One of the most iconic voices in the history of rock celebrates a birthday today.  Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant, is adding a 73rd candle to his birthday cake.  Born in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England on August 20, 1948.

For over 40 years now, Led Zeppelin fans around the world have been optimistic of one last go of a World Tour.  There have been many incarnations of that dream, but other than the reunion at the O2 Arena in 2007, Zep heads, including myself have been disappointed.

Thankfully, I have been able to witness portions of the Led Zeppelin catalog performed live by Plant and his bandmate Jimmy Page, including a number of Robert Plant solo tours and those he and Page embarked on together.

Rich DeSisto
Rich DeSisto

I have even had the opportunity to engage in conversations with Robert Plant face to face backstage at a few of those shows.

You may not know this, but here in New Jersey, we have a clear connection to this powerhouse monster of rock.  More on that below.

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It is said that, back in the late ’60s, in the heat of frustration it was either Keith Moon or Pete Townshend of The Who that coined the original “Lead Zeppelin” phrase.  An honest opinion to the future of this new band’s success.  To paraphrase, I believe the remark was,” they will go down like a lead balloon”.  A reference to an airship we are familiar with as a blimp, encountering a disaster.

At the time, this new foursome was calling themselves, The New Yardbirds.  Jimmy Page, who formed the band had just left The Yardbirds, and initially thought he’d capitalize on his affiliation.  Later, he decided to capitalize on the derogatory statement made by his British contemporaries and throw it in their face, by officially renaming his new band, Led Zeppelin.  It’s fair to say, this airship took off!

Now to their connection to the Garden State.  Jimmy Page hand-picked the artwork for the band's debut album.  He selected a black and white photo of the infamous Hindenburg disaster which took place on May 6, 1937, in Lakehurst New Jersey.

In my opinion, a wonderful double-down attempt to thumb his nose in the direction of members from The Who.  Page knew the power of what he had with his new bandmates as they entered the studio to record their debut album in September of 1968, and he was right.

Fast forward almost a year after The New Yardbirds had their first rehearsals.  In the summer of 1969, a new music festival was being planned on a dairy farm in upstate New York, called Woodstock Arts and Music Fair.

From Richie Havens to Jimmy Hendrix, a list of who’s who signed on (including The Who) to perform in front of an audience of more than 400,000.  The one band noticeably not on the line-up list was this new band from London that was turning heads.  By July of 1969, Led Zeppelin’s debut album had broken the Top 10 on the Billboard chart and was certified gold in the United States.

According to Led Zeppelin’s website, their manager Peter Grant turned down the offer to perform at Woodstock and routed the band to Asbury Park New Jersey instead.  So, there they were, on stage at the Asbury Park Convention Center on August 16, 1969, performing for promoter Moe Septee’s “Summer of Stars” concert series.

This was night 2 of the 3 day Woodstock festival.  Ironically, Joe Cocker opened for Zeppelin in Asbury, then drove up to Max Yasgur’s Farm to perform on that stage the next day.

Photo Credit: Mark Stein/Vanilla Fudge and Denny Somach
Photo Credit: Mark Stein/Vanilla Fudge and Denny Somach

Zeppelin played 2 shows that night.  Ticket prices ranged from $3.50 to $5.50.

Have you ever paid THAT for a concert ticket?

Check out this guy's concert ticket collection...

Does This Jersey Shore Local Have The Greatest Concert Ticket Collection?

Read about him here

Credit: Atlantic Records
Credit: Atlantic Records

Even though the band had released just one album leading up to the night at the Jersey Shore, their setlist was remarkable.  I've always said, in hindsight, Led Zeppelin I can be considered a greatest hits collection.  The album is one of my all-time favorites.

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