Blog‎ > ‎

Fifty years ago, the first half of Led Zeppelin's first full year

posted Jun 30, 2019, 12:43 PM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Jun 30, 2019, 9:16 PM ]

Now that we’re halfway through 2019, it’s safe to say that at this time fifty years ago in 1969, Led Zeppelin’s debut album was a smash hit where it counted the most, and its followup in Led Zeppelin II was only some mastering sessions away from being finished. In refusing customary methods of earning publicity, Led Zeppelin deemed that their albums and live appearances would, going forward, be the only conduits through which fans could encounter Led Zeppelin’s music.


For the past 21 years I have seldom tired of reading about Led Zeppelin, dissecting their work, learning to play it live, and chronicling their history. Last month, I was honored to meet and to befriend the singer Deborah Bonham, younger sister of the late John Bonham. Deborah’s songs are great, and so was her performance of it with her amazing band. Their only cover song of the night was the encore, Bad Company’s “Ready for Love.”


In my contributions this year to the iHeartRadio podcast “Carol Miller’s Get the Led Out,” much of the content has focused on the events of the first half of 1969, Led Zeppelin’s first full year. Carol has gotten used to prefacing many of her stories with the words "Fifty years ago..."


Episode 50 | Get the Led Out calendar Dec. 24, 2018 through Jan. 4, 2019 - Topics include:

    • arriving in US ahead of the first tour…
    • where Jimmy Page had already played with the Yardbirds…
    • Led Zeppelin weren’t a household name…
    • the first time Led Zeppelin were recorded live…
    • playing in Canada for the first time…
    • traveling on closed, icy roads in a blizzard…
    • a surprised Alice Cooper meets a familiar guitarist…
    • the band’s health falters while in Los Angeles…


Episode 52 | Get the Led Out calendar Jan. 7 through Jan. 18 - Topics include:

  • Jimmy Page reveals exactly where he believes Led Zeppelin took off…
  • Led Zeppelin’s debut album is released…
  • Count Basie is replaced in Iowa…
  • A magazine declares 1969 “year of the Zeppelin”…


Episode 54 | Get the Led Out calendar Jan. 21 through Feb. 1 - Topics include:

    • Radio airplay in Boston and elsewhere helps publicize their tour…
    • The importance of the Boston shows as told by John Paul Jones…
    • Robert Plant blows some harmonica while Jimmy Page changes a guitar string…
    • Led Zeppelin are filmed performing at New York’s Fillmore East…
    • A future Robert Plant bandmate and coproducer is in the audience…


Episode 56 | Get the Led Out calendar Feb. 4 through Feb. 15 - Topics include:

  • John Bonham flies home to look after his 2-year-old son…
  • Chicago hosts Led Zeppelin for a full weekend…
  • Drum stands don’t last long with Vanilla Fudge and Zep drummers…
  • Johnny Cash lyrics quoted in Florida…
  • First US tour ends playing alongside the same band from the beginning…


Episode 58 | Get the Led Out calendar Feb. 18 through March 1 - Topics include:

    • Back home in England to report on the American success…
    • Some British people got the wrong impression that Led Zeppelin were American…
    • The band is booked for a very special birthday party…
    • Not all bookings in England actually mean the show took place…


Episode 60 | Get the Led Out calendar March 4 through March 15 - Topics include:

  • A tiny stage in London is insufficient to hold the entire band…
  • A Zeppelin single is released in the US but not in the UK…
  • Breaking into the British music scene took longer, according to Jimmy Page…
  • Scaring an audience in Denmark…
  • Rolling Stone isn’t kind, sparking an instant rivalry…


Episode 62 | Get the Led Out calendar March 18 through March 29 - Topics include:

    • Jimmy Page feels mistreated on a movie set…
    • “Sunshine Woman” is improvised and played, once and done…
    • BBC Television books Zep on the pilot episode of a new show…
    • Jimmy Page wishes British radio could play longer songs…
    • Zep’s PR firm in England delivers news about another US tour…
    • Robert Plant acts like a Boy Scout in an emergency landing…
    • More Londoners now attending Marquee shows, while journalists describe sweat…
    • Delay in releasing Zep’s debut album in the UK ends…


Episode 64 | Get the Led Out calendar April 1 through April 12 - Topics include:

  • Melody Maker covers Led Zeppelin a fair amount…
  • Jimmy Page uses etherial instrument onstage…
  • Band members accept outside London studio work because it’s “A Way of Life”…
  • Some lyrics might sound a little familiar…
  • Some vocals might sound a little unfamiliar…
  • One instrumental was abandoned for longer than four decades…


Episode 66 | Get the Led Out calendar April 15 through April 26 - Topics include:

    • Jimmy Page records an alternate guitar solo not heard on “Heartbreaker”…
    • Some studio overdubs for “Ramble On” are dissected layer by layer…
    • John Paul Jones knows where he stands with Led Zeppelin, under the hi-hat…
    • Some vocal nonsense is preserved on the album while other utterances are replaced…
    • Joe Walsh finds a new owner for his ’59 Gibson Les Paul…
    • Second US tour opens with crowds getting bigger and bigger…
    • Earliest known live performance of “Whole Lotta Love” takes place…


Episode 68 | Get the Led Out calendar April 29 through May 10 - Topics include:

  • Recording on the road takes on a new meaning…
  • Zep assemble their own wall of sound…
  • Back to the road with a show at UC Irvine…
  • Jimmy Page develops the dive-bomber sound…
  • John Paul Jones can’t hear his monitor, but all is well…
  • First came the riff before “Moby Dick” was the drum solo…
  • Jimmy Page identifies which guitar he used to write early Zep material…
  • “Here Comes the Medicine Show” but not there due to a labor strike…
  • The actual name of Zep’s harmonica hut in Vancouver…


Episode 70 | Get the Led Out calendar May 13 through May 24 - Topics include:

    • Wearing leis and carrying original studio masters in progress…
    • Sun Ra’s influence extends 50 years to today…
    • Jose Feliciano fails to sell tickets, but Zep doesn’t…
    • Why the “Heartbreaker” guitar solo sounds so different…
    • No festival appearances just yet…
    • “Whole Lotta Love” achieves another public airing…


Episode 72 | Get the Led Out calendar May 27 through June 7 - Topics include:

  • Zephyr has more in common with Zep than just three letters…
  • Second US tour ends but recording continues in New York…
  • Special appearance by Deborah Bonham on the occasion of her brother’s birthday…
  • How a live Dave Brubeck album influenced Led Zeppelin II…
  • Possibly the earliest instance of Led Zeppelin being sampled…
  • Second Deborah Bonham appearance recounts early encounters…


Episode 74 | Get the Led Out calendar June 10 through June 21 - Topics include:

    • UK shows now being held in concert halls rather than pubs and clubs…
    • Returning to BBC studios for fresh round of radio appearances…
    • Putting a BBC interviewer to shame…
    • Experiencing problems with a French TV show…
    • Borrowing a harmonica and having a great night…
    • Deliberate new stance means avoiding future TV appearances…


Episode 75 | Get the Led Out calendar through June 28 - Topics include:

  • Robert Johnson influences Led Zeppelin at the BBC...
  • Rough mixes of Led Zeppelin II tracks...
  • Time restraints on radio temporarily lifted...
  • Deborah Bonham sees for the first time her brother's band playing live...
Comments