This is a very rare and historically significant Led Zeppelin poster featuring their shows at the Boston Tea Party in January 1969. This included a legendary 4-hour show that signaled the first real wave of Zeppelin hysteria in the U.S., a show that is also said to be the birth of head-banging.
Partially in support of their first album’s release in January 1969, and partially because super-manager Peter Grant got the green light from promoters after a tour cancellation by the Jeff Beck Group, the English four set off on their first North American tour from December 1968 through February 1969. But out of the 36 dates that completely blew away audiences with their monstrous, ferocious sound, there was one show in particular that single-handedly foreshadowed how monumental Zeppelin would become: January 26th, 1969 — the fourth and final show at Boston Tea Party.
In January of 1969, no one knew quite what to think of this Jimmy Page-led band that for a brief time in the Fall of 1968 were called the New Yardbirds. Though Zeppelin had already played 20 dates in the U.S., it was during the last show, on Jan 26 in Boston (not shown on the poster, as it was added later), that Zeppelin secured themselves a place in rock and roll history. That night they played for over four and a half hours – their longest show ever – on only one album’s worth of material. John Paul Jones:
“As far as I’m concerned, the key Led Zeppelin gig – the one that put everything into focus – was one that we played on our first American tour at The Boston Tea Party. We’d played our usual one-hour set, using all the material from our first album and Page’s “White Summer” guitar piece and, by the end, the audience just wouldn’t let us off the stage. It was in such a state that we had to start throwing ideas around – just thinking of songs that we all might know or some of us knew a part of, and work it from there. So we go back on and play things like “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “Please Please Me,” Elvis Presley covers. I mean, just anything that would come into our head, and the response was quite amazing.”
“There were kids actually banging their heads against the stage – I’ve never seen that at a gig before or since, and when we finally left the stage we’d played for four and a half hours. Our Manager, Peter Grant, was absolutely ecstatic. He was crying and hugging us all; you know… with this huge grizzly bear hug. I suppose it was then that we realized just what Led Zeppelin was going to become.”
(Future) Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler was there sitting in the back of the venue, crying from the heaviness of “Dazed and Confused” - and then again later that evening when Jimmy Page emerged from the dressing room with Tyler’s girlfriend! “But Jimmy was such a motherfucker onstage that I couldn’t hold it against him,” Tyler fondly recalled during his 1995 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction speech for the band.
Boston Tea Party posters are all rare because they only printed 1,000 for each show and they were handed out to passing cars in Harvard Square amongst their methods of distribution. As the posters displayed the BTP’s “anti-psychedelic” aesthetic, they were not considered art and who the heck had heard of Led Zeppelin? Finally, they were printed on fairly thin paper opening them up to accidental tearing. It’s safe to say there are no more than 100 of these posters in existence but much more likely 50 or fewer, for what was one of the seminal events in Led Zeppelin history.