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The most popular and successful tours of the 1970s were Elvis Presley and Led Zeppelin, who played to crowds night after night.

 Coincidentally, both were with Concerts West, one of the largest tour promoters in the United States.

 In May 1974, the company offered Zeppelin complimentary tickets to Elvis’s concert at the LA Inglewood Forum, with the chance to meet him later.

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The group was a huge fan of Elvis and three members (Plant, Page and Bonham) gladly accepted along with their manager, Peter Grant.

 Although he wasn’t a big fan of hard rock, Elvis knew who the Zeppelins were and was amused that his stepbrother, Ricky, was so excited to know they would be in the audience.

Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Bonham were in Los Angeles for the launch of their Swan Song record label. 

The night after the launch party at the Bel Air Hotel, the band, minus bassist John Paul Jones, attended Elvis Presley’s concert at the Forum.

At some point, Elvis must have been tipped off to the rock group’s presence in the audience because during the show, which was recorded and later released as “Live in L.A.” – can be heard telling his band, ‘…wait a minute, let’s start over folks, ’cause we’ve got Led Zeppelin out there. … Let’s try to look like we know what we’re doing, whether we know it or not.’ 

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Plant also revealed a fun twist at the end of the night. “…at that meeting, Jimmy Page joked with Elvis that we never did a sound check, but if we did, all he wanted to do was sing Elvis songs,” Plant said.

‘…Elvis thought it was funny and asked me, ‘What songs do you sing?’ / Treat me mean and cruel / But love me”.

So as we were leaving, after a very enlightening and fun 90 minutes with the guy, he was walking down the hall. 

He came around the door frame and started singing that song: ‘Treat me like a fool…’ 

I turned around and answered Elvis. We stayed there, singing to each other.

Zeppelin and Elvis’ paths would cross two more times in the 1970s. The next meeting took place at Elvis’ Memphis home, about which Jerry Schilling, a prominent member of his trust, wrote in his book, “Me and a Guy Named Elvis‘. 

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After exchanging jewelry, Elvis thought it would be fun to pull a prank. ‘

…before the evening was over, Elvis said he wanted to do another trade. I didn’t have watches, but I had something else in mind,” recalls Schilling. “…so he stood up, looked at John [Bonham] and said, ‘…let’s swap pants,‘ while simultaneously, Python-style, dropping his pajama bottoms under his robe.

Richard Cole (Zeppelin tour manager) fell silent, while Sheila and John burst out laughing; No one took up Elvis’s offer, but it was a great note to end the night on. 

The final meeting between Zeppelin and Elvis took place on the tarmac at the Baltimore airport while they were both on tour in 1977. Elvis’ stepbrother David Stanley later recalled the meeting.

‘…there was another time that Elvis’s tour bumped into the band while they were on tour. It was at the Washington/Baltimore airport. We were playing in Washington and Led Zeppelin was playing at the Capital Centre. We arrived on the Lisa Marie, Elvis’s private jet, and Led Zeppelin arrived on Caesar’s Chariot

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It was quite a sight to see these two private jets side by side on the private runway. 

Elvis Presley inspired most, if not all, of the great Rock’n’Roll tours of the ’60s, ’70s and beyond. Led Zeppelin was no exception, and the opportunities when their paths crossed remained exciting for the band and Elvis himself.

Source: metalsymphony.com

Information provided by Elvis Shop Argentina


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