Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Rare, early Led Zeppelin concert ad moot on band

Frank Reddon, in his latest posting at, discusses the precedent a newspaper ad for an early Led Zeppelin show sets for promoting the group.

The band's fourth concert after setting foot in North America for the first time took place Dec. 29, 1968, at the Portland Civic Auditorium in Oregon. It is the fourth of five West Coast dates for which the unknown Led Zeppelin opened for the more popular Vanilla Fudge.

Reddon points out that the two groups had just become labelmates, although Led Zeppelin's signing was to the Atlantic Records label itself, rather than the Atco subsidiary like the Vanilla Fudge. The other difference is that Led Zeppelin didn't have an album out yet.

Atlantic had already been creating a buzz with press releases about the group, relying not only on the familiar name Jimmy Page had made for himself in America as the guitarist for the Yardbirds; press releases divided their attention equally to all four members of the band.

However, as Reddon points out, a newspaper ad for the Portland concert makes absolutely no mention of a Led Zeppelin album soon to be released. "Notice ... the advertisement heavily promotes the Vanilla Fudge albums," Reddon writes. "There's not a peep about Led Zeppelin's upcoming album. Thus started Led Zeppelin's practice of letting its music do the talking, right from the beginning. Ads like these provide a wealth of information into the early touring history of Led Zeppelin, at the group's very beginnings."

The newspaper ad, which appeared in an edition of The Oregonian, is regarded as the sole evidence identifying the name of the Vanilla Fudge's opening act in Portland. The ad misspells the band's name and also identifies its familiar guitarist: "Special Guests LED ZEPPILEN (sic) Featuring Jimmy Page." On the other hand, flyers and tickets for the show named only the headlining act.

Coincidentally, Led Zeppelin's Portland show stands distinct from the four other initial North American gigs because it is the only one yet to be commented on by a visitor to Led Zeppelin's official Web site. Reddon's upcoming book, Sonic Boom: The Impact of Led Zeppelin -- Break & Enter, is set to fill the void. Released this coming September on the 40th anniversary of Led Zeppelin's first concert date, the book is to include Reddon's thorough 2000 interview of a person who attended the Portland show.

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