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University of Surrey - October 25, 1968

  • Setlists during these early tours include: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, You Shook Me, Dazed & Confused,  White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Babe I'm Gonna Leave You, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown,
srapallo's picture
on September 20, 2007 - 1:18pm
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Average: 4.3 (172 votes)
October 25, 1968
Battersea, London
United Kingdom

Setlists during these early tours include: Train Kept a Rollin', I Can't Quit You Baby, You Shook Me, Dazed & Confused,  White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Babe I'm Gonna Leave You, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown,


Support: The Gass. 

The band make their official debut as "Led Zeppelin". The show was hyped as "The First Big Dance of the Term" and some early printed material listed them as "The New Yardbirds". It was commonly (incorrectly) listed as taking place in Guildford, however this show occurred at the University of Surrey, Great Hall, Battersea Park Rd, London. An office memo from Jimmy Page's personal collection also confirmed this information: "Friday 25th October 1968. Surrey University, Battersea Park Road, London, S.W.11. Arrive by 8pm. 1x50 minute spot.  £175 fee cheque on the night of the engagement."

Jimmy Page: "At this point in 1968, I was living in my house in Pangbourne, West Berkshire. For some time prior to that, I had lived in Epsom in Surrey (when this location was called Ewell Technical College) and I had attended a handful of chemistry lessons at night school back in the day. This show was a good chance to catch up with some of my old pals from Epsom."

"I drove John and Robert to their first engagement as Led Zeppelin in my Jaguar. There was a huge banner outside that read: 'Tonight! The Ex-Yardbirds'. Underneath in smaller lettering, it said 'Led Zeppelin'. After the gig, I couldn't start the Jaguar and we all came home on the train." - (Reg Jones, Way Of Life)


Setlists during these early tours include: Communication Breakdown, I Can't Quit You Baby, You Shook Me, Dazed & Confused,  Babe I'm Gonna Leave You and How Many More Times.

Jimmy Page: "At this point in 1968, I was living in my house in Pangbourne, West Berkshire. For some time prior to that, I had lived in Epsom in Surrey (when this location was called Ewell Technical College) and I had attended a handful of chemistry lessons at night school back in the day. This show was a good chance to catch up with some of my old pals from Epsom."


Peter Harrison's picture

RE: LED ZEPPELIN first ever gig 25/10/1968 ~ Surrey University

To: peterharrison

Date: Monday, 6 December, 2010, 10:27

Hi Peter,

We couldn’t forget that night, it has gone down in our history! They performed here in Guildford. Jimmy Page even unveiled a plaque at the venue. They are always more than welcome to come back :o)

.......................................................................................................... Jade Johnson Entertainments Manager .......................................................................................................... The University of Surrey Students' Union Union House The University of Surrey Guildford Surrey GU2 7XH Tel 01483 683252 

george's picture

where can i find the poster of the gig in surrey? i want to order it and it seems impossible to find it!!

phil johanson's picture

Led Zeppelin's first gig is widely reported as being at Surrey University, but where was Surrey University in 1968. If most definatly was not in Guildford Surrey, as it is now. I notice on the poster it states 'The Great Hall, Battersea Bridge Road.' This is in London SW11?

Johnny Glover's picture

As it states on the poster, it was in Battersea in the old Victorian main building on Battersea Park Road in London. The university was in the throngs of moving to the new Guildford site during this time after receiving its university charter in 1966. This was the very first gig of the newly named formation that was still (unofficially) playing as The Yardbirds only one week before in London and Liverpool after completing their obligatory Scandinavian tour still officially as The Yardbirds with the new band members (Bonham, Plant, Jones and of course Jimmy Page).

The Great Hall was the large assembly hall with an impressive organ behind the stage. The whole complex has now been re-developed into a large number of very expensive city flats. Fortunately the exterior has kept much of its old Victorian charm and is well worth a visit.

Only a few days after this gig the band signed their first record contract with Atlantic Records and the rest we all know. Later, in 2008, Jimmy Page was awarded an honorary degree at the be-said University of Surrey in Guildford. So now we can call him Dr. Jim!

Dave's picture

The University of Surrey received the stag hill campus in 1965 and received its charter in 1966. The university gradually moved from battersea between 1965 and 1970, however by 1968 there was a substantial amount there, including the now called 'University Hall' which is where this gig happened.

I cannot read the Battersea Bridge Road bit on the poster but the university hall is directly infront of Battersea court which might be the unofficial name of that road (all campus roads are now nameless!)

Anonymous's picture

The concert WAS in Battersea, I was there! Battersea College of Advanced Technology received its' charter to become the University of Surrey in1966. The new campus was being built in Guildford and in 1968 the University became a 'split personality' when half of the departments moved to Guildford for the start of that academic year! My department remained in Battersea, and this second half then moved to Guildford in 1969. This was the first big concert of the Autumn Term and a lot of people came up from Guildford for it so it was quite a reunion. I didn't realise the momentousness of the occasion at the time - I wrote in my diary that it was 'a great dance' and that the 'Yardbirds' were 'quite good' !!!! I think I was more taken up with seeing the Guildford lot!

Eduardo's picture

According to U Surrey web page
the university was already there. The move from London to Guildford was completed in 1970. There is a place call The Batersea Court Hall on campus that remains U Surrey origins.

My Connection with this concert is thwt my brother was born Oct 25 1968 and I did my Phd in Economics at the University of Surrey in 2004. Chreers.

Will's picture


I work for a TV company and I am very interested in the story of Led Zeppelin performing his first gig at the University of Surrey.
If you were there or know of anyone who was there, and are willing to share your memories, please get in touch.
My e-mail address is:

Look forward to hearing from you.

Name's picture

yes it is because looking at old records, That is what the university hall was referred to by the scholars. the name was lost or dropped around the 70's

Steve A. Jones's picture

On December 20, 2003 Jimmy attended ABC Trust's Riffathon auction (a fundraising event for the charity sponsored by 'Guitarist' magazine) at the University of Surrey in Guildford. Commemorative plaque was unveiled there however it had the wrong date (October 15 1968) and has since been removed. It seems to me the university recognized it's error on the plaque as well as the correct site - the Great Hall on Battersea Park Road as publicized on the original promotional poster for the event.

On June 20, 2008 the University of Surrey conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of the University to Jimmy Page for services to the music industry. The presentation ceremony was held at Guildford Cathedral. Jimmy generously signed a guitar to be given away in a competition at the upcoming GuilFest festival.

Johnny Glover's picture

I am a little confused as to where they did actually perform their first gig as LZ. Was it in Battersea or Gulidford? I started at the university in 1969 and still travelled to Battersea once a week as the campus in Guildford was still a building site (I have some photos of it). Do you have any photos of this historic event?

martin's picture

zep never actually played in guilford, they played at the uni but before it moved to guildford. jimmy did unveil a plaque in the great hall i was there to witness the event. when asked if he could remember playing in the town he replied that he could not. he was at the uni to judge acompetition for young guitar players.

Johnny Glover's picture

Hard to believe but on this very same day Frank Zappa performed on one of his rare concerts in London, at the Royal Festival Hall.

Now FZ was, at the time, far more popular than the newly-named Led Zeppelin. So this very unique and historical event of LZ was unfortunately completely overshadowed by a visiting American artist.

This might explain, why there are so little (or none!?) contemporary documents on LZ's very first gig ever.

Johnny Glover's picture

The poster announcing the gig clearly states in the Great Hall in Battersea Park Road which is in London. This is the old Victorian site of the Battersea College of Advanced Technology, which, in 1968, was already the new University of Surrey. The new site in Guildford, Surrey was still a very muddy building site at the time, but was already being used. Never-the-less, it is very unlikely that the new university site would have been used for such an event. There is also an (anonymous) eye-witness account of the evening that has yet to be confirmed. So, until trustworthy sources state otherwise, we can only assume that the historic event took place in Battersea, London.

Will Steel's picture


I work for a TV company and I'm researching this for a short film. I'm looking for people who witnessed the event.

Please do get in touch if you would be happy to discuss this with me.

Many thanks,


Johnny Glover's picture

Whoever you are, please reply. I would like this to be confirmed.

I was also at UoS in Guildford just after the event.

Please contact me.


Johnny Glover's picture

On the promotional poster advertising this event, it quite clearly states the Great Hall in Battersea Park Road as being (planned?) the venue. In 1968 the university main hall on the new campus in Guildford, Surrey was not yet complete. Nevertheless, it could be that the poster was incorrect - which could well have been the case, as the band's name billed on the poster The new Yardbirds was, by then, also incorrect, or rather outdated. On the other hand on this comments page there is a report from an eye-witness who was at the event and states it did take place in Battersea. This has not yet been confirmed though as the writer of this comment remains anonymous.

Alan Pipes's picture

I was there too. It was definitely in the Great Hall in Battersea - I've had this verified by other alumni. The hall at Guildford wasn't yet built (I saw the Who there later on), and small-scale gigs used to be held in the basement of the Chemical Engineering Building. I did physics 1965-68 and was still living in Clpham, London until March 1969, when I moved to Guildford to join friends. At Battersea I was on the stage crew, operating lights. We used to alternate our 'dances' with Chelsea College across the river. What I remember about the Zep gig was that it was no big deal - someone described it as the Yardbirds with a session musician on guitar! I didn't even write it up in my diary! Little did I know...

Tim Douglas's picture

The poster says Battersea Park road not Battersea Bridge road and I think the building was known as the Battersea College of Technology then .

Preston Wall Kuhn's picture

I think I own the only copy. I purchased it from Bonham's auction house - it was found in the promoters barn. Jimmy even mentions the sale of it on his website each year on the concert date. It is the crown jewel of my collection. 

John Lipnicki's picture

The building known as the Great Hall is still standing in Battersea Park Road. It is a fine Victorian edifice built as an educational establishment but now split into private appartments. 

Johnny Glover's picture

It is certain that the very first appearance as Led Zepplin was at the University of Surrey in the Great Hall situated in the old main building in Battersea. And that this was on 25th October (not 15th - this is a misprint)! On the same day Frank Zappa was appearing at the Great Festival Hall in London.

Even though the poster still had them billed as The New Yardbirds, the new name was only announced on 19th October in the Disc and Music Echo (I have a copy of it), only a few days before their gig at Battersea.

Anything else is rubbish! I studied at this university (had my interview in 1968) and know exactly where such events took place. It was only in 1970 that this new university in Guildford had a concenrt hall (University Hall). Until then most events took place in Battersea with few exceptions taking place in the basement on one of the faculty buildings.

Johnny Glover's picture

It is now 2018 and the 25th October will mark the 50 years after their very first live perfomance as Led Zeppelin. This unique band is as popular today as they were from the beginning. Eye witness reports of their appearance at Surrey University in then Battersea, though, were generally not so positive. But that was probably because they were expecting something like The Yardbirds as was billed up front. The band only took on the new name a few days earlier. But very soon afterwards they became tremendously popular (especially in the US) despite this loud music, which, at the time, was a revolution and have remained there ever since. Chapeau!!

alan pearce's picture

I was there at the first gig in Battersea .What was really memorable was the fact that apart from Led Zeppelin ( their first appearance under that name )we had hired a stripper who had turned up with no music so to stop the ( rather small) crowd rioting the band agreed , after an exchange of notes to play The Stripper a la Led Zeppelin and the crowd went home happy. I might be wrong but bet that was the first and last time they did that. Happy days.

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