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Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin


Rock group


The member of Led Zeppelin have been called the "grandfathers" of the heavy metal genre. At their height in the early to mid 1970s, they frequently outsold the Rolling Stones in concert tickets. And by 1973, they had sold more albums than any other band worldwide. Their anthemic song, "Stairway to Heaven," is the most played song in the history of radio.

Led Zeppelin was formed out of the ashes of the 1960s supergroup The Yardbirds, once featuring renowned guitarists Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, and later, a young studio session guitarist, Jimmy Page. (Page, it is estimated, played on 50 to 90 percent of the popular rock records made in England from 1963 to 1965.) In 1965, he joined the Yardbirds, having turned down an offer to replace Eric Clapton just a year earlier. With the Yard-birds, Page and fellow guitarist Jeff Beck pioneered the two-guitar style of rock. Beck left only a year later, however, to pursue a solo career. The band continued for another year and a half, but split by 1968.

Page decided to form The New Yardbirds and sought new musicians. First, he recruited John Paul Jones, a fellow session player, to play bass and keyboards. Then, following a tip, he went to listen to a young blues singer, Robert Plant in Birmingham. Plant suggested drummer John Bonham who had played with him in the Band of Joy. The Who's drummer, Keith Moon, had said something about the new incarnation going down like a lead balloon. Thus, the name Led Zeppelin was coined.

Led Zeppelin's first British show was on October 5, 1968, at Surrey University. An unexpected American tour followed that winter, when the Jeff Beck Group cancelled their spot on a tour with Vanilla Fudge. The band's ambitious manager, Peter Grant, took the opportunity, convinced all involved, and Led Zeppelin left for Los Angeles on Christmas Eve in 1968.

Led Zeppelin signed with Atlantic Records and released its self-titled first album in February 1969. The band's sound had diverse influences, including the Delta blues and performers like Robert Johnson, Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Guy, The Incredible String Band, and Elvis Presley. Between Plant's incredible vocal range, and Page's utilization of the new technology of the time—including fuzz boxes, boosters, split pickups on his guitars, and super-amplifiers for the maximum distortion—the band roared into the underground rock consciousness.

Led Zeppelin's best-known song, "Stairway to Heaven," first performed at a 1971 concert in Belfast, was from their fourth album—untitled, save for four strange, runic symbols. Led Zeppelin's fourth album was recorded at Headley Grange, a converted poor-house in Hampshire, England. Page and Jones wrote the music for "Stairway to Heaven" first, and Plant wrote most of the lyrics in one sitting. Plant later recalled to journalist Cameron Crowe in Led Zeppelin: The Complete Studio Recordings, "It was done very quickly. It took a little working out, but it was a fluid, unnaturally easy track. It was almost as if—uh oh—it just had to be gotten out at the time. There was something pushing it saying, 'You guys are okay, but if you want to do something timeless, here's a wedding song for you.'"

The band followed up with Houses of the Holy in 1973. Some of the concerts on that tour were filmed for posterity and later released in the film, The Song Remains the Same. Following this album, Led Zeppelin started its own label, Swan Song. Signings to the label included Dave Edmunds, Bad Company, the Pretty Things, and Maggie Bell.

In the early years, the band did not have a publicist, did not release singles, and avoided the press. While the idea had been to keep the band mysterious, the band became notorious instead when all their press had to do with riots over concert tickets and the band members and their entourage trashing hotel rooms. Nevertheless, album and concert sales climbed continuously. In the beginning, they made around $200 a night playing small clubs, but at their height were making more than $500,000 a night. After their fourth album, the band purchased it's own plane, nicknamed "The Starship."

Crowe, in the liner notes to The Complete Studio Recordings, summed it up: "The Zeppelin attitude had something to do with Peter Grant, their brilliant and imposing manager. A little bit to do with the wicked humor of Richard Cole, their road manager. Something to do with John Bonham thundering down the aisle of the Starship, performing Monty Python routines. With John Paul Jones, lost in dry ice, playing 'No Quarter.' It had a lot to do with Page and Plant, side-by-side, sharing a single spotlight, ripping through 'Over the Hills and Far Away.'"

In 1974, the band returned to Headley Grange and recorded a double-album, Physical Graffiti. The standout song on the album was the hypnotic "Kashmir," a song the band members claim as their favorite. (Rapper Puff Daddy teamed with Page and Plant as well as Tom Morrello of Rage Against the Machine to create a reworking of "Kashmir" called "Come With Me," featuring a 70-piece orchestra, for the Godzilla soundtrack in 1998.) After the album's release in February 1975, the band decided to take some vacation time before touring again.

On August 4, during a trip to the Greek island of Rhodes, Plant and his wife rolled over a cliff in their car and both were seriously injured. Upcoming tours were postponed and for 18 months, it was not known whether Plant would walk again. The band released its live concert film, The Song Remains the Same to fill the void for their fan base during their time away. Presence, the band's seventh album, was recorded in Munich with Robert Plant in a wheelchair, his ankle still on the mend. The album was released in March of 1976, and a tour followed the next year.

That tour was interrupted by tragedy when Plant's son Karac died at the age of five from a rare viral infection. The band abandoned their tour of the United States. "It was the toughest part of my entire life," Plant told reporter Deborah Wilker at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. "It didn't haunt me. I was just incredibly aggrieved."

Around this time, darker rumors about the band started, like stories of Page's excessive drug and alcohol use, rumors of his dabbling in black magic. There was speculation that karmic retribution was to blame for the tragedies. James Rotondi, in Guitar Player magazine, recalled, "Enough preconceptions, bad raps and spurious accusations have swirled around Page over the last 30 years to fill the National Enquirer, Blues Revue, and an entire season of The X-Files."

The band regrouped and in November and December of 1978 recorded In Through the Out Door, which was to be their final album. A rare single, "Fool in the Rain," was released in December of 1979. An American tour was planned for autumn of 1980, however, their last show would be performed at the British Knebworth Festival in 1979.

For the Record …

Members include John Bonham (born on May 31, 1949, in Redditch, England; died on September 25, 1980), drums; John Paul Jones (born on January 3, 1946, in Kent, England), bass, keyboards; Jimmy Page (born on January 9, 1944, in Middlesex, England), guitar; Robert Plant (born on August 20, 1948, in Bromwich, England), vocals.

Group formed in October, 1968; signed with Atlanta Records, 1968; released self-titled debut and embarked on first American tour, early 1969; released Led Zeppelin II, 1969; issued Led Zeppelin III, 1970; followed with Led Zeppelin IV, also known as the Runes LP, 1971; retreated from spotlight following 1972 tour to record next album, Houses of the Holy, spring 1973; broke previous box office records (held by the Beatles) during 1973 tour; formed Swan Song (record label) and released albums by Bad Company, Dave Edmunds, and the Pretty Things, 1974; released Physical Graffiti on Swan Song, 1975; canceled American tour following an automobile accident involving Robert Plant and his wife, 1975; Presence debuted at number one in England and American, spring 1976; released concert film and album, The Song Remains the Same, fall 1976; canceled American tour following the death of Plant's son, 1977; performed two live dates at Knebworth, 1979; released In Through the Out Door, September 1979; disbanded in December 1980, following death of founding drummer John Bonham, September 25, 1980; Plant and Page reunited for MTV Unplugged, 1994; Plant and Page recorded Walking Into Clarksdale, 1998.

Awards: American Music Award, International Artist Award, 1994; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted, 1995; "Dazed and Confused," "Rock and Roll," Stair way to Heaven," and "Whole Lotta Love" included in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll, 1997; Grammy Award (Robert Plant and Jimmy Page), Best Hard Rock Performance, 1999.

Addresses: Record company—Atlantic Records, 1290 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10104, phone: (212) 707-2000, website: http://www.atlantic-records.com/. Website—Led Zeppelin Official Website: http://www.led-zeppelin.com/.

On September 25, 1980, the band was assembled for rehearsals at Page's home and set to leave on tour the next day. During the night, however, Bonham was found dead in a bedroom. After drinking around 40 shots of vodka in a 12-hour period, Bonham died of asphyxiation. The remaining three members decided instantly that they could not go on without him. They later met in a London hotel room to write a statement for the press.

Page and Plant each embarked on other projects in the 1980s. Page formed The Firm, releasing a self-titled first album in 1985, which had success with the single, "Radioactive." The Firm released a second album, Mean Business, the following year. Page released a solo album, Outrider, in 1988 and embarked on a brief project with David Coverdale in 1993, with one album, Coverdale/Page.

Plant released his first solo album, Pictures at Eleven in 1982, followed by The Principle of Moments (1983) and Shaken 'n' Stirred (1985). During these years, Plant distanced himself from his connections with Led Zeppelin.

Plant's stance seemed to change in 1985 when the remaining members reunited to play Live Aid concert with Bonham's son Jason on drums. Three years later, they reunited, again with Jason Bonham on drums, to play the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary celebration. That same year, Plant released his fourth solo effort, Now and Zen, which contained samples of Zeppelin songs. His following solo efforts, Manic Nirvana (1990) and Fate of Nations (1993) also veered closer to his Zeppelin past.

"Led Zeppelin was so big and so successful that I wanted to distance myself from it," Plant told reporter Gary Graff in the Houston Chronicle in June 1988. "I was fooling myself, really. I've learned that I can lean on my past—without thinking that I'm taking the easy way out."

Hopes of a more permanent reunion sprang eternal among fans, and the remaining members of Led Zeppelin were offered $100 million to tour America. They turned it down. Two years later, Plant was still adamant about not reforming the band. He told Deborah Wilker of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, "I can't imagine anything more horrifying than three middle-aged men trying to pretend that 'Black Dog' is significant. It's inappropriate."

The mid-1990s finally saw a reunion of sorts. Plant was invited to play MTV Unplugged in 1994 and included Page plus a group of Egyptian, Moroccan, and Western classical musicians in addition to bassist Charlie Jones, drummer Michael Lee, and Porl Thompson of the Cure on rhythm guitar. The show was called "Unledded" and a recording of the program was released titled No Quarter.

In 1995, The Sporting Life, John Paul Jones's venture with avant-garde vocalist Diamanda Galas, was released. Jones told writer Joe Gore at Guitar Player, "I suppose I was disappointed that they didn't feel they had to tell me about it [Page and Plant's project No Object]. I read it in the newspapers, which was kind of embarrassing. I'm a great Led Zeppelin fan. I thought it was a fantastic band, and I'm very proud of what we did. But Diamanda is a stunning artist, and I wouldn't want to be doing anything else right now."

In January 1995 Led Zeppelin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by fellow heavy-rockers Aerosmith. "They were like Lord Byron—mad, bad and dangerous to know," Joe Perry of Aerosmith told The Boston Globe. "It was kind of like Howling Wolf meets the Loch Ness monster."

Led Zeppelin's record sales as strong as ever, a 1997 Billboard reported that Led Zeppelin were the number two-selling act of all time, according to the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA). Ten of their albums were certified at multi-platinum levels. By 1999, Led Zeppelin became the third act in music history to be awarded four or more Diamond albums, according to the RIAA.

Page and Plant continued the collaboration they'd renewed on No Quarter on Walking Into Clarksdale in 1998. The album, produced by indie-rock icon Steve Albini, represented the first new material from the duo since In Through the Out Door in 1979.

The two continued their solo efforts as well. Recorded over two nights in Los Angeles in October of 1999, Jimmy Page & the Black Crowes Live at the Greek was the first major release exclusively available online (at musicmaker.com), where it could be customized by the purchaser. Page toured with The Black Crowes again the following year. Plant released his seventh solo album, Dreamland, in 2002, and toured behind it with his band, Strange Sensation, which again included Thompson from The Cure and Clive Deamer, drummer from British trip-hop group Portishead. John Paul Jones released two solo CDs, 1999's Zoomba and The Thunderthief, featuring some guitar work by Robert Fripp, in 2002.

While the band had historically balked at commercializing their music, the new century saw a change of heart. First, Page and Plant licensed Zeppelin's "That's The Way" for use on the soundtrack to Cameron Crowe's 2001 film, Almost Famous. The film chronicled Crowe's early career as a rock journalist who, among other bands, interviewed and went on tour with Led Zeppelin. In 2002, Led Zeppelin sold a song for use in a commercial for the first time in the band's history, selling "Rock and Roll" to Cadillac. The car manufacturer has used the ad to sell its Cadillac CTS, XLR, Escalade, and Escalade EXT. In 2003, in honor of their 35th anniversary, Led Zeppelin released the Led Zeppelin DVD, which contains live performance footage, previously unreleased, from four of their tours during the 1970s. At the same time, the group also released How the West Was Won, a three-disc CD with live material compiled from their concerts in 1972 in California.

Selected discography

Led Zeppelin I, Atlantic, 1969.

Led Zeppelin II, Atlantic, 1969.

Led Zeppelin III, Atlantic, 1970.

Led Zeppelin IV, Atlantic, 1971.

Houses of the Holy, Atlantic, 1973.

Physical Graffiti, Swan Song, 1975.

The Song Remains the Same, Swan Song, 1976.

Presence, Swan Song, 1976.

In Through the Out Door, Swan Song, 1979.

Coda, Swan Song, 1982.

(Jimmy Page and Robert Plant) Walking Into Clarksdale, Atlantic, 1998.

How the West Was Won, Atlantic, 2003.

Sources

Books

Crowe, Cameron, "Light and Shade," Led Zeppelin: The Complete Studio Recordings, 1993.

Zalkind, Ronald, Contemporary Music Almanac 1980/81, Schirmer, 1980.

Periodicals

Associated Press, March 28, 2000, March 18, 2002.

Atlanta Journal and Constitution, September 2, 1988.

Billboard, December 13, 1997; April 21, 1998.

Boston Globe, August 10, 1992; January 13, 1995.

Boston Herald, November 14, 1993; January 13, 1995; October 21, 1999.

Buffalo News, September 19, 1993; November 18, 1994; April 24, 1998; May 12, 1998.

Calgary Herald, October 13, 2002.

Canadian Press, January 22, 2002.

Charleston Gazette, July 18, 2002.

Chicago Sun-Times, December 1, 1999.

Commercial Appeal, March 3, 1995.

Globe and Mail, May 16, 1988.

Guitar Player, February 1, 1995; February 1, 1998.

Herald, August 18, 1999.

Herald Express, October 13, 2000.

Houston Chronicle, June 5, 1988.

MX, October 17, 2001.

New Orleans Times-Picayune, March 12, 1995.

New York Times, August 15, 1975.

Plain Dealer, March 24, 1995; December 9, 1997.

Richmond News Leader, November 20, 1990.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 7, 1998.

San Diego Union-Tribune, August 15, 2000.

Scottsman, February 2, 1999.

Seattle Times, March 16, 2000.

Times Union, July 9, 1998.

Toronto Star, August 27, 2002.

Turkish Daily News, March 8, 1998.

Western Mail, October 10, 2002.

Online

"Led Zeppelin," RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/bio.asp?oid=366 (February 13, 2003).

"Led Zeppelin," VH1.com, http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/led_zeppelin/bio.jhtml (February 13, 2003).

"Led Zeppelin," Yesterdayland, http://www.yesterdayland.com/popopedia/shows/music/mu1253.php (February 13, 2003).

—Emily Pettigrew and

Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

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Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin has been called the grandfathers of the "Heavy Metal" genre. At their height in the early to mid 1970s, they frequently outsold the Rolling Stones in concert tickets. And by 1973, they had sold more albums than any other band worldwide. Their anthemic song, "Stairway to Heaven," is the most-played song in the history of radio.

Led Zeppelin was formed out of the ashes of the 1960s supergroup The Yardbirds, once featuring renowned guitarists Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, and later, a young studio session guitarist, Jimmy Page. (Page, it is estimated, played on 50 to 90 percent of the popular rock records made in England from 1963 to 1965.) In 1965, he joined the Yardbirds, having turned down an offer to replace Eric Clapton just a year earlier. With the Yardbirds, Page and fellow guitarist Jeff Beck pioneered the two-guitar style of rock. Beck left only a year later, however, to pursue a solo career. The band continued for another year and a half, but split by 1968.

Page decided to form The New Yardbirds and sought new musicians. First, he recruited John Paul Jones, a fellow session player, to play bass and keyboards. Then, following a tip, he went to listen to a young blues singer, Robert Plant in Birmingham. Plant suggested drummer John Bonham who had played with him in the Band of Joy. The Who's drummer, Keith Moon, had said something about the new incarnation going down like a lead balloon. Thus, the name Led Zeppelin was coined.

Led Zeppelin's first British show was on October 5, 1968, at Surrey University. An unexpected American tour followed that winter, when the Jeff Beck Group cancelled their spot on a tour with Vanilla Fudge. The band's ambitious manager, Peter Grant, took the opportunity, convinced all involved, and Led Zeppelin left for Los Angeles on Christmas Eve 1968.

Led Zeppelin signed with Atlantic Records and released its self-titled first album in February 1969. The band's sound had diverse influences, including the Delta blues and performers like Robert Johnson, Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Guy, The Incredible String Band, and Elvis Presley. Between Plant's incredible vocal range, and Page's utilization of the new technology of the time—including fuzzboxes, boosters, split pickups on his guitars, and super-amplifiers for the maximum distortion—the band roared into the underground rock consciousness.

Led Zeppelin's best-known song, "Stairway to Heaven," first performed at a 1971 concert in Belfast, was from their fourth album—untitled, save for four strange, runic symbols. Led Zeppelin's fourth album was recorded at Headley Grange, a converted poorhouse in Hampshire, England. Page and Jones wrote the music for "Stairway to Heaven" first, and Plant wrote most of the lyrics in one sitting. Plant later recalled to journalist Cameron Crowe in Led Zeppelin: The Complete Studio Recordings, "It was done very quickly. It took a little working out, but it was a fluid, unnaturally easy track. It was almost as if—uh oh—it just had to be gotten out at the time. There was something pushing it saying, 'You guys are okay, but if you want to do something timeless, here's a wedding song for you.' "

The band followed up with Houses of the Holy in 1973. Some of the concerts on that tour were filmed for posterity and later released in the film, The Song Remains the Same. Following this album, Led Zeppelin started its own label, Swan Song. Signings to the label included Dave Edmunds, Bad Company, the Pretty Things, and Maggie Bell.

In the early years, the band did not have a publicist, did not release singles, and avoided the press. While the idea had been to keep the band mysterious, the band became notorious instead when all their press had to do with riots over concert tickets and the band members and their entourage trashing hotel rooms. Nevertheless, album and concert sales climbed continuously. In the beginning, they made around $200 a night playing small clubs, but at their height were making more than $500,000 a night. After their fourth album, the band owned it's own plane, "The Starship."

Crowe, in the liner notes to The Complete Studio Recordings, summed it up: "The Zeppelin attitude had something to do with Peter Grant, their brilliant and imposing manager. A little bit to do with the wicked humor of Richard Cole, their road manager. Something to do with John Bonham thundering down the aisle of the Starship, performing Monty Python routines. With John Paul Jones, lost in dry ice, playing "No Quarter." It had a lot to do with Page and Plant, side-by-side, sharing a single spotlight, ripping through "Over the Hills and Far Away."

In 1974, the band returned to Headley Grange and recorded a double-album, Physical Graffiti. The standout song on the album was the hypnotic "Kashmir," a song the band members claim as their favorite. (Rapper Puff Daddy teamed with Page and Plant as well as Tom Morrello of Rage Against the Machine to create a reworking of "Kashmir" called "Come With Me," featuring a 70-piece orchestra, for the Godzilla soundtrack in 1998.) After the album's release in February 1975, the band decided to take some vacation time before touring again.

On August 4, during a trip to the Greek island of Rhodes, Plant and his wife rolled over a cliff in their car and both were seriously injured. Upcoming tours were postponed and for 18 months, it was not known whether Plant would walk again. The band released its live concert film, The Song Remains the Same to fill the void for their fan base during their time away. Presence, the band's seventh album, was recorded in Munich with Robert Plant in a wheelchair, his ankle still on the mend. The album was released in March 1976, and a tour followed the next year.

That tour was interrupted by tragedy when Plant's son Karac died at the age of five from a rare viral infection. The band abandoned their U.S. tour. "It was the toughest part of my entire life," Plant told reporter Deborah Wilker at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. "It didn't haunt me. I was just incredibly aggrieved."

Around this time, darker rumors about the band started, like stories of Page's excessive drug and alcohol use, rumors of his dabbling in black magic. There was speculation that karmic retribution was to blame for the tragedies.

James Rotondi, in Guitar Player magazine, recalled, "Enough preconceptions, bad raps and spurious accusations have swirled around Page over the last 30 years to fill the National Enquirer, Blues Revue, and an entire season of The X-Files."

The band regrouped and in November and December of 1978 recorded In Through the Out Door, which was to be their final album. A rare single, "Fool in the Rain," was released in December 1979. A U.S. tour was planned for autumn 1980, however, their last show would be performed at the British Knebworth Festival in 1979.

On September 25, 1980, the band was assembled for rehearsals at Page's home and set to leave on tour the next day. During the night, however, Bonham was found dead in a bedroom. After drinking around 40 shots of vodka in a 12-hour period, Bonham died of asphyxiation. The remaining three members decided instantly that they could not go on without him. They later met in a London hotel room to write a statement for the press.

Page and Plant each embarked on other projects in the 1980s. Page formed The Firm, releasing a self-titled first album in 1985, which had success with the single, "Radioactive." The Firm released a second album, Mean Business, the following year. Page released a solo album, Outrider, in 1988 and embarked on a brief project with David Coverdale in 1993, with one album, Coverdale/Page.

Plant released his first solo album, Pictures at Eleven in 1982, followed by The Principle of Moments (1983) and Shaken 'n' Stirred (1985). During these years, Plant distanced himself from his connections with Led Zeppelin.

Plant's stance seemed to change in 1985 when the remaining members reunited to play Live Aid concert with Bonham's son Jason on drums. Three years later, they reunited, again with Jason Bonham on drums, to play the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary celebration. That same year, Plant released his fourth solo effort, Now and Zen, which contained samples of Zeppelin songs. His following solo efforts, Manic Nirvana (1990) and Fate of Nations (1993) also veered closer to his Zeppelin past.

"Led Zeppelin was so big and so successful that I wanted to distance myself from it," Plant told reporter Gary Graff in the Houston Chronicle in June 1988. "I was fooling myself, really. I've learned that I can lean on my past— without thinking that I'm taking the easy way out."

Hopes of a more permanent reunion sprang eternal among fans, and the remaining members of Led Zeppelin were offered $100 million to tour America. They turned it down. Two years later, Plant was still adamant about not reforming the band. He told Deborah Wilker of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, "I can't imagine anything more horrifying than three middle-aged men trying to pretend that 'Black Dog' is significant. It's inappropriate."

The mid-1990s finally saw a reunion of sorts. Plant was invited to play MTV Unplugged in 1994 and included Page plus a group of Egyptian, Moroccan, and Western classical musicians in addition to bassist Charlie Jones, drummer Michael Lee, and Porl Thompson of the Cure on rhythm guitar. The show was called "Unledded" and a recording of the program was released titled No Quarter.

In 1995, The Sporting Life, John Paul Jones's venture with avant-garde vocalist Diamanda Galas, was released. Jones told writer Joe Gore at Guitar Player, "I suppose I was disappointed that they didn't feel they had to tell me about it. (Page and Plant's project No Quarter. ) I read it in the newspapers, which was kind of embarrassing. I'm a great Led Zeppelin fan. I thought it was a fantastic band, and I'm very proud of what we did. But Diamanda is a stunning artist, and I wouldn't want to be doing anything else right now."

In January 1995 Led Zeppelin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by fellow heavy-rockers Aerosmith. "They were like Lord Byron-mad, bad and dangerous to know," Joe Perry of Aerosmith told The Boston Globe. "It was kind of like Howling Wolf meets the Loch Ness monster."

Led Zeppelin's record sales as strong as ever, a 1997 Billboard reported that Led Zeppelin were the number two-selling act of all time, according to the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA). Ten of their albums were certified at multi-platinum levels. By 1999, Led Zeppelin became the third act in music history to be awarded four or more Diamond albums, according to the RIAA.

Page and Plant continued the collaboration they'd renewed on No Quarter on Walking Into Clarksdale in 1998. The album, produced by indie-rock icon Steve Albini, represented the first new material from the duo since In Through the Out Door in 1979.

The two continued their solo efforts as well. Recorded over two nights in Los Angeles in October of 1999, Jimmy Page & the Black Crowes Live at the Greek was the first major release exclusively available online (at music-maker.com ), where it could be customized by the purchaser. Page toured with The Black Crowes again the following year. Plant released his seventh solo album, Dreamland, in 2002, and toured behind it with his band, Strange Sensation, which again included Thompson from The Cure and Clive Deamer, drummer from Portishead. John Paul Jones released two solo CDs, 1999's Zoomba and The Thunderthief, featuring some guitar work by Robert Fripp, in 2002.

While the band had historically balked at commercializing their music, the new century saw a change of heart. First, Page and Plant licensed Zeppelin's "That's The Way" for use on the soundtrack to Cameron Crowe's 2001 film, Almost Famous. The film chronicled Crowe's early career as a rock journalist who, among other bands, interviewed and went on tour with Led Zeppelin. In 2002, Led Zeppelin sold a song for use in a commercial for the first time in the band's history, selling "Rock and Roll" to Cadillac. The car manufacturer has used the ad to sell its Cadillac CTS, XLR, Escalade, and Escalade EXT. In 2003, in honor of their 35th anniversary, Led Zeppelin released the Led Zeppelin DVD, which contains live performance footage, previously unreleased, from four of their tours during the 1970s. At the same time, the group also released How the West Was Won, a three-disc CD with live material compiled from their concerts in 1972 in California.

Books

Crowe, Cameron, "Light and Shade," Led Zeppelin: The Complete Studio Recordings, 1993.

Zalkind, Ronald, Contemporary Music Almanac 1980/81, Schirmer Books, 1980.

Periodicals

AP Online, March 18, 2002.

Associated Press Newswires, March 28, 2000.

Atlanta Journal and Constitution, September 2, 1988.

Billboard, December 13, 1997; April 21, 1998.

Boston Globe, August 10, 1992; January 13, 1995.

Boston Herald, November 14, 1993; January 13, 1995; October 21, 1999.

Buffalo News, September 19, 1993; November 18, 1994; April 24, 1998; May 12, 1998.

Calgary Herald, October 13, 2002.

Canadian Press, January 22, 2002.

Charleston Gazette, July 18, 2002.

Chicago Sun-Times, December 1, 1999.

Commercial Appeal, March 3, 1995.

Globe and Mail, May 16, 1988.

Guitar Player, February 1, 1995; February 1, 1998.

Herald, August 18, 1999.

Herald Express, October 13, 2000.

Houston Chronicle, June 5, 1988.

MX, October 17, 2001.

New Orleans Times-Picayune, March 12, 1995.

New York Times, August 15, 1975.

Plain Dealer, March 24, 1995; December 9, 1997.

Richmond News Leader, November 20, 1990.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 7, 1998.

San Diego Union-Tribune, August 15, 2000.

Scottsman, February 2, 1999.

Seattle Times, March 16, 2000.

Times Union, July 9, 1998.

Toronto Star, August 27, 2002.

Turkish Daily News, March 8, 1998.

Western Mail, October 10, 2002.

Online

"Led Zeppelin," Rockin Town Bio,http://rockintown.com/church/zeppelin.html (February 13, 2003).

"Led Zeppelin," Rolling Stone,http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/bio.asp?oid=366 (February 13, 2003).

"Led Zeppelin," VH-1.com,http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/led_zeppelin/bio.jhtml (February 13, 2003).

"Led Zeppelin," Yesterdayland,http://www.yesterdayland.com/popopedia/shows/music/mu1253.php (February 13, 2003). □

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Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

British rock group

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Guitarist Jimmy Page enjoyed moderate success with his first group, Neil Christian and the Crusaders, a Chuck Berry/Bo Diddley-styled British group. After a continuous battle with bad health problems, Page quit in 1961 to attend art school in Sutton. By then he had converted the front room of his parents house into a makeshift studio to jam with friends. Word of the guitarists abilities spread, and soon English producers were using Page for session work on records by the Who, the Kinks, and even Tom Jones.

Meanwhile, the Yardbirds manager, Giorgio Gomelsky, wanted Page to replace Eric Clapton on guitar. But, with the money he was making on sessions, Page could hardly afford to leave, and instead he recommended Jeff Beck for the position. Page also began producing for Immediate Records and experimenting with his bow/guitar technique.

In mid-1966 Yardbirds bassist Paul Samwell-Smith quit, and Page was offered the spot. By then he was burned out from studio work and accepted. I remember one particular occasion when I hadnt played a solo

For the Record

Founded 1968, by guitarist Jimmy Page (full name, James Patrick Page; born January 9, 1944); other members included John Paul Jones (name originally John Baldwin; born January 3, 1946) on bass and keyboards, Robert Plant (full name, Robert Anthony Plant; born August 20, 1948) on vocals, and John Bonham (full name, John Henry Bonham; born May 31, 1948; died September 24, 1980) on drums;

Began recording October, 1968; first toured United States, 1968-69; recorded and toured extensively throughout the world, 1968-80; re-formed for Live Aid benefit concert, 1985, with drummer Tony Thompson; also performed at Atlantic Records fortieth anniversary celebration, 1988, with Bonhams son, Jason, on drums.

Addresses: Office c/o Swan Song, Atlantic Records, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019.

for, quite literally, a couple of months. And I was asked to play a solo on a rock & roll thing, he told Cameron Crowe. I played it and felt that what Id done was absolute crap. I was so disgusted with myself that I made my mind up that I had to get out of it. It was messing me right up.

On one particular night Beck was too ill to perform, so Page substituted on guitar. His flashy technique was so impressive that the band moved Chris Dreja over to bass and continued with the dual lead guitars of Page and Beck. When they were in sync with each other, the two would sound like nothing before. But, more often than not, Becks ego would take over, and he eventually dropped out in the middle of a U.S. tour.

The group continued on with Peter Grant replacing Mickie Most as manager, but their future was very uncertain. By the spring of 1968 all remaining members except Page decided to call it quits. Two members of the Who, Keith Moon and John Entwistle, talked about forming a group with Page and Steve Winwood. Well call it Lead Zeppelin, joked Entwistle, cause itll go over like a lead balloon.

With Claptons Cream and the Jeff Beck Group blazing new paths for the blues rock genre, Page knew what type of band he wanted to form. His first acquisition would be bassist John Paul Jones. A veteran of early sixties sessions like Page, Jones was also an arrangerhighly influenced by jazzand equally competent on keyboards. I jumped at the chance of getting him, Page told Stephen Davis, author of Hammer of the Gods.

Next in order would be a vocalist and finally, a drummer. Page was informed of a singer named Robert Plant who performed with the group Hobbstweedle. Formerly an apprentice accountant, Plant quit at age sixteen to become a bluesman, singing with Sounds of Blue, Crawling King Snakes, Tennessee Teens, Listen, and Band of Joy. Just one listen convinced Page that he had his man. I just couldnt understand why, after he told me hed been singing for years already, he hadnt become a big name yet, he told Davis.

Plant told Page of a drummer he had worked with previously in two other bands who would be perfect for them. John Bonham was a ham-fisted pounder who was heavily influenced by Keith Moon and Ginger Baker. With much persuasion, Page was able to pry Bonzo away from the Tim Rose band, and the New Yardbirds were now complete.

Davis reported Joness initial reaction the first time the four played together: the room just exploded. And Plant told Cameron Crowe, Ive never been so turned on in my life. With such a unique sound, they decided they needed a different name and chose Led Zeppelin (instead of Lead to prevent any mispronunciations). They first recorded in October of 1968, and Peter Grant took the tapes to Atlantic Records where reaction was so enthusiastic that the group was given a $200, 000 advance and total artistic control.

Unable to secure proper gigs in England, the group came to America, where they ended up touring for a year and a half. Their first album ripped into the Top 10 within five months after its release despite a poor review in Rolling Stone. Their reworkings of blues classics without crediting the original composers would not earn them much respect either (Dazed and Confused and How Many More Years). Their tour also earned the band a very well-deserved reputation of debauchery.

Led Zeppelin II was written and recorded on the road and and had a 400, 000 copy advance order. Within two months it had bumped the BeatlesAbbey Road from its No. 1 American spot. It too was slammed by Rolling Stone even though it contained a new anthem for rockers, Whole Lotta Love. Once again, Zep failed to acknowledge the songwriter, this time Willie Dixon, who won a lawsuit against the band. Tour manager Richard Cole defended Zeps unusual road habits, which were becoming legendary. Theres nothing immoral in it. Its just that most people wouldnt dream of doing it. Thats the whole story of Led Zeppelin right there, he told Davis.

The heavy-metal rampage continued on Led Zeppelin III with Immigrant Song, but Page and Plant were heavily influenced by the California folkies during their stay in the States. Critics said the group was going acoustic when actually they had been doing so on I and II. There was no mistaking their live shows however. With their epic explosions of sound and light, Led Zeppelin seemed to be a sublimation for the din of battle. A wargasm experience for its audience, wrote Davis.

For their fourth album, Page gave no mention of the band just to see if the music alone would stand up. He was more than right as IV produced gems like Rock & Roll, When the Leavee Breaks, and Black Dog. But, it was Stairway to Heaven that would come to be recognized as Zeps signature tune and one of the all-time rock classics. It started off with a beautiful 12-string intro before slowly building up to a near-perfect solo by Page and then back down. It had everything there and showed the band at its best, Page said in Hammer.

Their follow-up LP, Houses of the Holy, included more of Joness keyboards and also went to No. 1 in America. The ensuing tour broke all attendance records in the States with a live show that included fog, cannons, and smoke bombs (eventual staples of hard-rock concerts).

In 1974, Led Zeppelin resigned with Atlantic, which gave the band their own label to work with, Swan Song. It proved to be a very successful venture, with bands like Bad Company, the Pretty Things, Dave Edmunds, and Detective all signed to their label. Zeps 1975 Physical Graffiti, a double album tour de force, went No. 1 and, with their previous LPs and the stable of Swan Song albums, they had nine albums on the charts simultaneously.

Things were not all roses, however, as Plant was seriously injured in a car accident, and Page became addicted to heroin. Bonham became known as The Beast, with a temper like a monster and the maturity of a five-year-old. He lost control when he learned that he had finished behind drummer Karen Carpenter in a Playboy poll. Still, Led Zeppelin ruled the rock world. Its not just that we think were the best group in the world, its just that we think were so much better than whoever is Number Two, Plant told Lisa Robinson.

In 1976 they would release two albums. The first, The Song Remains the Same, was a double live soundtrack from their movie of 1973 concert footage. As usual, it was belittled by critics, and even die-hard fans were a little dismayed. A few bars from one piece convince the listener hes hearing the greatest of rock & roll, then the very next few place him in a nightmarish 1970 movie about deranged hippies, Rolling Stone reported. Expectations for their studio LP, Presence, were high, though, due to a one million-copy advance. Although it contains some quality cuts, like Achilles Last Stand, the record eventually wound up in the bargain bins.

The band was on hold for nearly three years as Plant recovered from the mysterious death of his son Karac. Rumours were spreading that Pages dabbling in black magic had brought bad karma on the band. He was already living in the late occultist Aleister Crowleys Loch Ness mansion in Scotland, and things were looking suspicious.

In 1980 they entered the studios to record In Through the Out Door. With the exception of Pages guitar on the cut In The Evening, the LP was basically a keyboard album, composed mainly by Jones. It did give a slumping record industry a much needed boost, and the band hit the road to promote it. Tragically, on September 24, 1980, John Bonham died in his sleep after an all-day drinking binge. On December 4, 1980, Led Zeppelin officially disbanded.

Besides the 1982 Coda, an LP of Zep outtakes, Page continued to work, recording soundtracks for Death Wish I and II. At the 1983 ARMS benefit concerts for Ronnie Lane, Page, now off heroin, jammed with Clapton and Beck and proved the magic was still there. He later teamed with Paul Rodgers to form the Firm, and in 1988 he released his solo album, Outrider. Plant has also recorded several fine solo albums himself, quite different in sound from Zeppelin.

In 1985, with Tony Thompson on drums, Led Zeppelin regrouped for the Live-Aid concert in Philadelphia. Word was that Zep was back together, but, alas, it was just a one-shot deal. Then, on May 14, 1988, at Atlantic Records fortieth anniversary celebration at Madison Square Garden, Led Zeppelin tore into five rockers. On drums sat Jason Bonham, Johns son, sounding remarkably like his father. It was really Jasons night. The atmosphere was fabulous and I made a few mistakes, but that doesnt make any difference, Page told Guitar World. As for any future projects, it remains uncertain. Regardless, Led Zeppelin has proved to be one of the most memorable rock acts ever.

Selected discography

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin, Atlantic, 1968.

Led Zeppelin II, Atlantic, 1969.

Led Zeppelin III, Atlantic, 1970.

Led Zeppelin IV, Atlantic, 1971.

Houses of the Holy, Atlantic, 1971.

Physical Graffiti, Swan Song, 1975.

Presence, Swang Song, 1976.

The Song Remains the Same, Swan Song, 1976.

In Through the Out Door, Swan Song, 1976.

Coda, Swan Song, 1982.

Other

Death Wish II (Jimmy Page; soundtrack), Swan Song.

Pictures At Eleven, (Robert Plant), Swan Song.

The Principle of Moments, (Plant), Atlantic.

The Honey drippers Volume One, (Page and Plant), Es Peranza.

The Firm, (Page with group the Firm), Atlantic.

Shaken n Stirred, (Plant), Es Peranza.

Mean Business, (Page, with the Firm), Atlantic.

Sources

Books

Christgau, Robert, Christgaus Record Guide, Ticknor & Fields, 1981.

Dalton, David, and Lenny Kaye, Rock 100, Grosset & Dunlap, 1977.

Davis, Stephen, Hammer of the Gods, Ballantine, 1985.

Fong-Torres, Ben, editor, Whats That Sound?, Anchor Books, 1976.

The Guitar Player Book, Grove Press, 1979.

Kozinn, Allan, and others, The Guitar, Quill Press, 1984.

Logan, Nick, compiler, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, Harmony Books, 1977.

Marsh, Dave, with John Swenson, The Rolling Stone Record Guide, Random House, 1979.

Miller, Jim, editor, The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, Random House, 1976.

Rock Revolution, Popular Library, 1976.

Periodicals

Guitar Player, January, 1987.

Guitar World, July, 1986; October, 1988; September, 1988.

Rolling Stone, May 20, 1976; December 2, 1976; October 4, 1979; October 18, 1979.

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Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin, English pop music group formed in 1968 by guitarist Jimmy Page (1944–), singer Robert Plant (1948–), bassist John Paul Jones (1946–), and drummer John "Bonzo" Bonham (1948–80). Mingling elements of blues, folk, and rock in its performances and recordings, Led Zepplin emerged as one of the most important and successful rock groups of the late 1960s and 70s. Its thunderous beat, passionately raw style, and exaggeratedly bluesy guitar and vocal work made the group a vital part of the development of hard rock and heavy metal and a strong influence on later rock movements. The most famous of the nine albums originally released by the group was an untitled 1971 recording—often called "ZOSO" after the four runes on its cover—that included "Stairway to Heaven." Led Zeppelin disbanded after Bonham's death from alcohol. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

See C. Welch, Led Zeppelin: The Book (1985); D. Lewis, Led Zeppelin: A Celebration (1991); D. Lewis and S. Pallett, Led Zeppelin: The Concert File (1997); R. Godwin, ed., Led Zeppelin: The Press Reports (1998); R. Cole, Stairway to Heaven (1992, repr. 2002); P. Clifton and J. Massot, dir., The Song Remains the Same (documentary concert film, 1976); J. Page, dir., Led Zeppelin (documentary film, 2003).

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Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

One of the all-time greatest rock bands, Led Zeppelin formed in 1968 with Jimmy Page (formerly of the Yardbirds) on guitar, Robert Plant as vocalist, John Bonham on drums, and John Paul Jones on bass/keyboards. They found success with their self-titled first album in 1969, which contained heavy blues-driven rock songs that carried a frightening manic edge never before heard in popular music. Their second album, Led Zeppelin II, (1969), brought further success buoyed by top ten single, "Whole Lotta Love." The old-time blues and acoustic tunes on Led Zeppelin III (1970) were less popular than earlier efforts, but Zeppelin returned the following year with their most acclaimed work ever. Led Zeppelin IV (a.k.a. Zoso, 1971) contained the fiery "Black Dog" and the nostalgic, dreamy epic, "Stairway to Heaven," which remains among the most loved and respected songs in all popular music, routinely voted #1 on all-time best lists, possessing a status and reputation unlikely ever to be equaled.

Impressively, Zeppelin was able to maintain their high level of success. The well-balanced Houses of the Holy (1973) showed a funk and reggae influence and is considered by many to be the band's all-around best album. The double album, Physical Graffiti (1975), was Zeppelin's most diverse album, containing some of their most beautiful acoustic pieces (such as "bron-Yr-Aur"), as well some of their most driving and powerful epics (such as "Kashmir"). In subsequent years, Zeppelin released the heavy Presence (1976), the live The Song Remains the Same, (1976), and the melodic In Through the Out Door (1979). Tragedy struck in 1980 when Bonham died of asphyxiation after a bout of drinking. The band was forced to break up, although Page and Plant both went on to further success; Page doing soundtracks and playing in his group The Firm; Plant was very popular during the 1980s with solo albums and with his group The Honeydrippers. Page and Plant occasionally played as a duo, appearing on MTV's Unplugged.

Led Zeppelin's music is quite diverse. As the icons of 1970s hard rock, they are best known for the scorching guitar work, screeching vocals, pounding drums, and the driving beats of their heaviest songs; but their repertoire includes lilting love songs, covers of traditional folk and blues songs, and standard rock 'n' roll. Some Zeppelin songs explore Tolkienesque fantasy elements, others show a freewheeling spirit of hippy adventure and fun, while still others show a sad, mystic longing for joys gone and times past.

Zeppelin albums have been innovative not just with content but with design. The sleeve of Physical Graffiti displayed various objects and personages who could be made to appear and disappear in various "windows," while the sleeve of Led Zeppelin III was a moveable psychedelic pinwheel; and Led Zeppelin IV appeared with no band or title information anywhere on the jacket. In Through The Out Door came wrapped in brown paper and was released with six different covers; the album's inner sleeve changed colors when dampened. Mysterious symbols on album covers, mysterious song titles, and a general avoidance of interviews all led to a sense that the band and its music were filled with deep, hidden meanings. Hostile critics feared that these meanings were Satanic, leading to the false but widespread rumor that "Stairway to Heaven" contained pro-Satan messages when played backwards on a turntable.

Zeppelin tours were hugely popular in the mid 1970s, with powerful drum solos by Bonham, grotesque guitar solos by Page (some of which featured Page scraping his guitar strings with a violin bow), and the sweaty sex-appeal of bare-chested Plant. At their peak of popularity (1973-76), Zeppelin regularly played to stadium and arena crowds of 50,000 plus. The excellent Song Remains The Same movie (released in 1976 alongside the album) features heavy jamming, extended solos from Page and Bonham, and a quartet of remarkable quasi-videos, each of which features one of the band members on a personal adventure, with Zeppelin songs comprising the backgrounds.

Led Zeppelin's impact on popular music has been tremendous. Along with Black Sabbath, Zeppelin is considered one of the forefathers of blues-based hard rock in general and of Heavy Metal in particular, their legacy apparent in groups such as Kiss, Queen, Rush, Iron Maiden, and Metallica. Led Zeppelin are also among the forefathers of 1990s Seattle Grunge music, with echoes to be found in groups such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, and Soundgarden. Through the 1980s and 1990s, Zeppelin has remained among the most popular rock bands, continuing to sell albums and to receive regular radio airplay. In the 1990s, Atlantic Records released remastered versions of all Zeppelin's albums, as well as two boxed sets, a 10-CD set of complete recordings, and various documentary and concert videos. Continuing publications of books, websites, and fan magazines in both the United States and United Kingdom are an ongoing testament to the status of Led Zeppelin as one of the top all-time legendary bands in rock.

—Dave Goldweber

Further Reading:

Cole, Richard. Stairway to Heaven: Led Zeppelin Uncensored. New York, Harper Collins, 1992.

Cross, Charles R., and Erik Flannigan. Led Zeppelin, Heaven and Hell: An Illustrated History. New York, Harmony, 1991.

Davis, Stephen. Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga. New York, Morrow, 1985.

Kendall, Paul, and Dave Lewis, editors. Led Zeppelin: In Their Own Words. New York, Putnam, 1981.

Lewis, Dave. Led Zeppelin: A Celebration. New York, Omnibus, 1991.

Yorke, Ritchie. Led Zeppelin: The Definitive Biography. Novato, Underwood-Miller, 1993.

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Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin



One of the most popular rock groups of the 1970s, Led Zeppelin combined strong roots in blues (see entry under 1920s— Music in volume 2) music with a harder-edged rock and roll (see entry under 1950s—Music in volume 3) sound. This combination set the stage for the development of heavy metal (see entry under 1980s—Music in volume 5) music. More than this, they brought new elements into rock music, including British folk, Celtic mythology, and mysticism. A series of popular albums and phenomenally successful tours made Led Zeppelin a major presence in rock music during the 1970s.

The group's origins were not in the 1970s but in the blues-rock revival in Britain during the late 1960s. Guitarist Jimmy Page (1944–) was a member of the popular group the Yardbirds just before they broke up. He recruited singer Robert Plant (1948–), bassist John Paul Jones (1946–), and drummer John Bonham (1948–1980). Together they recorded their first album Led Zeppelin in late 1968 and released it in January 1969. Rooted in blues forms, the album's songs took the blues in new and harder directions, with crunching power chords, hot solos, and Plant's powerful vocals. Songs such as "Communication Breakdown," "Good Times, Bad Times," and "Dazed and Confused" set the tone for a new era in rock. The band continued their success with the albums Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III, and Led Zeppelin IV. Songs such as "Whole Lotta Love" and "Rock and Roll" continued their heavy guitar rock, but they also showed a softer side with such songs as "Going to California" and "The Rain Song." They also had a huge hit with their anthem "Stairway to Heaven," a song that quickly became a rock standard.

The death of drummer John Bonham, who choked on his own vomit after a drinking binge in September of 1980, proved the end of the band. The remaining members pursued various solo projects thereafter. They reunited for single shows, includingLive Aid (see entry under 1980s—Music in volume 5) in 1985. In 1994, Page and Plant appeared on Unplugged, an MTV (see entry under 1980s—Music in volume 5) program featuring acoustic music.


—Timothy Berg


For More Information

Cole, Richard. Stairway to Heaven: Led Zeppelin Uncensored. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Davis, Stephen. Hammer of the Gods. New York: Boulevard Books, 1997.

Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin. Atlantic Records CD Boxed Set, 1990.

Led-Zeppelin.com: Electric Image.http://www.led-zeppelin.com/index2.html (accessed March 27, 2002).

Miller, Jim. "Led Zeppelin." In The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll. Edited by Jim Miller. New York: Rolling Stone Press, 1980.

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Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin, the prototypical British heavy-metal band of the late 1960s and 1970s; membership: Robert Plant, lead voc. (b. West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England, Aug. 20, 1948); Jimmy Page, lead gtr., mdln., pedal steel gtr., bjo. (b. London, England, Jan. 9, 1944); John Paul Jones (real name, John Baldwin), bs., kybd. (b. Sidcup, Kent, England, Jan. 3, 1946); and John Bonham, drm. (b. Birmingham, England, May 31, 1947; d. Windsor, Berkshire, England, Sept. 25, 1980).

Jimmy Page took up guitar in his early teens, later playing with Neil Christian and The Crusaders before attending art college for two years. Upon returning to music, he quickly became a much sought-after sessions guitarist, allegedly playing on more than half of all the records released in Great Britain between 1963 and 1965. Early sessions credits included The Who’s “I Can’t Explain” Them’s “Here Comes the Night,” and unspecified recordings by the Kinks (disputed by Ray Davies), The Rolling Stones, and Herman’s Hermits. He turned down an offer to join The Yardbirds as Eric Clapton’s replacement in 1965, instead serving as house producer-arranger for Andrew Oldham’s Immediate label.

In mid-1966, Jimmy Page did join The Yardbirds, replacing departed bass player Paul Samwell-Smith, later to play twin lead guitars with Jeff Beck after Chris Dreja switched to bass. Yardbirds recordings with Beck and Page apparently included “The Train Kept a-Rollin’” from Rave Up, “Stroll On” from the soundtrack to the movie Blow-Up, and “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago.” Jeff Beck left The Yardbirds at the end of 1966 and Page continued as the group’s lead guitarist for another 18 months. Finally, in July 1968, The Yardbirds broke up, and Page and Dreja unsuccessfully attempted to continue as The New Yardbirds with vocalist-guitarist Terry Reid. Reid, unavailable to join the group, suggested that Robert Plant from the Birmingham group The Band of Joy be recruited as lead vocalist. Plant, in turn, recommended former Band of Joy drummer John Bonham. Dreja later dropped out to pursue a career as a photographer, and sessions bassist-keyboardist John Paul Jones was brought in as his replacement. Essentially formed in October 1968, Led Zeppelin quickly recorded their debut album for Atlantic Records, soon fulfilling The Yardbirds’ remaining concert obligations. In the meantime, Page played sessions with Jeff Beck (“Beck’s Bolero”), Donovan (Hurdy Gurdy Man) and Joe Cocker(With a Little Help from My Friends).

Led Zeppelin’s debut album became an instant bestseller, remaining on the album charts for nearly two years. The album featured their first American singles chart entry, “Good Times Bad Times” and the classics “Dazed and Confused” and “Communication Breakdown.” In 1969, the group completed their first American tour in support of Vanilla Fudge, soon returning as a headline act. Shortly thereafter, a plethora of heavy-metal rock acts developed in the wake of Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin II included the smash hit classic “Whole Lotta Love,” as well as “Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)” and “Ramble On.”

Concentrating their activities on the U.S. (they never released a single in Great Britain), Led Zeppelin was conducting their fifth American tour by March 1970. The transitional Led Zeppelin III yielded the major hit “Immigrant Song,” yet revealed a more acoustic sound, as evidenced by “That’s the Way” and “Tangerine.” Led Zeppelin IV was the album that finally brought the group critical recognition. In addition to containing the hits “Black Dog” and “Rock and Roll,” the album included one of the definitive production arrangements of the 1970s, “Stairway to Heaven,” which built from a subtle acoustic guitar and vocal to a thundering climax, ending with a gentle acoustic guitar-vocal reprise. Led Zeppelin IV stayed on the album charts for nearly five years and sold more than 11 million copies.

During the summer of 1972, Led Zeppelin again toured America, outdrawing The Rolling Stones in a number of cities. Houses of the Holy was the first Led Zeppelin album to utilize string arrangements (by Page), yielding a major hit with “D’yer Mak’er.” The group’s 1973 American tour was an instant sellout, and they broke both the single-artist concert attendance and gross income records with their Tampa, Fla., show. With the rock press finally acknowledging their enormous popularity, Led Zeppelin formed Swan Song Records with manager Peter Grant in 1974 for their own recordings, as well as recordings by Bad Company, Dave Edmunds, and The Pretty Things.

Physical Graffiti contained the mystical “Kashmir” and yielded the moderate hit “Trampled under Foot,” but lead vocalist Robert Plant was seriously injured in an automobile accident in Greece on Aug. 4, 1975, necessitating a layoff of more than a year. Presence sold quite well without the benefit of either a tour or a single. The film (and soundtrack album) The Song Remains the Same, taken primarily from a 1973 concert at Madison Square Garden, was released as the group’s first live album and movie.

During 1977, Led Zeppelin again toured the U.S., playing marathon three-hour sets to sellout crowds, but an ugly incident between shows at the Oakland Coliseum (in which three members of promoter Bill Graham’s support crew were allegedly beaten up) served to reinforce the notion that Led Zeppelin had become arrogant, insensitive, and smug. The group subsequently maintained a low profile and eventually re-emerged in 1979 with In through the Out Door and the major hit “Fool in the Rain.” That fall, Led Zeppelin’s first British appearance in four years at the Knebworth Festival was reviewed as perfunctory at best, obsolete at worst. On Sept. 25, 1980, drummer John Bonham was found dead in the Windsor home of Jimmy Page, the victim of inhalation of vomit after a drinking spree. On Dec. 4, Led Zeppelin announced that it was disbanding. Led Zeppelin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

By 1982, Robert Plant was collaborating with guitarist Robbie Blount, recording three solo albums with him through 1985. Plant toured with Blount and drummer Phil Collins (of Genesis) in 1983, scoring a major hit with the oddly titled love song “Big Log” and a moderate hit with “In the Mood” from The Principle of Moments, the first album released on Plant’s own Es Paranza label. In 1984, Plant helped form the short-lived “supergroup” The Honeydrippers with guitarists Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and Nile Rodgers, recording rhythm-and-blues material on the mini-album Volume One on Es Paranza. The recording yielded a smash hit with “Sea of Love” and a major hit with “Rockin’ at Midnight.”

In 1982, Jimmy Page recorded the largely instrumental soundtrack to the movie Death Wish II. Following benefit performances for Ronnie Lane’s Appeal for Action Research into Multiple Sclerosis in late 1983 with former Bad Company vocalist Paul Rodgers, Page and Rodgers formed The Firm, a rather crass commercial venture, in July 1984. The group remained together until 1986, touring, recording two albums, and scoring a major hit with “Radioactive” in 1985.

In 1988, Jimmy Page recorded Outrider and toured with vocalist John Miles and drummer Jason Bonham, John Bonham’s son, whereas Robert Plant reconstituted his band and began collaborating with keyboardist Phil Johnstone. Plant’s Now and Zen produced a major hit with “Tall Cool One” (which sampled several Led Zeppelin guitar riffs) and the minor hit “Ship of Fools.” Following 1990’s Manic Nirvana, Plant expanded his band for 1993’s Fate of Nations, a remarkably mature and engaging album that finally established him as a solo artist of some import.

In the later half of the 1980s, Led Zeppelin reunited briefly twice, once in July 1985 with drummers Phil Collins and Tony Thompson for the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia, and again in May 1988 for Atlantic Records’ 40th anniversary celebration, with Jason Bonham on drums. In 1989, Jason Bonham formed Bonham, recording two albums for WTG Records. Jimmy Page and one-time Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale recorded Cover dale/Page, released in 1993. In August 1994, Plant and Page performed with Egyptian and Moroccan musicians for what became the MTV cable network special Unleaded (broadcast in October) and No Quarter album. The two, accompanied by several other rock musicians and a Middle Eastern ensemble, toured in support of the album in 1995 and later recorded Walking into Clarksdale. That same year, Atlantic Records issued the Led Zeppelin tribute album Encomium, recorded by Sheryl Crow, Stone Temple Pilots, and Hootie and The Blowfish, among others.

Discography

led zeppelin:Led Zeppelin (1969); Led Zeppelin II (1969); Led Zeppelin III (1970); Led Zeppelin IV (1971); Houses of the Holy (1973); Physical Graffiti (1975); Presence (1976); The Song Remains the Same (soundtrack; 1976); In through the Out Door (1979); Coda (1982); BBC Sessions (ree. 1969-71; rei. 1997). robert plant:Pictures at Eleven (1982); The Principle of Moments (1983); Shaken ’n’ Stirred (1985); Little by Little (1985); Now and Zen (1988); Manic Nirvana (1990); Fate of Nations (1993). the honeydrippers:Volume One (1984/1985). the firm:The Firm (1985); Mean Business (1986). jimmy page:Special Early Works (1972); Death Wish II (soundtrack; 1982); Outrider (1988); The Early Years (1992). david coverdale/jimmy page:Cover dale/?age (1993). jimmy page and robert plant:No Quarter (1994); Walking into Clarksdale (1998). bonham:The Disregard of Timekeeping (1989); Mad Hatter (1992).

Bibliography

M. Gross, Robert Plant (N.Y., 1975); R. Yorke, The L Z. Biography (Toronto, 1976; N.Y., 1976); H. Mylett and R. Bunton, L. Z.: In the Light 1968-1980 (N.Y., 1981); P. Kendall, L. Z.: A Visual Documentary (N.Y., 1982; N.Y., 1986); S. Davis, Hammer of the Gods: The L. Z. Saga (N.Y., 1985); C. R. Cross, L. Z.: Heaven and Hell An Illustrated History (N.Y., 1991); D. Lewis, L. Z.: A Celebration (London, 1991); E. McSquare, L. Z.; Good Times, Bad Times (N.Y., 1991); R. Cole, Stairway to Heaven: L Z. Uncensored (N.Y., 1992); W. Ruhlmann, Led Zeppelin (Stamford, Conn., 1992); R. Yorke, L. Z.; The Definitive Biography (Lancaster, Pa., 1993).

—Brock Helander

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