Monday, February 9, 2009

Earliest Led Zeppelin footage, previously unseen, emerges online

Dennis DiMatteo brought his father's 8mm camera with him to the Fillmore East in New York, N.Y., on Jan. 31, 1969. The camera was already pushing 20 years old at the time and was one of the models that needed to be wound up to shoot just a few seconds at a time.

Throughout the night, DiMatteo was able to capture only about a minute's worth of footage, mostly of the sensational opening act for Iron Butterfly. And that opening act was Led Zeppelin.

A crowd numbering in the hundreds had gathered at the Fillmore for the show. And since Led Zeppelin's first album hadn't yet been out for even a full month, it's rather likely some people had come just to see Iron Butterfly and had no idea what was going to hit them when the opening act took the stage.

Audio recordings that surfaced years ago that attest to the heavy sound Led Zeppelin was evoking at two of the four Fillmore East performances over that weekend 40 years ago. But never before has such an early glimpse of the band's visuals been presented to the public.

Now we see how the band rocking out in rather stunning quality! Led Zeppelin was more than just something to listen to. It was also a sight to behold. Watch as the ruffle-sleeved Robert Plant, at age 20, belts into the microphone with John Paul Jones to his right side. Witness as Jimmy Page slides his left hand across his fretboard as he shakes his other hand, grinding that violin bow into the strings! There's so much history to be gleaned and appreciated from such a small portrait of the band's visuals at this time.

DiMatteo's silent footage, shot only three rows from the stage and recently transferred to a digital format and posted online, is believed to be the earliest video footage that exists of Led Zeppelin performing live. It's earlier by well over a month than the 32 minutes of professional TV footage from a concert appearance in Denmark on March 17, which was included on Led Zeppelin's 2003 DVD.

An altered version of the rough footage has also been posted online with audio clips of the band's rendition of "Dazed and Confused" from the same date.

And Led Zeppelin's official Web site has already been updated to include the video footage. DiMatteo's footage has been posted there, loosely synchronized with actual audio from renditions of "Train Kept A Rollin'," "I Can't Quit You Baby" and "Dazed and Confused" performed that date.

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