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Ohio University hosted huge bands in '69

Ohio University hosted huge bands in '69

September 17th, 2012 in News

ATHENS, Ohio (AP) - For a total of only $5, an Ohio University student in 1969 could have seen two of the most iconic bands in rock 'n' roll history.

The Athens Messenger recounted Sunday ( the hosting that seems so unlikely now of both Led Zeppelin and The Who on the southeastern Appalachian Ohio campus.

With their rock opera album "Tommy" a major innovative hit, The Who came to town that November for an energetic show that delighted an excited crowd.

"I remember (lead singer) Roger Daltrey swinging the microphone around by the cord wondering if I was going to get knocked out," recalled Dan Hime, then a student reporter for The Post. Hime went backstage after the show to do interviews, but said he couldn't get near Daltrey because of a throng of female fans. Pete Townshend continued to play air guitar to himself, he said, but he did interview bassist John Entwhistle and drummer Keith Moon.

Both were relaxed and friendly, Hime said, although Moon's relaxation was no doubt helped by a bottle of whiskey a student had provided for his use during the show. That was promoter Steve Bossin, who was chairman of the Campus Entertainment Committee and now lives in Cleveland.

Bossin averted a crisis when he gave his Jack Daniels to the band, he said. The Ohio University police had been enforcing a ban on alcohol, angering The Who. Bossin was arrested briefly, but was freed to enjoy the show he said drew people from miles around to what was the region's largest indoor concert venue

"They had come for a good time and they were not disappointed," Bossin said.

The more storied concert is the May visit by Led Zeppelin, who were then still emerging as a rock force. Surprisingly, the Robert Plant-fronted band was the opening act for Jose Feliciano.

Feliciano had achieved success with his acoustic version of The Doors' "Light My Fire," but promoters wanted a rock band to attract students.

Led Zeppelin did just fine for that.

"People would not stop cheering, jumping and banging chairs when LZ concluded the scheduled set," said Mike Pavlik, then a 17-year-old high school student. He had come to the concert with a friend who wanted to see Feliciano. He didn't know much beforehand about Led Zeppelin.

"They came back for one encore, then another," Pavlik said. "People kept screaming ... (guitarist) Jimmy Page stepped forward and announced: 'That's all we have.' "

Bossin said it cost only about $5,000 to book Led Zeppelin. He and others say that much of the crowd left after Led Zeppelin ended its show, not waiting for Feliciano. They add that the band later showed up at the Baker Center student union, looking for something to eat.

According to lore, there is a good-quality bootleg recording of the Led Zeppelin show at the Convocation Center, but its whereabouts today are unknown.