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How San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium Helped Launch Led Zeppelin

Whether by accident or design, [the Fillmore Auditorium’s Bill Graham] has succeeded in launching most of the international pop groups whose claim to fame is musical rather than fashionable. Cream, Jimi Hendrix and the Who all owe a great deal to his fanatical championship. And at the beginning of January, he promoted a new group called, rather enigmatically, Led Zeppelin. If their LP is anything to go by, he has discovered a worthy successor to the defunct Cream.

They’re all in their 20s and extravagantly hirsute in the current manner. They started as a group in November last year and the LP now released is the product of their first improvisations together. They rely on formalised beginnings and endings and leave the rest to the mood of the moment, and they are complete masters of their material. They bend and twist the simplest of lines into architectural caverns of sound, careful but throbbing with violence. Their music crouches like a giant panther and shudders like a mighty jet waiting to leap down the runway.

Tony Palmer writing about the role San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium played in promoting Led Zeppelin during the band’s early days. Palmer’s article was originally printed in The Guardian on March 9, 1969; an edited excerpt was reprinted on their site this year.

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