When Led Zeppelin hit the music scene at the end of 1968, the decade of peace, love, and flower power was pretty much already dead. Indeed, Led Zeppelin’s pair of vinyl record albums released in 1969, with their crashing chord changes, licentious leads, and wailing vocals, were, in their own way, the first nails in the coffin of the decade of the hippie. But this heavy metal band was different, grounded as much in the folk music of a mythological Middle Earth England as the blues of Mississippi Delta America.
The band’s eponymous first album was reportedly recorded in just 36 hours. Most of it was just captured live in the studio, with minimal overdubs. From the first chords of “Good Times Bad Times,” listeners knew they were about to hear something completely different, melding the heroic architecture of riff-rock with guitar chops that rivaled Jimi Hendrix's. The album featured not one but two tunes by bluesman Willie Dixon. When Robert Plant’s otherworldly vocals were added to this heady mix, the result was an assault on the rock orthodoxy that, of course, quickly became the new norm.
The cover of “Led Zeppelin” on the Atlantic label featured the image of the Hindenburg airship just as it was catching fire on its last voyage in 1937. While most copies feature the band and label names in orange, some feature each in red while others are in turquoise. Collectors look for such differences as well as the credits on the records themselves (the band’s “Superhype Music” publishing arm gets credit on some copies; others pressed in the U.K. are credited to Warner Bros.).
Even more dear are 45s, which Led Zeppelin’s manager forbade in the U.K. Thus, promo singles are widely sought by Led Zep fans, including ones for “Communication Breakdown” and "Dazed and Confused,” both off the band’s first album. A withdrawn 45 for “Whole Lotta Love” from “Led Zeppelin II” is also highly prized.
“Led Zeppelin II” is actually an interesting album from a record collector’s point of view. Unlike the LP that preceded it, “II” was recorded in numerous studios in the U.K., U.S., and Canada, as the band struggled to capitalize on its sudden fame by touring while recording. It obviously worked because “II” went straight to number-one in three countries.
Albums “III” and “IV” followed, the latter containing such hist as “Black Dog,” “The Battle of Evermore,” and “Stairway to Heaven,” and that was just on side one! “Houses of the Holy” followed in 1973, even though it had been recorded in 1972—it was the last album Led Zeppelin produced for Atlantic. “Physical Graffiti” in 1975 on the band’s Swan Song label, came next, a double-LP consisting of new material and previously unreleased tracks from earlier in the decade.
After the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980, the band’s surviving members busied themselves with solo efforts. Page and Plant collaborated on “The Honeydrippers” in 1984 and t...
In 2007, along with John Paul Jones and John Bonham’s son, Jason, Led Zeppelin played a benefit for the late Atlantic Records executive Ahmet Ertegün’s Education Fund. Naturally, they opened with the first song on their first album, whose words begin: “In the days of my youth, I was told what it means to be a man. Now I've reached that age, I've tried to do all those things the best I can.” The band has not played together since.
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Glastonbury Festival 2015 rumours: Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie ...Exeter Express and Echo, September 17th
Revelers are already looking ahead to Glastonbury 2015 – and with Iron Maiden and Prince favourites to play next year who can be surprised. Standard weekend tickets will go on sale at 9am on Sunday 5 October, while 15,000 coach tickets will be sold in ...Read more
Hippie Blues: 45 Years of Led ZeppelinHuffington Post, September 16th
It used to be said that somewhere in the world, at any given moment, "Stairway to Heaven" is playing on the radio. This 1971 track from the fourth Led Zeppelin album, with its mellow guitar intro (perhaps borrowed from Spirit's "Taurus"), became so...Read more
Robert Plant Says Led Zeppelin Reissues Bonus Tracks Contain 'Nothing ...Ultimate Classic Rock, September 16th
Most Led Zeppelin fans probably weren't expecting Robert Plant to spend a ton of time listening to the current round of deluxe reissues that his former bandmate Jimmy Page has curated from the band's vaults, but he dispelled any doubts during a recent...Read more
Like it or not, Miley Cyrus kinda killed Led Zeppelin's 'Babe I'm Gonna Leave You'Entertainment Weekly, September 15th
Saturday was, according to some, the day the music died. That's the fateful day that Miley Cyrus—a pop star who's danced with giant bears and rode a giant hotdog—posted to her SoundCloud a cover of Led Zeppelin's “Babe I'm Gonna Leave You.” This isn...Read more
Watch Michael Winslow Perform Every Part of “Whole Lotta Love” With Just His ...Slate Magazine (blog), September 14th
Michael Winslow is known as the Man of 10,000 Sound Effects, and for good reason: he has an unbelievable genius for making sounds that should not be possible to produce with human vocal cords. Making the rounds now is a video from 2011 in which ...Read more
Robert Plant: 'The first Led Zeppelin practice … you couldn't walk away ...The Guardian, September 10th
When he isn't touring with Led Zeppelin, he's putting the tumbledown house back into shape, or cleaning out the stables, or just charging around the narrow lanes in his old Jeep. Dressed in old jeans and a pair of snakeskin boots that have definitely...Read more
Led Zeppelin Taps NSYNC Expertise in Stairway to Heaven CaseBusinessweek, September 9th
By hiring Freeman, a partner at New York law firm Phillips Nizer, Led Zeppelin has gone for an industry specialist who has also done work for singer Diana Ross and corporate clients that include record distributors and advertising agencies. In NSYNC...Read more
The Lean And Mean Led Zeppelin OrganizationForbes, September 6th
Led Zeppelin is notorious for the mayhem they inflicted everywhere they touched down. In an era sandwiched between the invention of birth control and the onset of AIDS, Led Zeppelin was drunk with the power of sudden money and the adoration of millions ...Read more