May 25, 1969: The Who, Led Zeppelin Share a Bill

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Who_Zep ticketThe Who were riding high on the early success of Tommy when they played the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD, on May 25, 1969. Opening the show was a relatively new English band whose first album had been released in January of that year: Led Zeppelin.

The Who‘s crew had to pull the plug on Zep when their eight-song set–which included “Dazed and Confused” and “Train Kept A-Rollin'” and “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”–went over its scheduled time to prevent the headliner’s show from going past curfew.

Led Zeppelin’s name was misspelled on the tickets (“Lead”), which cost a mere $5.75 – even a bargain in those days. Ironically, one of the original show posters (on which “Led” was correct) sold for more than $9,000 in 2010.

A press review of Zep that evening gave the soon-to-be superstar band a lukewarm write-up: “And although guitarist Jimmy Page once again proved himself a fine musician, there wasn’t much more to be said about the act as a whole. He and singer Robert Plant launched into innumerable transgressions of tonal question-answer games, more conducive to boredom than musically induced languor.”

Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut had been released in January and it was still five months before Led Zeppelin II would arrive. It was the second time that Led Zeppelin played “Whole Lotta Love” live (hear it below). It had been recorded that same month and would be the lead track on the band’s second album, and went on to become a #4 gold single that broke them open in America.

Related: Our inside story of how Atlantic Records edited the single

Tommy had been released one week earlier and according to Setlist.fm, they performed most of the album and a handful of other songs.

Watch a clip of the headliners performing “I’m Free” that night

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  1. Bradford
    #1 Bradford 26 May, 2016, 16:12

    Good timing. Just saw Pete and Roger last night at Staples Center in LA. Little if any fluctuation of the set list on this tour and I hope the successful-sounding scream by Roger at end of Won’t Get Fooled Again is live and not Memorex. Still it is odd to know Pete does not care much for Led Zeppelin. Was it because of this gig in Maryland? Because producer Shel Talmy brought in Jimmy to play on early Who sessions? Because Moon christened what had been the former Yardbirds with their new name, by which we know them? (Delete the ‘a’ by the time of the first album). Because Moon and Entwistle allegedly were going to leave Pete and join up with Jimmy? Regardless, two great Britiah bands evolved down the decades.

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  2. Les
    #2 Les 25 May, 2017, 01:46

    ya think that’s bad? when lz played spokane [opening for vanilla fudge] they were listed as len zeffelin…guess they thought it was a solo act (http://www.gonzagabulletin.com/article_6f3b114e-ee59-511f-9fe3-9827a5593b2d.html)

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  3. dennisl59
    #3 dennisl59 25 May, 2018, 19:40

    I was at that concert because I had won tickets calling into a radio station. Row G dead center. Zeppelin kicked and The Who bored us with Tommy…

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