From the very early days of Led Zeppelin:
The Yardbirds played their final gig in July 1968 at Luton College of Technology in Bedfordshire. They were still committed to several concerts in Scandinavia, so drummer Jim McCarty and vocalist Keith Relf authorised Page and bassist Chris Dreja to use “the Yardbirds” name to fulfill the band’s obligations. Page and Dreja began putting a new line-up together. Page’s first choice for the lead singer was Terry Reid, but Reid declined the offer and suggested Robert Plant, a singer for the Band of Joy and Hobbstweedle. Plant eventually accepted the position, recommending former Band of Joy drummer John Bonham. Jones inquired about the vacant position at the suggestion of his wife after Dreja dropped out of the project to become a photographer. Page had known Jones since they were both session musicians and agreed to let him join as the final member.
The four played together for the first time in a room below a record store on Gerrard Street in London. Page suggested that they attempt “Train Kept A-Rollin'”, originally a jump blues song popularised in a rockabilly version by Johnny Burnette, which had been covered by the Yardbirds. “As soon as I heard John Bonham play,” Jones recalled, “I knew this was going to be great … We locked together as a team immediately”. Before leaving for Scandinavia, the group took part in a recording session for the P. J. Proby album, Three Week Hero. The album’s track “Jim’s Blues”, with Plant on harmonica, was the first studio track to feature all four future members of Led Zeppelin.
The band completed the Scandinavian tour as the New Yardbirds, playing together for the first time in front of a live audience at Gladsaxe Teen Clubs in Gladsaxe, Denmark, on 7 September 1968. Later that month, they began recording their first album, which was based on their live set. The album was recorded and mixed in nine days, and Page covered the costs. After the album’s completion, the band were forced to change their name after Dreja issued a cease and desist letter, stating that Page was allowed to use the New Yardbirds moniker for the Scandinavian dates only. One account of how the new band’s name was chosen held that Moon and Entwistle had suggested that a supergroup with Page and Beck would go down like a “lead balloon”, an idiom for disastrous results. The group dropped the ‘a’ in lead at the suggestion of their manager, Peter Grant, so that those unfamiliar with the term would not pronounce it “leed”. The word “balloon” was replaced by “zeppelin”, a word which, according to music journalist Keith Shadwick, brought “the perfect combination of heavy and light, combustibility and grace” to Page’s mind.
In November 1968, Grant secured a $143,000 advance contract from Atlantic Records, which was then the biggest deal of its kind for a new band. Atlantic were a label with a catalogue of mainly blues, soul, and jazz artists, but in the late 1960s they began to take an interest in British progressive rock acts. Record executives signed Led Zeppelin without having ever seen them. Under the terms of their contract, the band had autonomy in deciding when they would release albums and tour, and had the final say over the contents and design of each album. They would also decide how to promote each release and which tracks to release as singles. They formed their own company, Superhype, to handle all publishing rights.The band began their first tour of the UK on 4 October 1968, they still were billed as the New Yardbirds, and played their first show as Led Zeppelin at the University of Surrey in Battersea on 25 October. Tour manager Richard Cole, who would become a major figure in the touring life of the group, organised their first North American tour at the end of the year. Their debut album, Led Zeppelin, was released in the US during the tour on 12 January 1969, and peaked at number 10 on the Billboard chart; it was released in the UK, where it peaked at number 6, on 31 March. According to Steve Erlewine, the album’s memorable guitar riffs, lumbering rhythms, psychedelic blues, groovy, bluesy shuffles and hints of English folk, made it “a significant turning point in the evolution of hard rock and heavy metal” (by wikipedia)
And here´s a bootleg from their first US-tour in January 1969:
A classic, early, primitive monster show that is amazing from start to finish! Stand-outs, among this entirely excellent show, are the great riffing intro to The Train Kept A Rollin’, the epic As Long As I Have You and How Many More Times medley, and an incredible, 10 minute version of For Your Love that surpasses the original version by leaps and bounds.
The song was introduced by Plant as “a thing Keith Relf had something to do with. Do you remember him? Works for Hammersmith Council now!” (sic!).
Listen and don´t forget: This is bootleg – recording !
John Bonham (drums)
John Paul Jones (bass)
Jimmy Page (guitar)
Robert Plant (vocals)
01. Train Kept A Rollin’ (Bradshaw/Mann) 3.01
02. I Can’t Quit You Baby (Dixon) 5.40
03. As Long As I Have You (incl. Fresh Garbage) (Mimms/Ferguson) 11.17
04. Dazed And Confused (Holmes/Page) 10.33
05. How Many More Times (Page/Jones/Bonham) 15.02
06. White Summer / Black Mountainside (Page) 7.06
07. Killing Floor (Burnett) 4.51
08. You Shook Me (Dixon/Lenoir) 8.28
09. Pat’s Delight (drum solo) (Moby Dick) (Bonham/Jones/Page) 10.10
10. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (Bredon/Page/Plant) 5.53
11. Communication Breakdown (Page/Jones/Bonham) 4.55
12. For Your Love (Gouldman) 8.11