For One Show in 1970, Led Zeppelin Had a New Name

Led Zeppelin in 1970
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GAB Archive/Redferns

You'd be forgiven if you'd gone to K.B. Hallen in Copenhagen, Denmark with a little uncertainty over who you were going to see perform that night. The headliners were billed as "The Nobs," but they played and looked a lot like Led Zeppelin; it won't surprise you to find out that they were, indeed, Led Zeppelin.

So why the name change, barely over a year since the release of their debut album and months after the release of their second? For that you can thank a very angry German-born resident of the country who took offense to the band name.

READ MORE: January 1969: Led Zeppelin Debuts with "Led Zeppelin"

Frau Eva von Zeppelin, a descendant of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin - who'd conceived the type of rigid airship that bore his name nearly a century before - had taken offense to Led Zeppelin's name for several months. In October 1969, the month Led Zeppelin II hit stores, the aristocrat unsuccessfully tried to block the group from performing on Danish TV. The band tried to be good sports about the whole thing, inviting Frau von Zeppelin to meet them after the taping.

The meeting was cordial until she happened to spot the cover of the band's debut: an image of the Zeppelin company's most infamous ship, LZ 129 Hindenburg, exploding during its final flight in 1937. "She saw our LP cover of an airship in flames and she exploded!" guitarist Jimmy Page later recounted to Melody Maker. "I had to run and hide. She just blew her top."

Frau von Zeppelin was threatening legal action by the time the group came back for the 1970 show, so Led Zeppelin avoided the worst of it by quickly changing their name to The Nobs, a cheeky reference to Claude Nobs, the group's chief promoter in Europe. (Fun fact: Nobs also founded the Montreux Jazz Festival.) Of course, with respect to the Frau's feelings, publicity like that can't be bought among rock and rollers - and the controversy helped Led Zeppelin quickly take the rest of Europe - and soon the world - by storm.

READ MORE: 50 years of "Led Zeppelin II"

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