On this day in history, Dec. 30, 1968, Led Zeppelin was recorded live for first time at Gonzaga University

Led Zeppelin, one of the most celebrated and influential bands in rock ‘n’ roll history, was recorded live before a dazed and confused audience for the first time on this day in history, Dec. 30, 1968. 

“The show took place at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, and saw them opening for Vanilla Fudge,” writes Canadian entertainment site Exclaim!

“Led Zep were so unknown at the time that ads for the gig billed them as ‘Len Zefflin.'”

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The communication breakdown was brief. The mighty Zeppelin soon made a name for itself with a haunting, powerful sound that still thrills listeners today. 

Led Zeppelin blended American delta blues, English folk mysticism and intense individual musicianship to create a big, brash new style of rock ‘n’ roll that flouted pop-rock convention. It captivated fans with its blunt power and hallucinatory aura.

From left, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Bonham of The New Yardbirds (to be renamed Led Zeppelin) perform live on stage at Gladsaxe Teen Club in Gladsaxe, Denmark, on Sept. 7, 1968. 
(Photo by Jorgen Angel/Redferns)

A bootleg version of the first show displaying Zeppelin’s power and aura has circulated for decades.

“There is nothing raw or un-Led Zeppelin-like about the sound captured by an unknown Gonzaga student on a small, portable tape recorder that day,” says History.com. 

“Led Zep were so unknown at the time that ads for the gig billed them as ‘Len Zefflin.'”

“The ‘Gonzaga ’68 bootleg features the band performing tight and thrilling versions of some songs that are now considered classics but were then unknown to those in attendance.”

The power quartet exploded onto the global music scene two weeks later with the release of its debut album and rock epic, “Led Zeppelin I,” on Jan. 12, 1969. 

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The Gonzaga gig included a live version of “Dazed and Confused,” a blues-rock fireball of a tortured lover’s lament that appeared on the first studio album and remains one of the band’s signature tracks more half a century later. 

“Dreamy, morbid, glowing with whooshing flocks of baby vultures produced by bowing the E string of the guitar, ‘Dazed and Confused’ was the album’s tour de force,” author Stephen Davis wrote in his bloated 1985 Led Zeppelin tabloid-ography “Hammer of the Gods.” 

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin at the Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois, on Jan. 20, 1975. 
(Photo by Laurance Ratner/WireImage)

“A generation of fans,” he added, “would grow up wondering what Robert [Plant] was jabbering, submerged under the wah-wah, before Zep drops the bomb one more time.”

Within two years of their gig at Gonzaga, “Len Zefflin” had released a trio of mega-hit albums and emerged in the post-Beatles 1970s as the biggest band in the world and one of the premier live acts in music history.

The British foursome, drummer John Bonham, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Plant had formed a group earlier in 1968 known as the New Yardbirds. 

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Page was already a rock star as a member of the original Yardbirds, a groundbreaking U.K. band that included among its members Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. 

The group is best known for its 1965 British Invasion hit, “For Your Love.”

Page’s New Yardbirds performed under that short-lived name in Europe in the autumn of 1968. 

This image released by Atlantic Catalog Group shows cover art for “Led Zeppelin I.”
(AP Photo/Atlantic Catalog Group)

The Gonzaga show was one of its first as Led Zeppelin. 

Their studio recordings soon made the band a hugely influential sensation all over the world. 

The Gonzaga gig included a live version of “Dazed & Confused,” a rock-blues fireball that appeared on the first studio album.

Led Zeppelin’s first album featured nine tracks, including four that were longer than six minutes — unheard of at the time. 

It was recorded, incredibly, in just 30 hours of studio time and with minimal production, according to author Davis, just weeks before the show in Washington.

Band manager Peter Grant “would claim it cost only £1,750 to produce, including the artwork depicting the catastrophic 1937 death of the ocean-going Nazi zeppelin Hindenburg,” Davis wrote. 

The Hindenburg (LZ-129) disaster at Lakehurst, New Jersey, which marked the end of the era of passenger-carrying airships. The image of the crash of the Nazi-era German aircraft played prominently in the branding of Led Zeppelin, appearing on the cover of its first two albums.
(Photo by Sam Shere/Getty Images)

The album cost just $17,500 in 2022 U.S. dollars, yet has sold about 10 million copies.

The foursome cemented its status as the biggest band in the world with the 1971 release of its fourth album, “Led Zeppelin IV.”

It features high-octane power tracks such as “Black Dog,” “Rock and Roll” and “When the Levee Breaks.” 

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Its signature anthem, “Stairway to Heaven,” is proclaimed in many circles as the greatest song of the rock era.

The Recording Industry Association of America lists “Led Zeppelin IV” as one of the five most popular albums in world history, with more than 30 million in certified copies sold. 

English rock group Led Zeppelin posed circa 1969. Members of the group are, from left, John Paul Jones, John Bonham (bottom), Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.
(Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)

Led Zeppelin released eight studio albums and one live album before disbanding following the death of drummer Bonham in 1980, with several more releases since then. 

With estimates of more than 200 million albums sold, they are one of the most popular bands of all time, but forged their legend with powerful live performances. 

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“During their decade long prime in the 1970s, Led Zeppelin was the biggest band in the world, representing the booming record business at its peak as its biggest act,” Davis wrote.

“There was something magical, unnatural about Zeppelin’s rise to power.”

Kerry J. Byrne is a lifestyle reporter with Fox News Digital.

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