Dr. Know: Did Led Zeppelin Play the St. X Prom?


Illustration by Lars Leetaru

My coworker says that for his St. Xavier High School 50th reunion next year, he wants to bring back the band that had played at senior prom: a new, unknown group named Led Zeppelin. I laughed, but then he showed me a classmate’s website with prom photos, and there was Jimmy Page! Did this really happen? —DAZED & CONFUSED

Dear Dazed:
Fake news. You need coolin’. Here’s what really happened: On April 26, 1968, St. Xavier held its senior prom at the Cincinnati Convention Center. The musicians booked were the Yardbirds, a British band highly revered by rock aficionados. At their mid-’60s peak, the Yardbirds featured guitar legends like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and yes, Jimmy Page, who was there that night. By this time, however, the band had burned out. They were listlessly fulfilling their final tour obligations, reduced to playing venues like—sorry to point this out—high school proms. A few weeks later they broke up, and only then did Mr. Page assemble the historic lineup we know today. Your coworker might insist that Mr. Page was conceptualizing his new group while playing “Train Kept A-Rollin’” at the prom, but please. “Led Zeppelin was there?” That’s a confounded bridge too far.

Page initially called his band the New Yardbirds, but quickly changed the name, and for this the Doctor is forever grateful. In his alternate persona as a radio DJ, he cannot possibly imagine saying, “And now, here’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ by the New Yardbirds.”

When Ft. Washington Way was rebuilt in 1998, why did they leave that huge building on the west end? It makes the ramps curl around, forcing traffic to slow down and clog up. It defeats the whole purpose of the redesign. Who paid who to keep that building there? —FT. WASHINGTON WHY

Dear Why:
Exposing municipal villainy! This is an intimidating assignment for the Doctor, who is further inhibited by your not knowing the proper uses of “who” and “whom.” Alas, looking for a 1998 culprit is fruitless. The culpritry happened decades earlier.

It is 1961, and the original Ft. Washington Way makes its debut. On its western end, a tangled spaghetti of ramps has completely destroyed an old Cincinnati neighborhood called Kenyon-Barr (our February issue details this sad story). Thousands of buildings have perished. One, however, has curiously survived despite being directly in the way of the Way: a city-block-sized behemoth on West Third Street. Erected in 1922 as Cincinnati’s new Post Office, it has by this time declined into a mishmash of corporate tenants. The Doctor can find no reason why this single edifice was spared, how such a decision was reached, or by whom (note proper usage). Cynics might suggest that the owners were indulged because they were Kenyon-Barr’s most influential inhabitants, and pretty much the only white ones.

The ramps around the building changed little when the highway was reconfigured in 1998. Next time, though, things may straighten out: The city has just approved plans to finally demolish the building and create a parking lot. Watch for the glorious opening of a much straighter Bob Braun Boulevard in 2036.

I live in Oakley. Right around 5 every morning, the birds go completely bonkers! They all chirp simultaneously; it’s like waking up in a zoo. What gives? Is it some weirdly hyper east-side species? Something in the air? —TWEET TORTURE

Dear Tweet:
Be forewarned: Should the noises become so infuriating that they drive you out of Oakley, you will find no relief in Hyde Park, Norwood, Cheviot, Covington, Louisville, Miami, San Diego, Barcelona, Johannesburg, or Tokyo. Did you previously live in a 19th-floor downtown complex? Or was your childhood tragically spent in a quarantined hospital-room bubble?

Morning bird cacophony happens everywhere, and is so common that bird enthusiasts have a name for it: the “dawn chorus.” They have even designated every first Sunday in May as “International Dawn Chorus Day,” encouraging everyone in the world to arise early, gather in groups, and celebrate your misery.

Many of us actually enjoy awakening to this music of nature. We like to assume that we are hearing romantic mating calls from males and females filled with the joy of being alive and in love. Alas, experts say that males, overwhelmingly, are declaring ownership of territory and aggressively threatening any trespassers. It’s not Disney, it’s Hitchcock. Try ear plugs.

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