By Larry Downing and Jason Reed
Moments after musicians Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham stepped onto the creaky stage inside the old Boston Garden forty-four years ago it was obvious 16,000 teenaged baby boomers were witnessing the infancy of one of rock and roll’s greatest acts.
“Led Zeppelin” opened 1969’s “Tribal Rock Festival” with a throbbing, “Good Times Bad Times,” and the world changed forever for those inside; most of whom had been schooled under the shadows of strict, conservative innocence in the 1950’s and early 60’s. The band played with such primal passions and steady bass rhythms it generated enough vibration to free decades of tired dust from the tops of the aging rafters; waterfalls of filth drifted below and continued during the entire performance.
None of those New England fans would ever see, or hear, music the same after those loud layers of complex notes and vigorous lyrics were let out of the genie’s bottle and took possession of every happy toe-tapper inside that ancient structure built back in 1928.
And no one who actually “remembers” that night will forget the numbing cannabis high enjoyed at no additional cost after paying only $3.50 to watch from the cheapest seats. Warm, freshly exhaled marijuana floated up as clouds of pungent second-hand smoke stoning everyone inside that building famous for poor circulation. I heard this included the unsuspecting cops who inhaled from the top rows and later mentioned they would find relief for their own “munchies” searching for chocolate donuts on the way home.
Pop’s early lyrics had always been uncomplicated verse catering to adolescent boys and girls and their simple tastes, perfect harmony for the pink ‘poodle skirt’ crowd; Frankie Avalon, Pat Boone, Ricky Nelson and the Beach Boys were all success stories. And if fans were asked before that night at the Garden to describe their childhood memories most would have reminisced as if they were scenes seen in grainy 8mm black and white movies.