Zeppelin were an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The
group consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist
and keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. The band's
heavy, guitar-driven sound has led them to be cited as one of the
progenitors of heavy metal. Their style drew from a wide variety of
influences, including blues, psychedelia, and folk music.
After changing their name from the New Yardbirds, Led
a deal with
Atlantic Records that afforded them considerable artistic
freedom. Although the group was initially unpopular with critics, they
achieved significant commercial success with albums such as Led
Led Zeppelin II
Led Zeppelin II (1969),
Led Zeppelin III
Led Zeppelin III (1970), Led
Zeppelin IV (1971),
Houses of the Holy
Houses of the Holy (1973), Physical Graffiti
(1975), Presence (1976) and
In Through the Out Door
In Through the Out Door (1979). Their
fourth album, which features the song "Stairway to Heaven", is among
the most popular and influential works in rock music, and it helped to
secure the group's popularity.
Page wrote most of Led Zeppelin's music, particularly early in their
career, while Plant generally supplied the lyrics. Jones'
keyboard-based compositions later became central to the group's
catalogue, which featured increasing experimentation. The latter half
of their career saw a series of record-breaking tours that earned the
group a reputation for excess and debauchery. Although they remained
commercially and critically successful, their output and touring
schedule were limited during the late 1970s, and the group disbanded
following Bonham's death from alcohol-related asphyxia in 1980. In the
decades that followed, the surviving members sporadically collaborated
and participated in one-off Led
Zeppelin reunions. The most successful
of these was the 2007
Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert
Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert in London, with
Jason Bonham taking his late father's place behind the drums.
Zeppelin are widely considered one of the most successful,
innovative, and influential rock groups in history. They are one of
the best-selling music artists in the history of audio recording;
various sources estimate the group's record sales at 200 to
300 million units worldwide. With RIAA-certified sales of
111.5 million units, they are the second-best-selling band in the
US. Each of their nine studio albums placed in the top 10 of the
Billboard album chart and six reached the number-one spot. They
achieved eight consecutive UK number-one albums. Rolling Stone
magazine described them as "the heaviest band of all time", "the
biggest band of the Seventies", and "unquestionably one of the most
enduring bands in rock history". They were inducted into the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame in 1995; the museum's biography of the band states
that they were "as influential" during the 1970s as the Beatles were
during the 1960s.
1.2 Early years: 1968–1970
1.3 "The Biggest Band in the World": 1971–1975
1.4 Hiatus from touring and return: 1975–1977
1.5 Bonham's death and break-up: 1978–1980
1.6.4 2010s and beyond
2 Musical style
7 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
The band's logotype, used since 1973
In 1966, London-based session guitarist
Jimmy Page joined the
blues-influenced rock band the Yardbirds to replace bassist Paul
Samwell-Smith. Page soon switched from bass to lead guitar, creating a
dual lead guitar line-up with Jeff Beck. Following Beck's departure in
October 1966, the Yardbirds, tired from constant touring and
recording, began to wind down. Page wanted to form a supergroup
with him and Beck on guitars, and the Who's
Keith Moon and John
Entwistle on drums and bass, respectively. Vocalists Steve Winwood
Steve Marriott were also considered for the project. The group
never formed, although Page, Beck, and Moon did record a song together
in 1966, "Beck's Bolero", in a session that also included
bassist-keyboardist John Paul Jones.
The Yardbirds played their final gig in July 1968 at Luton College of
Technology in Bedfordshire. They were still committed to several
concerts in Scandinavia, so drummer
Jim McCarty and vocalist Keith
Relf authorised Page and bassist
Chris Dreja to use "the Yardbirds"
name to fulfill the band's obligations. Page and Dreja began putting a
new line-up together. Page's first choice for the lead singer was
Terry Reid, but Reid declined the offer and suggested Robert Plant, a
singer for the
Band of Joy
Band of Joy and Hobbstweedle. Plant eventually
accepted the position, recommending former
Band of Joy
Band of Joy drummer John
Bonham. Jones inquired about the vacant position at the suggestion
of his wife after Dreja dropped out of the project to become a
photographer.[nb 1] Page had known Jones since they were both
session musicians and agreed to let him join as the final member.
A 1937 photograph of the burning
LZ 129 Hindenburg
LZ 129 Hindenburg taken by news
photographer Sam Shere, used on the cover of the band's debut album
and extensively on later merchandise
The four played together for the first time in a room below a record
store on Gerrard Street in London. Page suggested that they
attempt "Train Kept A-Rollin'", originally a jump blues song
popularised in a rockabilly version by Johnny Burnette, which had been
covered by the Yardbirds. "As soon as I heard
John Bonham play", Jones
recalled, "I knew this was going to be great ... We locked
together as a team immediately". Before leaving for Scandinavia,
the group took part in a recording session for the
P. J. Proby
P. J. Proby album,
Three Week Hero. The album's track "Jim's Blues", with Plant on
harmonica, was the first studio track to feature all four future
members of Led Zeppelin.
The band completed the Scandinavian tour as the New Yardbirds, playing
together for the first time in front of a live audience at Gladsaxe
Teen Clubs in Gladsaxe, Denmark, on 7 September 1968. Later that
month, they began recording their first album, which was based on
their live set. The album was recorded and mixed in nine days, and
Page covered the costs. After the album's completion, the band
were forced to change their name after Dreja issued a cease and desist
letter, stating that Page was allowed to use the New Yardbirds moniker
for the Scandinavian dates only. One account of how the new band's
name was chosen held that Moon and Entwistle had suggested that a
supergroup with Page and Beck would go down like a "lead balloon", an
idiom for disastrous results. The group dropped the 'a' in lead at
the suggestion of their manager, Peter Grant, so that those unfamiliar
with the term would not pronounce it "leed". The word "balloon"
was replaced by "zeppelin", a word which, according to music
journalist Keith Shadwick, brought "the perfect combination of heavy
and light, combustibility and grace" to Page's mind.
In November 1968, Grant secured a $143,000 advance contract from
Atlantic Records, which was then the biggest deal of its kind for a
new band. Atlantic were a label with a catalogue of mainly blues,
soul, and jazz artists, but in the late 1960s they began to take an
interest in British progressive rock acts. Record executives signed
Zeppelin without having ever seen them. Under the terms of
their contract, the band had autonomy in deciding when they would
release albums and tour, and had the final say over the contents and
design of each album. They would also decide how to promote each
release and which tracks to release as singles. They formed their own
company, Superhype, to handle all publishing rights.
Early years: 1968–1970
The band began their first tour of the UK on 4 October 1968, still
billed as the New Yardbirds; they played their first show as Led
Zeppelin at the
University of Surrey
University of Surrey in
Battersea on 25 October.
Tour manager Richard Cole, who would become a major figure in the
touring life of the group, organised their first North American tour
at the end of the year.[nb 2] Their debut album, Led Zeppelin, was
released in the US during the tour on 12 January 1969, and peaked at
number 10 on the Billboard chart; it was released in the UK, where
it peaked at number 6, on 31 March. According to Steve Erlewine,
the album's memorable guitar riffs, lumbering rhythms, psychedelic
blues, groovy, bluesy shuffles and hints of English folk, made it "a
significant turning point in the evolution of hard rock and heavy
Bron-Yr-Aur, near Machynlleth, the Welsh cottage to which Page and
Plant retired in 1970 to write many of the tracks that appeared on the
band's third and fourth albums
In their first year, Led
Zeppelin completed four US and four UK
concert tours, and also released their second album, Led
Recorded mostly on the road at various North American studios, it was
an even greater commercial success than their first album, and reached
the number one chart position in the US and the UK. The album
further developed the mostly blues-rock musical style established on
their debut release, creating a sound that was "heavy and hard, brutal
and direct", and which would be highly influential and frequently
imitated. Steve Waksman has suggested that
Led Zeppelin II
Led Zeppelin II was
"the musical starting point for heavy metal".
The band saw their albums as indivisible, complete listening
experiences, disliking the re-editing of existing tracks for release
as singles. Grant maintained an aggressive pro-album stance,
particularly in the UK, where there were few radio and TV outlets for
rock music. Without the band's consent, however, some songs were
released as singles, particularly in the US. In 1969 an edited
version of "Whole Lotta Love", a track from their second album, was
released as a single in the US. It reached number four in the
Billboard chart in January 1970, selling over one million copies and
helping to cement the band's popularity. The group also
increasingly shunned television appearances, citing their preference
that their fans hear and see them in live concerts.
Following the release of their second album, Led
several more US tours. They played initially in clubs and ballrooms,
and then in larger auditoriums as their popularity grew. Some early
Led Zeppelin concerts
Led Zeppelin concerts lasted more than four hours, with expanded and
improvised live versions of their repertoire. Many of these shows have
been preserved as bootleg recordings. It was during this period of
intensive concert touring that the band developed a reputation for
off-stage excess.[nb 3]
Page and Plant
Page and Plant retired to Bron-Yr-Aur, a remote cottage in
Wales, to commence work on their third album, Led
The result was a more acoustic style that was strongly influenced by
folk and Celtic music, and showcased the band's versatility. The
album's rich acoustic sound initially received mixed reactions, with
critics and fans surprised at the turn from the primarily electric
arrangements of the first two albums, further fuelling the band's
hostility to the musical press. It reached number one in the UK
and US charts, but its stay would be the shortest of their first five
albums. The album's opening track, "Immigrant Song", was released
as a US single in November 1970 against the band's wishes, reaching
the top twenty on the Billboard chart.
"The Biggest Band in the World": 1971–1975
The four symbols on the label and inside sleeve of Led
representing (from left to right) Page, Jones, Bonham, and Plant
During the 1970s, Led
Zeppelin reached new heights of commercial and
critical success that made them one of the most influential groups of
the era, eclipsing their earlier achievements. The band's
image also changed as the members began to wear elaborate, flamboyant
clothing, with Page taking the lead on the flamboyant appearance by
wearing a glittering moon-and-stars outfit. Led
Zeppelin changed their
show by using things such as lasers, professional light shows and
mirror balls. They began travelling in a private jet airliner, a
Boeing 720 (nicknamed the Starship), rented out entire sections of
hotels (including the Continental Hyatt House in Los Angeles, known
colloquially as the "Riot House"), and became the subject of
frequently repeated stories of debauchery. One involved John Bonham
riding a motorcycle through a rented floor of the Riot House,
while another involved the destruction of a room in the Tokyo Hilton,
leading to the group being banned from that establishment for
life. Although Led
Zeppelin developed a reputation for trashing
their hotel suites and throwing television sets out of the windows,
some suggest that these tales have been exaggerated. According to
music journalist Chris Welch, "[Led Zeppelin's] travels spawned many
stories, but it was a myth that [they] were constantly engaged in acts
of wanton destruction and lewd behaviour".
Zeppelin released their fourth album on 8 November 1971. In
response to the treatment they had received from critics, particularly
Zeppelin III, the band decided to release the fourth album
with no title, though it is variously referred to as Led
Untitled, IV, or, due to the four symbols appearing on the record
label, as Four Symbols, Zoso or Runes. In addition to lacking a
title, the original cover featured no band name, as the group wished
to be anonymous and to avoid easy pigeonholing by the press. With
37 million copies sold,
Led Zeppelin IV
Led Zeppelin IV is one of the best-selling
albums in history, and its massive popularity cemented Led Zeppelin's
status as superstars in the 1970s. By 2006, it had sold
23 million copies in the United States alone. The track
"Stairway to Heaven", never released as a single, was the most
requested and most played song on American rock radio in the
1970s. The group followed up the album's release with tours of the
UK, Australasia, North America, Japan, and the UK again from late 1971
through early 1973.
Plant and Page perform acoustically in
Hamburg in March 1973, just
before the release of the band's fifth album, Houses of the Holy
Led Zeppelin's next album, Houses of the Holy, was released in March
1973. It featured further experimentation by the band, who expanded
their use of synthesisers and mellotron orchestration. The
predominantly orange album cover, designed by the London-based design
group Hipgnosis, depicts images of nude children climbing the Giant's
Causeway in Northern Ireland. Although the children are not shown from
the front, the cover was controversial at the time of the album's
release. As with the band's fourth album, neither their name nor the
album title was printed on the sleeve.
Houses of the Holy
Houses of the Holy topped charts worldwide, and the band's
subsequent concert tour of North America in 1973 broke records for
attendance, as they consistently filled large auditoriums and
Tampa Stadium in Florida, they played to 56,800 fans,
breaking the record set by the Beatles' 1965 Shea Stadium concert and
grossing $309,000. Three sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden
in New York City were filmed for a motion picture, but the theatrical
release of this project (The Song Remains the Same) was delayed until
1976. Before the final night's performance, $180,000 of the band's
money from gate receipts was stolen from a safe deposit box at the
Zeppelin perform at
Chicago Stadium in January 1975, a few weeks
before the release of Physical Graffiti
In 1974, Led
Zeppelin took a break from touring and launched their own
record label, Swan Song, named after an unreleased song. The record
label's logo, based on a drawing called Evening: Fall of Day (1869) by
William Rimmer, features a picture of Apollo. The logo can be
found on 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, the
Pretty Things and Maggie Bell. The label was successful while Led
Zeppelin existed, but folded less than three years after they
In 1975, Led Zeppelin's double album
Physical Graffiti was their first
release on the Swan Song label. It consisted of fifteen songs, of
which eight had been recorded at
Headley Grange in 1974 and seven had
been recorded earlier. A review in
Rolling Stone magazine referred to
Physical Graffiti as Led Zeppelin's "bid for artistic respectability",
adding that the only bands Led
Zeppelin had to compete with for the
title "The World's Best Rock Band" were the Rolling Stones and the
Who. The album was a massive commercial and critical success.
Shortly after the release of Physical Graffiti, all previous Led
Zeppelin albums simultaneously re-entered the top-200 album chart,
and the band embarked on another North American tour, now
employing sophisticated sound and lighting systems. In May 1975,
Zeppelin played five sold-out nights at the
Earls Court Arena
Earls Court Arena in
London, at the time the largest arena in Britain.
Hiatus from touring and return: 1975–1977
Plant and Page performing in
Chicago Stadium in Chicago on 10 April
1977, during Led Zeppelin's last North American tour.
Following their triumphant Earls Court appearances, Led
a holiday and planned an autumn tour in America, scheduled to open
with two outdoor dates in San Francisco. In August 1975, however,
Plant and his wife Maureen were involved in a serious car crash while
on holiday in Rhodes, Greece. Plant suffered a broken ankle and
Maureen was badly injured; a blood transfusion saved her life.
Unable to tour, he headed to the Channel Island of
Jersey to spend
August and September recuperating, with Bonham and Page in tow. The
band then reconvened in Malibu, California. During this forced hiatus
much of the material for their next album, Presence, was written.
By this time, Led
Zeppelin were the world's number one rock
attraction, having outsold most bands of the time, including the
Rolling Stones. Presence, released in March 1976, marked a change
in the Led
Zeppelin sound towards more straightforward, guitar-based
jams, departing from the acoustic ballads and intricate arrangements
featured on their previous albums. Though it was a platinum seller,
Presence received a mixed reaction among fans and the music press,
with some critics suggesting that the band's excesses may have caught
up with them. Page had begun using heroin during recording
sessions for the album, a habit which may have affected the band's
later live shows and studio recordings, although this has been denied
Because of Plant's injuries, Led
Zeppelin did not tour in 1976.
Instead, the band completed the concert film The Song Remains the Same
and the accompanying soundtrack album. The film premiered in New York
City on 20 October 1976, but was given a lukewarm reception by critics
and fans. The film was particularly unsuccessful in the UK, where,
unwilling to tour since 1975 because of their tax exile status, Led
Zeppelin faced an uphill battle to recapture the public's
The Pontiac Silverdome, Michigan, where the band set a record for the
largest solo indoor attraction in 1977 with an attendance of 76,229
In 1977, Led
Zeppelin embarked on another major concert tour of North
America. The band set another attendance record, with an audience of
76,229 at their
Silverdome concert on 30 April. It was, according
to the Guinness
Book of Records, the largest attendance to that date
for a single act show. Although the tour was financially
profitable, it was beset by off-stage problems. On 19 April, over 70
people were arrested as about 1,000 fans tried to gatecrash Cincinnati
Riverfront Coliseum for two sold-out concerts, while others tried to
gain entry by throwing rocks and bottles through glass doors. On 3
June, a concert at
Tampa Stadium was cut short because of a severe
thunderstorm, despite tickets indicating "Rain or Shine". A riot broke
out, resulting in arrests and injuries.
After the 23 July show at the
Day on the Green festival at the Oakland
Coliseum in Oakland, California, Bonham and members of Led Zeppelin's
support staff were arrested after a member of promoter Bill Graham's
staff was badly beaten during the band's performance. The
following day's second Oakland concert was the group's final live
appearance in the United States. Two days later, as they checked in at
French Quarter hotel for their 30 July performance at the Louisiana
Superdome, Plant received news that his five-year-old son, Karac, had
died from a stomach virus. The rest of the tour was immediately
cancelled, prompting widespread speculation about Led Zeppelin's
Bonham's death and break-up: 1978–1980
After the death of Bonham (pictured in July 1973) on 25 September
1980, the remaining members of Led
Zeppelin decided to disband the
In November 1978, the group recorded at
Polar Studios in Stockholm,
Sweden. The resulting album, In Through the Out Door, featured sonic
experimentation that again drew mixed reactions from critics.
Nevertheless, the album reached number one in the UK and the US in
just its second week of release. With this album's release, Led
Zeppelin's entire catalogue returned to the Billboard Top 200 in the
weeks of 27 October and 3 November 1979.
In August 1979, after two warm-up shows in Copenhagen, Led Zeppelin
headlined two concerts at the Knebworth Music Festival, playing to a
crowd of approximately 104,000 on the first night. 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. On 27
June, at a show in Nuremberg, Germany, the concert came to an abrupt
halt in the middle of the third song, when Bonham collapsed onstage
and was rushed to hospital. Speculation in the press suggested
that his collapse had been the result of excessive alcohol and drug
use, but the band claimed that he had simply overeaten.
A North American tour, the band's first since 1977, was scheduled to
commence on 17 October 1980. On 24 September, Bonham was picked up by
Zeppelin assistant Rex King to attend rehearsals at Bray
Studios. During the journey, Bonham asked to stop for breakfast,
where he downed four quadruple vodkas (from 16 to
24 US fl oz (470 to 710 ml)), with a ham roll.
After taking a bite of the ham roll he said to his assistant,
"breakfast". He continued to drink heavily after arriving at the
studio. The rehearsals were halted late that evening and the band
retired to Page's house—the Old Mill House in Clewer, Windsor.
After midnight, Bonham, who had fallen asleep, was taken to bed and
placed on his side. At 1:45 pm the next day, Benji LeFevre (Led
Zeppelin's new tour manager) and John Paul Jones found Bonham dead.
The cause of death was asphyxiation from vomit; the finding was
accidental death. An autopsy found no other recreational drugs
in Bonham's body. Although he had recently begun to take Motival (a
cocktail of the antipsychotic fluphenazine and the tricyclic
antidepressant nortriptyline) to combat his anxiety, it is unclear if
these substances interacted with the alcohol in his system.
Bonham's remains were cremated and his ashes interred on 12 October
Rushock parish church, Worcestershire.
The planned North American tour was cancelled, and despite rumours
that Cozy Powell, Carmine Appice, Barriemore Barlow, Simon Kirke, or
Bev Bevan would join the group as his replacement, the remaining
members decided to disband. A 4 December 1980 press statement stated
that, "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." The
statement was signed simply "Led Zeppelin".
Page performs at the
Cow Palace in Daly City, California in 1983.
Following Zeppelin's dissolution, the first significant project for
the members was the Honeydrippers, which Plant initially formed in
1981, and which released its only album in 1984. The group featured
Page on lead guitar, along with studio musicians and friends of the
pair, including Jeff Beck, Paul Shaffer, and Nile Rodgers. Plant
focused on a different direction from Zeppelin, playing standards and
in a more R&B style, highlighted by a cover of "Sea of Love" that
peaked at number three on the Billboard chart in early 1985.
Coda – a collection of
Zeppelin outtakes and unused tracks – was
issued in November 1982. It included two tracks from the Royal Albert
Hall in 1970, one each from the
Led Zeppelin III
Led Zeppelin III and Houses of the
Holy sessions, and three from the
In Through the Out Door
In Through the Out Door sessions. It
also featured a 1976 Bonham drum instrumental with electronic effects
added by Page, called "Bonzo's Montreux".
On 13 July 1985, Page, Plant, and Jones reunited for the Live Aid
concert at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, playing a short set featuring
drummers Tony Thompson and Phil Collins, and bassist Paul Martinez.
Collins had contributed to Plant's first two solo albums while
Martinez was a member of Plant's solo band. The performance was marred
by a lack of rehearsal with the two drummers, Page's struggles with an
out-of-tune guitar, poorly functioning monitors, and Plant's hoarse
voice. Page described the performance as "pretty
shambolic", while Plant characterised it as an "atrocity".
The three members reunited again on 14 May 1988, for the Atlantic
Records 40th Anniversary concert, with Bonham's son Jason on drums.
The result was again disjointed: Plant and Page had argued immediately
prior to taking the stage about whether to play "Stairway to Heaven",
and Jones' keyboards were absent from the live television
feed. Page described the performance as "one big
disappointment" and Plant said "the gig was foul".
Jason Bonham, who filled his late father's position for reunions in
1988, 1995 and 2007
The first Led
Zeppelin box set, featuring tracks remastered under
Page's supervision, was released in 1990 and bolstered the band's
reputation, leading to abortive discussions among members about a
reunion. This set included four previously unreleased tracks,
including a version of Robert Johnson's "Travelling Riverside
Blues". The song peaked at number seven on the Billboard Album
Rock Tracks chart. 1992 saw the release of the "Immigrant
Song"/"Hey, Hey, What Can I Do" (the original B-side) as a CD single
in the US. Led
Zeppelin Boxed Set 2 was released in 1993; the two
box sets together contained all known studio recordings, as well as
some rare live tracks.
Page and Plant
Page and Plant reunited for a 90-minute "UnLedded" MTV
project. They later released an album called No Quarter: Jimmy Page
Robert Plant Unledded, which featured some reworked Led Zeppelin
songs, and embarked on a world tour the following year. This is said
to be the beginning of a rift between the band members, as Jones was
not even told of the reunion.
In 1995, Led
Zeppelin were inducted into the United States Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame by
Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith. Jason
and Zoë Bonham also attended, representing their late father. 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. Afterwards, they played one
brief set with Tyler and Perry, with
Jason Bonham on drums, and then a
second with Neil Young, this time with Michael Lee playing the
In 1997, Atlantic released a single edit of "Whole Lotta Love" in the
US and the UK, the only single the band released in their homeland,
where it peaked at number 21. November 1997 saw the release of
Zeppelin BBC Sessions, a two-disc set largely recorded in 1969 and
Page and Plant
Page and Plant released another album called Walking into
Clarksdale in 1998, featuring all new material, but after
disappointing sales the partnership dissolved before a planned
Zeppelin performing at the
Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert
Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert in London
in December 2007
2003 saw the release of the triple live album How the West Was Won,
Zeppelin DVD, a six-hour chronological set of live footage
that became the best-selling music DVD in history. In July 2007,
Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video announced three
to be released that November: Mothership, a 24-track best-of spanning
the band's career; a reissue of the soundtrack The Song Remains the
Same, including previously unreleased material; and a new DVD.
Zeppelin also made their catalogue legally available for digital
download, becoming one of the last major rock bands to do
On 10 December 2007,
Zeppelin reunited for the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute
Concert at the O2 Arena in London, with
Jason Bonham again taking his
father's place on drums. According to
Guinness World Records
Guinness World Records 2009, the
show set a record for the "Highest Demand for Tickets for One Music
Concert" as 20 million requests were submitted online.
Critics praised the performance and there was widespread
speculation about a full reunion. Page, Jones and Jason Bonham
were reported to be willing to tour, and to be working on material for
Zeppelin project. Plant continued his touring commitments
with Alison Krauss, stating in September 2008 that he would not
record or tour with the band. "I told them I was busy and
they'd simply have to wait," he recalled in 2014. "I would come around
eventually, which they were fine with – at least to my knowledge.
But it turns out they weren't. And what's even more disheartening,
Jimmy used it against me."
Jones and Page reportedly looked for a replacement for Plant;
Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, and
Myles Kennedy of
Alter Bridge. However, in January 2009, it was confirmed that the
project had been abandoned. "Getting the opportunity to play with
Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and
Jason Bonham was pretty special,"
Kennedy recalled. "That is pretty much the zenith right there. That
was a crazy, good experience. It's something I still think of often…
It's so precious to me."
2010s and beyond
Zeppelin answering questions at the film premiere of Celebration
Day at the Hammersmith
Apollo in London, October 2012
A film of the O2 performance, Celebration Day, premiered on 17 October
2012 and was released on DVD on 19 November. The film grossed $2
million in one night, and the live album peaked at number 4 and 9 in
the UK and US, respectively. Following the film's
premiere, Page revealed that he had been remastering the band's
discography. The first wave of albums, Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin
II, and Led
Zeppelin III, were released on 2 June 2014. The
second wave of albums,
Led Zeppelin IV
Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy, were
released on 27 October 2014.
Physical Graffiti was released on 23
February 2015, almost exactly forty years to the day after the
original release. The fourth and final wave of studio album
reissues, Presence, In Through the Out Door, and Coda, were released
on 31 July 2015.
Through this remastering project, each studio album was reissued on CD
and vinyl and was also available in a Deluxe Edition, which contained
a bonus disc of previously unheard material (Coda's Deluxe Edition
would include two bonus discs). Each album was also available in a
Super Deluxe Edition Box Set, which included the remastered album and
bonus disc on both CD and 180-gram vinyl, a high-definition audio
download card of all content at 96 kHz/24 bit, a hard bound book
filled with rare and previously unseen photos and memorabilia, and a
high quality print of the original album cover.
On 6 November 2015, the Mothership compilation was reissued using the
band's newly remastered audio tracks. The reissuing campaign
continued the next year with the re-release of BBC Sessions on 16
September 2016. The reissue contained a bonus disc with nine
unreleased BBC recordings, including the heavily bootlegged but never
officially released "Sunshine Woman."
To commemorate the band's 50th anniversary, Page, Plant and Jones
announced an official illustrated book celebrating 50 years since the
formation of the band. Also announced for the celebration was a
reissue of How The West Was Won on 23 March 2018, which would include
the album's first pressing on vinyl.
John Bonham, on stage in the US in 1973, whose aggressive drumming
style was critical to the hard rock sound associated with the band
Led Zeppelin's music was rooted in the blues. The influence of
American blues artists such as
Muddy Waters and
Skip James was
particularly apparent on their first two albums, as was the distinct
country blues style of Howlin' Wolf. Tracks were structured
around the twelve-bar blues on every studio album except for one, and
the blues directly and indirectly influenced other songs both
musically and lyrically. The band were also strongly influenced
by the music of the British, Celtic, and American folk revivals.
Scottish folk guitarist
Bert Jansch helped inspire Page, and from him
he adapted open tunings and aggressive strokes into his playing.
The band also drew on a wide variety of genres, including world
music, and elements of early rock and roll, jazz, country, funk,
soul, and reggae, particularly on
Houses of the Holy
Houses of the Holy and the albums
The material on the first two albums was largely constructed out of
extended jams of blues standards and folk songs. This
method led to the mixing of musical and lyrical elements of different
songs and versions, as well as improvised passages, to create new
material, but would lead to later accusations of plagiarism and legal
disputes over copyright. Usually the music was developed first,
sometimes with improvised lyrics that might then be rewritten for the
final version of the song. From the visit to
Bron-Yr-Aur in 1970,
the songwriting partnership between
Page and Plant
Page and Plant became predominant,
with Page supplying the music, largely via his acoustic guitar, and
Plant emerging as the band's chief lyricist. Jones and Bonham then
added to the material, in rehearsal or in the studio, as a song was
developed. In the later stages of the band's career, Page took a
back seat in composition and Jones became increasingly important in
producing music, often composed on the keyboard. Plant would then add
lyrics before Page and Bonham developed their parts.
Page with the double-neck
Gibson EDS-1275 used for playing "Stairway
to Heaven" among other songs live
Early lyrics drew on the band's blues and folk roots, often mixing
lyrical fragments from different songs. Many of the band's songs
dealt with themes of romance, unrequited love and sexual conquest,
which were common in rock, pop and blues music. Some of their
lyrics, especially those derived from the blues, have been interpreted
as misogynistic. Particularly on Led
Zeppelin III, they
incorporated elements of mythology and mysticism into their music,
which largely grew out of Plant's interest in legends and
history. These elements were often taken to reflect Page's
interest in the occult, which resulted in accusations that the
recordings contained subliminal satanic messages, some of which were
said to be contained in backmasking; these claims were generally
dismissed by the band and music critics. Susan Fast argues that
as Plant emerged as the band's main lyricist, the songs more obviously
reflected his alignment with the West Coast counterculture of the
1960s. In the later part of the band's career Plant's lyrics
became more autobiographical, and less optimistic, drawing on his own
experiences and circumstances.
According to musicologist Robert Walser, "Led Zeppelin's sound was
marked by speed and power, unusual rhythmic patterns, contrasting
terraced dynamics, singer Robert Plant's wailing vocals, and guitarist
Jimmy Page's heavily distorted crunch". These elements mean that
they are often cited as one of the progenitors of hard rock and
heavy metal and they have been described as the "definitive
heavy metal band", although the band members have often eschewed
the label. Part of this reputation depends on the band's use of
distorted guitar riffs on songs like "Whole Lotta Love" and "The
Wanton Song". Often riffs were not doubled by guitar, bass and
drums exactly, but instead there were melodic or rhythmic
variations; as in "Black Dog", where three different time
signatures are used. Page's guitar playing incorporated elements
of the blues scale with those of eastern music. Plant's use of
high-pitched shrieks has been compared to Janis Joplin's vocal
technique. Bonham's drumming was noted for its power, his
rapid rolls and his fast beats on a single bass drum. Jones'
basslines have been described as melodic and his keyboard playing
added a classical touch to the band's sound.
Page stated that he wanted Led
Zeppelin to produce music that had
"light and shade". This began to be more clearly realised beginning
Zeppelin III, which made greater use of acoustic
instruments. This approach has been seen as exemplified in the
fourth album, particularly on "Stairway to Heaven", which begins with
acoustic guitar and recorder and ends with drums and heavy electric
sounds. Towards the end of their recording career, they
moved to a more mellow and progressive sound, dominated by Jones'
keyboard motifs. They also increasingly made use of various
layering and production techniques, including multi-tracking and
overdubbed guitar parts. Their emphasis on the sense of dynamics
and ensemble arrangement has been seen as producing an
individualistic style that transcends any single music
genre. Ian Peddie argues that they were "... loud,
powerful and often heavy, but their music was also humorous,
self-reflective and extremely subtle".
Plant, on stage in New York City in 1973, whose vocal style has been
highly influential in rock music
Zeppelin are widely considered to be one of the most successful,
innovative, and influential bands in the history of rock music.
Mikal Gilmore said, "Led Zeppelin—talented, complex,
grasping, beautiful and dangerous—made one of the most enduring
bodies of composition and performance in twentieth-century music,
despite everything they had to overpower, including themselves".
Zeppelin have influenced hard rock and heavy metal bands such as
Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Rush, Queen,
Aerosmith, the Black Crowes, and Megadeth as well as
progressive metal bands like Tool and Dream Theater. They
influenced some early punk and post-punk bands, among them the
Ramones, Joy Division and the Cult. They were also
an important influence on the development of alternative rock, as
bands adapted elements from the "
Zeppelin sound" of the
mid-1970s, including the Smashing Pumpkins,
Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. Bands and artists
from diverse genres have acknowledged the influence of Led Zeppelin,
such as Madonna, Shakira, Lady Gaga, Kesha, and
Jones performing with the band in Mannheim, Germany in 1980 on their
Zeppelin have been credited with a major impact on the nature of
the music business, particularly in the development of
album-orientated rock (AOR) and stadium rock. In 1988 John
Kalodner, then-A&R executive of Geffen Records, remarked that "In
my opinion, next to the Beatles they're the most influential band in
history. They influence the way music is on records, AOR radio,
concerts. They set the standards for the AOR-radio format with
'Stairway to Heaven,' having AOR hits without necessarily having Top
40 hits. They're the ones who did the first real big arena concert
shows, consistently selling out and playing stadiums without support.
People can do as well as them, but nobody surpasses them". Andrew
Loog Oldham, the former producer and manager of the Rolling Stones,
commented on how Led
Zeppelin had a major influence on the record
business, and the way rock concerts were managed and presented to huge
The band have sold over 200 million albums worldwide according to
some sources, while others state that they have sold in excess of
300 million records, including 111.5 million certified
units in the United States. According to the Recording Industry
Association of America, Led
Zeppelin are the second-highest-selling
band, the fourth highest selling music act in the US, and one of only
three acts to earn five or more Diamond albums. They achieved
eight consecutive number-ones on the UK Albums Chart, a record for
most consecutive UK number-one albums shared with ABBA. Led
Zeppelin remain one of the most bootlegged artists in the history of
Zeppelin also made a significant cultural impact. Jim Miller,
Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, argues
that "on one level, Led
Zeppelin represents the final flowering of the
sixties' psychedelic ethic, which casts rock as passive sensory
Zeppelin have also been described as "the
quintessential purveyors" of masculine and aggressive "cock
rock", although this assertion has been challenged. The band's
fashion-sense has been seminal; Simeon Lipman, head of pop culture at
Christie's auction house, has commented that "Led
Zeppelin have had a
big influence on fashion because the whole aura surrounding them is so
cool, and people want a piece of that". Led
Zeppelin laid the
foundation for the big hair of 1980s glam metal bands such as Mötley
Crüe and Skid Row. Other musicians have also adapted elements
from Led Zeppelin's attitude to clothes, jewellery and hair, such as
the hipster flares and tight band T-shirts of Kings of Leon, shaggy
hair, clingy T-shirts and bluesman hair of
Jack White of the White
Kasabian guitarist Sergio Pizzorno's silk scarves,
trilbies and side-laced tight jeans.
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Led Zeppelin
Zeppelin were honoured by US President
Barack Obama at the 2012
Kennedy Center Honors.
Zeppelin have collected many honours and awards throughout the
course of their career. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame in 1995, and the
UK Music Hall of Fame in 2006. Among
the band's awards are an
American Music Award
American Music Award in 2005, and the Polar
Music Prize in 2006. Led
Zeppelin were the recipient of a Grammy
Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, and four of their recordings
have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. They have been
awarded five Diamond albums, as well as fourteen Multi-Platinum, four
Platinum and one Gold album in the United States, while in the UK
they have five Multi-Platinum, six Platinum, one Gold and four Silver
albums. In addition to listing five of their albums among "the
500 Greatest Albums of All Time",
Rolling Stone named Led
14th-greatest artist of all time in 2004.
In 2005, Page was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British
Empire in recognition of his charity work, and in 2009 Plant was
honoured as a Commander of the
Order of the British Empire
Order of the British Empire for his
services to popular music. The band are ranked number one on
VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock and Classic Rock's "50
best live acts of all time". They were named as the best Rock
band in a poll by BBC Radio 2. They were awarded an Ivor Novello
Award for "Outstanding Contribution to British Music" in 1977, as
well as a "Lifetime Achievement Award" at the 42nd Annual Ivor Novello
awards ceremony in 1997. The band were honoured at the 2008 MOJO
Awards with the "Best Live Act" prize for their one-off reunion, and
were described as the "greatest rock and roll band of all time".
The three surviving members (Page, Plant, and Jones) were named as
2012 recipients of Kennedy Center Honors.
Main articles: Led
Zeppelin discography and List of songs recorded by
Led Zeppelin II
Led Zeppelin II (1969)
Led Zeppelin III
Led Zeppelin III (1970)
Untitled album [Led
Zeppelin IV] (1971)
Houses of the Holy
Houses of the Holy (1973)
Physical Graffiti (1975)
In Through the Out Door
In Through the Out Door (1979)
Robert Plant – lead vocals, harmonica, percussion
Jimmy Page – guitar, backing vocals
John Paul Jones – bass, keyboards, mandolin, backing vocals
John Bonham – drums, percussion, backing vocals
Live performance guests
Tony Thompson – drums (1985)
Phil Collins – drums (1985)
Paul Martinez – bass (1985)
Jason Bonham – drums, percussion, backing vocals (1988, 1995, 2007)
Michael Lee – drums (1995)
List of Led
Zeppelin songs written or inspired by others
Zeppelin covers and tributes
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Media from Wikimedia Commons
Quotations from Wikiquote
Data from Wikidata
Zeppelin at Atlantic Records
Led Zeppelin's channel on
Zeppelin at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
John Paul Jones
Houses of the Holy
In Through the Out Door
The Song Remains the Same
How the West Was Won
The Best of Led Zeppelin
Zeppelin Deluxe Edition
Boxed Set 2
The Complete Studio Recordings
"Good Times Bad Times" / "Communication Breakdown"
"Whole Lotta Love" / "Living Loving Maid (She's Just a
"Immigrant Song" / "Hey, Hey, What Can I Do"
"Black Dog" / "Misty Mountain Hop"
"Rock and Roll" / "Four Sticks"
"Over the Hills and Far Away" / "Dancing Days"
"D'yer Mak'er" / "The Crunge"
"Trampled Under Foot" / "Black Country Woman"
"Candy Store Rock" / "Royal Orleans"
"Fool in the Rain" / "Hot Dog"
"Travelling Riverside Blues"
"Baby Come On Home"
"The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair"
The Song Remains the Same
North America 1968–1969
U.K. & Scandinavia 1969
North America Spring 1969
U.K. Summer 1969
North America Summer 1969
Europe Autumn 1969
North America Autumn 1969
North America Spring 1970
Iceland, Bath & Germany 1970
North America Summer 1970
U.K. Spring 1971
North America 1971
U.K. Winter 1971
North America 1972
North America 1973
North America 1975
Earls Court 1975
North America 1977
Over Europe 1980
Live Aid (1985)
Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary (1988)
Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert
Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert (2007)
Awards and nominations
Cover versions by others
Zeppelin songs written or inspired by others
Swan Song Records
Three Week Hero
Planned tour – The 1980s, Part One
Covers and tributes
That '70s Show (season 5)
Band of Joy
Page and Plant
Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes
Them Crooked Vultures
Hammer of the Gods: The Led
Stairway to Heaven: Led
When Giants Walked the Earth
Kennedy Center Honorees (2010s)
Bill T. Jones
Carmen de Lavallade
LL Cool J
Laureates of the Polar Music Prize
Paul McCartney / the
Baltic states (1992)
Dizzy Gillespie /
Witold Lutosławski (1993)
Quincy Jones /
Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1994)
Elton John /
Mstislav Rostropovich (1995)
Joni Mitchell /
Pierre Boulez (1996)
Bruce Springsteen /
Eric Ericson (1997)
Ray Charles /
Ravi Shankar (1998)
Stevie Wonder /
Iannis Xenakis (1999)
Bob Dylan /
Isaac Stern (2000)
Burt Bacharach /
Robert Moog /
Karlheinz Stockhausen (2001)
Miriam Makeba /
Sofia Gubaidulina (2002)
Keith Jarrett (2003)
B.B. King /
György Ligeti (2004)
Gilberto Gil /
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (2005)
Valery Gergiev (2006)
Sonny Rollins /
Steve Reich (2007)
Pink Floyd /
Renée Fleming (2008)
Peter Gabriel /
José Antonio Abreu
José Antonio Abreu /
El Sistema (2009)
Ennio Morricone (2010)
Kronos Quartet /
Patti Smith (2011)
Paul Simon /
Yo-Yo Ma (2012)
Youssou N'Dour /
Kaija Saariaho (2013)
Chuck Berry /
Peter Sellars (2014)
Emmylou Harris /
Evelyn Glennie (2015)
Max Martin /
Cecilia Bartoli (2016)
Wayne Shorter (2017)
Afghanistan National Institute of Music (2018)
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 1995
The Allman Brothers Band
The Allman Brothers Band (Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts,
Jaimoe, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks)
Zeppelin (John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant)
Martha and the Vandellas
Martha and the Vandellas (Rosalind Ashford, Annette Beard, Betty
Kelly, Lois Reeves, Martha Reeves, Sandra Tilley)
(Ahmet Ertegun Award)
ISNI: 0000 0001 2348 3226
BNF: cb13904570n (data)