English rock band Led Zeppelin is considered one of the most influential, successful and innovative rock groups in music history. Formed in London in 1968, the band’s lineup included the following:
- Robert Plant (lead vocalist)
- Jimmy Page (guitarist)
- John Paul Jones (keyboardist/bassist)
- John Bonham (drummer)
The group is well recognized as one of the pioneers of heavy metal and hard rock for their guitar-driven sound also rooted in styles such as folk and blues music. They are remembered for their contributions towards the music industry’s nature, specifically in the development of stadium and album-oriented rock (AOR).
Initially formed as the Yardbirds, session guitarist Jimmy Page joined in 1966 as a replacement for bassist Paul Samwell-Smith. Page would later switch from playing bass to the lead guitar, to become a part of the lead guitar line-up involving himself and Jeff Beck. After Beck left the group in October that year, the Yardbirds who had been touring and recording started to dwindle.
Jimmy began grooming his desire to form a supergroup together with the following:
- Beck as the guitarist
- Keith Moon of the Who as the drummer
- John Entwistle on bass
The idea was never materialized despite himself, Beck and Moon recording a song together.
By July 1968, the Yardbirds were performing their last gig at Luton College of Technology. Page and Chris Dreja who had been active up till this point started creating a new line-up. Page first approached Terry Reid to be the lead vocalist, however he declined. However, he recommended Robert Plant, who had been singing for Hobbstweedle and the Band of Joy.
Plant joined and soon recommended John Bonham as a replacement for Dreja who dropped out later. John Paul Jones, also joined as the final member of the band.
New Line-Up and Name
The new four-man line-up first played together in August 1968 in a room on Gerrard Street, London and jelled immediately. The New Yardbirds then went on a tour of Scandinavia, and first performed for a live audience on September 7, 1968 in Denmark.
They recorded and mixed their first studio album within nine days in that same month. After completing that album, the group was forced to change their name because Dreja had issued a cease and desist letter. Out of an earlier comment made by former members Entwistle and Moon that the supergroup envisioned by Page would go down like a “lead balloon”, the band began to form a new name.
Their manager, Peter Grant suggested that they drop the ‘a’ in “lead” so that people do not mispronounce it as ‘leed’. Page replaced the word ‘balloon’ with ‘zeppelin’ which could best fit into the idea behind the term.
In November 1968, their manager, Peter Grant had secured a $143,000 advance record contract with Atlantic Records; making it the biggest deal at the time for any new band. The band formed the company known as Superhype to deal with all their publishing rights.
Accomplishments of Led Zeppelin
Described as one of the best-selling music acts of all time, Led Zeppelin is reported to have sold between 200 and 300 million record units globally. In the US, they have held the title of being the fifth-best selling act and third best-selling band with an estimated sale of 111.5 million units.
The band holds a record of having six number-one albums on the Billboard album chart in US and Canada. They have also earned eight successive number-one albums in the UK.
Their fourth studio album, Led Zeppelin IV (1971) which featured the iconic track “Stairway to Heaven“, shot the band to popularity. Actually said work is considered as one of the most influential pieces in the rock genre.
Having influenced numerous artists and bands, the group is best credited for their contribution to the development of album-oriented rock (AOR) as well as stadium rock.
In 1995, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone has labeled them as the heaviest band of all time. In 2006, they were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame.
A Highly Influential Band
Over the years, this rock band has been credited for influencing several rock and heavy metal bands including the following iconic ones:
- Black Sabbath
- Deep Purple
- The Black Crowes
- Dream Theater
The following punk bands were also heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin:
- The Cult
- Joy Division
- The Ramones
The following prominent alternative rock bands also received significant inspiration from Led Zeppelin:
- The Smashing Pumpkins
- Pearl Jam
Even more Accomplishments
Led Zeppelin were the recipients of the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music in 1977, and in 1997 they were honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award during the 42nd Annual Ivor Novello Awards.
They also received the American Music Award in 2005, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, and the Polar Music Prize in 2006.
Their albums have been widely successful as the band boasts fourteen Multi platinum, five Diamond, four platinum and one Gold album in the US.
In the UK, they have one Gold album, four Silver albums, five Multi Platinum and six Platinum albums.
VH1 ranked them as number one on their list of 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. During the 2008 MOJO Awards, the band won the Best Live Act prize for their reunion and in 2012, they received the Kennedy Center Honors.
Interesting Facts about Led Zeppelin
–Atlantic Records, took interest in Led Zeppelin and signed a $143,000 contract with them without seeing them first. They also gave the band autonomy over when to go on tours, release albums and the freedom to decide the design and contents of each album, as well as the methods for promoting their releases.
– Jimmy Page covered the entire expense for recording their first studio album.
– The band purchased their own airplane, The Starship, which was the first Boeing 720-022, for their 1973 US Tour at $30,000.
-Though Led Zeppelin became noted for their uniqueness, they faced a number of issues with plagiarism and unresolved suits. The most notable among these include “Whole Lotta Love” by Willie Dixon, “You Shook Me” by Muddy Waters, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” by Joan Baez, and “Dazed and Confused” by Jake Holmes.
Led Zeppelin issued a press statement about their disbandment on December 4, 1980, attributing its cause to the death of Bonham who had died in October 1980. In the subsequent decades, some of the band’s existing members collaborated and took part in one-off reunions with the most notable being the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert in 2007. Led Zeppelin remains one of the biggest and most enduring names in the history of rock music.