How Led Zeppelin “grand funked” Grand Funk Railroad

by | Mar 25, 2023 | Uncategorized

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Thomas J. Beaver · 


BSE, MA in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics & Music, Psychology, Science, University of Michigan (Graduated 1980)Updated 3y

Why did Peter Grant pull the plug on Grand Funk Railroad when they opened for Led Zeppelin in Detroit in Fall 1969?

I was at that concert … October, 1969, Olympia Stadium (the old Red Wings hockey arena).

A mini-riot ensued, chairs thrown around and onto the stage.

Grant said later that there was a curfew that they were coming up upon, the concert having started late.

However … …. I also saw two other concerts at Olympia that fall ‘69/winter ‘70: The Rolling Stones, and Cream. In both cases the concerts started late (as all big concerts did in those days … an hour late was normal) … and there was no nonsense about any curfew … they played on and on.

In this case — the Led Zep concert — the crowd (including me) thought: the local band (GFR) was just too-damn-good (the crowd was going wild for them – they were a complete and wonderful surprise). They had not been dragging their set out — it was cut short.

Here’s an answer I wrote a little while back about this concert:

Led Zep and GFR

Backstory: I grew up in a small Michigan beach town on the Lake Michigan coast. We had a ‘roller rink and ballroom’ … and in the 1967-70 era, the top in state bands would appear, including The Amboy Dukes (oooh that cave man costume!), Alice Cooper (that poor chicken!), and also The Zombies.

And … back in the summer of 1969, there was a Flint, MI band call The Pack. They’d just stopped being Terry Knight and the Pack, when Knight stopped fronting them and instead became their manager. It was a great gig, they were top-top notch, and they had a surprisingly top-notch guitarist.

Then, the story … in the fall of 1969, in the Fall, I went with some friends to the old Olympia (hockey) Arena in Detroit to see Led Zeppelin.

The opening act was … a band called Grand Funk Railroad. I said – “Hey, that’s The Pack!” I just saw them play in my home town this summer – at the Grand Haven Roller Rink! And they were The Pack. They’d changed their name (the new name is a play on words of the Grand Trunk Railroad, a line that ran through Flint and ended in my little beach town), and had released their first album (“On Time”) and just finished recording their second (“Grand Funk”) …

… so they had plenty of songs to play, and they were top notch (“Are You Ready,” “Heartbreaker,” “Inside Looking Out” … they also had “I’m Your Captain,” which they played, from their 3rd album, 1970’s “Closer to Home.”)

Anyway, they were grrrrrEAT The crowd went wild, absolutely loved them. Local band and all …

Then, suddenly, in the middle of their set, this huge (tall, 400 pounds it seemed!) burly guy walks on … and the power on the stage goes off! There’s a heated argument …

And the crowd … which was so jazzed up … goes ballistic. I don’t mean boo’s … I mean a mini-riot … chairs being thrown onto the stage and elsewhere … you name it. Luckily, we were seated in the first ‘hockey row’, out of the fray on the floor.

Word quickly spreads through the crowd … the burly guy is Led Zep’s manager … and for whatever reason, he walked onstage and ‘yanked the plug’ or some such thing … we, the crowd, figure it has to be because GFR was so damn great!

Finally, order is semi-restored, Led Zep comes on … to a mix of cheers and continuing loud boos and jeers … which never let up.

Zep played a short gig of 20 minutes or so … and walked off. That was it.

Postscript: much has been written about this event, from all sides (including that there was a curfew of some kind – tho I also saw Cream, and The Stones, at Olympia in 1968–69, and there was never anything about a curfew … so …).

I’m just relating what I saw myself at the time, and how it seemed to us who were there.


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