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Fillmore West - January 9, 1969

  • Songs performed during this period include: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, Dazed and Confused, As Long As I Have You, Killing Floor, White Summer / Black Mountainside, You Shook Me, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown.
srapallo's picture
on October 6, 2007 - 6:25am
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Average: 4.5 (41 votes)
January 9, 1969
San Francisco
United States

Songs performed during this period include: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, Dazed and Confused, As Long As I Have You, Killing Floor, White Summer / Black Mountainside, You Shook Me, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown.


Lineup: Taj Mahal, Led Zeppelin, Country Joe & The Fish.

Press Review: The Led Zeppelin: Impressive New Rock Group

Hail and farewell this weekend at Fillmore West. Goodbye to Country Joe and his Fish, who swim their own ways after Sunday night and greetings to Led Zeppelin, as impressive a new British rock group as we’ve ever heard.

The Zeppelin has had some KSAN radio play in recent days but otherwise came in cold; no LPs, only two months organized and a pile of ad agency flack.But this Zeppelin is no lead balloon.

They already sound like a veteran group and soon ought to be ranked in the company of the Who, Rolling Stones and the late Cream.

Basic musical considerations account for my enthusiasm. Led Zeppelin plays in tune, on pitch and with a primarily ensemble approach. They’re musicians, not electronic tinkerers.
Their rhythm is steady but imaginative, moving easily through various tempos and juggling 2-4, 3-4 and 6-8 meters with informal ease. Drummer John Bonham even had a bolero beat going in the midst of a blues.

Led Zeppelin is awfully loud but not distorted. Lead singer Robert Plant doesn’t affect any southern or Negro influences but still wails and moans the old blues line like a Mississippi Delta veteran. He’s from Birmingham, England, by the way as is Bonham.

The Zeppelin has fewer solos than most groups but guitarist Jimmy Page (a Yardbird alumnus) is so strong and distinctive that even in ensembles his work is markedly personal. He knows everything about wah-wah pedal techniques and knocked me out with his long-line refrains played with a violin bow on the electric guitar strings.

At 23, Page is the Zeppelin’s senior member.

John Paul Jones plays bass and writes much of the Zeppelin’s stuff. He’s tremendously powerful, and has such arranging credits as Donovan’s Mellow Yellow and Sunshine Superman, as well as many of the Stones’ biggest hits.

The Zeppelin sticks pretty close to the blues in their sets. Their “How Many More Times” starts with a lazy Jimmy Yancey-style beat (or Elvis Presley for a later generation) and works up to a block-busting climax; Dazed and Confused features a Plant vocal that’s like an extra powerful male Janis Joplin, if you can imagine. [SF Examiner / Jan. 11, 1969]


Songs performed during this period include: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, Dazed and Confused, As Long As I Have You, Killing Floor, White Summer / Black Mountainside, You Shook Me, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown.


Argenteum Astrum's picture

A single song said to be from the band's San Francisco debut at the Fillmore West. The band played these shows with second billing underneath headliners Country Joe And The Fish. The opening act for these shows was Taj Mahal. Like most of the early 1969 shows that the band did, in San Francisco they played two sets each night. Which means that the nightly program during this run at the Fillmore West saw the Taj Mahal do two sets, Zeppelin do two sets, and Country Joe do two sets. As was customary at the Fillmore and Winterland during this era, the start of each of the opening sets by each band was typically introduced by Bill Graham himself. Unfortunetaly, for this Zeppelin remainder, these intros can't be heard on this tape. What is fascinating about this supposed January 9th tape is that it is just the one song. There are a few other instances of this in Zeppelin collecting. Could be that this song was tacked on to someone's trading tape as a bonus (or a tease) by the taper. Or perhaps the taper on this night had intended to tape Country Joe, so only decided to capture one of Zeppelin's songs for the night. Or, perhaps the complete tape exists somewhere, and like so many rumored others, has simply yet to circulate. In any case, we can be fairly confident that the setlist for this show included more than just the one song that circulates on this audience tape, and that it is likely that the band played their complete set. If it is from January 9th, it may have even featured a performance of For Your Love, considering that the date before it and the date after it the band playing the song. Anyway, this is all we have from this show. It's a great performance of the song, sure, but what does it tell us about that night? First, if this tape is from the first night in San Francisco, we can assume that it's from the beginning of the second set. The reason for this can be found in Plant's intro: "Good evening ... thank you very much. It's very nice to come back for a second time. And once again ... uh, it's really a pleasure to be back again." The key to his words is that he mentions coming back for "a second time". Sure, he could be speaking of a second night in town, but from the way that he is talking, it sounds more like a casual sentiment of being back on the stage on the same night. But, as we can't be sure that this tape isn't really from some other date on their first tour, here's a little examination ... If this song isn't from the second set of the first night, but is still from San Francisco, then it would have to be the first song of the second set, from the third night on January 11th. The reason being because the tape we have of that third show features songs from the first set of the night (see Plant's speech before Communication Breakdown about worrying that they wouldn't have time to do another set). And, for the fact that we have those aforementioned complete audience recordings from the second and fourth nights. The song couldn't be from the beginning of that January 11th tape, because coming back for "a second time" wouldn't make sense in regards to either the set (since it was the first set) or the night (since it was the third). Notice that on this supposed January 9th tape, after The Train Kept A Rollin' ends, Page does not go directly into I Can't Quit You Baby, instead pausing and plucking some notes on his guitar. This further supports that this song is from the second set. Because if one examines the setlists from 1969, as well as the shows from 1970 up through April, one will notice that I Can't Quit You Baby was always played as the second song in the first set. So, for them not to have gone straight into the song on this night means that they had likely already played it in the first set. Which, again makes it a possibility that this song could have been from the second set of the first or third night. So, which is it? The first or the third? I lean towards it being from the first. Why? Listen to Plant's voice on this tape when compared to his voice on the third night. He is in great early shape on both nights, but on the recording we have here, he is in very high range. Whereas, the recording we have of the third night has Plant with just a tad less "freshness" to his voice, typical for having sung for three nights in a row. Sure, not a case-closer, but significant nonetheless. Of course, the remaining option is that this tape is not from San Francisco at all, and instead from some other night on the tour. Of which, it could be from anywhere on the tour. Either where they played two sets in one night, or played multiple shows in the same city. Detroit and Boston come to mind. We can limit the search down to this first tour, again by listening to Plant's voice, as well as to Page's guitar. The sound of those Rickenbacker amps only used on that first tour is unmistakeable. We admit that we initially had reservations about this tape having been from such an early date. The crowd sound just a little too rowdy and too enthusiastic to have this be the opening (or second) night in any of the towns that the band played. Not to mention, besides the radio airplay and hype, the band were still relative unknowns, and the first album was not even out yet. But yet, on the beginning of this tape you can hear all sorts of crowd noise and bodies shuffling, with shouts of "Sit down!" and "There ain't no room!", the kinds of things you'd hear at a show where the crowd were getting anxious to see their favorite band. But, again, perhaps that goes back to the likelihood that this song was the start of the second set. Which would speak to the first set having been so good that it whipped the audience into a frenzy. To which, it wouldn't be that surprising that the audience was excited to hear more, and as such were pushing and yelling to get a good spot on the floor. Furthermore, in favor of it being from San Francisco, if one listen's to the recording of the show from the next night, on January 10th, one can hear this very same kind of crowd reaction. After every song there are yells and whistles from the audience. Just before White Summer, you can even hear someone near the taper yell "Sit down!". So, if the band were able to get that kind of enthusiasm on the second night, perhaps it's not such a stretch to imagine that they had already gotten it on the first one. Page has long since been quoted as saying that it was in San Francisco where the band's popularity began to spread like "wildfire", after all. So, there you have it. Either this song is from January 9th, 1969, or it's from some other date. Only more tape, or more information, will tell.

Larry's picture

I remember zep coming on after taj and the fish. Had heard zep records on kkzx, wanted more. Got it. They blew up the ballroom. Carousel/fillmore west was never same. Page, plant, bonham, jones were rock gods that night. Saw them 2 more times but nothing compared to that night in January 69.

Lilliana's picture

This performance was on Jimmy´s birthday. I just like to imagine how inspired he was when he played "White Summer / Black Mountain"

I really wish I was there.

Terry Hall's picture

I was at this show. I was (and still am) a big Yardbirds freakin' fan, so when I got the news I couldn't refuse. This was the FIRST Zep concert in America, as far as I know. There was an interminable wait between sets between the second on the bill and Zep -much longer than needed to change amps, etc. They came on, played one song, which was sub-par and Jimmy appologized, saying the band had caught a "bad case of the flu". Looking back and considering the time of year that well may have been true. Of course I thought yeah, right - maybe they didn't have a connection for "flu medicine" here in America. They bravely soldiered on, but I knew I missed seeing what might have been.

corrycorry2005's picture

Somewhere between Fall 1972 and Spring 1973, Bill Graham spent 72 hours on KSAN-fm radio (then San Fransisco's leading rock station) broadcasting tapes from the Fillmore and the Fillmore West. He was on the air almost the entire time, sleeping in the studio, and many amazing things were broadcast. This was before most people had home cassette decks, so to my knowledge the whole sequence was never airchecked. I have never seen a complete list of what was broadcast, much less actually heard it again.

Nonetheless I sat and listened to as many hours as I could on my little portable FM radio, in between going to high school and sleeping. Most of the taped material was one or a few tracks from various shows. They were usually announced with some generic remark like "here's Jeff Beck from 1968," followed by various anecdotes from Graham. Many of the remarkable snippets that circulate come from these broadcasts, because many people managed to record a tape or two, even if they couldn't keep their decks rolling for 72 hours.

Many of the items broadcast were from local San Francisco bands (Blue Cheer or what have you), but plenty of English bands got airings as well. It would be perfectly likely that at 3:00am or something, Graham put on a Led Zeppelin tape and broadcast a track or two, which was somehow preserved. However, even at the time, he would have most likely said "here's Led Zeppelin from their first trip to SF," not giving a specific date. If a single unidentified track from January 1969 at Fillmore West appears to exist absent the rest of the show, as a prior post suggests, it was most likely from the 1972/3 Graham broadcast (which was different than the well documented 1977 "What Was That" Summer of Love broadcast, also featuring live tapes).

While much of Graham's archive was preserved and sold to Wolfgang's Vault, some of it was lost in an 1985 fire, so there's no guarantee the original tape survived. However, its very plausible that a single track from Led Zeppelin's 1969 San Francisco appearance was broadcast on the radio in 1972.

Dave's picture

I have almost all the 72 hours on reel to reel 7/1/2 ips. with Dolby on TEAC 4070A. All high end tape. Santana's Black Magic Woman live at Fillmore's last show. Recorded by Bill is the best ever.


Jim Schuck's picture

Led Zeppelin
Fillmore West / San Francisco
Thu, January 9th 1969

In my first year of college, and away from my home in Los Angeles, my new best friend suggested that we go see this guys (Jimmy Page) new band since he was pretty hot in the Yardbirds. I was game at the time since I really enjoyed the scene at Fillmore West and my newly found "hippy" life.

I went on the first night (Thursday) of their four night gig. The line-up was Country Joe and the Fish, Led Zeppelin, and Taj Majal - back then all the bands played two complete shows per night - same fans all night - somewhat strange, but that is the way Bill Graham did it!

That first night the Fillmore was only about 2/3 full - and as was typical of concerts then, everyone had their space on the floor which was rarely intruded uopn - even upfront. Well after enjoying a cool, but mild set from Taj - Led Zeppelin came on stage and literally (no exaggeration) blew everyone away ! Mind you - the first album had not come out yet, so nobody was familiar with the songs. Country Joe followed with everyone still in shock, then Taj came back, then Led Zeppelin returned and completely killed whoever had survived to that point - I knew right then and there that the band I was seeing would be "enormous" for a very long time! Country Joe's follow-up set was seriously anti-climatic.

We returned on the next night (Friday) and the crowd outside the Fillmore was huge - the show sold-out and I heard that over 1000 people were outside, unable to secure a ticket. Same intensity as the first night although I believe that Country Joe was shaken and embarrassed to be so upstaged.

I did not go on Saturday night, but I returned on Sunday however I was unable to secure tickets. So we hung out by the sidedoor in hopes of seeing the band - and we did! They pulled up in a rather plain station wagon and I carried on a very short conversation with Jimmy and my friend with Robert - we asked to be let in with them, but to no avail - we did go home very happy!!

I have seen Zep 12 times and have stories and memories of each - too much to carry on here.

Thank you for your interest - my pleasure to respond - it was a magical time!

Offical Led Zeppelin Site Member Name: Wearnntearn

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