June 7, ’77: Led Zeppelin Plays 1st of 6 MSG Shows

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Led Zep 1977 Tour ArtThe English band that etched hard rock onto the popular music landscape were at the height of their success when they embarked in April 1, 1977 on what was the biggest U.S. tour by any popular music act to date. Their live double album, The Song Remains the Same, had been released the previous October.

Playing multiple nights in major city arenas and stadiums, and traveling in a customized Boeing 707 named Caesar’s Chariot, Led Zeppelin were plagued by violent incidents at some dates and rumors of post-show debauchery and heavy drug use (disputed by some sources). (Furthermore, the tour’s start had been delayed for roughly one month due to singer Robert Plant’s laryngitis.)

The frequent danger of fans setting off fireworks in the huge crowds came to a head one night at New York’s Madison Square Garden when a cherry bomb exploded close to Jimmy Page’s hand, and the set was halted while he went backstage to have it looked over by a doctor before the group finished the show.

The concert’s setlist:

The Song Remains The Same
Sick Again
Nobody’s Fault But Mine
In My Time of Dying
Since I’ve Been Loving You
No Quarter
Ten Years Gone
The Battle of Evermore
Going to California
Black Country Woman
Bron-Y-Aur Stomp
White Summer/Black Mountain Side
Kashmir
Moby Dick
Achilles Last Stand
Stairway to Heaven

Encore:
Whole Lotta Love
Rock and Roll

Here’s a clip of footage taken with an 8mm camera from one of the MSG shows…

The tour ended abruptly with seven dates remaining when Plant’s young son, Karac, died from a stomach ailment. It was to be the group’s last jaunt across America after drummer John Bonham passed away on September 25, 1980, a few weeks before a scheduled return to U.S. stages.

Related: Our inside story of Led Zeppelin’s breakthrough with “Whole Lotta Love”

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