opener to get to the main band were instantly transformed into believers and by the end of the set, no one wanted the band to leave.
Concertgoers remember Page whipping out the violin bow and Robert Plant's vocal wail matching it note for note, John Bonham finishing his drum solo with his bare hands and once Vanilla Fudge finished their "sleepy" performance, some fans realized in one three-hour show that psychedelia died and heavy metal was born.
Here's the entire 58-minute cleaned up recording posted on YouTube from that night: