Watch a news report from 1973 as Led Zeppelin set a new world record

After the demise of The Yardbirds, Jimmy Page managed to scrape together a new band with Robert Plant, the esteemed rock vocalist of The Band of Joy, and his ex-bandmate, drummer John Bonham. After former Yardbirds bassist Robert Dreja left the New Yardbirds (as they were called then) to pursue a career in photography, they brought in John Paul Jones. With Dreja’s exit, they were legally obliged to change their name; born was the age of Led Zeppelin.

Page, being a confident guitar virtuoso, was convinced he could assemble a group to return to the heights of The Yardbirds. Little did he know, he had stumbled upon three experts in their respective fields. After the hit-laden heavy rock of their first two albums released in 1969, they were well on their way to becoming heavyweights of the rock arena, rivalling the likes of The Rolling Stones and The Who.

By 1973, Led Zeppelin were just about the most prominent rock band in the world, having just released their seminal fifth album, Houses of the Holy. For the opening night of their 1973 US tour, on May 4th, Led Zeppelin were to play at the Atlanta Stadium in Georgia. The concert drew in swathes of young rock fanatics and curious locals from the far reaches of the state, ultimately amassing an estimated 49,233 people. This figure set a new record for attendance at the venue trouncing The Beatles’ previous record of 33,000 in 1965. For their trouble, Led Zeppelin raked in an agreeable sum of $246,180.

The stadium, which ordinarily hosts major baseball matches, was overrun with teenagers camping outside from 9am to get the best position. As they left their campouts to access the stadium, they left behind what was described as “a pile of stanching garbage”.

Naturally, the traffic situation was a bit of a disaster with the 50,000 spectators and a further few thousand trying in vain to gain access after capacity had been reached. Sgt. L.W. Ramsey, responsible for controlling traffic at the event, said the situation was “the worse I’ve ever seen, anywhere. We had to shut off all the exit ramps from the South Expressway and just run everybody by”.

As for the concert, the size of the stadium made the concert feel more open, like a festival. “It was a pleasant way to listen to music without having your ears hurt,” a fan said, while another opined: “It was like a caged Woodstock”. A writer for the Atlanta Constitution reported: “The crowd seemed to enjoy the music while walking through the packed multitudes walking with friends and meeting new ones.”

The very next day, Led Zeppelin moved on to Tampa, Florida, where they consolidated their dominion over The Beatles with a new world record for the largest crowd ever assembled for a single concert performance. Having drawn in 57,000, they broke The Beatles’ previous attendance record of 56,000 at the Shea Stadium, New York.

As if that wasn’t enough fun for one day, the band grossed $309,000, which, at the time, was the highest amount ever grossed for a rock concert. Watch footage from a news report detailing the broken record below.

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