Filmmaker Jeff Krulik, auteur of Heavy Metal Parking Lot, has created a gripping film about a Led Zeppelin concert mystery. A handful of people claim they saw the band play a gig at a rec center in Wheaton, Maryland in 1969, during the Nixon inauguration. Others say it never happened…
Conspiracy theorists are fond of saying that the lunar landing, which took place 50 years ago this July, was actually staged in a TV studio. Something about the angle of the shadows and the presence of little cheese-eating moon men in the distance, or something.
Equally in doubt was a concert that allegedly took place 50 years ago this Sunday at a recreation center in suburban Maryland. The performers were none other than Led Zeppelin, a newly formed rock combo, working out their chops. Well, at least that is what a small handful of witnesses swear to this day took place. Filmmaker Jeff Krulik—best known for his documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot—was not there, but he has assembled a gripping film about the “enduring local legend” that allegedly took place in Wheaton at the same time that Richard M. Nixon was being inaugurated U.S. president 15 miles to the south in the District of Columbia.
Did Led Zeppelin perform for “50 confused teenagers” at the Wheaton Youth Center on Georgia Avenue on January 20, 1969?
Krulik presents the case in his 90-minute film Led Zeppelin Played Here, which features interviews with rock writers, musicians and fans, some who claim they were there. He will be screening Led Zeppelin Played Here this Sunday at the American Film Institute theater in Silver Spring, Maryland.
He will introduce the film and answer questions afterwards.
Mike Tremaglio, co-author of the upcoming Evenings with Led Zeppelin—a day-by-day account of the band’s entire career—has, he told Krulik, “dug pretty deep on the gig.” Tremaglio’s entry, in his book, for the Wheaton show is: “the Loch Ness Monster of all Led Zeppelin gigs.”
Krulik cites “an odd three-day stretch” between when Led Zeppelin played in Detroit on Jan 19 and at the Boston Tea Party on January 23. In some accounts—but not Tremaglio’s—a Led Zep concert in Pittsburgh on January 21 is listed, which would certainly be reachable from Wheaton the day before. Still other, more recent accounts cite a Cleveland gig around that same time.
“I know Wheaton MD happened, and I laid out convincing evidence,” said Krulik. “It’s just daunting to prove in this hard-fact, conspiracy-minded and ‘fake news’ era where we find ourselves. Hard proof! Hard proof!”
Krulik learned this the hard way, too.
“I was astonished when I had a screening at University of Maryland in front of a largely academic crowd and about half the crowd, when surveyed, think the concert DID NOT happen,” he said. “That was a real eye opener for me, because I made this film essentially to help prove that the concert did take place, as well as help tell an anecdotal tale of how the rock concert industry emerged.”
Krulik will again screen Led Zeppelin Played Here at the Parkway Theater in Baltimore on February 16, the 50th anniversary of the band’s first appearance in Charm City, when they were part of a four-band lineup at the Baltimore Civic Center.
As a bonus, Krulik will also be screening the premiere of a 6-minute film called Led Zeppelin Treasure Chest, which examines an impressive Led Zeppelin memorabilia collection.