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It all started with the band The Yardbirds, where an upbeat Jimmy Page played the bass and guitar. After the other members of the group had left, he had to find new colleagues. The first to join was singer Robert Plant, who then suggested drummer John Bonham.
The bass player John Paul was hot on their heels and the band was formed in England in 1968. Little did these young guys know that they’d be on their way to global stardom over the next twelve years. They called themselves The New Yardbirds whilst they completed various contracts, but the important name change was yet to come.
This is where The Who stepped in. Their drummer Keith Moon told Jimmy Page in 1966 that his band would “go down like a lead zeppelin.” With a certain amount of irony this paved the way for a new name, although the spelling needed to be changed. To avoid any uncertainty over pronunciation, they dropped the “a” from the name. Led Zeppelin was clear for take off, and it flew!
Since when could lead fly?
These guys didn’t mess about and went straight on tour in America. Atlantic Records were very keen on the talented musicians and signed them up to a contract. Within a mere 30 hours, rumours of a debut album were rife.
The group were able to show their flexibility across the genres on this album including Blues mixed together with Rock and Folk. At that time, the reviews were carefully worded but today this is seen as the turning point in the development of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal.
Still it reached 6th place in the British charts and brought in some 3.5 million pounds - not bad for a record label that had recording costs of just 1800 pounds. Next stop was America. The band were lucky to have expert manager Peter Grant on board. He recognised the huge potential of the American market and began to put the guys firmly on the American stage and radio stations.
This worked extremely well - the debut album shot to number 10 in the charts. The second Led Zeppelin album followed, called “Led Zeppelin II”. It was a hit and reached number 1 in the charts and knocked “Abbey Road” from the Beatles off the top spot. The Zeppelin had arrived in heaven.
Led Zeppelin on the course to success
The next album arrived in 1970 and of course reached number 1 in the charts. The group continued to widen their spectrum. This time round, the songs took on a more acoustic sound with a somewhat Celtic influence. There seemed to be no stopping this group. The fourth album came a year later and took on a completely new look. Repetition is something this group was not familiar with.
Among other tracks, the album had quite possibly the biggest Rock ballad in history “Stairway to Heaven”. Hard Rock and Folk also started to make an appearance on this album and to this day it is one of the most widely sold albums worldwide and has gone down as a masterpiece. The following years were mainly focused on tours.
These guys had become the holy grail of music, and all thanks to a zeppelin made of lead! Their next album came in Spring 1975 – “Physical Graffiti” and was their first double album. Again, it took on new influences and was a great success.
The end of Led Zeppelin?
Led Zeppelin performed one concert after another, all of which were completely sold out. In 1977, fate was about to take a nasty turn. The five-year-old son of singer Robert Plant died from a viral infection but just a year later, the band found the energy to work on their next album. On 7th July 1980 they played their last concert with the original members as just two months later, the drummer John Bonham died suddenly and unexpectedly after choking on his own vomit.
Some months later, the remaining members signalled the end of Led Zeppelin. They couldn’t go on without their friend. But this wasn’t the end of the band. The band has never stopped making music and in 2007 they appeared on stage again with John Bonham’s son on the drums. It was, once again, legendary. The guys were flying higher than most others ever have done and they had no plans on coming in to land.
Led Zeppelin Merch
The Led Zeppelin EMP online shop offers everything a fan needs to support their band, whether it be Led Zeppelin merch or the legendary albums – EMP has got you covered. We’ve got loads of merch and vinyls like nowhere else. Put on your favourite Led Zeppelin track and have a browse through our shop.