My friend Tom had his driver’s license and a car.
Somehow we’d gotten two tickets.
Led Zeppelin, our favorite band, was playing at the Carousel Theater in Framingham, Massachusetts and we were going to be there!
Also, I’d just purchased my first good camera: a Mamiya/Sekor 500 TL 35-mm single-lens reflex with a 50-mm lens. I had loaded it with a roll of Kodak Ektachrome color slide film and was really looking forward to taking some pictures at the concert.
The drive from Southeast New Hampshire to Framingham on that Thursday afternoon took a bit longer than Tom and I had anticipated, but we rolled into the parking lot of the Carousel Theater well before the start of the concert.
The Carousel Theater was a “theater-in-the-round” that operated only in the summer. The seating area was basically a big bowl (it held about 2500 people) with a circular stage down in the center. This “theater” was enclosed and covered by a very large tent. Although our seats were located behind the performers and their amplifiers, Tom and I still had a clear view of the stage.
Here’s the view from our seats, taken towards the end of the concert:
The opening act that evening was Orpheus, a band originally from nearby Worcester, Massachusetts. Orpheus was a major player in the recently popular “Bosstown Sound” craze and their big radio hit was a song called “Can’t Find The Time.”
When it was time for Led Zeppelin to start, I took my camera and made my way around the theater and down an aisle to a great spot right at the edge of the stage. (See the girl in the lower right hand corner of the picture above leaning with both elbows on the edge of the stage? That’s just about where I was.)
As the band rocked, I clicked away.
Here’s what I’ve learned since taking those photos:
On August 21, 1969, Guitarist Jimmy Page, vocalist Robert Plant, bass guitarist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham were in midst of the Led Zeppelin Summer 1969 North American Tour. It was their third tour of North America.
The set list for the tour was made up mostly of songs from the band’s first album, Led Zeppelin, that had come out the previous January. Significantly, the Framingham show was the first (or second) time that Jimmy, Robert, John Paul & John played “What Is and What Should Never Be” – a song destined for their second album – in concert.
The Led Zeppelin Summer 1969 North American Tour had begun on July 5th at the Atlanta International Pop Festival in Atlanta, Georgia.
The night before coming to Framingham, the band had played at The Aerodome, an approximately 3000-seat nightclub in Schenectady, New York.
The Carousel Theater show was the 39th of the tour.
When the tour concluded on August 31st at the Texas International Pop Festival in Lewisville, Texas, Led Zeppelin had played 46 shows over the course of 58 days.
Isn’t it amazing how much Rock concerts have changed in 50 years?!? In looking at these photos again, I am once more fascinated by what I see and especially by what I don’t see on the stage of The Carousel Theater that evening in 1969.