Concert attendees in 1970 must have been checking their Led Zeppelin tickets when they arrived at a concert being performed by the Nobs. The audience had not made a mistake, as it was the same band. However, on Feb. 28, 1970, Led Zeppelin had to change their name to the Nobs for a concert in Copenhagen, Denmark, to avoid a lawsuit.
Led Zeppelin was under threat of being sued
In early 1970, Led Zeppelin was on a tour of Europe. The band had an upcoming concert scheduled in Copenhagen, but the show hit a snag due to its name. Frau Eva Von Zeppelin, a descendant of Count Ferdinand Von Zeppelin, the inventor of the Zeppelin airships, threatened to sue the band over making money off her family name without their permission.
The band had already dealt with Eva in 1969 when they appeared on a Danish television show. They invited her backstage in hopes of proving they were polite gentlemen, but the encounter was less than friendly, according to guitarist Jimmy Page.
“The first time we played, we invited her backstage to meet us, to see how we were nice young lads,” Page said in an interview with Melody Maker. “We calmed her down, but on leaving the studio, she saw our LP cover of an airship in flames, and she exploded! I had to run and hide. She just blew her top.”
While Page tried to play nice with Eva, bass guitarist John Paul Jones later called her “a bit of a mad woman,” according to Billboard.
Led Zeppelin changed their name to the Nobs for one night only
To avoid potential lawsuits from the Zeppelin family, manager Peter Grant decided that the band would change its name for the Copenhagen concert. There was speculation about the name, and Page eventually announced that Led Zeppelin would become the Nobs.
“Then we shall call ourselves the Nobs when we go to Copenhagen,” Page shared. “The whole thing is absurd.”
The concert went smoothly, and audiences respected the band for having a sense of humor about the whole debacle. Drummer John Bonham thought it would be funny to see what the band would have looked like if they had stuck with the name.
“Personally speaking, we should have continued as the Nobs,” Bonham joked. “Just think what our album covers could have looked like!”
Did the band ever play as the Nobs again?
The Copenhagen concert was the only time Led Zeppelin performed as the Nobs, but it wasn’t the only time the band had fun with their name. According to author Roy Carr, the band sold t-shirts that said “Red Zeppelin” about the pronunciation of their name by a Japanese emcee during a tour of Japan. Those shirts are highly outdated by today’s standards, but the band enjoyed making fun of themselves.
Fans at the time thought the Nobs stunt was hilarious and made Eva Von Zeppelin look more absurd. The rest of the Europe tour was a success, and the large crowds only propelled the band’s popularity during the 1970s.