Led Zeppelin Rocks – A Lake! Seattle’s AquaTheater Can’t Contain The “Hammer Of The Gods!” Plus Jimmy Page Returns!

Led Zeppelin Rocks A Lake!

They were the world’s greatest rock band, no denying that, but they didn’t begin that way – in the early days they played some, shall we say, more “obscure” venues? 

Like Seattle’s Green Lake?

I love this story, and only wish I had been old enough at the time to see it myself!

As Historylink.org posted:

On Sunday May 11, 1969, the up-and-coming British rock ‘n’ roll band Led Zeppelin performs a legendary concert at a most unusual venue: Seattle’s Green Lake Aqua Theatre. That theater — an outdoor stage set on the western edge of one of the town’s most popular parks — had been built in 1950 to feature shows by the Aqua Follies and so it boasted a stage with a 40-foot diving tower on each side, and a pool between the stage and the 5,000-capacity concrete grandstand. Although the theater was generally dedicated to rather light fare — “swimusicals,” comedic plays, and a jazz festival or two — by 1965 rock ‘n’ roll promoters began producing the occasional show there with pop stars such as Sonny & Cher or Ian Whitcomb. So, clearly, bringing the world’s heaviest hard-rock band, Led Zeppelin, into the place was raising the stakes in a seismic way — and the theater would ultimately pay the highest price by sacrificing its life in the wake of that thundering event.

The other band that day? Three Dog Night!

Guitarist Jimmy Page must have blown the roofs off the surrounding houses!

The article goes on to state:

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.” The Seattle Times concurred: “The audience was everywhere. The benches in the Aqua Theatre were filled to overflowing … . Several energetic souls treaded water in the pool between the stands and the stage. There were even two swimsuit-clad fellows perched atop the roof of one of the diving towers.”

Though no journalists are known to have documented Led Zep’s precise set-list that day at Green Lake, the following is a reasonable reconstruction gleaned from various sources:

  • “Train Kept a Rollin'”
  • “I Can’t Quit You Baby”
  • “Dazed and Confused”
  • “As Long As I Have You”
  • “The Lemon Song” (aka “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” 

Here is Led Zeppelin performing “Good Times Bad Times” in 2007 at a rare reunion performance:

This is Green Lake today – a panoramic shot from one end of the lake, which is a 3 mile walk around – and at the south end, the remains of the “Aquatheater”:

Bravo to History Link for this great story – you can see more here:


And here’s a quick tour of what Green Lake looks like today:

And in case you were wondering, I was lucky enough as a young boy to see Led Zeppelin twice in Seattle:

I actually kept my tickets!

I remember being g packed in a line of fanatics – all seats general admission, and we all wanted a spot close to the stage!

And someone just shared this: Jimmy Page returned to Green Lake!

Yes, the legendary Guitarist took a moment to go back to the scene of the concert when he was in Seattle a few years ago!

I love that!

Of course, there are some incredible books about rock’s greatest band, but perhaps none as influential as this one:

This book tells the entire story of Led Zeppelin’s rise to greatness, and it includes a very raucous story from Seattle as well…another book that tears the lid off rock is this one, about the other band to perform that day at Green Lake:

Yes, the lead singer of Three Dog Night had a rough stretch – see more about both of these classic rock’n’roll memoirs here:

I also shared a story ab out the greatest rock anthems of all time and of course, Led Zeppelin is in the top three:

It’s a great debate to have – see the top three and videos for each here!

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Leave me a comment and I you liked this story, feel free to share on social media – thank you!

Let me know if you were lucky enough to see Led Zeppelin at Green Lake!

Categories: 70's Music, Books / Media, Classic Rock, Led Zeppelin, Memoirs, Music, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities

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20 replies

  1. I’ve been listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin lately. I love the slower, acoustic stuff on III. Seriously, what an amazing band.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. what a wild and crazy concert and love the story. so fun to find out these stories of the greats who played in unexpected places and conditions in the early days

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great story! So many new bands played where ever they could. In my college days (late 60’s and early 70’s) they played in the gym at colleges. I saw a great Chicago Transit Authority concert, and they were the opening act for someone bigger. Yup, in the gym, sitting on the floor.


  4. Led Zep has always been one of my favourite bands. I’ve seen Page and Plant play at Wembley, but not Led Zep unfortunately. John Bonham died a month before I got married, and when we went to see Rush play at Birmingham’s NEC we visited his grave at Rushock.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You made it to Green Lake! I have so many memories of walking around the lake, swimming and summer fun. I think we fished there too,and fed the ducks. but duck hunt? 😉


  6. What a great story!!!! 🎸🎸
    $6.50 seems amazing value but do you recall what else you could buy for that back then|?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That must have been an experience to see them live in an open-air venue, John. I am not even a fan of the band (except for Stairway To Heaven) but might have been tempted to go to that gig.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I saw Led Zep in March 1971 at the University of Kent, in Canterbury. They were playing a set of smaller gigs as warm up for a huge tour later that year. Capacity at the venue was 1300 and we all sat on the floor: if I’d felt like it I could have leaned forward and grabbed Robert Plant’s leg. But I didn’t 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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