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Gonzaga University, Kennedy Pavillion - December 30, 1968

  • These early U.S. dates include: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, As Long As I Have You (incl. Fresh Garbage, Shake, Mockingbird), Dazed and Confused, White Summer / Black Mountainside, How Many More Times, Pat's Delight
srapallo's picture
on September 20, 2007 - 1:59pm
Rate this show: 
Average: 4.9 (367 votes)
December 30, 1968
Spokane
WA
United States
us
Setlist: 

These early U.S. dates include: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, As Long As I Have You (incl. Fresh Garbage, Shake, Mockingbird), Dazed and Confused, White Summer / Black Mountainside, How Many More Times, Pat's Delight

Note: 

Led Zeppelin open for Vanilla Fudge, billed as "Len Zefflin" in an advertisement for the show.


Spokane was an early step on 'Len Zefflin's' stairway to stardom

How obscure was the opening band for Vanilla Fudge at Gonzaga University on Dec. 30, 1968? Well, the ads in both The Spokesman-Review and Chronicle read, "The Vanilla Fudge, with Len Zefflin."

The ad copywriter misheard the name and thought it was some guy named "Len Zefflin."

Little did anybody know that old Len would turn out to be Led Zeppelin, one of the most popular and influential rock bands of all time, whose reunion concert this month made worldwide news.

That 1968 show at Gonzaga's Kennedy Pavilion would later assume a historic status in Zeppelin lore – all because a student brought a small tape recorder.

Today, this tape – bootlegged and distributed all over the world and the Web – is widely considered the first Led Zeppelin concert ever captured on tape; the earliest live recording of Led Zeppelin ever.

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.' "

So their first album wasn't even out yet. The album would not make a mark on the charts until February 1969.

This concert was only their fifth in the U.S. The band had done tours of the U.K. and Scandinavia a few months before, many of them as The New Yardbirds, the band's short-lived original name. Some of these dates were actually leftover bookings for the Yardbirds, guitarist Jimmy Page's earlier band. Page and his new mates Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones had taken over some of these concert bookings.

So the band was mostly an unknown quantity. Yet at least one concertgoer, Bob Gallagher – a record store 4,000 Holes – was aware that he wasn't going to see some guy named Len Zefflin.

"We knew who Jimmy Page was, from the Yardbirds, and we heard it was his band," said Gallagher, who was a teenager at the time. "I was a big Vanilla Fudge fan because psychedelia was really happening then. … But we were excited about seeing Jimmy Page."

Spokane was experiencing a severe cold snap that week, with temperatures dropping to 10 below. Apparently, the Kennedy Pavilion (Gonzaga's gym) wasn't well-heated either, because many fans remember it as being icy inside, as well.

But when Led Zeppelin launched into the first song, the place heated up.

"Bonham came out and started drumming on 'Train Kept a-Rollin',' and everybody went, 'Holy crap,' " said Gallagher. "There's never been a drummer like him. He was awesome. Then they all started playing and they were totally amazing."

Plant said, between songs, "You won't believe this, but I don't think that either ourselves or our equipment is quite used to the temperature. It's taken about three hours of gas stoves under the equipment to get everything going."

A little later Plant said they were now "getting warmed up properly," and you can hear the crowd response building after each song. By the evidence of the recording, the band's sound was already fully formed, distinguished by Plant's wailing voice – at one point he sounds like a siren – and Page's virtuoso guitar.

"What I mostly remember is when Jimmy Page took out a violin bow and began bowing his double-neck guitar," remembered Jeff "Tor" Nadeau. "The house was universally mind-blown. It was the most stunning and awesome sound ever."

"It took about a half a song before everybody was blown away," remembered David Priano. "When Plant harmonized to Page's pipe-wrench riffs, the audience went nuts. The other thing I remember was the drum solo (during 'Pat's Delight'). As a rule I don't like them. This was the exception. When he threw away his drum sticks and finished with his bare hands – far out."

"We were hoping that the first band wouldn't stay on stage too long," said Kerry Whitsitt of Spokane. "Little did I know that by the end of Led Zeppelin's set, I would be reeling in my seat, transfixed by Robert Plant's voice, body language and raw sexuality (I just knew he was looking straight through me most of the night). … It was electric in every sense of the word. We didn't want them to leave the stage – ever!"

Whitsitt recalls that Vanilla Fudge "paled in comparison," even though that band was riding high at the time with a hit version of "You Keep Me Hangin' On." Mike and Dorothy McMurtery said they left the show more impressed with Led Zeppelin, "whose hard rock music was ahead of its time for Spokane."

Dave Cole said he was startled, at intermission, to see who was standing in line behind him at the concession stand.

"Right behind me were Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, waiting to order," said Cole. "I thought it was pretty cool at the time. Several months later, when their first album was released and they got a lot more famous, I began to think it was even cooler."

Gallagher described the show as a turning point in his musical life. He said that he and his friends were simply "flabbergasted" by the time Led Zeppelin left the stage.

"Then when Vanilla Fudge came on, they were so sleepy," said Gallagher. "It was like, after that, psychedelia was dead and heavy metal was born, all in a three-hour show. We didn't care about psychedelia anymore. We all just ran back to our Yardbirds records."

"We felt transformed," said Whitsitt. "Those of us who experienced it together felt like we were in a special club."

About 30 years later, one member of that club walked into Gallagher's store and started talking about that show.

(by Jim Kershner / The Spokesman-Review)

 

Notes: 

Led Zeppelin open for Vanilla Fudge, billed as "Len Zefflin" in an advertisement for the show.


Spokane was an early step on 'Len Zefflin's' stairway to stardom

How obscure was the opening band for Vanilla Fudge at Gonzaga University on Dec. 30, 1968? Well, the ads in both The Spokesman-Review and Chronicle read, "The Vanilla Fudge, with Len Zefflin."

The ad copywriter misheard the name and thought it was some guy named "Len Zefflin."

Little did anybody know that old Len would turn out to be Led Zeppelin, one of the most popular and influential rock bands of all time, whose reunion concert this month made worldwide news.

That 1968 show at Gonzaga's Kennedy Pavilion would later assume a historic status in Zeppelin lore – all because a student brought a small tape recorder.

Today, this tape – bootlegged and distributed all over the world and the Web – is widely considered the first Led Zeppelin concert ever captured on tape; the earliest live recording of Led Zeppelin ever.

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.' "

So their first album wasn't even out yet. The album would not make a mark on the charts until February 1969.

This concert was only their fifth in the U.S. The band had done tours of the U.K. and Scandinavia a few months before, many of them as The New Yardbirds, the band's short-lived original name. Some of these dates were actually leftover bookings for the Yardbirds, guitarist Jimmy Page's earlier band. Page and his new mates Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones had taken over some of these concert bookings.

So the band was mostly an unknown quantity. Yet at least one concertgoer, Bob Gallagher – a record store 4,000 Holes – was aware that he wasn't going to see some guy named Len Zefflin.

"We knew who Jimmy Page was, from the Yardbirds, and we heard it was his band," said Gallagher, who was a teenager at the time. "I was a big Vanilla Fudge fan because psychedelia was really happening then. … But we were excited about seeing Jimmy Page."

Spokane was experiencing a severe cold snap that week, with temperatures dropping to 10 below. Apparently, the Kennedy Pavilion (Gonzaga's gym) wasn't well-heated either, because many fans remember it as being icy inside, as well.

But when Led Zeppelin launched into the first song, the place heated up.

"Bonham came out and started drumming on 'Train Kept a-Rollin',' and everybody went, 'Holy crap,' " said Gallagher. "There's never been a drummer like him. He was awesome. Then they all started playing and they were totally amazing."

Plant said, between songs, "You won't believe this, but I don't think that either ourselves or our equipment is quite used to the temperature. It's taken about three hours of gas stoves under the equipment to get everything going."

A little later Plant said they were now "getting warmed up properly," and you can hear the crowd response building after each song. By the evidence of the recording, the band's sound was already fully formed, distinguished by Plant's wailing voice – at one point he sounds like a siren – and Page's virtuoso guitar.

"What I mostly remember is when Jimmy Page took out a violin bow and began bowing his double-neck guitar," remembered Jeff "Tor" Nadeau. "The house was universally mind-blown. It was the most stunning and awesome sound ever."

"It took about a half a song before everybody was blown away," remembered David Priano. "When Plant harmonized to Page's pipe-wrench riffs, the audience went nuts. The other thing I remember was the drum solo (during 'Pat's Delight'). As a rule I don't like them. This was the exception. When he threw away his drum sticks and finished with his bare hands – far out."

"We were hoping that the first band wouldn't stay on stage too long," said Kerry Whitsitt of Spokane. "Little did I know that by the end of Led Zeppelin's set, I would be reeling in my seat, transfixed by Robert Plant's voice, body language and raw sexuality (I just knew he was looking straight through me most of the night). … It was electric in every sense of the word. We didn't want them to leave the stage – ever!"

Whitsitt recalls that Vanilla Fudge "paled in comparison," even though that band was riding high at the time with a hit version of "You Keep Me Hangin' On." Mike and Dorothy McMurtery said they left the show more impressed with Led Zeppelin, "whose hard rock music was ahead of its time for Spokane."

Dave Cole said he was startled, at intermission, to see who was standing in line behind him at the concession stand.

"Right behind me were Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, waiting to order," said Cole. "I thought it was pretty cool at the time. Several months later, when their first album was released and they got a lot more famous, I began to think it was even cooler."

Gallagher described the show as a turning point in his musical life. He said that he and his friends were simply "flabbergasted" by the time Led Zeppelin left the stage.

"Then when Vanilla Fudge came on, they were so sleepy," said Gallagher. "It was like, after that, psychedelia was dead and heavy metal was born, all in a three-hour show. We didn't care about psychedelia anymore. We all just ran back to our Yardbirds records."

"We felt transformed," said Whitsitt. "Those of us who experienced it together felt like we were in a special club."

About 30 years later, one member of that club walked into Gallagher's store and started talking about that show.

(by Jim Kershner / The Spokesman-Review)

 

Setlists: 

These early U.S. dates include: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, As Long As I Have You (incl. Fresh Garbage, Shake, Mockingbird), Dazed and Confused, White Summer / Black Mountainside, How Many More Times, Pat's Delight

Comments

Robert Halstead's picture

It was so cold they could not get their equipment to work they did a tune Fresh Garbage then did a jam Spokane Snow Melt untill thier amps warmed and instruments stated to work correctly.I have not seen this on their setlist no record of this but believe me they did these two numbers.The whole night was sureal no one had any idea who these guys were they looked alittle out of place standing in line for coffee I knew they were not Spokane Hippies Into the set Jimmy Page started playing his guitar with a violin bowe and Everyone was blown away.I do not remember much after that.We did not even know what we were witnessing.

Jim's picture

This show is the earliest known live audience tape of the band. Sound is average. If you're looking for professional sounding recordings of the band this is not it. There is a violih bow run in Dazed and Confused that I can listen to over and over. It starts at 4:16 and ends at 4:53. I know bootlegs are a dirty word in the industry, but one of the great things about Led Zeppelin is that they improvised, and that evidence can be found in the bootlegs.

cover's picture

Spokane was a blast of a place to grow up - so much fun. Led Zeppelin playing at Gonzaga was just another huge bonus for that University and indeed, the city of Spokane, but what a band. Led Zeppelin rocks and always has and it was fun seeing you, Jimmy in the film "It might get loud". My thanks... :-)

pjowens75's picture

My, how concert prices have changed. Ah the goodle days...

Joe Schaller's picture

Six hippies from Pullman drove thru the -10 cold (I remember it as -20) in a drafty station wagon to Gonzaga to see Vanilla Fudge only to be blown away by Les Zefflin.
It still is my favorite concert story to tell along with the Woodinville festival 7 months later and back then every month brought amazing original sounds appearing out of the woodwork. The late sixties- wow!!!!!

pmd's picture

First concert I ever attended. Didn't have a clue about either band but remember being blown away by Led and thinking the headliners should be absolutely phenomenal . They disappointed greatly. I left wondering if I truly understood rock music. But I also left appreciating Led for the rest of my life. Years later saw them at the Kingdome in Seattle. They weren't billed as Len Zefflin then.

Argenteum Astrum's picture

The only known recording of Led Zeppelin live available from 1968. The recording itself is quite good for the era and gives a glimpse of the raw power of the group only three days into their first ever US tour. Robert comments on how cold it is in Spokane and how the equipment had to be heated up with portable heaters and his voice is absolutely amazing ... he hits the highest notes imagined with no effort! Jonesy and Bonham are incredible and Jimmy's playing is wonderful too. The songs are played shortly and compactly, meaning more energy. The Train Kept A Rollin' sounds like the Yardbird's version before it evolved into the blistering Zeppelin version. We can only imagine the audience seeing this then-unknown group for the first time.

Ian's picture

Jim might be right about the quality of the sound...but his implication about the quality of the playing is equally valid. Early Zeppelin is amazing, and this is the earliest document we have. An absolute treasure to listen to!

michael nantz's picture

Being a graduate of Gonzaga (1985) I am honored to know they played there. Wow, had I'd known this then I would have put some kind of memorial up for the memory. Thank God for Led Zeppelin!!!!!!!!!

Kathryn's picture

This is fascinating to me because my friends and I went to see John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers at Gonzaga's Kennedy Pavillion the next year and we were completely blown away by the over-the-top vocal performance of Robert Plant as well as Jimmy Page's sawing on his guitar!  it was one of the most awesome performances I've ever seen and we didn't know who Zep was until their records became a huge hit and we were playing it constantly, having seen them before they became rockstars!  Does anyone else remember this show circa 1969? 

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Memorabilia:

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Comments

gonzaga concert 68 by michael nantz (not verified)
set list by Robert Halstead (not verified)
Zep for $3, $4, or $5 by pjowens75 (not verified)
First concert I ever by pmd (not verified)
Jim might be right about the by Ian (not verified)
Led Zeppelin at Gonzaga University by cover (not verified)
Six hippies from Pullman by Joe Schaller (not verified)
Gonzaga 68 by Jim (not verified)