... and so it begins. While Led Zeppelin had performed as the New Yardbirds in September, played some gigs in England late in 1968, and began their first U.S. tour two weeks before, it all really started on January 12, 1969 with the release of Led Zeppelin.
Financed by Jimmy Page himself, recorded on a tight budget in 36-hours over a couple of weeks, it would contain all the elements that made Led Zeppelin: Babe I'm Gonna Leave You is an acoustic masterpiece with a tough, rock exterior; Good Times Bad Times a John Bonham showcase rocker with a funky groove; Dazed and Confused the epic that would be a staple of their live shows until 1977; Black Mountain Side, the Jimmy Page showcase; Communication Breakdown, the hard rocker that foreshadowed punk by years and the pure blues of You Shook Me and I Can't Quit You Baby. And for all that, it's still possible to meet people who's favourite song on the album is How Many More Times or Your Time is Gonna Come, the former of which was the bands first live showcase.
As the band took the stage on the Fillmore West in San Francisco on this night in 1969, they couldn't know what was coming. But the show they would do on that night and the ones in the months to follow would seed the ground for their reputation as a great live act, just as the album that was released 45-years ago today would introduce them to the world as a band to be taken seriously, even if Rolling Stone didn't.