This Historic Day In Music: Led Zeppelin – August 21, 1969

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.

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18 Responses to This Historic Day In Music: Led Zeppelin – August 21, 1969

  1. badfinger20 says:

    Wonderful story… That is the ultimate concert story. This was Zeppelin when they were untouchable.

    My first concert was in 82 when I was 16… so I missed a lot of bands. The Who with Keith Moon is a band I wish I could have seen and Led Zeppelin.
    I saw the Who in 89 and 2016 but it wasn’t the same.

  2. Thanks, Badfinger20. Hope you enjoyed the photos, too.

  3. Tom says:

    …and what a great night it was! I am so glad we got to experience that show, to see what has become an iconic band in Rock History, and in a relatively intimate venue. Remember, next time we saw them they were filling large arenas.
    Thanks for posting these photos. Such memories of a concert that stands out among many others.
    50 years….? There must be some mistake…. 😀

  4. Thanks, T. Glad you enjoyed the photos! I find it amazing that there is just one microphone on that stage. One! How times have changed.

  5. sinclakr says:

    dad! these pictures are amazing! and the story, too, obviously 🙂

  6. Thanks! Glad you liked them. I’m still somewhat amazed that I was able to get so close to the stage so easily. It was quite the night!

  7. Greg Livingston says:

    Did you take a photos of Orpheus?

  8. Anonymous says:

    My Dad and I went to pick up big brother Lloyd from this Led Zeppelin show, but we went early and when we go here they hadn’t even started playing yet. After a while we could hear that they had started playing so I asked my dad if I could walk towards the tent take a look and he said I could. I walked right up, and right into the tent and sat down. I was ten years old! I dont think it is exaggeration to say it changed my life  
    I came across this site recently … I dont think I had seen these color photos before (i had seen some black and whites) … thanks!!!

  9. Thanks so much for sharing your story about goin to this show. It is definitely not an exaggeration to say that attending a concert can be a life changing experience. It’s happened to me – thankfully – several times! As for those photos, you had definitely not seen them before because, outside of a very small handful of friends, I had not shown them to anyone before I put them up on my blog. I am so glad you found them and that you’ve enjoyed looking at them. Thanks again for your comment!

  10. C. F. Sullivan says:

    Thanks so much for posting the words and especially the pictures. I was at the same show and also sat behind the stage at about the same angle, but a lot farther back. At age 14 it was my first rock concert. The things I remember most from that night:
    – The PA dropped off at one point and you could still hear Robert Plant singing
    – John Bonham stood up on his drum stool for part of a song (apparently a part that needed no kick drum or closed high hat)
    – Plant’s announcement for You Shook Me: “Anybody in here ever been shook?”…..little response from the audience…..”My there must be a lot of virgins in here tonight!”

    • So glad you enjoyed the post. You remember quite a bit more from the show than I do! It was one of my first Rock concerts, too. As I’ve looked at those pictures over the years, I am so amazed at how minimal the equipment was then compared to what a Rock show is like now, even in a small club! Thank you so much for sharing your memories and taking the time to write. All the best!

  11. Frank Freniere says:

    What great, incredible pictures! I was there, too! We were off to Bonzo’s right, a little behind his shoulder, about 15 rows up. What a concert!!!

    Also saw Hendrix at The Carousel around that time – the stage actually rotated! Soft Machine opened.

  12. Tino says:

    I believe Brad Whitford was at this show. He talks about it in some Aerosmith book and in the Gibson TV guitar hang video. The very next day he claims, he bought his first ‘Burst Les Paul Guitar! Jimmy obviously had quite an impact on him – and millions of others! Aerosmith future (and first) manager Fran Connolly (father Frank) is the guy who brought the Beatles to Massachusetts – and he brought Zeppelin into Framingham too. I believe that’s how the story went. These pictures you posted here are simply wonderful. They were still so young here but quickly becoming legendary! Thank you for posting them for all to see. I’m still a huge fan of this band.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Tino. I did not know about Brad Whitford’s connection to that concert. I am so glad you enjoyed the photos. I must say that I still find them to be rather amazing. I don’t think I ever got that close to such greatness again.

      • Tino says:

        Some 40 years later, I’m still NOT tired of Zeppelin. I’ve collected dozens of bootleg vinyl records, photos and books over the years. In my mind, they had no competition. They were by all accounts: the ultimate unit. Completely untouchable and uncopyable. It’s widely known that John Paul was its secret weapon. His deep knowledge of theory coupled with his long run as a session ace only helped to send them into the rock Stratosphere. When they erupted onto the scene in ‘68 there were the usual naysayers, quick to judge. ALL of em went home humbled.

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