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47 Years Ago: Led Zeppelin Make Their Live Debut

Jorgen Angel/Redferns, Getty Images

Led Zeppelin performed together for the first time on Sept. 7, 1968, but not under that now-famous name.

By the summer of 1968, the once-mighty Yardbirds had all but fallen apart. Their lead guitarist Jimmy Page picked up the pieces and put together an all-new version of the band for an already-booked tour. This combo would include vocalist Robert Plant, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham. The site of their low-key (but clearly now history-making) debut was the modest Gladsaxe Teen Club of Gladsaxe, Denmark.

In a newsletter from the venue, writer, Bent Larsen stated, “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. Let me in particular give my praise to Jimmy Page who has made a great job with the three new men. They really succeeded and in particular the guitar solo by Page created huge applause […] we can therefore conclude that the new Yardbirds are at least as good as the old ones were.”

“It’s only a short while before the concert that we realized it wouldn’t the “real” Yardbirds that were going to play,” photographer Jorgen Angel told Kashmir, “Gladsaxe Teen Club had booked the Yardbirds a few months before, but the Yardbirds broke up and Peter Grant and Jimmy Page came with other musicians to fulfill those commitments. They signed a contract for a small tour in Scandinavia. Jimmy recruited three other guys and they played all the clubs where the Yardbirds were supposed to play.” Angel’s photos from the show, one of which you can see above, are now legendary.

This first show was a late afternoon gig, beginning at 5:30, and was followed with a second show that evening at the Brondby Pop Club in Norregardhallen, Brondby, Denmark. Though no set list survived, it is safe to say the shows likely included songs such as “White Summer,” “You Shook Me,” “Dazed and Confused,” and “Train Kept A-Rollin,” all of which were Yardbirds staples at the time. Support acts for the first show were Fourways and Bodies, and no, we’re not sure what became of them. Page soon changed the name of the group, either because of legal claims from other former Yardbirds members or out of a desire to start fresh, and the rest is history.

See Led Zeppelin and Other Rockers in the Top 100 Albums of the ’60s

This Day in Rock History: September 7

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