Zeppelin’s first gig was at a tiny rec center?

Wheaton Youth Center, Wheaton Maryland

Wheaton Youth Center, Wheaton Maryland

“Hey, man! Did you know that Led Zeppelin’s first show in the U.S. was in a little neighborhood youth center in suburban Maryland? For just, like, 50 people?”

Although unconfirmed, that rumor has persisted for decades—that Led Zeppelin, one of the biggest musical acts of the 1970s, had its American debut in the gym of the Wheaton Youth Center in Wheaton, MD during Richard Nixon’s first inauguration in January 1969. Filmmaker Jeff Krulik decided to figure out once and for all if the rumor was true.

Krulik visits the Libraries to screen his acclaimed—and hilarious—documentary Zeppelin Played Here on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 7:00-8:30 p.m. in the D. H. Hill Library Auditorium.

"There's people who grew up in Wheaton, across the street, who went to every show, who don't remember it," Krulik said in a Washington Post interview. And yet he found people who claim to remember the show vividly. Fans even held a reunion in the gym to share stories, and Krulik was there with his camera.

Krulik’s no stranger to the rockumentary-as-cultural-anthropology genre, having made the cult classic Heavy Metal Parking Lot with John Heyn. That riotous film captures interviews with fans outside a 1986 Judas Priest concert at the Capital Centre in Maryland.

In his pursuit of the truth in Zeppelin, Krulik creates a wonderful glimpse of the late-1960s music as a local network of fans and radio stations, deejays and promoters, and small venues and festivals—before the big record companies and stadium shows took it all over. A time when Led Zeppelin could have played in your backyard… or could they?