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CARNEGIE HALL, NY 10-17-69 - Never Before Seen Fan Photos! First use of Black Beauty Les Paul

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Jimmy Page's own words below says it all!!!  1969 (50 years ago) was an incredible year for Zep and the Carnegie Hall concert on October 17, 1969 was an incredible night that year!!

 

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Caption:  Photos (above and below) shot by Jerry Birdsall with a Nikon (Nikkormat -image of camera below) camera loaded with high speed B&W film with no flash from the 10th row on the floor right on the isle at the early show.  Photographer was 15 years old that day in 1969; 65 years old today (live and kickin') as of today's posting!!

 Near Mint Nikon Nikkormat FTN 35mm vintage SLR Film Camera Nikon 50mm f2 Prime lens Film Tested and Ready to shoot

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Edited by drowan

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While at the concert Carnegie Hall concert on the evening of October 17, 1969, my close friend, Jerry Birdsall, decided "mid-concert" to walk up the isle from our 10th row seats on the floor, plant his two elbows on the surface edge of the stage bracing the camera (completely unimpeded by security or even "shell-shocked" Carnegie Hall ushers) and shoot away at the band with his brand new 35 mm Nikon.  This is one of my favorite photos that Jerry shot of Jimmy Page (below) with his foot positioned on the wah-wah pedal, drawing his bow across his guitar generating haunting heavy metal guitar string moaning during the instrumental interlude of "Dazed and Confused".  To put it simply, the whole audience was absolutely "blown away" while this searing guitar-wailing enveloped the intimate setting of this high-ceilinged concert hall (with almost perfect acoustics).  The "performance version" of Dazed and Confused played in the hall that night (either by design or default - only Jimmy knows for sure) was so true and well executed to the original LZ I vinyl recording, that if you grab the original album song tonight, put on your headphones, crank up the volume big time and close your eyes while you listen...that is so close to what we heard that night sitting in the 10th row.  The only difference was we were also watching in disbelief and amazement!  It was an awesome, emotionally driving, multi-sensual, heart-pounding, mind-blowing experience - a total adrenaline high! This LZ I tune was only the fifth song into the set and the concert went on for another hour and a half non-stop as the one and only bill of the night!!!   P.S. Notice in this shot that by the fifth song into the set, Bonzo was already stripped down to the waste, so he could cool off a little while he pounded away with mind-boggling intensity on his drum set...you could feel the stunningly amplified rapid-fire percussion blasts literally pounding on your chest !!!!!!!! 

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Edited by drowan

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Posted (edited)

This retrospective rock music writer's (Hugh Jones) excerpt below about Chris Welch's "Melody Maker" newspaper almost-exclusive, first-hand review of LZ's 10/17/69 Carnegie Hall concert puts that huge, ground-breaking performance for the band in the context of Zep's meteoric rise as a heavy metal, mind-blowing force to be reckoned with as 1969 ends that decade and the US and the UK music scene enters the 1970's two and a half months later.  (Side note: Jimi Hendrix as of year-end 1969, will live only another nine months into 1970 when he finally dies choking on his vomit while asleep in bed in a corner of London in September of 1970.):

“10/25/69: Led Zeppelin At Carnegie Hall by Chris Welch. A superb, vividly rendered description of Welch's trip to America with Zep for the opening of their fourth U.S. tour at Carnegie Hall in New York. Notable in part because this concert (of which no recording exists) was a milestone in the band's career and yet it is seldom discussed-and according to Welch, "Summertime Blues" was played as an encore! Cover: unknown.”

Source: Hugh Jones, Proximity Led Zeppelin Collector’s Journal, Volume 9, No. 29, April 1998.

The B &W still photo (below) helps illustrate the phenomenal range of LZ's playing styles.  From the emotionally charged and chilling hard rock sound of "Dazed and Confused" (see the live clip on the preceding Forum page in this string), to the quiet calmness of "Black Mountain Side", perfectly captured in this intimate mid-song photo of Jimmy shot in Detroit on Saturday night, October 18 - the day after the Carnegie Hall Friday night concert!!! LZ's frenetic touring pace in 1969 also was so typical of the band's early days during 1969...Imagine wrapping up a New York City Friday night show that ends well after 2 AM and then quickly departing to Detroit for another killer Saturday night show!!  Adrenaline and exhilaration was essential to keeping the band energized  throughout this relentless pace of one night, single-gig shows, going city-to city almost daily.  The grand-scale road show infrastructure and logistics operations had yet to became the norm as arena rock, multiple night gigs in major cities started to dominate later tours.  One of the more amazing aspects of the Carnegie Hall one-night stand was that despite their incredible emerging success, the band substantially avoided debuting anymore than two songs from their yet to be released LZII album.  Of their entire playlist of 9 songs  (excluding encores) that first night of the Fourth North American Tour in NYC, only "Heartbreaker" and "Moby Dick" from LZII were showcased.  Hard to believe that the band and Grant chose to do that, given how good the songs on LZII turned out to be.  Five days later on 10/22/69, we all rushed out to the record stores, grabbed the new album, donned the headphones, and finally dropped the needle on that freshly pressed vinyl.  Same effect as five days earlier, it blew our mints times two!!!

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Edited by drowan

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Italian magazine - Ciao 2001. November 1969. Mentions their upcoming sold-out appearance at Carnegie Hall.

'Zeppelin Hit New York'

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Posted (edited)

Sam:  Thanks for this intriguing article with great accompanying B&W photos!  My favorite is the picture of the band shot from the side of the stage, showing "Zep guests and admirers" in  the background gawking at the band.  Can any of these stage-side guests be identified?  The image of them is pretty sharp, including one of them in a tie and jacket!  Based on the picture caption, I am assuming these photos were taken at the Lyceum Ballroom on 10/12/69 in London right before the band took off for the US with Carnegie Hall in NYC on 10/17/69 as their first stop?  Correct?  Fascinating coverage!  As always, thank you so much for this visual treat!!  

Edited by drowan

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Sam:  Here is the promotional poster/handbill (below) for the Lyceum Ballroom concert in London referenced immediately above - see Italian music review of that LZ performance and the  accompanying spread of crisp B&W photos put into a collage.  Four days later from this 10/12/69 gig, Led Zeppelin headed to Heathrow Airport with Chris Welch to play at Carnegie Hall in NYC as the first stop of a long North American Tour:  19 shows over 14 nights in 12 cities.  The only city during that tour that Zep played in for consecutive nights (3 evenings) was San Francisco at the Winterland Ball Room which was the end of the tour.  Five of those 14 nights, including Carnegie Hall in NYC, involved playing two shows a night (NYC, Chicago, Springfield (MA), Toronto and Kansas City. 

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Edited by drowan

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1969:
Eleven months. That's all it took for Led Zeppelin to go from embryo to Carnegie Hall. No rock band had played that venue since the Rolling Stones, five years prior, when rock performances were banned after a riot at the Stones' show. But Led Zeppelin had shot into the stratosphere like a rocket and could not be denied.

"This performance makes me realize we can be bigger than The Beatles and the Stones," Peter Grant told Richard Cole shortly after.
~ Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, Dave Lewis 2005

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Additional "pre-concert" perspective on the October 17, 1969 Led Zeppelin gig at Carnegie Hall from Robert Plant earlier that month: 

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Source: Ritchie Yorke, Globe & Mail, 1969

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It was an even bigger thrill when I was invited to see Led Zeppelin play a rare concert at Carnegie Hall in New York on October 17, 1969. I found myself standing on the very stage where Gene Krupa had played Sing, Sing, Sing back in 1938. At Zeppelin’s afternoon sound check John looked out at the rows of empty plush seats in the famous hall and said "This is it lads. Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich have all played here. So I’d better be good tonight!" 

John made good his promise. Once the audience of screaming and whooping New York kids had piled into the building and the show got underway, John seemed to pulsate with energy. As he launched into a 30-minute whirlwind I stood in the wings, next to fellow visitor, Screaming Lord Sutch. His Lordship was speechless as John flew around the drums with astounding dexterity and brute strength. He delivered a high-speed single stroke snare roll that was surely his Carnegie Hall tribute to Buddy Rich. 

I never saw Bonham play quite as fast again. Then it was bare hands, beaters, gongs and cymbals for the tumultuous climax. John realised not everybody liked drum solos and to keep their attention he worked out a whole series of permutations, whether it was playing congas or hammering the gong. Yet Moby Dick was never just about noise and bluster. He would begin in a low-key, tentative fashion, toying with a pent up, eager audience, building a series of crescendos. 

After that triumphant event Bonzo spent the next five years of his life on the road with Zeppelin coping with endless US tours. 

Source:

From “Classic Rock”:  https://www.loudersound.com/features/old-school-jazz-and-lacerated-hands-the-secrets-of-led-zeppelins-moby-dick

"Old school jazz and lacerated hands: the secrets of Led Zeppelin's Moby Dick"

By Chris Welch (Classic Rock) June 11, 2020

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^^^ Thanks for this incredible photo- watching the concert from the photographers position must have been gorgeous.

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