led zeppelin




BIOGRAPHY

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F A C T S


Led Zeppelin (1968-1982)




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Led Zeppelin were John Bonham (1948-1980, drums), John Paul Jones (b. 1946, bass), Robert Plant (b. 1948, vocals) & Jimmy Page (b. 1944, guitar) and managed by Peter Grant (1935-1995).

Between 1971-75, they were considered the biggest band in the world and the stats are still mind-boggling today. As of 2006, they have sold a staggering 300 million albums worldwide with a 100 million of these sales recorded in the US alone.

The band was formed in late 1968 when guitarist Jimmy Page wanted to reform the Yardbirds (Page was in the previous incarnation). Page's close friend and adviser was manager Peter Grant and it was he who had 'inherited' the ownership of the Yardbirds name. Thus, he began looking around for others to join the band, and the first player to link up with Page was bass guitarist John Paul Jones. Then, Page looked for a vocalist. Terry Reid of the New Jay Walkers was considered but had recently formed a trio and signed a production contract so was unavailable. Small Faces singer/guitarist Steve Marriott was also considered but again previous commitments prevented his inclusion. Meanwhile, the young Birmingham singer Robert Plant had arrived in London and through producer Tony Secunda learned that the Yardbirds needed a new vocalist. At the same time, Plant was suggested to Page and he went to see him sing and later outlined his motives behind the band. Plant was impressed, Page was impressed, and Plant was installed as vocalist.

The drummer was the last piece of the jigsaw. Plant suggested to Page his old friend from the Band of Joy, John Bonham. Page wanted a powerful drummer and Bonham more than fitted the bill. The line-up was complete.

The booking sheet contained several contracted Yardbirds appearances still to be fulfilled so the lads quickly dubbed themselves the New Yardbirds and took off on a tour of Scandinavia.

On their return, they quickly realised the band needed a name change. What each band member brought to the band was totally new and far removed from what the Yardbirds had been known for hitherto; in particularly, Bonham's powerful drumming took them in a direction never predicted by the restraints of the old name.

How they settled on Led Zeppelin is debated to this day.

The official version is that Keith Moon from the Who came up with it. He'd mentioned the name ages before, when Simon Napier Bell had managed the Yardbirds and Moon wanted to form a new band. Nothing had come of the band but Page et al had remembered the name and asked Moon if they could use it.

John Entwhistle, the bass player with the Who, swore that it was he who thought up the name. Once, when in New York with Keith Moon and their chauffeur Richard Cole, they contemplated leaving the Who, forming a new band, and were thinking of possible names for the new band. Entwhistle said the name Led Zeppelin came to him in a flash along with the idea for a first album jacket with a Zeppelin going down in flames. The reason behind the name was quite simple, he insisted. In those days it was a favourite line among British rock bands. "How did you go?" one group would ask another. "Cor, we went down like a lead zeppelin," they'd reply. Cole went on to work for Page and Grant and must of told them of the idea, he alleged.

Whatever is the truth, the group adopted the name, deliberately misspelling the first part to prevent people from pronouncing it as "leed."


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L E D  Z E P P E L I N  I


Released: January 12, 1969


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Shortly after their first tour, the group's eponymous first album was recorded at London's Olympic Studios in suburban Barnes in November 1968 and cut in thirty hours at a cost of 1,700. Between them they wrote six of the nine tracks. The distorted amplification of blues and rock was groundbreaking. The ferociously formidable sound of the group meant that their manager, Peter Grant, could go to the New York offices of Atlantic Records and strike a five-year distribution deal reportedly involving an initial payment of $200,000. What's more, under the landmark deal, the band acquired not only total creative control but control of jacket artwork, press ads, publicity photos, and anything else concerning their image as well.

The band toured North America to help stimulate sales of the initial album. 'White label' copies of the debut album were sent out to key press reviewers, radio programmers and sundry trend spotters. Finally, on January 12, 1969, the album was officially released to the public. In the Billboard charts it reached a high of number ten on 17 May, and remained on the charts for a phenomenal duration of 73 consecutive weeks, almost a year and a half.

Although the band had fared fairly well with English audiences it had not been a rip-roaring start and their start in the the States was more favourable.


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L E D  Z E P P E L I N  I I


Released: October 22, 1969


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After a second Led Zeppelin US tour in the summer of 1969 (with the band receiving its largest single concert fee to date - a flat $13,000), a gig at London's prestigious Albert Hall, and finally a few days after the band had arrived back in North America for its third tour in less than twelve months, the second record, Led Zeppelin II, was released on 22 October 1969 with Whole Lotta Love opening the album. By this date, the first album had already sold 780,000 copies, and Led Zeppelin II was certified gold the day it was released, with advance orders in excess of half a million copies. It finally knocked off from the top of the US charts the Beatles White album on 27 December and spent seven weeks on the top spot. All in all, it would remain on the Billboard charts for eighteen months. It also reached number 1 in the UK.

Led Zeppelin were the world's number one rock band. This is all the more remarkable when the band were faced with less than favourable press reviews and a distaste for releasing singles from albums. Singles, they viewed, were taking the track out of the context that it had been created for on an album. Nine singles were released in the US during their career, but they were without the band's consent. The band also resisted television appearances because of poor quality of the medium of the day (which has left us tody with a paucity of visual material of the band).

The third US tour proved that Led Zeppelin's spiralling ascension to the top of the North American concert scene was unstoppable. Concerts could last more than two hours; and in Boston earned the largest concert fee of their career to date - $45,000.


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L E D  Z E P P E L I N  I I I


Released: October 5, 1970


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Their third album, Led Zeppelin III, was written in Bron-Yr-Aur, a remote cottage in Wales. It was acoustic and semi-acoustic material with Celtic mysticism thrown into the pot as well. Work continued at an old Hampshire stately home called Headley Grange. During the sessions, they played some European dates, including a spectacular show at Frankfurt's Festhalle where they broke all existing attendance records by drawing some 11,000 fans.

Page mixed the album in the US during August 1970 when the band returned for their fifth tour. The band now commanded a minimum fee of $25,000 per performance, and they decided to cease working with any opening acts, thereby allowing the band to extend their appearances. At New York's Madison Square Garden on 19 September, Led Zeppelin for the first time grossed in excess of $100,000 for a single performance.

Led Zeppelin III was released by Atlantic on 5 October 1970 with advance orders in excess of 700,000 copies in America and more than 60,000 in the UK. In only its second week, it shot to number one and stayed there for a month. Over time, its chart duration wasn't as favourable as the first two albums but compared with other acts of the time like the Rolling Stones the sales were still good.

The band took off on an extensive British and European tour, their largest to date (and where, in Milan, they experienced the worst riot of their entire career); perhaps this tour was conceived as a way for the band to address the nagging feeling that the third album could have been seen as a relative failure.

A seventeen-date North American tour in May and June 1971 followed. Then a more extensive US and Canada itinerary, and a series of performances in Japan, the group's first visit to the world's fastest growing rock market. In-between tours they spent a few weeks back in Britain finishing off the fourth album.


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L E D  Z E P P E L I N  U N T I T L E D


Released: November 8, 1971


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Following the third album being mauled by an intense media slagging, and the band's image also being subjected to catty remarks, the band decided to ensure that nothing would come between the listener and the music. Grant announced that the band had decided the fourth album would have no title, no mention of the group on the outside jacket, and no record company logos or catalogue numbers and credits. Unsurprisingly, Atlantic weren't happy but the landmark jacket design was reluctantly approved. The actual credits for the album, its track listings, and the lyrics to Stairway to Heaven are contained on the inner paper sleeve - marking the first time Led Zeppelin had refrained from the conventional Atlantic catalogue promo sleeve. And it was the first time the band had utilised a lyric sheet.

Page at this time had a growing infatuation with the occult philisophy of Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) and this, combined with Plant's growing fascination with Celtic mysticism, led to the most striking and obvious feature on the fourth album, four very mysterious symbols above the track listings. Each band-member chose a metaphorical-type symbol which represented each one of them individually.

The untitled and unadorned fourth album was finally released on 8 November 1971, almost thirteen months to the day since the release of the third album. Strangely, it never reached the number one position of the US charts though it remained on the charts longer than any previous Led Zeppelin album (eventually becoming their biggest seller). It peaked at number two.

It stayed on the charts the first time around for 39 weeks, dropping off briefly and then returning in the autumn of 1972. By May 1975, the album was still in the top 60 after more than three years on the chart.

Predictably, Atlantic wanted Stairway to Heaven to be released as a single in the US, even after Black Dog had been released and only reached 47. Grant and the band were having none of it, but the rock media came to sniffily refer to the record as the 'Stairway album'...continued


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Source

Led Zeppelin: From Early Days to Page and Plant - Ritchie Yorke


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LED ZEPPELIN

BIOG. (1968-1982) >> LED ZEPPELIN I >> LED ZEPPELIN II >> LED ZEPPELIN III >> LED ZEPPELIN UNTITLED >> HOUSES OF THE HOLY >> PHYSICAL GRAFITTI >> PRESENCE >> THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME >> IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR >> CODA >> BIOG. (1982-PRESENT)

BIOG. >> DISCOGRAPHY >> GALLERY >> JOHN BONHAM >> PETER GRANT >> JOHN PAUL JONES >> JIMMY PAGE >> ROBERT PLANT >> MAILING ADDRESSES >> OTHER GALLERIES >> PRICE GUIDE >> SHOP >> SITE MAP >> TOP OF PAGE





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