Led Zeppelin Crashed Here
A Rock and Roll Itinerary: Sites Across Massachusetts Where Rock History Was Made
By Elayne Badrigian
Pop culture historian Chris Epting was 13 years old when he became a giant fan of the Rolling Stones. His “emotional attachment” to rock ‘n’ roll was formed when his father took him to see Mick Jagger and the gang at Madison Square Garden on June 22, 1975.
Now, Chris’ son, at the same age as he was, is able to identify a Bob Dylan song on the radio by its title, reminding Chris once again, the great influence music has on our lives and that fact that it is passed down from generation to generation.
In Led Zeppelin Crashed Here: The Rock and Roll Landmarks of North America, Epting takes readers on a nostalgic journey to nearly 600 locations across the country where rock and roll history was made.
Landmarks include the site where Bob Dylan has his motorcycle accident, Elvis Presley’s first public performance, the home where Kurt Cobain died, the venues where The Beatles and Bob Marley made their U.S. debuts, and David Bowie’s secret Diamond Dogs rehearsal location.
Jazz and blues fans will also find the book a useful guide; Buddy Holly’s crash cite is included as well as other landmarks in Louisiana and other Southern states.
“To all of you who remember those pre-MTV days, when albums and radio ruled so much of our lives, I hope this book brings back a few memories. To the younger readers, who knows, maybe reading about all of these legends will inspire you to go start a band. And we can always use a few good new bands.”
1325 Commonwealth Avenue #2B
It was this address that Boston-born super group Aerosmith, called home from 1970 to 1972, writing music and jamming out until they were signed by Columbia Records. In an interview with Circus Magazine in 1975, lead singer Steven Tyler recalls eating brown rice and Campbell’s soup during hard, yet good times.
“During lunch we would set up all our equipment outside of BU (Boston University) in the main square and just start wailing,” he said. This tactic helped the rock group get signed; they had never received publicity in magazines and newspapers. Avid Aerosmith fans will recognize this building in the 1991 video for the band’s hit song “Sweet Emotion.”
Boston Tea Party
53 Berkeley Street
Opened in 1967 as the Boston Tea Party, this former synagogue hosted rock legends Led Zeppelin and experimental rock band, The Velvet Underground in the late 1960s. It was here that band member John Cale played his last show with The Velvet Underground, later being replaced by Doug Yule, a Boston local. In 1969, the venue moved its location next to Fenway Park, where today it remains as The Avalon.
North Harvard Street
On August 12, 1970, raspy-voiced songstress Janis Joplin performed the last concert before her death here in front of a massive crowd of 40,000 fans. She passed away less than two months later at the age of 27, joining Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix in what would become the “27 Club.” Morrison and Hendrix also died at that young age. (Amy Winehouse joined the club in July 2011, also dying at age 27)
St. Botolph Street
Built in 1910, the famous musical events The Big Beat Show and the Motown Revue were held here. The Big Beat Show took place in 1958, when a riot broke out at a concert put on by legendary disc jockey Alan Freed. The show also featured Buddy Holly & the Crickets, Chuck Berry, Jo-Anne Campbell and Jerry Lee Lewis.
The first ever Motown Revue, the famous traveling show, was also held here in 1962. Acts such as Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes performed. Now called Matthews Arena, it is located on the Northeastern University campus.
Hula Moon Café
27 Mount Pleasant Street
David Robison, the original drummer of Boston band The Cars, owns Hula Moon Café. The little joint boasts a menu that’s part Hawaiian, part Japanese, and part Californian. Get off the road and stop in for a bite. It may be relaxing, but it’s still rock ‘n’ roll.
Long View Farm
North Brookfield, Massachusetts
This former dairy farm was converted to a recording studio that welcomed the Rolling Stones from August through September of 1981, as they prepared and rehearsed for their upcoming world tour. Mick Jagger invited several local high school students up to interview him for their school newspaper; no national media were granted the opportunity. Stevie Wonder, J Geils, Mötley Crüe, and James Taylor also took advantage of the rural studio in the countryside.
Sir Morgan’s Cove
89 Green Street
Just as they were nearing the end of their stay at Long View Farm, the Rolling Stones played a surprise concert at this small club on September 14, 1981. The Stones performed their first live show in three years in front of 350 fortunate fans. The band put on a two-hour set of their hit songs. The Stones performed their next show a week later at Philadelphia’s J.F.K. stadium in front of 90,000 people. Today, Sir Morgan’s Cove is known as the Lucky Dog Music Hall.
Harvard Square Theater
10 Church Street
In 1974, rock music critic Jon Landau reviewed a concert at the Harvard Square Theater for The Real Paper. In his piece, he wrote about the lack of passion in the current music scene. He expressed how he had become bored with music that had once been so vivacious.
When he began writing about the concert, his pessimism took a turn for the hopeful, citing a young Bruce Springsteen as his reason to believe in the future of rock ‘n’ roll. Landau later became Springsteen’s manager and co-producer. Today, the site is a movie theater, but it is undoubtedly the place where “The Boss” was born.
Elayne Badrigian is a former editorial assistant for GoNOMAD. She wrote our daily Travel Reader Blog.
Read our Massachusetts Plane Reader, with dozens of articles about everywhere to go in Massachusetts.
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