Uncharted: Crime and Mayhem in the Music Industry, episode 004: The Great Led Zeppelin Heist

In the spring of summer of 1973, Led Zeppelin was the biggest live act in the world. On May 4, they started a two-leg, 34-date tour of North America, their ninth time on the continent. And they began to break records.

There were 53,000 at the first show in Atlanta. The second show—played at Tampa Stadium in Florida—58,600 fans showed up, breaking the attendance record for a gig by a single band set by The Beatles at Shea Stadium in 1965.

The tour wound through the U.S. South, out to the West Coast, and then back through the north, popping up to Vancouver for one Canadian show. The final three shows were booked for Madison Square Garden in New York on July 27th, 28th, and 29th. These nights were also reserved for the filming of a concert film that would become The Song Remains the Same.

The first two shows—a Friday and Saturday—went off without a hitch. All they had left was one more concert on Sunday night and then they could go home.

The band was exhausted. They were performing three hours a night. Drugs and alcohol and groupies and dealers were everywhere. They had their own private jet which allowed the parties to continue between gigs.

Meanwhile, the money flowing in was unlike anything any other act had ever seen. Peter Grant, the band’s scary manager, had insisted that Zeppelin be paid in cash. Only he and road manager Richard Cole ever saw the money…

So who stole nearly $200,000 from the band’s hotel the night of that final gig? It’s The Great Led Zeppelin heist, the largest-ever hotel cash robbery in the history of New York City. Have I got a story for you.

Get Uncharted: Crime and Mayhem in the Music Industry wherever you get your podcasts.

And one more thing: As of this week, both Uncharted and The Ongoing History of New Music will be heard back-to-back overnights five days a week on these Corus news stations:

Showtimes (all times local)

  • Toronto: AM 640 (4-5am)
  • London: 980 CFPL (4-5am)
  • Hamilton: 900 CHML (4-5am)
  • Vancouver: 980 CKNW (1-2am)
  • Edmonton: 630 CHED (1-2am)
  • Calgary: QR77 (770 AM and 107.1 FM) (1-2am)
  • Winnipeg: 680 CJOB (1-2am)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38165 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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