Style: Hard Rock |
Year of birth: 1968
Views: 6654. Updated: 20 March, 2005 by Project Moderators
Biography of Band
|The group formed in 1968 from the ashes of the Yardbirds, for which guitarist Jimmy Page had served as lead guitarist after Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Page‚Äôs stint in the Yardbirds (1966-1968) followed a period of years as one of Britain‚Äôs most in-demand session guitarists. As a generally anonymous hired gun, Page performed on mid-Sixties British Invasion records by the likes of Donovan (‚ÄúHurdy Gurdy Man‚ÄĚ), Them (‚ÄúGloria‚ÄĚ), the Kinks (‚ÄúYou Really Got Me‚ÄĚ), the Who (‚ÄúI Can‚Äôt Explain‚ÄĚ) and hundreds of others. Page assembled a ‚ÄúNew Yardbirds‚ÄĚ in order to fulfill contractual obligations that, once served, allowed him to move on to his blues-based dream band, Led Zeppelin.
Bassist John Paul Jones also boasted a lofty session musician‚Äôs pedigree. His resume included work for the Rolling Stones, Donovan, Jeff Beck and Dusty Springfield. Singer Robert Plant and drummer John ‚ÄúBonzo‚ÄĚ Bonham came from Birmingham, England, where they‚Äôd previously played in the Band of Joy. Page described Led Zeppelin in a press release for their first album with these words: ‚ÄúI can‚Äôt put a tag to our music. Every one of us has been influenced by the blues, but it‚Äôs one‚Äôs interpretation of it and how you utilize it. I wish someone would invent an expression, but the closest I can get is contemporary blues.‚ÄĚ Integrating Delta blues and U.K. folk influences with a modern rock approach, Led Zeppelin‚Äôs symbiosis gave rise to hard rock, which flourished in the Seventies under their expert tutelage. Such classics as ‚ÄúWhole Lotta Love‚ÄĚ were built around Page‚Äôs heavyweight guitar riffs, Plant‚Äôs raw, half-screamed vocals, and the rhythm section‚Äôs deep, walloping assaults ‚Äď all hallmarks of a new approach to rock that combined heaviness and delicacy.
In Jimmy Page‚Äôs words, the band aimed for ‚Äúa kind of construction in light and shade.‚ÄĚ The members of Led Zeppelin were musical sponges, often traveling the world ‚Äďliterally traipsing about foreign lands and figuratively exploring the cultural landscape via their record collections ‚Äď in search of fresh input to trigger their muse. ‚ÄúThe very thing Zeppelin was about was that there were absolutely no limits,‚ÄĚ explained bassist Jones. ‚ÄúWe all had ideas, and we‚Äôd use everything we came across, whether it was folk, country music, blues, Indian, Arabic.‚ÄĚ
The group‚Äôs use of familiar blues-rock forms spiced with exotic flavors found favor among the rock audience that emerged in the Seventies. Led Zeppelin aimed itself at the album market, eschewing the AM-radio singles orientation of the previous decade. Their self-titled first album found them elongating blues forms with extended solos and psychedelic effects, most notably on the agonized ‚ÄúDazed and Confused,‚ÄĚ and launching pithy hard-rock rave-ups like ‚ÄúGood Times Bad Times‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúCommunication Breakdown.‚ÄĚ Led Zeppelin II found them further tightening up and modernizing their blues-rock approach on such tracks as ‚ÄúWhole Lotta Love,‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúHeartbreaker‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúRamble On.‚ÄĚ Led Zeppelin III took a more acoustic, folk-oriented approach on such numbers as Leadbelly‚Äôs ‚ÄúGallows Pole‚ÄĚ and their own ‚ÄúTangerine,‚ÄĚ yet they also rocked furiously on ‚ÄúImmigrant Song‚ÄĚ and offered a lengthy electric blues, ‚ÄúSince I‚Äôve Been Loving You.‚ÄĚ
The group‚Äôs untitled fourth album (a.k.a., Led Zeppelin IV, ‚ÄúThe Runes Album‚ÄĚ and ZOSO), which appeared in 1971, remains an enduring rock milestone and their defining work. The album was a fully realized hybrid of the folk and hard-rock directions they‚Äôd been pursuing, particularly on ‚ÄúWhen the Levee Breaks‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúThe Battle of Evermore.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúBlack Dog‚ÄĚ was a piledriving hard-rock number cut from the same cloth as ‚ÄúWhole Lotta Love.‚ÄĚ Most significant of the album‚Äôs eight tracks was the fable-like ‚ÄúStairway to Heaven,‚ÄĚ an eight-minute epic that, while never released as a single, remains radio‚Äôs all-time most-requested rock song. Houses of the Holy, Led Zeppelin‚Äôs fifth album, was another larger-than-life offering, from its startling artwork to the adventuresome music within. Even more taut, dynamic and groove-oriented, it included such Zeppelin staples as ‚ÄúDancing Days,‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúThe Song Remains the Same‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúD‚Äôyer Mak‚Äôer.‚ÄĚ They followed this with the Physical Graffiti, a double-album assertion of group strength that included the ‚ÄúTrampled Underfoot,‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúSick Again,‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúTen Years Gone‚ÄĚ and the lengthy, Eastern-flavored ‚ÄúKashmir.‚ÄĚ
Led Zeppelin‚Äôs sold-out concert tours became rituals of high-energy rock and roll theater. The Song Remains the Same, a film documentary and double-album soundtrack from 1976, attests to the group‚Äôs powerful and somewhat saturnalian appeal at the height of their popularity. The darker side of Led Zeppelin ‚Äď their reputation as one of the most hedonistic and indulgent of all rock bands‚Äď is an undeniable facet of the band‚Äôs history.
In the mid-to-late Seventies, a series of tragedies befell and ultimately broke up Led Zeppelin. A 1975 car crash on a Greek island nearly cost Plant his leg and sidelined him (and the band) for two years. In 1977, Plant‚Äôs six-year-old son Karac died of a viral infection. The group inevitably lost momentum, as three years passed between the release of the underrated Presence (1976) and In Through the Out Door, their final studio album (1979). On September 25, 1980, while in the midst of rehearsals for an upcoming American tour, Led Zeppelin suffered another debilitating blow. Drummer John Bonham was found dead due to asphyxiation following excessive alcohol consumption. Feeling the he was irreplaceable, Led Zeppelin disbanded.
Robert Plant launched a solo career, Jimmy Page formed The Firm with former Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers, and John Paul Jones returned to producing, arranging and scoring music. There were brief reunions at Live Aid and for Atlantic Records‚Äô 40th anniversary celebration. Something of the old power was rekindled in 1995 when Page and Plant reunited to record an album (No Quarter) and tour with a large and diverse ensemble of musicians.
Meanwhile, the Led Zeppelin legend endures and grows long after their demise, much like that of the Doors and Elvis Presley. The lingering appeal of Led Zeppelin is perhaps best summed up by guitarist Page: ‚ÄúPassion is the word....It was a very passionate band, and that‚Äôs really what comes through.‚ÄĚ At the dawn of the new millennium, Led Zeppelin placed second only to the Beatles in terms of record sales, having sold 84 million units. Led Zeppelin IV is the fourth best-selling album in history, having sold more than 22 million copies, and four other albums by the band ‚Äď Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin II, Houses of the Holy and Led Zeppelin - also rank among the all-time top 100 best-sellers. Fittingly, Led Zeppelin is tied with the Beatles (five apiece) for the most albums on that esteemed list ‚Äď a mark of both bands‚Äô impact. In their ceaseless determination to move music forward, Led Zeppelin carved out an indelible place in rock history.
Members of Led Zeppelin
John Bonham (Bonzo). Period: 1968 - 1980. Role: Drums
John Paul Jones. Period: 1968 - 1982. Role: Bass
Jimmy Page (Founder). Period: 1968 - 1982. Role: Guitars
Robert Plant (Founder). Period: 1968 - 1982. Role: Vocals
|EP: I (1969) Studio: Olympic Studios. Tracklist.|
EP: II (1969) Studio: A&R Studios. Tracklist.
EP: III (1970) Studio: Headley Grange, Olympic & Island Studios. Tracklist.
EP: IV (1971) Studio: Headley Grange, Olympic & Island Studios. Tracklist.
EP: Houses of the Holy (1973) Studio: Stargroves, Headley Grange, Island Studios. Tracklist.
CD: Physical Graffiti CD1 (1975) Studio: Stargroves, Headley Grange, Island Studios. Tracklist.
CD: Physical Graffiti CD2 (1975) Studio: Stargroves, Headley Grange, Island Studios. Tracklist.
EP: Presence (1976) Studio: Musicland Studios. Tracklist.
EP: The Song Remains the Same (1976) Tracklist.
EP: In Through the Out Door (1979) Studio: Polar Studios. Tracklist.
EP: Coda (1982) Tracklist.
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