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Led Zeppelin Civic Hall – 19th December 1968


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The Yardbirds evolved into Led Zeppelin in 1968. One of their early gigs was at Exeter's Civic Hall on 19th December 1968, when they were billed as Led Zeppelin ex-Yardbirds. Their gig is remembered by Mick Farrant of the Deviants, in this piece from the Perfect Sound Forever website.

"We opened for Led Zeppelin a couple of times when they were very first starting. They still had to put ex-Yardbirds underneath Led Zeppelin. We played the Exeter town hall, and all those farm boys showed up. Some girls were watching us at the front, and the farm boys marched the front and said, 'why you watching them faggots.' You have to remember, back in those days, once you got out of the major cities, long hair and velvet and all the rest of it was... you were immediately prejudged homosexual and treated accordingly. Which sometimes would amount to something close to lynching. So these fistfights started and the cops came, and we scurried back into the dressing room after beating our way off the stage, the roadies sort of fighting a rear guard. Physically fighting any people with microphone stands, and Plant and Page are laughing their heads off, going, 'god, you must have been awful.' And they went on to exactly the same reception."

Pre Page poster

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The old Victoria Hall, further down Queen Street, burnt down on 6th October 1919. The fire was fought by six fire brigades and supported by one from the railway. Damage was estimated to be of a value of £6,000, of which £2,000 was the loss of the organ.

Soon after, the decision was made to convert the right hand side of the Higher Market, that was formerly used by the butchers, into a new Civic Hall as a replacement for the burnt out Victoria Hall. The conversion cost £6,000 and was designed to seat as amany as 1,500. The space was used for fashion shows, bingo, boxing, sales exhibitions, opera and rock shows - acts such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac appeared on the stage. The Civic Hall closed in 1970 as St Georges Hall took over many of the Civic Hall's events.

In 1962, the Higher Market was closed down and incorporated in 1977, into the Golden Heart Project, which became the present day Guildhall Shopping Centre. The interior of the old market now houses cafes and a range of stores on two levels.

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Edited by Conneyfogle
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