Led Zeppelin (formed 1968)
Led Zeppelin is an English rock band that rose to fame in the late 1960s and early 1970s with their heavy blues rock sound. They are considered by many to be one of the first ever heavy metal bands.
Led Zeppelin: Formation
Led Zeppelin's genesis goes back The Yardbirds. Jimmy Page joined The Yardbirds on bass guitar in 1966 but soon switched to play lead guitar alongside Jeff Beck.
As the dregs of a largely disbanded Yardbirds fulfilled gig obligations in Scandinavia, singer Robert Plant and drummer John Bonham were drafted in to fill the gaps. John Paul Jones enquired about the vacant bass player role and completed the picture. They toured Scandinavia as The New Yardbirds, eventually changing it to Led Zeppelin.
Led Zeppelin's debut gig was at the University of Surrey, in Guilford, in October 1968. Their debut album, Led Zeppelin was released in January 1969, whilst the band was touring the States.
Led Zeppelin: Key Albums & Notable Moments
Led Zeppelin, the band's debut album, was released in 1969. It is reported that the album cost £1,750 to make and by 1975, had grossed $7,000,000.
The album's follow-up, Led Zeppelin II (1969) was recorded largely on the road, whilst the band toured the first album. The album reached number one in both the US and the UK.
Led Zeppelin III (1970) was recorded in Wales, in a cottage named Bron-Yr-Aur. A misspelled version of the name gave title to one of the tracks on the album, 'Bron-Y-Aur Stomp'. The band resisted the release of singles from the album. However, many tracks, such as 'Immigrant Song', were released against the band's wishes.
Throughout the 1970s, Led Zeppelin's offstage antics became as legendary as their music. In one incident, drummer John Bonham rode a motorcycle through the Continental Hyatt House hotel in Los Angeles.
Led Zeppelin's fourth album was not attributed with any obvious title, nor did it show the band's name on the cover. Instead, the cover depicted four symbols, representing each member of the band. It is most commonly referred to as Led Zeppelin IV.
In 1973, the band released Houses of the Holy. The song of the same name did not appear on the album but turned up on 1975's Physical Graffiti. The record was banned in some religious areas of the USA and in Spain, for the cover's depiction of naked children running up the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.
Led Zeppelin took a break from touring in 1974 and launched their own record label, Swan Song. Through the label, they released music by the likes of Bad Company, Sad Café and Pretty Things.
Physical Graffiti (1975) was the band's first double album and was released on the Swan Song label. The success of the album was so great, that after its release, all of the band's previous albums re-entered the Top 200 album chart simultaneously.
In August 1975, Robert Plant and his wife Maureen were involved in a car crash whilst holidaying in Rhodes. Maureen was badly injured and the band was forced to take a hiatus from touring. They spent their time in California, writing material for the next album, Presence (1976). Presence became a platinum-selling album, though its critical response was lukewarm.
The Song Remains the Same became the band's first official live recording and was released both as a film and accompanying soundtrack.
In Through the Out Door was recorded in the final months of 1978 and released the next year and reached number one in the UK and the US.
On 25th September 1980, John Bonham was found dead by John Paul Jones and the band's tour manager, Benji LeFevre. 'Asphyxiation from vomit' was given as the cause of his death. No drug other than alcohol was found in his body. In December 1980, the band announced that they would not be continuing without Bonham. Until then, various replacements had been rumoured, including Cozy Powell and Bev Bevan of ELO.
In 1982, the three surviving members of the band released Coda, a collection of outtakes from a number of different recording sessions
Led Zeppelin: Reunions
Page, Plant and Jones were reunited in July 1985, for the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia. They were joined by Phil Collins and Tony Thompson on drums, and Paul Martinez on bass.
The three Led Zeppelin members were again reunited, with John Bonham's son, Jason Bonham, on drums, for the Atlantic Records 40th Birthday party.
In 1995, Led Zeppelin was inducted into the rock and Roll Hall of Fame, by Aerosmith's Steve Tyler and Joe Perry. Bonham was represented by his son Jason and daughter Zoe.
Led Zeppelin was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, presented to the band by the King of Sweden.
In December 2007, Led Zeppelin was once again reunited for a huge one-off concert in London in memory of Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records. Jason Bonham filled in on drums. The promoter Harvey Goldsmith arranged the concert to raise money for the Ahmet Ertegun Education Fund.