Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham joined forces to form Led Zeppelin in 1968, following Page's departure from the Yardbirds. The band would become one of the more popular acts in rock 'n' roll history and perhaps the greatest hard rock band of all time, known both for their studio recordings, lyrics based on sex and hobbits, and epic live performances. After stealing the show opening for Iron Butterfly at a legendary Fillmore East set, Led Zeppelin released their multi-platinum self-titled debut in 1969, a mix of acoustic and electric guitar that featured iconic as songs such as "Dazed and Confused," and "Good Times Bad Times," as well as versions of blues standards, that, famously, were not credited to their original songwriter.

The debut was an immediate hit, though reviews were more mixed, and after an exhaustive touring schedule, the band recorded Led Zeppelin II (1969) out of similarly reworked blues standards, along the way creating an album now considered the blueprint for hard rock and heavy metal, led by "Whole Lotta Love," "Heartbreaker," and "Moby Dick" (featuring a Bonham drum solo that cemented his Hendrix-like legacy on the instrument).

While few albums were ever as highly anticipated as Led Zeppelin III (1970), the more experimental album was panned by critics upon first impression and didn't sell as well as the previous album, despite featuring "Immigrant Song," now one of the band's signature tracks. The band members isolated themselves from the press at this point, right before the release of the unofficially titled Led Zeppelin IV, the band's biggest hit and one of the top selling albums of all time, featuring classics like "Rock N Roll" "Black Dog," and "Stairway to Heaven" (the latter of which featured one of the more famous guitar solos of all time by Page).

Following Led Zeppelin IV, the band cultivated an image as the Biggest Band in the World, touring on a private plane and partying on a seemingly infinite budget to massive crowds (best documented in the 1976 concert film, The Song Remains The Same). Houses of the Holy (1973) followed, as did the double album Physical Graffiti (1975), Zeppelin's last true classic and one of the better double albums ever produced. The second half of the decade was less kind. Presence (1976) and In Through The Out Door (1979) are generally seen as lesser works, despite featuring noteworthy tracks like "Achilles Last Stand" and "All My Love."

While everyone in Zeppelin was known for dangerous use of substances, the band officially ended after Bonham died of alcohol poisoning in 1980. Outtakes album Coda (1982) was posthumously released. The surviving three members have performed live as Led Zeppelin three times since the band's demise, most recently for a heavily publicized Ahmet Ertegün tribute concert in 2007. ~Ethan Stanislawski

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