Led Zeppelin Were Afraid Of Grand Funk Railroad’s Success, Mark Farner Explains

In a recent interview with Backstage Pass Rock-News, Mark Farner recalled how Led Zeppelin felt threatened by Grand Funk Railroad’s success and pulled the plug on them during a 1969 show.

Farner’s band was opening for Zeppelin at the Olympia Stadium in Detroit when:

“Peter Grant, the manager for the Zeppelin, came out and told our manager, Terry Knight, to pull the plug. ‘Get ’em off the stage,’ he says, ‘Or I’m gonna pull the plug. Get ’em off!’ Because we had the crowd up.”

Sharing the audience’s reaction to their performance, the frontman went on:

“Brother, I’m talking; they were with us 100%, and we were fixing to go into inside looking out. And that would’ve just brought the house down. There’d be no way you could follow that song. There was hardly a way for them to follow us. Even the way we left it.”

How Did Things Go At The Concert?

When Grand Funk got on stage, Grant cut the power and told the crowd they needed to leave ‘due to a contractual obligation.’ This led to a strong reaction from the audience, causing them to throw wine and whiskey bottles on the stage. Farner explained:

“They didn’t want us to leave, and we didn’t want to, but they pulled our plug, and we had nothing left. Drummer, you know, he was the only one you could hear, but you couldn’t hear him very good because the power was gone. So, when we went off the stage, the fans were disappointed, [this] disgruntled fans. But it did give some space for Mel [Schacher], the bass player, and myself to go out into the audience and sit at the center of the auditorium about midway.”

Commenting on Led Zeppelin’s show, he added:

“We were just behind the people in front of us. So, we watched Zeppelin, and Jimmy Page got his bow out for his Viola or whatever. He played that big bow he had, and he was playing his guitar like a violin, and I thought, ‘This is pretty good.’ It sounded pretty good, but they didn’t have the excitement factor that we had.”

What Happened At The Stadium Stayed There

According to the 75-year-old singer, this incident marked the last interaction between Grand Funk and Zeppelin. He mentioned not seeing Peter Grant ever again and not talking to the band members on the matter afterward. Speaking to Eddie Trunk in 2019, Farner shared:

“That was the end of it. They were kept from us; we were kept from them. You know, the British Invasion thing, every British band that I know speaks in American English, and it kind of validates who owns it, the authenticity of it. The only British Invasion we ever got was that one two days before Christmas in 1913. There’s your invasion, buddy.”

Farner’s band took the stage at Detroit Olympia for the first and last time in 1969. Around three decades later, the frontman left the lineup as they moved on with Max Carl.