Oh, if only we could time travel... 45 years ago tonight, a fledgling band on their first North American tour was gearing up to play their fourth and final night at the famous Whisky a Go Go club in Los Angeles. "Led Zeppelin featuring Jimmy Page, formerly of the Yardbirds" had started their two-month tour opening for acts like Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly, and Country Joe & the Fish on December 26th.
For the Go Go gig, another newbie band called Alice Cooper opened for the British foursome. They ripped through their psychedelic debut album, Pretties for You, before handing over the limelight to the relatively unknown lads. Zeppelin band manager, Peter Grant, had sent copies of the debut album to FM stations to try to drum up publicity for the tour.
It quickly became apparent, however, that these guys did not need a lot of help in the publicity department. Their star burned so bright and rose so quickly, the headlining acts started dropping off of the tour. As Jimmy Page told Nick Kent with Q Magazine, "By the time we reached San Francisco, the other groups on the bill just weren't turning up. Country Joe & the Fish backed out of playing with us on the West Coast and Iron Butterfly didn't turn up on the East."
"To be honest," said John Paul Jones to Dominick Miserandino at Celebritycafe.com, "most of what Country Joe [and the Fish] was doing was just a band of friends going on stage. They would play, start a song and drift into another song, which sounded really great. And we would just go on and go "bang, bang, bang" with three driven songs with solos, and people must have thought, "What did we just see?" And there was nobody else doing that at that time. I'm sure it had a lot to do with the success. We got four numbers in by the time most bands had tuned up ... We were very tight and close as well. It was always kind of "us against the world" back then."
There is no video footage, but you can still enjoy the raw, unbridled power of that Whisky show: