August 12th, 1968, four lads by the names of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham gathered together to start something more monumental than they’d ever thought of. The band, at this point named something entirely farmyard-ish, would later become of the most important rock bands ever. They would become Led Zeppelin.
It was on this day, some 50 years that the band, which at that time were going by the name The Yardbirds, played together for the first time when they rehearsed at a studio in Gerrard Street in London’s West End. The band would quickly ditch the left-overs of Page’s former band and instead branch out on their own as Led Zeppelin.
The first song they played was a version of ‘The Train Kept A-Rollin.’ They also played ‘Smokestack Lightning’ and a version of ‘I’m Confused’ (soon to become ‘Dazed And Confused’). The first live dates they played were as The Yardbirds, and it was not until the following month when they started to use the name Led Zeppelin.
Following the winding down of The Yardbird’s original line-up, with Beck and others all moving on to different pastures, Page and Dreja were left with tours and sold tickets to gigs but no band. He began to inquire about a few possible supergroups (one featuring Beck and The who’s Keith Moon is particularly tantalising), but nothing seemingly worked out.
With the lack of a lead singer, things were beginning to look a little desperate until the attention of Page was focused toward Robert Plant, who at the time was singing for Band of Joy. Having finally managed to persuade Plant to join him, Robert suggested to Page that the drummer from his former band – the behemoth John Bonham – was the only drummer they needed.
John Paul Jones then inquired about the vacant position of bass guitarist at the suggestion of his wife (a great shout) after Dreja dropped out of the project to become a photographer. Page had known Jones since they were both session musicians and agreed to let him join as the final member.
And with it, a legend was born. A band like no other, one of the greatest rock acts to have ever graced the earth came together on this day 50 years ago to not only sing some songs and have a giggle, but to change the lives of millions of people.
Sadly, we don’t have the recordings of those first sessions. So to remember the early days, here’s the 1968 concert from Gonzaga University Gynasium Spokane, WA.