Led Zeppelin

Greatly Appreciated


Led Zeppelin  were an English rock band formed in London in 1968.  The group consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham.  The band’s heavy, guitar-driven sound, rooted in blues and psychedelia on their early albums, has earned them recognition as one of the progenitors of heavy metal, though their unique style drew from a wide variety of influences, including folk music.  Their fourth album, which features the track “Stairway to Heaven”, is among the most popular and influential works in rock music, and it helped to secure the group’s popularity.  Various sources estimate the group’s record sales at 200 to 300 million units worldwide.  They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995; the museum’s biography of the band states that they were “as influential” during the 1970’s as the Beatles were during the 1960’s.  (More from Wikipedia)
Guest vocalists are another common feature of rock albums and rock concerts.  The only time Led Zeppelin used one was when Sandy Denny gave a stirring performance as the second vocalist on “The Battle of Evermore on their landmark fourth album, Led Zeppelin IV; she even got a special symbol by her name in the musician credits to go with the “ZOSO” symbols used by the four bandmembers.  For those of you who know her only from that song, you owe it to yourself to check out her ground-breaking work on the early albums of Fairport Convention, particularly Liege and Lief, which is generally considered to be the greatest English folk album of all time.  Her alto voice had a purity and a piercing clarity that even most opera divas can’t muster. 
(August 2011)
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The bandleader and songwriter for Code BlueDean Chamberlain is best known as one of the founders of the 1980’s new wave band the Motels, which was formed all the way back in 1971 
After struggling for a couple of years, Capitol Records offered the Motels a recording contract in 1977; instead, the band broke up, citing creative differences.  From Dean Chamberlains standpoint, he thought that there was too much emphasis on lead singer Martha Davis.  Dean Chamberlain describes the Motels that he helped found as being “a crazyass funky [Led Zeppelin] style band”.  
(September 2012)
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For me, most heavy metal bands sound pretty much the same; I say that not with any sort of snooty, snobby air at all but instead with a wistful sort of desire – had I been 13 or 14 years old when heavy metal was at its peak, I would have lapped it up like manna.  As it is, I was well into high school when the earliest heavy metal albums like the first albums by Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple came out; and I had already graduated from college when the first KISS album was released.  I like a lot of the best heavy metal – Led Zep is so good that I hardly even think of them as a heavy metal band.  I played that first KISS live album, Alive! a lot when it first came out for instance, and Shades of Deep Purple has been a long-time favorite.  I might have had a completely different sensibility about me had I grown up a few years later. 
(December 2012)
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The very earliest power chords are credited to 1950’s bluesmen.  Music historian Robert Palmer (not the same man as the 1980’s singer named Robert Palmer by the way) cites Willie Johnson (on Howlin’ Wolfs “How Many More Years” that was recorded in 1951) and Pat Hare (on James Cotton’s “Cotton Crop Blues” that was recorded in 1954).  If the name of the former song rings a bell, you are likely remembering “How Many More Times”, the last and longest track on Led Zeppelin’s 1969 debut album, Led Zeppelin.  Under his real name, Chester BurnettHowlin’ Wolf got a songwriting credit on later editions of the album.  Anyway, the Brits liked what they heard and launched the British Invasion, and the rest is history. 


Whether or not Link Wray heard these records and got the idea has not been established as far as I know. 


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The 2008 documentary, It Might Get Loud shows rock guitarist legends from three generations discussing their music and their careers and their influences:  Jimmy Page (the Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin), The Edge (U2), and Jack White (the White Stripes, the Raconteurs).  Needless to say, they all three made the Rolling Stone list of 100 Greatest Guitarists also:  #3, #38 and #70, respectively. 


At one point, Jimmy Page starts flipping through a pile of 45’s and pulls out Rumble” by Link Wray and His Ray Men.  To see a rock legend grooving along with that song, to see that big beaming smile on his face, to hear him discussing how the song developed, to see Page actually doing “air guitar” to Rumble:  that really is something special.  The clip from It Might Get Loud is well worth a viewing:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLEUSn8y9TI . 


(February 2013)


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Lead singer Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin heard Heartbreak Hotel when he was just 8 years old; he has said that the song “changed my life”:  “It was so animal, so sexual, the first musical arousal I ever had.  You could see a twitch in everybody my age.  All we knew about the guy was that he was cool, handsome and looked wild.”  


(June 2013/1)


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After releasing their second album Queens of Noisethe Runaways toured Japan in 1977 and attracted Beatlemania-level attention according to Joan Jett – their popularity in Japan among foreign bands trailed only ABBAKISS and Led Zeppelin.  Their third album, Live in Japan documented their experiences there. 


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Chimera recorded something like 20 songs (variously reported as being in 19681969 and/or 1970) in an acid-folk style for a planned album that remained unreleased for decades, while picking up legendary status among psychedelic record collectors.  Amazingly, only cassettes remain from the recording sessions, though the sound quality is not at all impaired; they were remastered beautifully by Denis Blackham, an industry legend who had previously mastered the music for the Evita and Cats musicals and also albums by Led ZeppelinMadnessEurythmics, and Brian Eno


(November 2013)


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When I first encountered the music of Tori Amos, it sounded so different from everything else on the music scene that I wasn’t even sure it would be filed in the Rock category at the record stores.  Tori was born in North Carolina as the daughter of a Methodist minister, though she was raised in Maryland.  She was a musical prodigy who knew her way around a piano as a young girl.  Tori Amos received a scholarship at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, though she lost it at age 11, possibly because of her growing interest in popular music, particularly Led Zeppelin


(February 2014)


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Along with many other figures from the underground press, Mick Farren moved to the influential New Musical Express (NME) in 1974.  Quoting again from the Telegraph obituary:  “Allowed free rein to explore the outer reaches of popular culture by its editor, Nick Logan, Farren turned in a series of memorable pieces on people such as the motorbike stunt-rider Evel Knievel and the avant-garde film director Kenneth Anger.


“In the summer of 1976, by which time the Sex Pistols were introducing Britain to punk, Farren’s NME piece headlined ‘The Titanic Sails At Dawn’ [again using a Bob Dylan lyric, this time from one of my all-time favorites, Desolation Row] was judged to have caught the mood among the generation of teenagers disaffected by giant stadium acts like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.”


(March 2014/1)


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Vanilla Fudge had the good fortune to tour with Jimi Hendrix, was the opening act on several concerts on Cream’s last tour, and finally began touring with the brand-new Led Zeppelin opening for them.  After hanging in there for several more albums (Sundazed Records has reissued four of them), the band broke up in early 1970


(April 2014)


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Running down something like this for a major rock band like the Beatles or Led Zeppelin would be difficult enough; but I can’t imagine where he even looked, a half-century later, to find out about every gig of the Soul Agents (18 in the month of August 1964 alone, to pick one month basically at random).  Bruno Ceriotti noted that one club where the band performed regularly, the Marquee in Soho did not normally list the supporting acts in their monthly program listings, making it that much more difficult.  


(May 2014)


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The future bass guitarist for Led ZeppelinJohn Paul Jones released a surf instrumental record in 1967 called “Kalani Honey”; Kim Fowley produced the record, and it is included on the Fowley compilation album, King of the Creeps: Lost Treasures from the Vaults 1959-1969, Vol. 3


(January 2015/1)


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By September 1963the Rolling Stones had outgrown the local club scene and had begun to tour; their replacement at the Crawdaddy Club was another of the major British Invasion bands, the Yardbirds, whose line-up at that time included Eric Clapton.  Other major bands and artists who performed at this club include Led ZeppelinLong John Baldry, Elton John, and Rod Stewart


(January 2015/2)


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Wikipedia states:  “The band [Eleven] cites their major influences as Jimmy Page and Led ZeppelinQueenThe Beatles, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Sergei Prokofiev.  With Chris Cornell [of Soundgarden and Audioslave], they recorded [Natasha] Shneider’s arrangement of Franz Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’, which appears on the album, A Very Special Christmas 3 [1997], in the liner notes of which they state they deliberately chose a classical work to help interest young people in classical music.” 


(April 2015/1)


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Like the band’s first record, the Primitives second single for Pye RecordsYou Said” b/w “How Do You Feel” did not chart at all in the U.K.  About the flip side, Bruce Eder notes:  “[A] bluesy cut with a nice, choppy rhythm part, similar to what the Yardbirds did with ‘Here ’Tis’ or Good Morning Little School Girl on-stage, only with better singing.”


Years later, word got out that, on both of the songs on this 45, the band’s lead guitarist Geoff Eaton was replaced with future Led Zeppelin star Jimmy Page, who was a prolific session guitarist in the early part of his career.  As reported on popsike.com, the single has sold on eBay several times recently – for the equivalent of nearly $600 in one case – but oddly, this fact is not mentioned on any of the several items that I looked up on the website about this single. 


You Said is included in the four-CD box set, Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond, 1964–1969. 


(May 2015)


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Barely one year later, in October 1968Joe Cocker released a cover of “With a Little Help from My Friends” – a Number One single in the UK – which gets my vote as the most satisfying Beatles cover of all time.  His version of the song is very different from how the Beatles performed it, and that is what covers should be as far as I am concerned.  Joe Cocker is backed by a stellar band that includes Jimmy Page on guitar (the first Led Zeppelin album came out in the following year), B. J. Wilson of Procol Harum on drums, Chris Stainton on bass, and distinctive organ by Tommy Eyre.  Cocker’s frantic performance of the song was a highlight of the Woodstock film of the original Woodstock Music & Art Fair gathering in 1969
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Many people don’t realize that Led Zeppelin is a successor band to the Yardbirds.  After Keith Relf and Jim McCarty left the Yardbirds in mid-1968, lead guitarist Jimmy Page was about the only bandmember left.  He set about finding new musicians for his next band that was sometimes called the New Yardbirds.  When the four bandmembers in Led Zeppelin started played together, the first song they did was “Train Kept A-Rollin’”.  Jimmy Page recalls of that session (as quoted in Wikipedia):  “We did ‘Train’ . . .  It was there immediately.  It was so powerful that I don’t remember what we played after that.  For me it was just like, ‘Crikey!’  I mean, I’d had moments of elation with groups before, but nothing as intense as that.  It was like a thunderbolt, a lightning flash – boosh!  Everyone sort of went ‘Wow’.” 
(June 2015)
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The opening track on Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls by Coven is called “Black Sabbath”. Coincidentally, or perhaps not coincidentally, the opening song on the debut album Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath is also called “Black Sabbath”. The Allmusic article on this album by Steve Huey, which came out the following year, opens with: “Black Sabbath’s debut album is the birth of heavy metal as we now know it. Compatriots like Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple were already setting new standards for volume and heaviness in the realms of psychedelia, blues-rock, and prog rock. Yet of these metal pioneers, Sabbath are the only one whose sound today remains instantly recognizable as heavy metal, even after decades of evolution in the genre.”
(June 2016)
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People bought more albums in the 1970’s than at any time before or since. For what it’s worth, 6 of the 10 biggest selling albums of all time were released during the 1970’s – in order, they are The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd; Bat out of Hell by Meat Loaf; Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) by the Eagles; the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack (featuring the Bee Gees and others); Rumours by Fleetwood Mac; and Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin. However you might feel about these chestnuts, it is hard to imagine a more varied group of albums. Thriller by Michael Jackson (1983) remains Number One, but I was certainly surprised to see Back in Black (1980) by AC/DC in second place.
(December 2016)
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Karen O also collaborated with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song” that was included on the soundtrack of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).  
(June 2017)
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People who don’t use Wikipedia regularly probably don’t realize that, in addition to articles on the band, there are also individual Wikipedia articles on all or most of the members of second- and third-tier rock bands like Toto and Survivor, as well as articles on many of their albums and individual songs.  For major rock bands like Led Zeppelin, there are Wikipedia articles on virtually every song that they have ever released.  The Trillion post gives the reader a hint of the breadth of coverage that Wikipedia has in the world of rock music within its 4,000,000-plus articles.  In any case, I finally counted up the (W) symbols in the Trillion post this morning, and there are 53 of them – and 3 of those are articles on bandmembers in Trillion itself.  As I mentioned in the post, there would have been dozens more if I had also marked albums and songs having Wikipedia articles with a (W)
(Year 3 Review)
Last edited: April 7, 2021