This Day in Music Spotlight: Led Zeppelin Become The Nobs for a Night
February 28, 1970
Special thanks to ThisDayinMusic.com.
By February of 1970, Led Zeppelin had released their first two albums and had become one of the big names in rock and roll. But the legendary band didn’t use their name when they played a show in Denmark on this day in 1970. For the first, and only time, Led Zeppelin were billed as The Nobs.
The name change stemmed from an incident from when the group played Copenhagen the year before. Eva von Zeppelin, a descendant of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (creator of the famous aircraft), was unhappy that a rock band was becoming famous off of her family’s name. She even tried to prevent Led Zeppelin from recording a performance for Danish television, saying that the band sounded like a bunch of “shrieking monkeys.” The attempt didn’t work and the boys performed for the TV Byen cameras, as planned.
But Jimmy Page and company weren’t upset with Frau von Zeppelin, and invited her to have tea with the band after the taping, just to prove to her that they were a bunch of decent guys. By all accounts, the meeting went very well and everyone got along very well. Unfortunately, things went south quickly as von Zeppelin was leaving.
“We invited her backstage to meet us, to see how we were nice young lads,” Page told Melody Maker. “We calmed her down but on leaving the studio, she saw our LP cover of an airship in flames and she exploded! I had to run and hide. She just blew her top.”
After seeing the cover of the band’s debut album, with the famous image of the Hindenburg, von Zeppelin’s hostility to the group instantly returned and even grew worse than before. When Led Zeppelin announced plans to perform in Copenhagen in 1970, she threatened to sue the band if they continued to use their name. Although manager Peter Grant was rarely one to back down, in the face of the lawsuit, he encouraged the band to play under a pseudonym for their Denmark appearance.
But what would they call themselves? Although Ned Zeppelin was discussed, it was dismissed because it didn’t really address the whole “Zeppelin” aspect of the name. The band settled on calling themselves The Nobs, which could have been for a few reasons. One – it was a slang term for a part of the male anatomy. Two – it was the last name of their European promoter, Claude Nobs. Three – the word also could mean “a person of wealth and high social standing,” which was appropriate in regard to von Zeppelin.
“Then we shall call ourselves The Nobs when we go to Copenhagen, the whole thing is absurd,” Page told Melody Maker. Even though the band found the ordeal silly, they got a ton of attention and press because of the incident. Most of it was favorable and showed that the group had a sense of humor. Regardless of her threats, Eva von Zeppelin never sued and never bothered the band about their name ever again.
Although they were called The Nobs when they played at K.B. Hallen Centre in Copenhagen on this day in 1970, they performed a pretty typical Led Zeppelin set list from their European winter tour, which had begun a few days earlier and ended on March 12. Included in the performance were standards like “Dazed and Confused,” “Heartbreaker” and “Whole Lotta Love” along with an extended version of “How Many More Times” that included a medley of “Boogie Chillen,” “Move on Down the Line” and “Cocaine Blues” among other tunes.
The night’s concert later surfaced on the bootleg, Dancing with Snow Queen, a reference to Frau von Zeppelin.
The Nobs (Led Zeppelin) set list, February 28, 1970:
1. “Dazed and Confused”
3. “White Summer”/“Black Mountainside”
4. “Since I’ve Been Loving You”
5. Organ solo/“Thank You”
6. “Moby Dick”
7. “How Many More Times” (medley including “Boogie Chillen,” “Move on Down the Line,” “Cocaine Blues,” “Bottle Up ’n Go,” “Bye Bye Baby”)
8. “Whole Lotta Love”
9. “Communication Breakdown”
10. “C’mon Everybody”/“Something Else”
11. “Bring it on Home”
12. “Long Tall Sally”