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When Led Zeppelin played Green Lake

What do you think? (19 Comments) May 12, 2010 at 4:42PM

On Sunday, we put out a call for help regarding the mystery of the ODO ‘71 “Rock on…” plaque at Green Lake Park.

While we haven’t definitely solved the ODO ‘71 mystery, there has been be a lot of great speculation in the comments to that post, including this note from Casey McNerthney:

Another thought was that it was related to Led Zeppelin playing at Green Lake. But that happened in 1969 at the Aqua Theater, and the dismantling of that to it’s current state as the crew house started in 1970.

Yes, you heard that right … Led Zeppelin once played a show at Green Lake’s Aqua Theater:

An excellent essay about the show, written by Peter Blecha, can be found at HistoryLink.org.  Here’s an excerpt:

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that on that sunny day “several thousand of the whimsically clad and nearly unclad younger set” attended, but that “only about half the crowd” paid for their entry tickets – the “rest bent their freeloading ears to the amplified sounds from a variety of places. Some roosted in the trees, many crowded onto one small dock, it submerged slightly. A flotilla of canoes, rented rowboats and rubber rafts surrounded the back side of the stage, where a few also treaded water. A hundred perched on the roof of a concession stand. And a thousand or so sprawled out on the lawns around the theater, forming a wall-to-wall carpet of human bodies.”

Blecha has reconstructed the following set list from the May 11, 1969 show:

  • “Train Kept a Rollin’”
  • “I Can’t Quit You Baby”
  • “Dazed and Confused”
  • “As Long As I Have You”
  • “Killing Floor”
  • “White Summer” / “Black Mountainside”
  • “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”
  • “You Shook Me”
  • “How Many More Times”
  • “Communication Breakdown”
  • “Pat’s Delight”
  • “Good Times Bad Times”

Yesterday was the 41st anniversary of the event.  There was a bit of buzz on Twitter about the show, including a tweet from Stan Orchard, who called the show “AWESOME.”

I got in touch with Stan and he generously shared his memories:

I was lucky enough to see some great shows back in the 60s and this had to be near the top.

Our seats were up front, just across the pool from the stage. Very intimate, even though we were outside on a gorgeous day.  Three Dog Night was good, but Jimmy Page and crew just ROCKED! His ‘acoustic’ set, where he sat down on a chair and became one with that guitar was incredible. They were right there! Gorgeous weather, incredible venue, good friends, and the music. A very memorable day.

I also saw LZ at the Seattle Pops Festival in Woodinville. A totally different experience. The stage was farther away, WAY more people. It was another memorable experience but for different reasons. At the Aqua Theater the music took center stage.

Sadly, I have no pictures from either event. Just in my mind, which was totally absorbed on both occasions. Wish we could replicate such a place now, but doubt it can ever happen.

Thank you, Stan!

Do you have memories (or photos) of the show that you would like to share?  Please drop us a line.

Update, May 13, 2010: Great news!  Thanks to a heads-up from My Green Lake tipster Jeff Curtis, we’ve located some amazing photos from the show.  As I have no idea who holds copyright to these shots, I can’t publish them here, but here are a few links:

Led Zeppelin at Green Lake 1

Led Zeppelin at Green Lake 2

Led Zeppelin at Green Lake 3

Led Zeppelin at Green Lake 4

The origin of these photos is explained in a comment from a seattlepi.com”Eastside Uptown Girl” post from last February:

the photobucket page is not the original source; it’s somebody’s Facebook page; guy by the name of Dave. He writes: “These are scanned images of prints I got toady from some negatives my mother gave me several years ago. My father found these negative in the garbage at a photo shop in montery CA in 1972.”

The Eastside Uptown Girl has a great little remembrance of the show:

I went alone at age 13. It was a Sunday afternoon at Green Lake. I sat in the bleachers and watched Led Zeppelin blow the audience away. No one knew whether to laugh or cry, whether to leave or stay, whether to just say..”Three Dog Night Who?”

It was so raw, so rock n roll, the sounds of Robert Plants’ voice arching into the air of Green Lake with Jimmy Page’s guitar enhanced with a violin bow wailing into the clear summer afternoon air. After they left the stage, I looked around. The audience was awestruck. Bubblegum was so gone.

And, there are some excellent comments from those who were at the show at Led Zeppelin’s Official Website.

Wow, I’m feeling pretty jealous right now — this sounds like an incredible show.

P1050133
Creative Commons License photo credit: dwhartwig

19 Responses to “When Led Zeppelin played Green Lake”

  1. caseymcnerthney says:

    Great post.

    In a 2003 interview, Pat O'Day told me he ranked Led Zepplin's “Stairway to Heaven” as the best rock song. I'll pull up the audio clip and send it over.

  2. Back in the day everyone wasn't laced to a camera phone or camera. Too busy having a blast. But surely someone has pictures somewhere? I wonder if they could be found at the emp?

  3. Mike says:

    I was there on my bike just outside the fence, couldn't afford the price of admission but Led Zepplen could be heard for miles around the Aqua theater. The biggest thrill as a kid was jumping off the Aqua theater towers into the center pool. Those towers didn't look very high from the ground but when you were about to jump the people below looked like ants.

  4. mygreenlake says:

    Thanks for your comments, everyone!

    I found a few links to some *amazing* photos from the show. I updated the post above.

    -amy

  5. Jw says:

    Found this note – apparently Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart attended the Led Zepp show at GreenLake – here are there comments from another interview:

    “But their first encounter with another British band was less inspirational. They were still, as Ann put it, “young maidens” when Led Zeppelin stopped at Seattle’s Green Lake Aquatheater during their second U.S. tour in May 1969. The girls were appalled by the sexual innuendo of “The Lemon Song.”

    Said Ann: “We ended up leaving because we were so shocked … They were challenging to young girls.”
    Added Nancy: “They had tight jeans!”

  6. mygreenlake says:

    Wow, cool find, Jw! Thanks!

  7. N2theworld says:

    I was working that show. I was told by a friend to talk to Gerri about working the show. She was this little Hawaiian woman. In the last photobucket picture, the guy standing up is Burl Barer. I sat next to him during the show on Jimmy Page's side. I don't see me in any of those pictures. I got to go out to the street to guide them in to the Aqua Theatre when they got there. The event crew had a great identification sytem: blue plastic strips tied into arm bands. The band was drunk, or acting drunk, and were cussing at me. They were cool. I led them through the crowd to the back stage area. The ac plugs were removed from Jimmy Page's amps with the exposed wired jammed into the outlet boxes. What a day.

  8. mygreenlake says:

    Awesome. Thanks so much, N2theworld!

    -amy

  9. Ben Lukoff says:

    Just now came across this. Very cool pictures. Wish I'd seen them in March — could have used them in the Then and Now book!

  10. Ben Lukoff says:

    Just now came across this. Very cool pictures. Wish I'd seen them in March — could have used them in the Then and Now book!