When people talk about rock n roll in the 60s and 70s, there is one band that just cannot be left out. Thats right, Led Zeppelin. They revolutionized rock n roll in their time. But just how did they come about? Well I will tell you.
Led Zeppelin was not always Led Zeppelin. They actually originally started out with the name the New Yardbirds. This came from the old band that the guitarist, Jimmy Page, was in. The band was made up of Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Keith Relf, Eric Clapton, Paul Samwell-Smith, Top Topham, Jim McCartny, and Chris Dreja. They had a couple of hits such as "Over Under Sideways Down" and "For Your Love". Beck and Page had two completely different styles of guitar playing. Beck liked to rehearse his guitar parts and have a certain riff for everything, whereas Page liked to improvise more and just play whatever he wanted. After this band broke up in 1968, Page began to form what would eventually be Led Zeppelin.
Jimmy Page and Chris Dreja saw the break up coming, so they began searching for new members to continue the band. They had asked a vocalist named Terry Reid to be the singer in their band. He declined the offer due to a new recording contract. He then recommended and unknown young singer named Robert Plant. Page went to hear him sing and decided he was the man for the job. Plant then told them about his old childhood friend, John Bonham. Bonham was recruited as the drummer. When Chris Dreja backed out to go on to become a rock photographer and bassist/keyboardist/arranger. To replace him, Page brought in a man that had done some sessions with the Yardbirds named John Paul Jones. They originally had the name The New Yardbirds, but copyright claims were made by Dreja. They then got the name Led Zeppelin. The origin of the name is believed to be coined by Keith Moon, who said that the band would go down like a "lead zeppelin". The spelling was changed to avoid mispronunciation. This was the start of the band that would change the history of rock n roll. Their first show as Led Zeppelin was at The University of Surrey in Guildford. After that was a short British tour. By the end of their first year, Led Zeppelin had done 8 tours. 4 in America and 4 in the UK.
On January 12, 1969, they released their first album entitled "Led Zeppelin". This album was wildly popular in both the UK and in America. It made the top 10 in both countries. (10 in America and 6 in The UK.) That year they had also released Led Zeppelin II. It was released October 22, 1969. This album was even more popular than the fisrt, making it to number 1 in both America and The UK. This album had a lot of hit songs such as "Whole Lotta Love" and "Mobey Dick" with Bonham's famous lengthy drum solo. In October of 1970, they released their third album, "Led Zeppelin III". It too topped the charts in both America and The UK. It featured hits such as "The Immigrant Song" and "Tangerine". It was the shortest of their five albums. November 8, 1971, they released their fourth album. The album cover was not printed with a name on it, but following their pattern of albums, it was named "Led Zeppelin IV". This was a best-selling album all over the world. In America, it is the third best-selling album ever. And in 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named it 66 best album in "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". In March of 1973, they released their fifth album. Instead of calling it "Led Zeppelin V", this one was named "Houses of the Holy". This album was different because they used a different style. Different instruments such as the synthesizer and the mellotron were used. Though the title of the album is Houses of the Holy, the actual song did not appear on that album. It appeared on the next album, Physical Graffiti. This album was released in February of 1975. It was a double album. The making of this album was shortly interrupted when John Paul Jones considered leaving the band. When they were reunited, they recorded eight more songs. This made the album longer than the usual LP, so they took some songs that were previously recorded but never made it to an album and put those on there, turning it into a double album.
Zeppelin's concert tour of North America in 1973 broke the record for attendance. They were one of the, if not the, most popular bands around at that time. The only other bands that were competing with them were The Who and The Rolling Stones. In May of 1975, the band performed five sold out nights at the East Court Arena in London.
After that, the band took a short break. They were scheduled to start another tour in the fall. But in August of 1975, Robert Plant and his wife were involved in a serious car accident. Plant came out with just a broken ankle, but his wife was seriously injured. She survived, but only because of a blood transfusion. He then spent August and September in Jersey, a channel island, recovering from the accident.
In 1976, their album "Presence" was released. It was their seventh album. This album was one of their worst selling albums. Critics had different views on this album. But Jimmy Page had something else to say about it. He said it was their most important album. He said it was proving that they were going to keep going despite the situation they were in.
The band did not tour in 1976. They had instead finished their concert film "The Song Remains the Same." It was a film of three different concert nights that took place in Madison Square Garden in 1973. The film premiered in October of 1976.
In 1979, their album "In Through the Out Door" was released. It would be their last album before Bonham died. It was their eighth album. It was their last album to reach number one in the US and in the UK. It featured songs such as "Hot Dog" and "Fool in the Rain".
On June 27, 1980, Led Zeppelin was playing a concert at Nuremberg, Germany. Right in the middle of the third song, Bonham collapsed. He was immediately rushed to the hospital. The band said he had just eaten too much, but it was thought to be over use of drugs and alcohol. And in September of 1980, Bonham was found dead in his bed. The cause was determined to be asphyxiation from vomit. No drugs were found in the body during the autopsy. And on October 10, 1980, Bonham was cremated. This would mark the beginning of the end for Led Zeppelin. And finally, on September 25, 1980, Led Zeppelin decided to break up the band, as they could no longer continue without their drummer.
Had John Bonham not died, who knows where they would have ended up. They played some reunited concerts with Jason Bonham as drummer. Jason Bonham was the son of their old drummer, John Bonham. Although they had a rough ending, Led Zeppelin will always be considered one of the greatest rock n roll bands of all time!