The greatest rock and roll band of all time?
In 1968 after years of tirelessly touring and recording, English blues-rock group The Yardbirds began to wind down, and with several dates to fulfill of their final tour, lead guitarist Jimmy Page drafted in Robert Plant and John Bonham to fill in for drummer Jim McCarty and vocalist Keith Relf. Bassist Chris Dreja left soon after and was replaced by John Paul Jones. Initially the band played under the name “the New Yardbirds” but after completing the final dates of the tour it was decided that a new name was needed. The inspiration for their new name came from The Who’s John Entwistle whom Page had previously asked to join the group along with Keith Moon, Jeff Beck and Stevie Winwood. Entwistle is reported to have said that the proposed super group would go down like a lead zeppelin. The name stuck and the band’s manager Peter Grant suggested dropping the from lead to prevent mispronunciation, Led Zeppelin were born.
In November 1968 Led Zeppelin signed with Atlantic and manager Peter Grant brokered a deal whereby the band had the final say over when and how they would tour and release records. On the 12th January 1969 Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut album was released and is now hailed as a pivotal record of its time and considered a forerunner in the genre of heavy metal music despite the use of acoustic guitars and the band’s blend of blues and folk.
Led Zeppelin followed up their debut release with Led Zeppelin II in 1970, despite constant touring in the US and the UK, recording the album almost entirely on the road. Led Zeppelin II was an even bigger success than Led Zeppelin I and the 70’s saw Led Zeppelin playing larger venues and eventually stadiums as their popularity grew breaking attendance records in the process.
Upon the success of the albums Led Zeppelin III, Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy the band launched their own label Swan Song in 1974 and released double album Physical Graffiti on Swan Song in 1975. The tours that followed saw Led Zeppelin again breaking attendance records and being hailed as the biggest band in the world. Along with success came the now legendary stories and myths surrounding the band’s life on the road, the excesses of their rock and roll lifestyle and Jimmy Page’s interests in black magic.
Led Zeppelin followed Physical Graffiti with the albums Presence and In Through the Out Door with the band’s experimenting dividing some critics. In 1980 however tragedy struck and drummer John Bonham died after an extended drinking session. Despite speculation of a replacement drummer the band split the same year announcing that they could not carry on without him.
Led Zeppelin were inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame in 1995 and received a Grammy “Lifetime Achievement” award in November 2005. Led zeppelin ranked #14 in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” in 2004.