Led Zeppelin is widely recognized as one of the most influential, successful, and iconic bands in the world. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the bands formation and on this day in 1968 the group had its very first U.S. live performance in Denver, Colorado. To commemorate this date as one of the most important moments in rock and roll history, the City and County of Denver’s Mayor Office has proclaimed December 26th now and moving forward, Led Zeppelin Day.
The show was sold out, Vanilla Fudge was the headliner at the old Denver Auditorium. The day after Christmas of 1968. Ten days before the show, late promoter Barry Fey gets a call from an agent begging him to add Led Zeppelin to the show. Initially against it, Fey told the him that it wasn’t going to happen, there was no money left for advertising, the tickets had been printed and all sold out, there simply was no money left to allocate to talent. Ultimately shutting down the idea. However- once Fey learned that Vanilla Fudge was willing to pay half of the booking fee out of their own pocket- it got him thinking “Who are these guys?” Ultimately deciding that if the main talent was willing to pay half, these guys from London must be pretty good. He caved, added Led Zeppelin to the show, paid his half- $750, Vanilla Fudge the other $750, and that was it. Fey introduced the group, “Ladies and gentleman- Led Zeppelin!” The auditorium was packed with 7,500 people, a sold out crowd. Fey recalls hearing one or two people slow clapping and the band took the stage.
“They killed! They just destroyed the place,” proclaimed Fey. So much so that the next morning, local Denver radio station KLZ FM was flooded with calls requesting the bands music. Fey received a call at 6:15a that morning from Max Floyd of KLZ FM asking him who he had open the show the night before. Zeppelin’s music was all people wanted to hear. Their album hadn’t even been released yet, but Fey had a white copy of their cd that he had received at the show. He took it down to the station and they played it on repeat for the rest of the day.
In 2019, concert promotion and management company Feyline along with local experiential marketing firm The Pineapple Agency aim to produce a special immersive event to honor the anniversary. Details are still forthcoming, but it is planned to be an immersive experience including a Led Zeppelin memorabilia exhibit and even some special guest appearances.
“They could have gone on the stage and fallen off the first time in ’68; but they went on stage and killed it! Because they couldn’t do anything but.” -Barry Fey.