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Wheaton Youth Center - January 20, 1969

srapallo's picture
on September 20, 2007 - 2:29pm
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Average: 3.4 (217 votes)
January 20, 1969
United States
There is no evidence of this show ever occurring. Led Zeppelin's road manager, Richard Cole, does not recall it either.
The first Baltimore area show was at the Civic Center on Feb. 16, 1969.
There is no evidence of this show ever occurring. Led Zeppelin's road manager, Richard Cole, does not recall it either.
The first Baltimore area show was at the Civic Center on Feb. 16, 1969.


Gary 's picture

I grew up behind the Wheaton Youth Center, hung out there and played pool as a teenager and have absolutely no memory of Led Zepplin playing there and never heard anyone talk about Led Zepplin playing there.I'll ask my brother and see if he remembers, he hung out there more than I did..I did see them in 1975 at the Cap Center.

insurance4event's picture

I happened to be a late bloomer in terms of Led Zeppelin's music genre. My interests of knowing him was brought to me by my brother who is definitely and absolutely an avid fan of Zep. Right now, I'be been trying to dig more about his concerts history and I'm really glad to have dug this post.

Len Jaffe's picture

I was working as a store clerk for Joe Goldberg's Variety Records at nearby Wheaton Plaza. I can't prove it, but I have a vague recollection of this event happening. I went to the WYC at some point after work one night to see The Small Faces featuring...Rod Stewart! I may have been at the Led Zep show, but I wouldn't swear to it. The only other guy who could vouch for this show happening at all was a guy I worked with at the store named Karol Lopatkiewicz (low-PAT-ka-witz), with whom I've been out of touch for years...I have no idea where to even begin looking for him. Mike Oberman, who used to write for the Washington Evening Star, might know. You can find Mike on Facebook.

W.Post's picture

Dazed and Confused: Zeppelin Played Where?
By John Kelly

Thursday, January 22, 2009; Page B03

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang for Richard Nixon's first inauguration. A musical group called Up With People was among the acts performing in his inaugural parade.

For those of you too young to remember either of those groups, imagine a regular polygon with all sides equal lengths and internal angles of 90 degrees. In other words: square. And if you are too young to know what "square" means, imagine a racehorse pulling up with a broken leg: lame.

Yes, Jan. 20, 1969, was not necessarily a good date for music around here, unless you just happened to be at the Wheaton Youth Center on Georgia Avenue, where a new combo from England by the name of Led Zeppelin played its first-ever gig in the Washington area.

That's Led Zeppelin, as in "Dazed and Confused," as in the biggest hard-rock band in the world, as in creators of the sort of bacchanalian excess that goes hand in hand with being tight-trousered, lion-maned, groupie-ravishing, devil-worshipping, "Spinal Tap"-inspiring English rock and roll musicians.

Led Zeppelin. In Wheaton. At the sort of place where Ping-Pong tables are set up next to Coke machines and drop-in basketball players divide themselves into teams of shirts and skins.

Or is this unlikely performance just an urban myth?

"There's people who grew up in Wheaton, across the street, who went to every show, who don't remember it," said local filmmaker Jeff Krulik. Jeff, who with John Heyn made the cult classic "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" (the documentary consists of fans outside the Capital Centre before a 1986 Judas Priest concert), has become obsessed with Zep's first concert in the Washington area. It's an outgrowth of a project on the area teen center scene in the late '60s and early '70s.

Said Jeff: "Every neighborhood had a band. Every school had a band. Every county had a band. . . . They were playing at places like these community centers and high schools."

Yeah, but Zeppelin? Earlier in the month the band had played three nights at the Whiskey a Go Go near Hollywood, followed by four nights at San Francisco's Fillmore West. In July the band would return to the area for the Laurel Pop Festival at the Laurel racetrack, headlining a bill that included Jethro Tull and Edgar Winter.

"I love the fact that it's a mystery," Jeff said of the Wheaton gig. It's mentioned on the band's official Web site, but Jeff hasn't turned up any physical evidence or met anyone who was there.

To Jeff, youth center gigs bespeak a simpler time, a time before the birth of the billion-dollar corporate rock industry.

"There was no Internet," he said. "Things were analog, and either you were a performer or you went and saw performers. You had to go out and see it."

Lore has it that only 55 people showed up for the Wheaton Youth Center show, quite possibly the smallest audience to see Led Zeppelin outside of Jimmy Page's living room. Jeff is confident it actually took place, having made contact with the man who organized the concert: Barry Richards, who at the time was a DJ on Gaithersburg radio station WHMC and now lives on the West Coast.

"It's unbelievable," Jeff said. "And the fact that it was a Monday night, January 20th, the night of Richard Nixon's inauguration."

Of course, he added: "They weren't drawing the same crowd."

Were you one of the 55 people who saw Led Zeppelin at the Wheaton Youth Center on Jan. 20, 1969? Jeff Krulik would love to interview you. E-mail him at or call 202-966-5304. He's planning a reunion event at the center March 7.

MYSTR Treefrog's picture

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Psychedelic Geezerdom Dispatch # 2

ZOSO Played Wheaton ! ( Not).
by MYSTR Treefrog- geezer skeptic.
Date night –The A.F.I. Silver Spring—5 bucks, hell…why not?

Jeff Krulik’s new independent film “Led Zeppelin Played Here” is undeniably funny, exhaustively researched, and at times hilarious. But I remain unconvinced.

The premise: Led Zeppelin, at the behest of local D.J. and promoter legend Barry Richards, was booked into the Wheaton Community Center for an impromptu fill-in gig on a cold January 20th, the same night the spanking new Nixon presidency was being inaugurated, and no one came. No one except those who swear they came. By some accounts there were 12 people, which –by the magic of confabulatory mathematical hallucination –becomes 20 people, and by collective hysteria multiplies rapidly to… oh, a brazen 32 people who , by all reports, stood out in the cold as the band played and never saw them…(exactly).

Not even the tour manager remembers the gig. Neither did the surviving members of the band. (The latter is to be expected. They were under the influence of The Hobbit and Aleister Crowley at the time.)

It appears nowhere (exactly) on a tour schedule. There were multiple sightings in the area surrounding Wheaton –The Laurel Pop Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Bawlmer someweers—but no one remembers Jimmie Page blowing the left side of their brains out (exactly) with the opening to “ Good Times, Bad Times”. Not one groupie stepped up to admit that they offered to blow Robert Plant. Hell, I’m completely hetero –but I’d have offered to blow Robert at this stage of nascent rock greatness. I saw him in ’69 in Macon , Georgia. It was –in fact—transcendent rock buggery of the tallest order. NO ONE who ever saw this band live would EVER forget it. Impossible.

It was as if Genghis Khan and his buds had slipped into the receiving line at Nixon’s Inaugural Dance and French kissed Pat Nixon and squeezed her pert butt cheeks without anyone noticing (exactly). Not the Secret Service. Not Checkers, the dog. Not even Henry Kissinger.

Wheaton still holds many mysteries, some culinary, others cosmological, Some mysteries involve artificially intelligent thieving parking meters, and there’s the mystery involving the plethora of unrequited local musical genius ducking in and out of Chuck Levins’ Washington Music Center. There is the mystery involving inscrutable hair styles which multiply like culturally inseminated amoeba and converge at the intersection of University Blvd. and Georgia Avenue. A Wheaton bus stop is, without a doubt, a true illustration of the American dream.

I can’t see John Bonham and Peter Grant stopping at the Dunkin Donuts to ask directions to the Wheaton Community Center in 1969. And I love cartoons. A lot. Zep would not have escaped un-noticed. Peter Grant was an ex-wrestler and played a munitions expert in "The Guns Of Navarrone." He kicked a lot of ass back then. He was not the 'forgettable' sort.

Let me speak frankly. A lot of people spent 24 hours a day high outta their freakin minds in 1969 –especially (subjective and anecdotally) the motley and lovable characters who packed the house to watch “Led Zeppelin Played Here” at the A.F.I. in Silver Spring on Friday night.

I’m not sure, but I think I’ve met most of them…but I might have been stoned outta my freakin’ mind at the time. But that was then (exactly). The most endearing thing about our boomer generation is: They all still believe The Hobbit exists. The most annoying thing: They still think The Hobbit exists. Guys. Led Zeppelin NEVER played the Wheaton Community Center.(and Clapton IS NOT God.) But the movie by Jeff Krulik was great stuff. As for the 'eye-witnesses-especially Barry Richards--If it were left up to me I'd have water-boarded the lot of them...then we'd get to the truth in a big hurry. There is simply no time for dithering on important matters such as these. And, I might add, water-boarding is not without precedent in the new America. It's a matter of national security.

Further addendum: The Psychedelic Geezerdom on display in the audience would further underscore the need to resolve this mystery quickly. I have a deep bemused love for my brother and sister boomers…but kids, some of you aren’t aging that gracefully. Myself included. A replay of our present selves re-living the soft-focus nude bathing scene at Woodstock makes me start to claw my own eyes out. (And I only have one eye left, and one knee I was actually born with.)

They sell fresh Cadillac to Led Zeppelin songs. “Been A Long Time Since I Rock N’Rool-eyed ”… yeah, dude…right on! In a shiny new Cadillac.Far Fuc’n out. Livin' the dream...

It may be a longer time in my case…such as when WHEN HELL FREEZES OVER.

Please, again, underscore the fact that Jeff Krulik’s film was entertaining, great, funny and highly recommended, (see what I did there?);

Stoned or Fresh outta Re-Hab: I remain unconvinced.

Even if I were marginally convinced by the movie, the rambling dithering of a formerly influential disc-jockey at the end of the question and answer period after the picture --held by the affable, witty director Jeff Krulik -- served to illustrate that the same people who claim to have been present when Led Zeppelin played the Wheaton Community Center are the same people who were present at Christ’s little church picnic when he gave the Sermon On The Mount. In the latter’s case it was less objectionable to have sucked all the air out of the room with mystical nostalgia.

Fascinating. All history is written by the victor…and the subjective collusion of hippie pranksterism. What’s not to love?

( I think I’m having a ‘Linkletter flashback’ as I write this…) Only my fellow Psychedelic Geezers will understand that reference. It’s a generational thang…
Personally? I disbelieve. Led Zeppelin never actually played the Wheaton Community Center –but I guarantee Jesus worked at El Pollo Rico in Wheaton (before it burned down). He was a cool guy. He always gave me an extra serving of plantain with my brazed chicken quarter. He told me to stay away from the picante sauce.

            In his words,” It is unbelievably hot, muchacho.”

Once and For all: Until I see EMPIRICAL evidence, (i.e, pictures with,locks of hair, Jimmie Page's multi-colored autographed Jock Strap,) I will NEVER believe that Led Zeppelin actually played a gig at the Wheaton Maryland Community Center.
Nope. Robert Plant’s rutting feral horny dog howl would STILL be reverberating down Georgia Avenue if this gig truly ever happened. And he would not have escaped the National Capitol area un-blown.

I think, if they actually came to fair Wheaton, the band took one look, shook their head and drove away. I think this is one of those collective cultural hallucinations..(i.e Joan Of Arc, Virgin Birth, Tax refunds,Justifiable Homicide) we boomers are famous for.

                   This is Psychedelic Geezerdom at it’s finest.
On the other hand I'm pretty sure Elvis works at The Booeymonger on Wisconsin Ave.
He told me to help myself to extra mayo. I think he's learned to speak pretty decent Spanish.

On second thought maybe I should’ve titled this review:
Go see the film and make up your own mind. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
                                          (or Not).

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