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Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

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Image:Zeppelin Logo.png <tr style="text-align: center;"><td colspan="3">Image:Led Zeppelin flippedcorrect.jpg
Led Zeppelin, 1969, from left to right: John Paul Jones, John Bonham (Top), Jimmy Page and Robert Plant
Background information

<tr><td>Origin</td><td colspan="2">Image:Flag of England (bordered).svg London , West Bromwich & Redditch, England</td></tr><tr><td>Genre(s)</td><td colspan="2">Rock
Heavy metal
Hard rock
Folk rock</td></tr><tr><td>Years active</td><td colspan="2">19681980
(Partial Reunions: 1985,1988,1995)</td></tr><tr><td style="padding-right: 1em;">Label(s)</td><td colspan="2">Atlantic, Swan Song</td></tr><tr><td textalign="top" style="padding-right: 1em;">Associated
</td><td colspan="2">The Yardbirds
Page and Plant</td></tr><tr><td>Website</td><td colspan="2"></td></tr><tr><th style="background: #b0c4de;" colspan="3">Members</th></tr><tr><td style="text-align: center;" colspan="3">Robert Plant
Jimmy Page
John Paul Jones
John Bonham (deceased)</td></tr>

For the band's 1969 self-titled debut album, see Led Zeppelin (album)

Led Zeppelin were an English rock band, and are one of the most successful groups in popular music history.<ref name="Musicmatch">Musicmatch, "Led Zeppelin", followers; accessed September 10, 2006</ref> Led Zeppelin consisted of four men: Jimmy Page (guitar), Robert Plant (lead vocals, harmonica), John Bonham (drums), and John Paul Jones (bass guitar, keyboards and mandolin).

Formed in 1968, Led Zeppelin were innovators who never lost mainstream appeal. While the band is best known as pioneers of hard rock and heavy metal, they also drew inspiration from many other musical genres, including blues, rockabilly, reggae, soul, funk, jazz, classical, Celtic, Indian, Arabic, folk, pop, Latin and country.

Over 25 years after disbanding in response to Bonham's 1980 death, Led Zeppelin continues to be held in high regard for their artistic achievements, commercial success, and broad influence. To date, the group is reported to have sold more than 300 million albums worldwide,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> including 109.5 million sales<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> in the United States. Led Zeppelin is ranked No. 1 on VH1's list of the 100 greatest artists of hard rock. <ref>1-20 at</ref>


[edit] History

[edit] The early days (1968-1970)

[edit] The "New Yardbirds"

The beginnings of Led Zeppelin can be traced back to the The Yardbirds. Page joined the Yardbirds in 1966 to play bass guitar after the original bassist, Paul Samwell-Smith, left the group. Shortly after, Page switched from bass to second lead guitar, creating a dual-lead guitar instrumentation with Jeff Beck, as Chris Dreja moved from rhythm guitar to bass.

Following the departure of Jeff Beck in October 1966, The Yardbirds, tired from constant touring and recording, were beginning to wind down. Page discussed forming a supergroup with himself and Beck playing guitars, together with the tandem of drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle (from The Who).<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Vocalists Donovan, Steve Winwood and Steve Marriott were also considered for the project.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The group never formed, although Page, Beck and Moon did record a song together in 1966, "Beck's Bolero", which is featured on Beck's 1968 album, Truth. The recording session also included bassist-keyboardist John Paul Jones, who told Page that he would be interested in collaborating with him on future projects. <ref name="Hammer of the Gods"> Stephen Davis (1995). Hammer of the Gods (LPC), 44, 64, 190, 225, 277 ISBN 033043859.</ref>

The Yardbirds played their final gig in July 1968, after which vocalist Keith Relf and drummer Jim McCarty left to form a radically different band, Renaissance, fusing classical music with rock music and folk music elements. However, The Yardbirds were still committed to perform several concerts in Scandinavia, so McCarty and Relf authorised Page and Dreja to use the Yardbirds name to fulfil the band's obligations. Page and Dreja began putting a new line-up together. Page's first choice for lead singer, Terry Reid, declined the offer, but suggested Plant, a Birmingham scene singer he knew. <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Plant accepted the position, and also recommended Bonham from nearby Redditch who also played regularly in Birmingham bands. <ref name="Note1">Template:Cite web</ref> Plant and Bonham had recently played in the Band of Joy together. When Dreja opted out of the project to become a photographer — he would later take the photograph that appeared on the back of Led Zeppelin's debut album — Page contacted Jones about the empty position. Being familiar with his credentials, Jones agreed he would be the band's new bassist.

The band completed the Scandinavian tour as "The New Yardbirds". After some discussion, the name "Led Zeppelin" was chosen as a new name, based upon a name (Lead Zeppelin) that Keith Moon had suggested during his discussions with Page about a possible supergroup. Moon got the name from John Entwistle's term for a bad gig, describing it as "going over" (some sources say "going down"<ref>Jimmy Page, interview quoted in article by Cesar Fuentes Rodriguez for MegaMadhouse Magazine (june, 1999).</ref>) "like a lead zeppelin".<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The group deliberately dropped the 'a' in Lead at the suggestion of their manager, Peter Grant, to prevent people from pronouncing it as "leed". <ref name="Jimmy Page Online">Jimmy Page Online</ref>

[edit] Led Zeppelin (the first album)

Led Zeppelin in Denmark in 1969

Shortly after their first tour, the group's self titled first album, Led Zeppelin was released on January 12, 1969. Its blend of blues, folk, and eastern influences with distorted amplification made it one of the pivotal records in the creation of heavy metal. <ref name="Billboard">Billboard discography</ref>

Although several of Led Zeppelin's earliest songs were based on blues standards, others such as "Good Times Bad Times" and "Communication Breakdown" had a unique and distinctively heavy sound. Led Zeppelin also featured delicate steel-string acoustic guitar on "Black Mountain Side", and a combination of acoustic and electric approaches on the reworked folk song "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You." The dark centerpiece of the album, "Dazed and Confused", contained a "trance-like" opening riff of descending notes and a furious Page solo. That song and "How Many More Times" mark some of the first recordings of bow guitar (the playing of an electric guitar with a violin bow). This innovation would become one of Page's many trademarks, both on stage and in the studio. The album features Plant vocally mimicking Page's guitar effects--a metalicized version of the 'call and response' blues technique that would become a Led Zeppelin staple on later albums, and especially in concert.
Image:Hindenburg burning.jpg
A still of the flaming Hindenburg, famously adapted by Led Zeppelin for their first album cover
Other songs included "I Can't Quit You Baby", originally written by bluesman Willie Dixon, and "You Shook Me", by Dixon and J. B. Lenoir. Jeff Beck had previously recorded "You Shook Me" for his album, Truth, and accused Led Zeppelin of stealing his idea. According to Stephen Davis's biography of the band, Hammer of the Gods, this led to a long rift between Beck and Page, who had been friends for years.

While the album received generally positive reviews, some derided it, most famously John Mendelsohn of Rolling Stone magazine, who savaged the band for stealing music, mimicking black artists, and showing off. This marked the beginning of a long rift between the band and the magazine. Led Zeppelin rejected later requests for interviews and cover stories with the magazine as their level of success escalated.<ref name="Rolling Stone">[1]</ref>

Led Zeppelin's famous album cover met an interesting protest when, at a February 28, 1970 gig in Copenhagen, the band was billed as "The Nobs" as the result of a threat of legal action from aristocrat Eva von Zeppelin (relative of the namesake creator of the Zeppelin aircraft), who, upon seeing the logo of the Hindenburg crashing in flames, threatened to have the show pulled off the air.<ref name="Billboard Magazine">[2]</ref>

[edit] Led Zeppelin II

The immediate success of the first album kick-started the band's career, especially in the United States. The second record, titled Led Zeppelin II, followed similarly later that year. The second album was an even greater success than the first and reached the number one chart position in the US and the UK. <ref name="connollyco">Led Zeppelin discography</ref>

Image:Zep Paris.JPG
Led Zeppelin in Paris, 1969

Led Zeppelin II begins with the bludgeoning riff of "Whole Lotta Love," which, driven by the rhythm section, helped as much as any other song to define their sound. Other highlights from the album included the acoustic/electric "Ramble On", the catchy riff, intricate guitar solo, and powerful vocals of "Heartbreaker", and the explosive chorus of "What Is and What Should Never Be". The album also included songs which were strikingly similar to Willie Dixon's work, although Dixon was not credited. The prelude to "Bring It on Home" is a cover of Sonny Blake's "Bring it on Home" and drew comparisons with Dixon's "Bring It on Back". "Whole Lotta Love" was reputed to be similar to Dixon's "You Need Love" although the phrase had been used before. In the 1970s, Arc Music, the publishing arm of Zeppelin is the best, brought a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin for copyright infringement over "Bring It on Home" and won an out-of-court settlement. Dixon himself did not benefit until he sued Arc Music to recover his royalties and copyrights. Years later, Dixon filed suit against Led Zeppelin over "Whole Lotta Love" and a generous out-of-court settlement was reached. Later pressings of Led Zeppelin II credit Dixon.

Page was once quoted in an interview as saying: "I've often thought that in the way the Stones tried to be the sons of Chuck Berry, we tried to be the sons of Howlin' Wolf."<ref>Jimmy Page, interview quoted in Robert Palmer's liner notes to Led Zeppelin's 4 CD boxed set (1990).</ref> A version of Howlin' Wolf's song "Killing Floor" which was featured prominently in Led Zeppelin's early live performances, also found its way onto Led Zeppelin II in a different arrangement, entitled "The Lemon Song".

During this early period Led Zeppelin made several tours of the United States. They played often, initially in clubs and ballrooms, then in larger auditoriums as their popularity grew. Led Zeppelin concerts could last more than three hours, with expanded, improvised live versions of their song repertoire often incorporating elements of James Brown, Stax and Motown-influenced soul music and funk (favourites of bassist Jones and drummer Bonham). The quartet also loved American rock and roll, being inspired by the exuberant styles of Fats Domino and Little Richard. Led Zeppelin would additionally perform rockabilly songs originally made famous by Elvis Presley and Eddie Cochran. Many of these shows were preserved as Led Zeppelin bootleg recordings which continue to be prized by collectors and fans.

[edit] Led Zeppelin III

Led Zeppelin performing live at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970

For the composition of their third album, Led Zeppelin III, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant retired to Bron-Yr-Aur, a remote cottage in Wales. This would result in a more rural, acoustic sound than previously exhibited by the group (and a song, "Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp", misspelled as "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" on the album cover, which was a complete remake of Bert Jansch's song "The Waggoners Lad"). Strongly influenced by Celtic and folk music, the album revealed a different side of Page's versatility, most notably on the more mellow tracks "That's The Way" and "Tangerine". Another of the folk influenced songs on Led Zeppelin III is "Gallows Pole", which is a re-make of Leadbelly's song "The Gallows Pole".

The album's rich acoustic sound initially received mixed reactions, with many critics surprised at the turn taken by the band away from the primarily electric compositions of the first two albums. Over time, however, its reputation has recovered and Led Zeppelin III is now generally praised.

In addition to its acoustic songs, Led Zeppelin III included the blues rock epic "Since I've Been Loving You" and the drum-driven "Out on the Tiles". The album's famous and unrelenting opening track, "Immigrant Song", also served as a reminder of the violent musical tone Led Zeppelin was capable of generating, with Plant's lyrics invoking a tale of Viking conquests and Norse mythology. This and other songs containing lyrics with mythological references helped popularise the use of terms such as "rock gods", "god of rock", or "hammer of the gods" to describe the band, and later, other rock artists with a similar sound.

Led Zeppelin III ushered in an era of unique album covers, this one featuring a wheel which, when rotated, displayed various images through cutouts in the main jacket sleeve. In November of 1970, Led Zeppelin's record label, Atlantic Records, released "Immigrant Song" as a single against the band's wishes (Atlantic had earlier released an edited version of "Whole Lotta Love" which cut the 5:34 song to 3:10, removing the abstract middle movement). It included their only non-album b-side, "Hey Hey What Can I Do, which has become popular on FM radio. Even though the band saw their albums as indivisible, whole listening experiences, and statements about the band at the particular time — and their manager, Peter Grant, maintained an aggressive pro-album stance — nine other singles were released without their consent. The group also resisted television appearances, which would have reduced their ability to control their presentation and sound quality. Lack of TV exposure enforced the band's preference that their fans hear and see them in person.

[edit] “The biggest band in the world” (1971–1975)

The success of Led Zeppelin's early years would be dwarfed by this five year period in which the band would release their most famous albums and ascend to the very peak of musical success in the 1970s. The band's image also changed as members began to wear elaborate, colorful clothing and jewellery similar to other popular performers of the era. If the band's popularity on stage was impressive, so too was its reputation for off-stage wildness and excess. Led Zeppelin began traveling in a private jet airliner (nicknamed The Starship), rented out entire sections of hotels (most notably the Continental Hyatt House in Los Angeles, known colloquially as the "Riot House"), and became the subject of many of rock's most famous stories of debauchery. One escapade involved John Bonham throwing televisions out of the windows of the Riot House during a drunken rampage and then blaming the damage on Led Zeppelin groupies. But perhaps the most notorious story of Led Zeppelin excess was the infamous Shark episode, or red snapper incident, which took place at the Edgewater Inn in Seattle, Washington, on July 28, 1969.

[edit] The fourth album

The four symbols on Led Zeppelin IV's cover, representing Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, John Bonham, and Robert Plant (from left to right) respectively. The symbols have origins in mysticism

Led Zeppelin's fourth album was released on November 8, 1971. There was no indication of a title on the original cover, but on the LP label four symbols were printed - Image:Zoso.svg. The album is referred to as Four Symbols and The Fourth Album (both titles were used in the Atlantic Records catalogue), and also Untitled, Zoso, Runes, Sticks, Man With Sticks, and Four. It is still officially untitled, and most commonly referred to as Led Zeppelin IV. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 2005 Plant said that it is simply called The Fourth Album. <ref name="Rolling Stone">Rolling Stone Magazine; Q&A with Robert Plant, May 05, 2005</ref>

Image:Zoso.svg further refined the band's unique formula of combining earthy, acoustic elements with heavy metal and blues emphases. The album included examples of conventional hard rock, such as "Black Dog" (supposedly in tribute to a dog which loitered around the recording studio) along with a gentler, acoustic folk track, "Going to California" (a tribute to Joni Mitchell), and "Four Sticks" (so named because it features John Bonham drumming with four drumsticks). "The Battle of Evermore" is the only Led Zeppelin song to feature a guest vocalist, the late Sandy Denny.<ref name="Songfacts">Song Facts</ref> On the inside cover of the album, next to the "Battle of Evermore" song title, there is another symbol of three interlocked triangles. This is Sandy Denny's own symbol given to her by the band. This song and the buoyant "Misty Mountain Hop" both include lyrical references to The Lord of the Rings (director Ralph Bakshi had wanted to use music from Led Zeppelin in his 1978 animated film adaptation of the book, but was unable to get the rights<ref name="Bakshi">Ralph Bakshi, as quoted on the official Bakshi forum</ref>). However, it was three of the album's tracks, "Rock and Roll", "When the Levee Breaks", and particularly "Stairway to Heaven", which have come to be known as three of the band's greatest and most famous songs.

"Rock and Roll" is a lively tribute to the early rock music of the 1950s but with a heavy metal twist, featuring John Bonham's memorable drum introduction. For several years it was frequently chosen as the opening number for Led Zeppelin concerts. Recently (as of 2006), the song has been used prominently in Cadillac automobile commercials--one of the few instances of Led Zeppelin's surviving members licensing songs.

Image:Zoso.svg concludes with a radically altered version of a Memphis Minnie/Kansas Joe McCoy blues song, "When the Levee Breaks". Led Zeppelin's version opens with a distinctive, pounding drum beat, which has been sampled for use in many modern rock and rap releases.<ref name="Artofthemix"></ref> The distinct resonance of the drums in the song was achieved by recording them in a stairwell.

Led Zeppelin performing "Stairway To Heaven" in 1973 at Madison Square Garden

Folk and metal are fused together in the eight-minute, suite-like "Stairway to Heaven", which became a massive album-oriented rock FM radio hit despite never being released as a single. The song features three distinct movements: a slow acoustic introduction, a more up-tempo acoustic middle section, and an electric finale marked by Page's iconic guitar solo.

"Stairway to Heaven" is undoubtedly the best-known song in Led Zeppelin's catalogue, and many speculations surround it. Perhaps the most infamous of those is that when the recording is played backwards, "satanic" messages can allegedly be heard, which both Page and Plant have repeatedly denied. This, along with Page's admitted interest in the occult writings of Aleister Crowley fueled speculation that Page dabbled in magick. Another subject of much speculation was the elusive meaning of the lyric of "Stairway to Heaven", which Robert Plant supposedly wrote during a single day.<ref name="Straight Dope">The Straight Dope, "What's the story behind Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven?"", accessed September 10, 2006</ref> In the 1973 concert film The Song Remains The Same, before performing the song live, Plant says "I think this is a song of hope". In a 1990s guitar magazine interview Page said he wrote the music after a week of experimenting with guitar tunings other than the standard E. Critics have noted that the opening riff of "Stairway to Heaven" is similar to a riff in the song "Taurus" by the rock group Spirit, for whom Led Zeppelin opened on their first American tour. Led Zeppelin have maintained that this resemblance is purely coincidental.

In 2005, the magazine Guitar World held a poll of readers in which "Stairway to Heaven" was voted as having the greatest guitar solo of all time.<ref name="About Guitar">About Guitar, 100 Greatest Guitar Solos, accessed September 10, 2006</ref> As of July 31, 2006, Image:Zoso.svg has sold 23 million copies in the US, making it one of the top four best selling albums in the history of the US music industry.<ref name="RIAA">RIAA best selling Albums</ref> Worldwide, it ranks at number eleven for album sales.<ref name="Mjni">Mjni</ref>

[edit] Houses of the Holy

The band's next studio album, 1973's Houses of the Holy, featured further experimentation, with powerful melodies, longer tracks and expanded use of synthesisers and mellotron orchestration. The album exhibits fewer blues influences than any of Led Zeppelin's other albums, instead turning to jazz and classically-inspired riffs. In particular, the multi-layered guitar symphony of "The Song Remains the Same", the atmospheric keyboards in "No Quarter", and the complex string arrangements in "The Rain Song" demonstrate a greater willingness by the band to explore new sonic territory, resulting in the band's most progressive work. The album also included the explosive ballad "Over the Hills and Far Away", which remains an FM radio staple, and "The Ocean", written largely by John Bonham. The song "Houses of the Holy" does not appear on its namesake album, even though it was recorded at the same time as other songs on the album; it eventually made its way onto the 1975 album Physical Graffiti.

The striking orange album cover of "Houses of the Holy" features images of nude children<ref>Manning, Toby. "Broad Church", Q Led Zeppelin Special Edition, 2003.</ref> climbing up the Giant's Causeway (in County Antrim, Northern Ireland) to an unseen idol. Although the children are not depicted from the front, this was highly controversial at the time of the album's release, and in some areas, such as Spain, the record was banned.

Led Zeppelin performing live at Madison Square Garden on their 1973 Houses of the Holy tour
The album topped the charts, and Led Zeppelin's subsequent Houses of the Holy concert tour of the United States in 1973 broke records for attendance, as they consistently filled large auditoriums and stadiums. At Tampa Stadium, Florida, they played to 56,800 fans (breaking the record set by The Beatles' at Shea Stadium in 1965), and grossed $309,000 <ref name="Hammer of the Gods"> </ref>. Three sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden in New York were filmed for a motion picture, but the theatrical release of this project (The Song Remains the Same) would be delayed until 1976.

In 1974, Led Zeppelin launched their own record label, Swan Song, named after one of only five Led Zeppelin songs which the band never released commercially (Page later re-worked the song with his band, The Firm, and it appears as "Midnight Moonlight" on their first album). The record label's logo, based on a drawing called Evening: Fall of Day (1869) by William Rimmer, features a picture of Apollo (although it is often misinterpreted as a picture of Icarus, Daedelus, Satan, or Lucifer). The logo can be found on much Led Zeppelin memorabilia, especially t-shirts. In addition to using Swan Song as a vehicle to promote their own albums, the band expanded the label's roster, signing artists such as Bad Company, Pretty Things, Maggie Bell, Detective, Dave Edmunds, Midnight Flyer, Sad Café and Wildlife. The label would be successful while Led Zeppelin existed, but folded less than three years after they disbanded.

[edit] Physical Graffiti

Robert Plant performing live with Led Zeppelin in 1975 at Earls Court Exhibition Centre.

February 24, 1975 saw the release of Led Zeppelin's first double-album, Physical Graffiti, which was the first release on the Swan Song label. It consisted of fifteen songs, eight of which were recorded at Headley Grange in 1974, and the remainder being tracks recorded years previously but not released on earlier albums. As a result, the album is extremely rich and varied, ranging from the delicate ballad of "Ten Years Gone", the slide guitar exposition "In My Time of Dying", the simplified hard rock of "Sick Again", to the keyboard-based "Trampled Under Foot". Perhaps most notably, the album also included the trance-like, Indian/Arabic-tinged "Kashmir", a song inspired by Robert Plant's travels in Morocco, which has become an FM radio staple. With the luxury of a double-LP format, every member of the band was able to make his mark on the album. Jimmy Page's contributions are especially evident, and many consider this period of the mid-1970s to mark the peak of his playing skills.

Physical Graffiti also marked a change in Robert Plant's vocal sound. In 1974, after several years of near constant touring and all-out vocal performances, his vocal chords had been strained to a point where doctors told him to stop singing immediately or risk losing his voice altogether. By the end of Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy tour it was clear that he needed urgent medical attention, and he subsequently had several bursted nodules removed from his vocal chords -- a simple procedure, but one that takes some time to heal. This is why some of the tracks on Physical Graffiti such as "Custard Pie" and "The Wanton Song" feature a slightly more raw voice than that exhibited on tracks which had been recorded well before his operation, such as "Night Flight" and "Down by the Seaside". After completely healing, his voice regained a tone similar to its original timbre, as can be heard on their next album, Presence.

A review in Rolling Stone magazine referred to Physical Graffiti as Led Zeppelin's "bid for artistic respectability", adding that the only competition the band had for the title of 'World's Best Rock Band' were The Rolling Stones and The Who.<ref name="Rolling Stone Magazine 2"> Rolling Stone Review, Mar, 27 1975</ref> The album was a massive fiscal and critical success. Shortly after the release of Physical Graffiti, all previous Led Zeppelin albums simultaneously re-entered the top-200 album chart,<ref name="Hammer of the Gods"> Stephen Davis (1995). Hammer of the Gods (LPC), 225, 277 ISBN 033043859.</ref> and the band embarked on another U.S. tour, again playing to record-breaking crowds.
Jimmy Page performing live with Led Zeppelin at Earls Court Exhibition Centre in 1975
In May 1975, Led Zeppelin played five highly successful, sold-out nights at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre in London (footage from these concerts was released in 2003, on the Led Zeppelin DVD). This series of concerts is widely considered by fans to be amongst the best of the band's career.<ref>Lewis, Dave and Pallett, Simon (1997) Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-5307-4, p. 111.</ref>

[edit] The latter days (1976-1980)

By 1975, Led Zeppelin was a household name in both the United States and Europe, perennially topping the charts on both continents, as they would continue to do throughout these years. Their live shows would increase even further in theatricality, featuring larger stage areas and complex lights shows that were popular with other bands of the era, such as Pink Floyd. While there were still massive musical and commercial successes for the band during this period, problems such as the tragic death of Robert Plant's son, a car crash, Jimmy Page's heroin use [and heavier smoking to curb those cravings], changing musical tastes, and finally John Bonham's alcoholism would ultimately bring an end to Led Zeppelin.

[edit] Presence

Image:1977-04-30 Pontiac ALS.jpg
Led Zeppelin performing Achilles Last Stand at the Pontiac Silverdome on the 1977 US tour.

Following the triumphant Earl's Court appearances, Led Zeppelin took a break from touring. In August 1975, Robert Plant and his wife Maureen were involved in a serious car crash whilst on holiday in Rhodes, Greece. Robert suffered a broken ankle and Maureen was very badly injured; a timely blood transfusion saved her life. Unable to tour, Led Zeppelin returned to the studio, and, with Plant sitting on a stool during the sessions, the band recorded their seventh studio album, Presence, in Munich, Germany. Released in March 1976, the album marked a change in the Led Zeppelin sound towards more straightforward, guitar-based jams. Whereas their previous albums contain electric hard rock anthems balanced with acoustic ballads and intricate arrangements, Presence is an almost wholly aggressive album that dabbles in simplified punk-like riffs, and is arguably the heaviest collection of songs the group produced. The album's magnum opus, "Achilles Last Stand", is a ten-and-a-half minute metal epic featuring a galloping bass line, lightning fast drumming, melodic multi-layered guitar riffs and one of Page's most revered solos, along with a haunting vocal performance from Plant delivered entirely in his wheelchair while recovering from his car accident. This and another track, "Nobody's Fault But Mine" (a tune first recorded by Blind Willie Johnson in the 1920s), became staples of the live concert performances which Led Zeppelin delivered after 1976.

Though the album was a platinum seller, it received mixed responses from critics and fans. While many appreciated the looser style, others dismissed it as "sloppy", and some critics speculated that the band member's legendary excesses might have finally caught up with them, resulting in a sub-standard album release.<ref name="Rolling Stone Magazine">Rolling Stone Magazine Review, Published May, 20 1976</ref> The recording of Presence coincided with the beginning of Page's heroin use, which may have interfered with Led Zeppelin's later live shows and studio recordings, although Page has denied this. <ref name="Rock's BackPages">Rock's Backpages review, Published April, 10 1976</ref>

Despite the original criticisms, Jimmy Page has called Presence his favorite album, and "Achilles Last Stand" his favorite Led Zeppelin song. Robert Plant has also stated that he thinks Presence is the album that probably sounds the most "Led Zeppelin" of all their LPs.<ref>From interview in Swedish TV program "Musikbyrån" around the time of Led Zeppelin receiving the Polar Music Prize.</ref>

[edit] The concert film (The Song Remains The Same)

The original 1976 movie poster for The Song Remains the Same
Robert Plant's injuries prevented Led Zeppelin from touring in 1976. Instead, the band finally completed the concert film The Song Remains The Same, and the soundtrack album of the film. It would be the only official live document of the group available until the release of the BBC Sessions in 1997. The recording had taken place during three nights of concerts at Madison Square Garden in 1973, during the Houses of the Holy concert tour. Each member of the band filmed a unique "fantasy sequence" to be shown during a particular song: Plant's sequence involved rescuing a damsel in distress (during "The Song Remains The Same" and "The Rain Song"), Page's depicts a moonlight ritual of some sort (during "Dazed and Confused"), Jones's portrays a gigantic pipe organ (during "No Quarter"), and Bonham's features fast automobiles (during "Moby Dick"). The film premiered in New York on October 20, 1976. While the quality of the band's performance is generally praised, the accompanying album is not widely considered to be a great live document, because of flawed production and mediocre sound quality. In 1977, Led Zeppelin embarked on another massive U.S. concert tour, again selling out venues in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. Though hugely successful musically and financially, the tour was beset with off-stage problems. On June 3, after a concert at Tampa Stadium was cut short because of a severe thunderstorm, a riot broke out amongst the audience, resulting in several arrests and injuries. Police ultimately used tear gas to break up the crowd.
Image:Plant TSRTS.JPG
Robert Plant rides to a castle in his fantasy sequence

After a July 23 show at the "Days on the Green" festival at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California, John Bonham and members of the band's support staff (including manager Peter Grant and security co-ordinator John Bindon) were arrested after a member of promoter Bill Graham's Oakland concert staff was badly beaten during the performance. A member of the staff had allegedly slapped Grant's son when he was taking down a dressing room sign; when Grant heard about this, he went into the trailer, along with Bindon and John Bonham, and beat the man senseless.<ref name="Hammer of the Gods"> Stephen Davis (1995). Hammer of the Gods (LPC), 277.</ref>

Although it was not known at the time, the following day's second Oakland concert would be the band's final live appearance in the U.S. After the concert, news came that Plant's five year old son, Karac, had died from a stomach virus. The rest of the tour was immediately canceled.

Some critics imputed the band's many misfortunes in 1977 to an ominous "curse", said to be related to Page's supposed interest in the occult. The band scoffed at such charges.

[edit] In Through the Out Door

The summer of 1978 saw the group recording again, this time at ABBA's Polar Studios in Stockholm, Sweden. The resultant album was In Through the Out Door. After a decade of recording and touring, Led Zeppelin was now considered to be obsolete in some quarters, as mainstream musical tastes had moved in favour of disco, and the college audience momentarily turned to punk rock. Perhaps in response to shifting trends, In Through the Out Door features a great deal of sonic experimentation, making much use of Jones' well wrought keyboard skills, notably in synthesizer driven sections of the ten-and-one-half minute long "Carouselambra", and in "Fool in the Rain", which exhibits a Latin feel. These departures from the band's usual style once again drew mixed reactions from fans and critics. Nevertheless, the band still commanded legions of loyal fans, and the album easily reached #1 in the UK and the US (where it became the first album by a rock band to debut at #1 on the Billboard album chart). Other highlights include, "In the Evening", which includes a downbeat interlude which would predate a similar technique used by later grunge bands such as Nirvana, and "All My Love", Robert Plant's tribute to his late son.

Led Zeppelin performs to a gigantic crowd at the 1979 Knebworth music festival

The original album featured an outer sleeve which was made to look like a plain brown paper bag, and the LP record sleeve proper featured black and white line artwork which, if washed with a wet brush, would become permanently fully coloured. The clue to this fact is the swash of color on the several different sepia toned cover photographs (the album itself was released with several different cover designs, each having the viewpoint of a different person in a bar watching a man burning something, which is revealed inside to be a Dear John letter.)

In August 1979, after two warm-up shows in Copenhagen, Led Zeppelin headlined at the legendary Knebworth music festival. It was a massive success, as close to 420,000 fans witnessed the return of Led Zeppelin and, with the release of In Through the Out Door on August 15, the band was again on top.

Nevertheless, Robert Plant was not eager to tour full-time again, and even considered leaving the band. He was persuaded to stay by Peter Grant. A brief, low-key European tour was undertaken in June and July 1980, featuring a stripped-down set without the usual lengthy jams and solos. Plant's enthusiasm was rekindled during the tour, and plans were made for a large American tour that autumn and possible recording sessions after that. The final European concert, and ultimately the final show of Led Zeppelin's career, was played in Berlin on July 7, 1980.

[edit] "A tragic end"

On September 25, 1980, John Bonham was picked up by Led Zeppelin assistant Rex King to attend rehearsals at Bray Studios for the upcoming tour of the United States, the band's first since 1977. During the journey Bonham had asked to stop for breakfast, where he downed four quadruple vodkas (roughly sixteen shots (~8dl) of vodka), with a ham roll. After taking a bite of the ham roll he said to his assistant, "Breakfast." He then continued to drink when he arrived at the studio. A halt was called to the rehearsals late in the evening and the band retired to Page's house — The Old Mill House in Clewer, Windsor. After midnight, Bonham had fallen asleep and was taken to bed on his side. It was rumoured that he had a total of forty shots that night. Benji LeFevre (who had replaced Richard Cole as Led Zeppelin's tour manager) and John Paul Jones found him dead the next morning. Bonham was 32 years old.

John Bonham's gravesite--the drummer died in 1980 after a drinking binge

The cause of death was asphyxiation from vomit. A subsequent autopsy found no other drugs in Bonham's body. The alcoholism that had plagued the drummer since his earliest days with the band, ultimately led to his untimely death. John Bonham was cremated on October 10, 1980, at Rushock, Worcestershire parish church. His headstone reads:

Cherished memories of a loving husband and father, John Henry Bonham Who died Sept. 25th 1980. He will always be remembered in our hearts, Goodnight my Love, God Bless.

Despite rumours that Cozy Powell, Carmine Appice, Barriemore Barlow, Simon Kirke, or Bev Bevan would join the group as his replacement, the remaining members disbanded Led Zeppelin after Bonham's death. They issued a statement in December 1980, once and for all clarifying that the band would not continue without its irreplaceable drummer. "We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend, and the deep sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were".

[edit] Reunions and ongoing success

[edit] 1980s

In 1982 the surviving members of the group released a collection of out-takes from various sessions during Led Zeppelin's career, entitled Coda. It included two tracks taken from the band's performance at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970, one each from Led Zeppelin III and Houses of the Holy sessions, and three from the In Through the Out Door sessions. It also featured a 1976 John Bonham drum instrumental with electronic effects added by Jimmy Page, called "Bonzo's Montreux". In the years that followed, a steady stream of boxed sets, never-released material, and greatest hits collections kept the band on the charts along with their major albums, which perennially sell in the millions. Led Zeppelin continues to garner heavy radio airplay. Because of the band's popularity many FM stations around the United States, have developed a "Get the Led Out" segment (usually occurring around 6 P.M.), during which Led Zeppelin songs are played back to back.

Jimmy Page stopped playing guitar regularly until 1983, when he embarked on a short charity tour with the ARMS project (Action Research for Multiple Sclerosis). The tour also included the other former Yardbirds guitarists, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Each artist performed separately, with Page playing tunes from his Death Wish II soundtrack along with an instrumental version of "Stairway to Heaven", although performances of other Led Zeppelin songs were rare. For the finale, all three guitarists shared the stage, trading blues solos. In 1984, Page teamed up with Paul Rodgers (of Bad Company and Free fame) to record two albums under the name The Firm. The first album included an old Page arrangement originally intended for release by Led Zeppelin, and now re-worked as "Midnight Moonlight". Robert Plant launched his own successful solo career in 1982 with the album Pictures at Eleven, and in 1984 teamed with Page for the commercially successful EP The Honeydrippers: Volume One, which also featured former Yardbirds guitarist, Jeff Beck.

On July 13, 1985 Page, Plant and John Paul Jones reunited at the Live Aid concert at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, for a short Led Zeppelin set featuring drummers Tony Thompson and Phil Collins. Collins was chosen by Plant as Collins had played on Plant's first two solo albums. The performance, which included three songs ("Rock and Roll", "Whole Lotta Love" and "Stairway to Heaven"), was marred by bad broadcast sound and uneven drumming by Thompson and Collins (Thompson messed up on the intro to "Rock and Roll" and came in a bar too early for "Whole Lotta Love", and Collins was fatigued from his flight from London to Philadelphia), a sub-standard vocal performance from Plant (he also cuts in during Page's solo in Stairway to Heaven) and Page's apparent inebriation and badly tuned Gibson Les Paul guitar (the Gibson EDS-1275 was in tune). Jones was the only member who got through the reunion unscathed. When Live Aid footage was released on a four-DVD set in late 2004, the group unanimously agreed not to allow footage from their performance to be used, agreeing that it was not up to their usual standards. However, Page and Plant donated proceeds from their Unledded DVD to the Live Aid charity, and Jones donated a portion of the profits from his United States tour with the Mutual Admiration Society. <ref name="BBC NEWS">BBC news story, Published 4 August, 2004</ref> In 1986, Page, Plant and Jones gathered at Bath, in South West England, for rehearsals with Thompson with a view to playing as a group again, but a serious car accident involving Thompson ended the plans.

The year 1988 turned out to be a significant one for the surviving members of Led Zeppelin, with much talk about a reunion tour. A newer band, Kingdom Come, had a hit single called "Get It On", which sounded so much like Led Zeppelin that many listeners thought that the band had reformed. Additional excitement was generated by Page's appearance on Plant's album Now and Zen, where he performed on the tracks "Heaven Knows" and "Tall Cool One" (the latter also featuring samples of Page's guitar riffs from the original Led Zeppelin recordings). Plant later sang on track four ("The Only One") of Page's album Outrider, released in June. For the first time since Bonham's death, Plant began performing Zeppelin tunes on his solo tour. When Plant's European tour visited London's Hammersmith Odeon on April 17, 1988, Page joined Plant on stage for several numbers. Both Page and Plant mounted tours in the United States later in the year, each performing Led Zeppelin numbers to ecstatic audiences.

Led Zeppelin reunited again in May of 1988, for Atlantic Records' 40th Anniversary concert, with Bonham's son, Jason Bonham, on drums. As at Live Aid, the performance was flawed, this time by a lack of keyboards in the mix and by Page's unusually lackluster performance during "Heartbreaker". A Rolling Stone critic summed up at year's end that "1988 was the biggest year Led Zeppelin ever had, and they only played once." In 1989 Page and Plant performed with Jason Bonham again at the 21st birthday party of Plant's daughter, Carmen, and in 1990 at Jason Bonham's wedding. These appearances caused much speculation in the media about a possible Led Zeppelin reunion tour, though no such tour materialised.

[edit] 1990s

On June 30, 1990, while Plant was touring in support of his album, Manic Nirvana, Page joined him for a brief set at the Knebworth music festival. The set included "Wearing and Tearing", "Misty Mountain Hop" and "Rock and Roll". The concert was broadcast by radio stations around the world, and highlights of the event, including the entire Page/Plant set, were later shown on MTV. On other dates of the tour, Plant performed wearing a Jimmy Page t-shirt. Robert Plant appeared as a guest at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, performing "Innuendo" and a Medley of Zeppelin's "Thank You" and Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", with the three surviving Members of Queen.

Page and Plant reunited in 1994 for an MTV Unplugged performance (dubbed Unledded) which eventually led to a world tour with a Middle Eastern orchestra, and a live album entitled No Quarter. The bass player was Charlie Jones, who had been the bassist with Plant's own band for several years (and was now his son-in-law, having married Carmen Plant). Many see this as the beginning of discord with John Paul Jones, who was upset with Page and Plant for touring without asking him first. Tensions were further increased when Plant was asked at a press conference where Jones was, and he jokingly replied that Jones was parking the car.<ref name="">Led, accessed 2nd August 2006</ref> Jones later commented that he was unhappy about Plant and Page naming the album after a Led Zeppelin song which was largely his work. In a 1995 interview with Spin magazine, Page kicked the interviewer out of the room simply for mentioning Jones.

On January 13, 1995, Led Zeppelin was inducted into the United States Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At the induction ceremony, the band's inner rift became apparent when Jones joked upon accepting his award, "Thank you, my friends, for finally remembering my phone number," causing consternation and awkward looks from Page and Plant. The three jammed with Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry on "Bring It On Home" and "D'yer Ma'ker", and with Neil Young on "When the Levee Breaks."

On August 29, 1997, Atlantic released a single edit of "Whole Lotta Love" in the US, making it the only Led Zeppelin CD single. Additional tracks on this CD-single are "Baby Come On Home" and "Travelling Riverside Blues". The band have never released a single in the UK.

November 11, 1997 saw the release of Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions, the first Led Zeppelin album in more than fifteen years. The two-disc set included almost all of the band's recordings for the BBC. In 1998, Page and Plant continued their collaboration with Walking into Clarksdale, the pair's first album-length collaboration on entirely new material since Led Zeppelin disbanded in 1980. The subsequent tour featured Led Zeppelin songs (including the epic "How Many More Times") along with a few songs from the new album, including "Most High" which brought back memories of Zeppelin's raw power and had the same upbeat energy of "Kashmir".

[edit] 2000s

In October 2002, the British press reported that Robert Plant and John Paul Jones had reconciled after a 20-year feud which had kept Led Zeppelin apart, and rumours surfaced of a reunion tour in 2003. <ref name="The Sun">The Sun, accessed 2nd August 2006</ref> This was later denied by Plant and Page's management company. <ref name="BBC NEWS 2">BBC News, accessed 2nd August 2006</ref>

2003 saw a resurgence of the band's popularity with the release of a live album, How the West Was Won, and a video collection, Led Zeppelin DVD, both featuring material from the band's heyday. At the year's end, the DVD had sold more than 520,000 copies. Around Christmas 2004, "Stairway To Heaven" was voted the best rock song of all time by Planet Rock listeners in a poll conducted on the station's website. Two other Led Zeppelin songs were also featured in the top ten - "Whole Lotta Love" at number six and "Rock and Roll" at number eight. <ref name="BBC NEWS 3">BBC News, accessed 2nd August 2006</ref>

In 2005, Led Zeppelin received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, they were ranked #1 in US cable channel VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock" special, and readers of Guitar World magazine voted the guitar solo from "Stairway to Heaven" to be the best guitar solo of all time in rock history. <ref name="Guitar World">Guitar World Magazine, 2005</ref> In Rolling Stone magazine's tabulation of the greatest guitarists of all time <ref name="RS">Rolling Stone Magazine, published 2005</ref>, Jimmy Page was ranked number nine. In November 2005, it was announced that Led Zeppelin and Russian conductor Valery Gergiev were the winners of the 2006 Polar Music Prize. The King of Sweden presented the prize to Plant, Page and Jones, along with John Bonham's daughter, in Stockholm in May, 2006. <ref name="BBC News story">BBC News article, 23 May 2006</ref>

On the cover of their February 2006 issue, Guitar World magazine called Led Zeppelin the "world's greatest band." The band, and Jimmy Page especially, have been featured in the magazine numerous times, whether in articles about the band itself, about topics that include the band, or in articles where other musicians cite the band as a powerful influence. In 2006, Led Zeppelin IV was named the number one guitar album for all time by a voter poll in the October issue of Guitar World. Page and Plant were slated to appear on June 30th, 2006 at the Montreux Jazz Festival for a tribute to Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic Records' founder, but Jimmy Page did not appear, citing unnamed medical problems. In 2006 Led Zeppelin were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame. At the ceremony Australian rock band Wolfmother performed a set dedicated to the band.

Led Zeppelin has always been very protective of its catalogue of songs, and has seldom allowed them to be licensed for films or commercials. In recent years, this position has softened somewhat, and Led Zeppelin songs can be heard in movies such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High, One Day in September, Almost Famous, Dogtown and Z-Boys, and School of Rock, yet the surviving band members are still apprehensive about letting their songs be used in unartistic contexts. By contrast, other rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s such as the Who and the Rolling Stones have been more loose in allowing their songs to appear in commercial contexts. On the DVD release of the last movie, a special feature shows star Jack Black and an auditorium full of extras videotaping a plea to Led Zeppelin for permission to use "Immigrant Song" in the film. In a singular concession for commercial use, the Led Zeppelin song "Rock and Roll" has been used in Cadillac television and radio ads. One Tree Hill was the first television show to be licensed use of a Led Zeppelin song (using "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" for the Season 3 finale). Led Zeppelin has steadfastly refused to allow their catalogue to be available for online music downloads, a position unlikely to change.

[edit] Legacy

Image:Van halen album cover.jpg
Later rock groups such as Van Halen were heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin
Both during their active years and long afterwards, Led Zeppelin cast a long shadow in the music industry and inspired countless other rock bands to adopt a similar style of heavy guitar riffs and solos, a galloping bassline, and aggressive high-pitched vocals. Some have speculated that the "Hair Metal" movement of the 1980s was largely an effort to recapture the spirit of the type of rock and roll Led Zeppelin had pioneered in the 60s and 70s, including clothing and hairstyles; though most elite critics, such as those at Rolling Stone and Billboard magazine, regard these 1980s efforts as artistically inferior to their source material. Pop-culture phenomenons, such as the usage of the terms "rock gods" and "guitar gods", can be directly traced to Led Zeppelin's injection of mythological and spiritual themes into rock music--one of the first steps in separating rock and roll from blues-based roots and paving the way for heavy metal, which has become laden in such images and lyrics. Likewise, the band's choice of elaborate wardrobe, hairstyles, and flamboyant onstage gestures influenced generations of rock musicians to come, and have in some quarters become the definitive archetypes of how a rock band should look, act, and sound.

For more information on this topic see Tributes to Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin: Covers and Tributes.

[edit] Instrumental Technology

For more details on this topic, see Led Zeppelin Studio & Live Gear

Listed below are Led Zeppelin's three instrumental band members and their respective instrument models with which they most commonly recorded and performed during their active years as a band. Lead vocalist Robert Plant is excluded, as he did not usually play an instrument except harmonica, and occasionally tambourine:

Jimmy Page: Electric Guitars--1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard (Main guitar), 1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard (No. 2 guitar), 1958 Fender Telecaster (used in the early days and in recordings), Danelectro 3021, and the Gibson EDS-1275 (Used for playing, for example, Stairway to Heaven live). Acoustic Guitars--Gibson J-200, Martin D28 Acoustic, and an Andy Manson custom triple neck Mandolin.

John Paul Jones: Bass Guitars--Fender Jazz Bass and Custom Designed Alembic basses. Electronic keyboards-- MK Mellotron and Hammond Organs.

John Bonham: Drum Kits--Ludwig-Musser Green Sparkle and Stainless Steel models.

[edit] Discography

For more details on this topic, see Led Zeppelin discography.

[edit] Albums

Album Cover Date of Release Title
January 12, 1969 Led Zeppelin #6 U.K. #10 U.S.
October 22, 1969 Led Zeppelin II #1 U.K. #1 U.S.
October 5, 1970 Led Zeppelin III #1 U.K. #1 U.S.
November 8, 1971 *Image:Zoso.svg (Led Zeppelin IV) #1 U.K. #2 U.S.
March 28, 1973 Houses of the Holy #1 U.K. #1 U.S.
February 24, 1975 Physical Graffiti #1 U.K. #1 U.S.
March 31, 1976 Presence #1 U.K. #1 U.S.
August 15, 1979 In Through The Out Door #1 U.K. #1 U.S.

compilation albums |-


|October 22, 1976 |The Song Remains The Same #1 U.K. #2 U.S. |-


|November 19, 1982 |Coda #4 U.K. #6 U.S.



|November 11, 1997 |Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions #23 U.K. #12 U.S.



|May 27, 2003 |How The West Was Won #5 U.K. #1 U.S.

|- |}

[edit] Compilations and other releases

‡ Contains some tracks not available elsewhere

[edit] Filmography

[edit] Sound Files

Year Song title Album Label
1969: "Dazed and Confused"
Led Zeppelin Atlantic Records
1969: "Whole Lotta Love"
Led Zeppelin II Atlantic Records
1969: "Rock and Roll"
Led Zeppelin II Atlantic Records
1971: "Stairway to Heaven"
Led Zeppelin IV Atlantic Records
1971: "Black Dog"
Led Zeppelin IV Atlantic Records

[edit] References


[edit] Sources

[edit] External links

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Biographies and other information

Led Zeppelin
Jimmy Page · Robert Plant · John Paul Jones · John Bonham
Discography - (Category)
Studio albums: Led Zeppelin · Led Zeppelin II · Led Zeppelin III · Image:Zoso.svg (Led Zeppelin IV) · Houses of the Holy · Physical Graffiti · Presence · In Through the Out Door

Live albums: The Song Remains the Same · BBC Sessions · How the West Was Won
Compilations: Box Set · Profiled · Remasters · Box Set 2 · Complete Studio Recordings · Early Days: Best of Led Zeppelin Volume One · Latter Days: Best of Led Zeppelin Volume Two · Coda

The Song Remains the Same · Led Zeppelin DVD
Peter Grant · Richard Cole · Swan Song Records · The Yardbirds · XYZ · The Firm · Page and Plant · Strange Sensation · BootlegsConcertsSongs}"> |
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