October 4, 1968
Setlists during these early tours include: Communication Breakdown, I Can't Quit You Baby, You Shook Me, Dazed & Confused, Babe I'm Gonna Leave You and How Many More Times.
Press: Fan recalls Led Zeppelin gig at Newcastle Mayfair
A NORTH music fan has lifted the lid on the night Led Zeppelin played their first ever gig in Newcastle.
Billed as one of the greatest rock bands of all time, Led Zeppelin went on to sell millions of albums worldwide and conquer American stadiums in the late 1960s and 1970s.
But it’s a little known fact that the four-piece started their gigging life on stage at the now defunct Mayfair Ballroom in Newcastle in October, 1968.
As the 44th anniversary of this historic gig passed, North East musician John Woods shared his memories of the night the then relatively unknown band performed together as a foursome for the very first time.
The 68-year-old, whose band Junco Partners supported Led Zeppelin that very night, said: “It’s a long time ago but I remember being asked by the Mayfair promoter to play, supporting them with a couple of other local bands but I didn’t really know much about them.
“I had heard of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page but didn’t really know much about the band.”
It was Jimmy Page’s band the Yardbirds that had originally been booked to play the venue on October 4, 1968 but they had since split.
Page wanted to honour all the pre-booked gigs so he saw it as an opportunity to introduce his new band which was made up of drummer John Bonham, bassist John Paul Jones, Page on guitar and singer Robert Plant
Initially going under the name the New Yardbirds, the hundreds of gig-goers who squeezed into the Mayfair that night were unaware that history was in the making.
“They came on the night and we shared a dressing room back stage with them and they were a good bunch,” said John.
“They weren’t as mad as they came to be but a couple of them were a bit bonkers. Jimmy Page, in particular, definitely seemed a bit bonkers.”
The Junco Partners took to the stage before the New Yardbirds to warm up the crowd before joining the audience to watch the newly-formed band.
John, of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, said: “We all watched John Bonham on the drums and just remember thinking what a killer drummer he was.
“He had so much power and feel. If a drummer has got the feel it makes the band 20 times better.
“For a four-piece they were loud as hell which is what I like.
“They played all their songs well and they wrote their own material, it all seemed to be going well for them.”
He added: “Playing with a band like that I thought ‘these guys know what it’s all about’.
“It was a good crowd but it wasn’t full because they didn’t have the name at that stage.
“But within one or two years Led Zeppelin were big business.
“After the gig we just sort of put them on the mental back-burner in our heads but when I saw they had done so well I was really chuffed because that’s the sort of story you can tell to your mates.”
John, who owns Flip Vintage in Newcastle City Centre, says he still looks back on the night with fond memories and counts himself lucky to have been involved in the now monumental night.
“Looking back now I think we did watch them and appreciate what they did and, even though Robert Plant was a little vain, he was a great singer,” remembered John.
l In 2007, 20 million rock fans applied online for 18,000 tickets to Led Zeppelin’s one-off reunion at the O2 Arena, London. Now, five years on, that concert will be finally released on the DVD, Celebration Day, next month.
Oct 14 2012 by Ruth Lawson, Sunday Sun
Led Zeppelin's first gig - Newcastle Mayfair - 4th October 1968
by Hazel Plater and Ian Ravendale
I'm very proud that this story, written by Ian Ravendale (real name Ian Penman, but he writes articles under this name to avoid confusion with former NME writer Ian Penman), has appeared in Classic Rock magazine this month thanks to input from the North East Music History Facebook group. Turns out Led Zeppelin's first gig was at Newcastle's Mayfair - 4th October 1968 - a fact hitherto unreported. The article tells the full story and includes first hand accounts from NEMH group members Ray Laidlaw and Charlie Foskett, a late-friend's tale told by John Porteous and additional research by Marshall Hall. Well done everyone concerned - Led Zeppelin history, North East Music History and a fine story unveiled! The magazine is available from all good newsagents or by subscription from http://www.classicrockmagazine.com/
Led Zeppelin's first gig featured in Classic Rock magazine October 2012
After I posted the above article, Ian himself got in touch with me, to elaborate on how the Classic Rock story happened:
"The legendary Led Zeppelin played their first handful of UK gigs under the name The New Yardbirds, a roll-over from leader Jimmy Page's former band whose final gig obligations they were honouring. The first of these shows was at Newcastle Mayfair ballroom on 4 October 1968 with support slots from local bands Downtown Faction and The Junco Partners plus New York Public Library, originally from Leeds but based in London by this time. I'd found out about the show while researching another possible locally based Led Zeppelin story. The fact that Zep made their UK debut on Tyneside and under a different name jumped out to me as a potentially fascinating subject for an article and Classic Rock agreed.
Still being billed as The Yardbirds, on the night they were billed as The New Yardbirds
If anything was going to stretch my super-researcher powers it was locating the support bands, audience members, promoter and Mayfair staff and then getting some good stories and anecdotes out of them. The gig was, after all, 44 years ago! But, pulling in favours and with the invaluable help of a notice on the main NEMH site, I got the response I needed from people who were at a gig that was, by most accounts, not very well attended.
In addition to interviewing Ray Laidlaw (Downtown Faction) and Junco Partners Bob Sargeant and Charlie Harcourt I also spoke to promoter Fraser Suffield and Brian Greenaway who was the manager of the Mayfair in 1968 that I located via a lead from Marshall Hall. Brian was seriously ill when I went up to chat with him in hospital in Berwick. He was courteous and responsive and I appreciated him seeing me under very adverse circumstances. Sadly Brian died a couple of days ago.
Some people, like NEMH member Charlie Foskett, had great recall of the event-remarkable because no-one knew, of course, that they were witnessing the first UK gig of the outfit who would become the world's biggest rock band in the 1970’s. Others remembered less but I still unearthed lots of great information that has never seen print before.
I got off to a bit of a false start by spending a fair amount of time trying to track down Terry Reid, who was credited on the advance tickets as the main support act.
Terry rang me and told me that, no, his band Fanasia didn’t play the gig because they were off supporting Cream on their Farewell US tour!
This was why, I surmised, New York Public Library were credited on the Evening Chronicle adverts, which would, of course, have gone to press a lot later than the advance tickets. They’d have been the replacement for Reid. It took a bit of scurrying around (with the deadline looming!) but I managed to get hold of a couple of guys from the band. One was convinced that the gig took place in Glasgow, but I quickly managed to disprove that to him. The other, Tez Stokes, NYPL’s guitarist, was a very good interviewee with a good memory of the event, enhanced by him already slightly knowing John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page.
I was pretty happy with the finished article and the reaction to it.
This is exactly the sort of article I like doing where I can locate people and untold information to tell a story that has previously gone unrelated. Zeppelin have been discussed, debated and written about non-stop since their split in 1980 following the death of John Bonham but very little exists about their first UK gig. Until my article. Thanks to Hazel and everybody else from NEMH who helped me do it.