October 1976: Led Zeppelin Rock the Big Screen with THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME

Wednesday, October 20, 2021
British popular musicians (left to right), drummer John Bonham (1947 - 1980), bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones, guitarist Jimmy Page, and singer Robert Plant of the rock group Led Zeppelin appear at the West Coast premiere for their concert film 'The Song Remains the Same,' Hollywood, October 21, 1976. The film premiered in New York the night before. (Photo by Frank Edwards/Fotos international/Getty Images)

By the fall of 1976, Led Zeppelin was among the biggest rock bands in the world. The group's last North American tour in 1975 was the hottest concert ticket of the year, and was only cut short after singer Robert Plant's near-fatal car crash in Greece in August of that same year.

While the band wouldn't return to North America until 1977, fans on western side of the pond were placated with with something a little different in 1976: a Led Zeppelin movie.

The Song Remains the Same first hit on the night of October 19, 1976, at New York's Cinema One.  Among the celebrity guests: Mick Jagger, Carly Simon and Roberta Flack. An after-show party was held at the Hotel Pierre with $25,000 raised for the Save the Children Fund charity.

The movie focused on Led Zeppelin's run of shows at New York's Madison Square Garden in 1973. It was on the last night of the residency that the band was famously robbed of more than $200,000. The film also featured a series of fantasy sequences, one for each member of the band. Robert Plant as a knight, John Bonham racing cars, Jimmy Page becoming the hermit that he's looking for, and John Paul Jones racing around on horseback. Even the Led Zeppelin management team of Peter Grant and Richard Cole got in on the act as gangsters.

Typical of many things related to Led Zeppelin in the 1970s, critics loathed the film, while fans ate it up. A midnight movie favorite, The Song Remains the Same grossed the group a good $10 million after just a year of release.