Led Zeppelin North American Tour 1968–1969
|Concert by Led Zeppelin|
Poster for Led Zeppelin's concerts at the Fillmore West, used to help promote its 1968/1969 tour of North America
|Associated album||Led Zeppelin|
|Start date||26 December 1968|
|End date||16 February 1969|
|No. of shows||36 (41 scheduled)|
|Led Zeppelin concert chronology|
Led Zeppelin's 1968/1969 tour of North America was the first concert tour of North America by the English rock band. The tour commenced on 26 December 1968 and concluded on 16 February 1969. It was important for the band, as their popularity grew substantially because of the concerts and helped them reach significant commercial success in the US, which translated to sales elsewhere.
The genesis of this tour was the cancellation of a concert tour by the Jeff Beck Group, which happened to be managed out of the same office occupied by Led Zeppelin's manager Peter Grant. Grant contacted the promoters and convinced them to take on Led Zeppelin instead.
To help publicise the band in America before the tour, Grant sent white label advance copies of the band's debut album to key FM radio stations. The album itself was issued on 17 January, mid-way though the tour. According to tour manager Richard Cole, the tour was underwritten by Grant, guitarist Jimmy Page, and bass player John Paul Jones, while singer Robert Plant and drummer John Bonham were paid a salary.
For this stint of concerts, Led Zeppelin initially played as the support act for bands such as Vanilla Fudge and Iron Butterfly (both of which were also contracted to Atlantic Records) and Country Joe & the Fish. However, as the tour progressed, it became apparent that Led Zeppelin was easily outshining the headline acts. Guitarist Jimmy Page noticed that by the time the group reached San Francisco, other groups were not turning up, and Led Zeppelin were then headliners.
Bassist John Paul Jones believed the reason their concerts were popular was because they played tightly and quickly without many delays, saying "we would just go on and go 'bang bang bang' with three driven songs with solos", which other groups did not do.
In one famous concert, Led Zeppelin's final of four nights performed at the Boston Tea Party, the band played for more than four hours with only one album worth of material. They played the same set twice, and then played an improvised set with covers from other groups such as Who, Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Grant was delighted with the group's performance, and the band then realised then that they would be a very successful rock band.
It was during this tour that Led Zeppelin's drummer, John Bonham, developed a close friendship with the drummer of Vanilla Fudge, Carmine Appice.  The average fee charged by Led Zeppelin for a concert during this tour was around $1,500. It has been stated that for one show they performed for a mere $320. Figures like these would soon be dwarfed by the six figure sums routinely demanded, and received, by Led Zeppelin on subsequent tours as their popularity skyrocketed. Peter Grant recalled that "The Yardbirds had been getting $2,500 a night but people like Bill Graham had faith in us and so did the kids who saw it." Grant, who was unable to attend the tour with the group, also stated:
I couldn't go with them, but it was a fantastic 12 date tour, and they said "Great, if that's what we've gotta do, we'll go and do it" ... Three of the group had never been to America before and didn't know what to expect. They did a week with the Vanilla Fudge. My instructions were for them to go over there and blast them out. Make each performance something everybody remembered. They really did that.
Tour set list
The fairly typical set list for the tour was:
- "Train Kept A-Rollin' " (Bradshaw, Kay, Mann)
- "I Can't Quit You Baby" (Dixon)
- "As Long As I Have You" (Mimms)
- "Dazed and Confused" (Page)
- "You Shook Me" (Dixon, Lenoir)
- "White Summer"/"Black Mountain Side" (Page)
- "Pat's Delight" (Bonham)
- "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" (Bredon, Page, Plant)
- "How Many More Times" (Bonham, Jones, Page)
- "Killing Floor" (Burnett)
- "For Your Love" (Gouldman)
- "Communication Breakdown" (Bonham, John Paul Jones, Page)
There were some set list substitutions, variations, and order switches during the tour.
|26 December 1968||Denver||United States||Denver Auditorium Arena||N/A|
|27 December 1968||Seattle||Seattle Center Arena||Floating Bridge|
|28 December 1968||Vancouver||Canada||Pacific Coliseum||The Trials of Jayson Hoover||3,708 / 15,038|
|29 December 1968||Portland||United States||Portland Civic Auditorium||N/A|
|30 December 1968||Spokane||John F. Kennedy Memorial Pavilion|
|Salem||Salem Armory Auditorium|
|2 January 1969||West Hollywood||Whisky a Go Go||Alice Cooper|
|3 January 1969|
|4 January 1969|
|5 January 1969|
|9 January 1969||San Francisco||Fillmore West||Taj Mahal|
|10 January 1969|
|11 January 1969|
|12 January 1969|
|13 January 1969||San Diego||Fox Theater|
|15 January 1969||Iowa City||Iowa Memorial Union Main Lounge||Mother Blues|
|17 January 1969||Detroit||Grande Ballroom||Linn County, Lawrence Blues Band|
|18 January 1969||Linn County, Target|
|19 January 1969||Linn County, Wind|
|20 January 1969||Wheaton||Wheaton Youth Center|
|21 January 1969||Pittsburgh||Hunt Armory|
|22 January 1969||Cleveland||Cleveland Public Hall|
|23 January 1969||Boston||Boston Tea Party||The Raven|
|24 January 1969|
|25 January 1969|
|26 January 1969|
|27 January 1969||Springfield||Springfield Municipal Auditorium|
|29 January 1969||Philadelphia||Spectrum|
|31 January 1969||New York City||Fillmore East||Porter's Popular Preachers|
|1 February 1969|
|2 February 1969||Toronto||Canada||The Rock Pile||Teegarden & Van Winkle||1,200 / 1,200|
|New York City||United States||Scene Club|
|7 February 1969||Chicago||Kinetic Playground||Jethro Tull||N/A|
|8 February 1969|
|10 February 1969||Memphis||Elma Roane Fieldhouse|
|14 February 1969||Miami Beach||Thee Image Club|
|15 February 1969|
|16 February 1969||Baltimore||Baltimore Civic Center||The Gun|
- Liner notes by Cameron Crowe for The Complete Studio Recordings
- A to Zeppelin: The Story of Led Zeppelin, Passport Video, 2004.
- Lewis, Dave and Pallett, Simon (1997) Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-5307-4, p. 15.
- "Their Time is Gonna Come", Classic Rock Magazine: Classic Rock Presents Led Zeppelin, 2008, p. 17.
- Nick Kent, "Bring It On Home", Q Magazine, Special Led Zeppelin edition, 2003
- Dominick A. Miserandino, Led Zeppelin – John Paul Jones Archived 2015-05-12 at the Wayback Machine, TheCelebrityCafe.com.
- Mat Snow, "Apocalypse Then", Q magazine, December 1990, pp. 77, 79.
- Chris Welch (1994) Led Zeppelin, London: Orion Books. ISBN 1-85797-930-3, p. 34.
- Comprehensive archive of known concert appearances by Led Zeppelin (official website)
- Led Zeppelin concert setlists