LED ZEPPELIN – Earliest Concert Audio, Birth Of ‘Heavy Metal’


TMD unearths the earliest live audio recording of LED ZEPPELIN known to exist. Rock historians credit this very period in time as the birth of ‘heavy metal’. This was only Zeppelin’s fifth show performed in America. They were the opening band for psychedelic rockers VANILLA FUDGE at Gonzaga University’s gymnasium in Spokane, Washington on Dec. 30, 1968. The song that helped to start it all… “Dazed and Confused”.

Just exactly how unknown was the opening band for Vanilla Fudge on this night? Well, the ads in both local news papers promoting the event read: “The Vanilla Fudge with Len Zefflin.”


As the story goes, an ad copywriter misheard the name and thought it was some person named “Len Zefflin.”

‘Len’ would turn out to be Led Zeppelin, one of the most popular and influential musical acts of all time. Many mistake Black Sabbath as the creators of ‘heavy metal’, for they fail to realize at this time, Sabbath was influenced by the likes of Zeppelin… not the other way around.

Vocalist Robert Plant introduced the classic song to the crowd that night: “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.'”

Yes, that’s right. Zep’s first album wasn’t even out yet. The album would not land on the charts until February 1969.

There is a violin bow run in “Dazed and Confused” that you will want to listen to over and over. It starts at 4:16 and ends at 4:53. One of the truly great things about Led Zeppelin is that they improvised, and that evidence can be clearly found in this early audio.

More intriguing, this historic recording from their 1968 show at Gonzaga’s Kennedy Pavilion would not have happened if a student hadn’t brought a small tape recorder along.

Here the listener is treated to what is widely considered the moment when psychedelic music died and ‘heavy metal’ was born. Listen to the rarest Zep recording below!


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3 thoughts on “LED ZEPPELIN – Earliest Concert Audio, Birth Of ‘Heavy Metal’

  1. Damn!!! The end got cut. I would have liked to have heard what other Zep songs got recorded that night.

  2. Great to hear the earliest known audio of Zep – thanks! I was fortunate to see them live (twice) less than two weeks after this show – 1/10-11/1969 (Jimmy’s 21st Birthday) at the Fillmore West in San Francisco – they were sandwiched between Taj Mahal and the headliner Country Joe & The Fish – without question it was the most powerful concert experience of my still thriving concert career. Poor Country Joe – they wimpered off the stage – for all in attendance you just knew that you had witnessed history that night. For you sound quality purists you can easily find better recordings from that same tour on the web.

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