On This Day, December 30th
1. 1968: Led Zepplin plays at Gonzaga University
It was on this date in 1968 that what many feel to be the first live recording of the iconic rock band Led Zeppelin was recorded at Gonzaga University. It was only the band’s fifth show in the United States at that time and very few people had heard of them. Some die hard rock and roll fans might’ve heard that the former lead guitarist of the Yardbirds, Jimmy Page, had formed a new band with Robert Plant as the lead singer, John Paul Jones on the bass, and John Bonham on the drums, but they were few and far between. It was a cold night and the band was huddled around space heaters trying to stay warm and keep their equipment warm. When trying to advertise the event, promoters created flyers but apparently misunderstood what the name of the band was because the headline read “The Vanilla Fudge, with Len Zefflin”. This event probably would have gone unnoticed in the grand scheme of Led Zepplin history, but one of the students in attendance happened to bring a tape recorder and recorded the entire show. According to reports, this was the first live recording of the band caught on tape and thanks to the beauty of the internet we can listen to that recording in full here.
2. 1903: Iroquois Theater fire in Chicago
The deadliest theater fire in U.S. history started on this date in 1903 at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago, Illinois. Interestingly just over a month before it was deemed “fireproof beyond all doubt” by both a fire inspector and Chicago’s building commissioner thanks to its 30 exits, 27 of which were double doors. But at the same time the editor of Fireproof magazine, William Clendenin, inspected the theater himself and ended up writing a ferocious article regarding the many fire dangers. He pointed out there was no fire alarm, no sprinkler system over the stage, and there was a vast amount of wood trim in the beautiful building. During a matinee performance, a packed house with more than 2,000 people in attendance watched Mr. Bluebeard when one of the spotlight operators noticed one of the stage lights had sparked a created a small blaze backstage. Thinking at first they would be able to get the fire under control they had the audience remain seated. However backstage there was all kinds of oily rags and wooden props and soon it was out of control. Having all those exits didn’t do any good because all but three of them were locked. In the end, there were more than 600 casualties from the fire.
3. 1978: OSU head coach Woody Hayes fired for punching an opposing player
It was on this date in 1978 that Ohio State University decided to fire their head coach, Woody Hayes, after his violent outburst the day before during the Gator Bowl. The Buckeyes were playing the Clemson Tigers and they were down by two with possession of the ball in the closing seconds of the game. Hayes called a pass play that ended up with the ball being intercepted by Charlie Bauman who returned it towards the OSU sideline before he was pushed out of bounds. This is when things got a little out of hand. Rather than helping the opposing player up and sending him off to his side of the field, Coach Hayes walks up and punches Bauman in the throat instead. Many of the OSU players had to restrain Hayes, and those that attempted felt his wrath as well because he turned on them. The Buckeyes not only lost the game, but also their head coach that day.