Smallest room Led Zeppelin ever played: Just 50 people

New documentary on Led Zeppelin in the works. Photo: Three of the remaining members of the original Led Zeppelin AP photo

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2013 — Washington D.C. born and Maryland raised University of Maryland graduate, Jeff Krulik is an independent film producer and archival footage researcher has been deeply embedded in the music scene his entire life.

He has a rich history of finding where world-renowned rock bands played in small venues to very few people, which led to the day, January 20, 1969, when Led Zeppelin played in a gymnasium in Silver Spring, Md. to about 50 people, who had no clue who the group was.

Zeppelin was finishing a nightclub tour to promote their first album and was virtually unknown. About six to seven months later they became one of the most well-known, genre-setting heavy metal groups in the world.

Silver Spring gym still the same Photo: Jeff Krulik

Krulik made contact with some of the people that were at this little concert for which Zeppelin received about $100. The Silver Spring gym has been described as the smallest venue Zeppelin played outside Robert Plant’s living room.

Not only is this venue on Led Zeppelin’s official website, the building still stands unchanged today since that memorable evening in ’69.

The Washington Times Communities caught up with Krulik weeks before he is to open a preview of his documentary in Frederick, Md.

Paul Mountjoy — What documentaries have you done?

Jeff Krulik — I’ve done “Heavy metal Parking Lot,”Ernest Borgnine on the Bus” (Borgnine and Krulik traveled America together in a bus), “Hitler’s Hat” and a multitude of video documentaries at small film festivals and won an Emmy for a local television production titled “Eating Crabs Chesapeake Style.”

PM —You are working on the evening Led Zeppelin played the “smallest venue outside Robert Plant’s living rooms.” How did this come about?

JK—I have always been intrigued by the local cultural and social history of my hometown and learned of Led Zeppelin’s first local concert at the Wheaton Youth Center gymnasium in Silver Spring, Md.

PK — How did you learn of it?

JK — Led just landed in the states in late December of 1968 and was barnstorming around the country playing wherever they could.

PM —Tell us about that evening.

JK — Zeppelin’s music was fresh, new and unheard; it was their first album. According to those there, the band was enthusiastically received by the small crowd and just went through the motions. Since it was a free event, there is not tangible evidence of the event.

PM — What are you doing in the documentary?

JK — I am telling the stories people tell on camera that shaped the opinion of this concert. People are pleased with the results so far.

We showed a 72-minute preview version at the AFI in Silver Spring on the actual 44th anniversary on the night on then-President Richard Nixon’s inauguration. Now, a 90-minute version is ready.

PM — What surprised you the most on this project?

JK — How hard it is for people to get their head wrapped around the fact this event happened.

PM — How long after that evening did Zeppelin become internationally famous?

JK — Rather quickly as they were a headliner at the Laurel Pop Festival and soon thereafter were considered one of the biggest bands in the world and the history of rock.

PM — How many people were there that evening?

JK — Popular belief is about 50 confused teenagers, who had no clue what to think of the band.

PM — When and where can we see your previous work?

JK — My website will guide you. The Zeppelin event can be found on

PM — What is your next project?

JK — I will focus on my hometown’s history, Bowie Md., and I have a couple smaller projects about horse racing titled “The Racing Biz” found at http//

Author’s eyewitness footnote: The Led Zeppelin concert took place on a Monday evening when everyone was off school for Nixon’s inauguration. Jeff Krulik is correct in that the attendees were confused thinking a cover band was playing and their super long hair, loud dress and new genre of heavy metal, put some folks off.

The band offloaded their equipment from a Chevy station wagon, having driven all day from Philadelphia. They played on floor level in a small room where people were lingering and wandering, barely paying attention to the band.

Robert Plant and Jimmy page spoke with one another deciding which song to play. At the time, it seemed a non-event and some folks left early, as did I after hearing what I now know to be “A Whole Lotta Love.”

The Wheaton Youth Center hosted Rod Stewart, Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, Rare Earth, Joan Jett (she grew up there too,) and many others in the nascence of their careers. The building is exactly as it was when it was built. It is an historical landmark in music history. Today, local leaders wish to destroy it for a new library.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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