Led Zeppelin

 Led Zeppelin

 Jimmy Page – circa 1969

“We are your overlords” – ‘Immigrant Song’ (Robert Plant, Jimmy Page)

“I feel Aleister Crowley is a misunderstood genius of the twentieth century,” declares Jimmy Page, the chief architect of the British band Led Zeppelin.  Aleister Crowley (1875 – 1947) is perhaps the best known English occultist.  Crowley ‘was a magickian, purportedly one of the most formidable who ever lived.’  Boleskine House, near Loch Ness in Scotland, was Crowley’s home and his seat of power.  It was said to be built on the ruins of a church that had burned to the ground, killing the congregation within.  Before Crowley purchased Boleskine House it was reputed to be the site of a beheading and several suicides.  After his death, ‘several tenants went straight from the house to the insane asylums.’  Understandably, such a property is a real estate agent’s nightmare.  From the early 1970s to the early 1990s, Boleskine House is owned by Jimmy Page.  “I’m attracted to the unknown,” he grins.

James Patrick Page is born 9 January 1944 in Heston, Middlesex.  His father, James Patrick Page, Senior, is an industrial personnel manager; his mother, Patricia Elizabeth (nee Gaffiken) works as a secretary for a doctor.  “I was an only child…pretty studious,” Jimmy Page recalls.  The lad picks up a guitar, a second-hand acoustic model, when he is 12.  Early inspirations are guitarists James Burton (who plays on Ricky Nelson’s records) and Scotty Moore (who works with Elvis Presley).  “I drew as well,” Page advises.  “I went to art college [in Croydon].”  When he finishes school, Jimmy Page goes straight into playing with bands.

Unlike many of his peers in the rock industry, Jimmy Page does not go on to a string of small-time bands.  It’s not that he doesn’t want to live that life, but he suffers recurring bouts of glandular fever.  “I wasn’t eating properly,” Page admits.  He adds, “I perspire [on stage] quite a bit,” and then jumping into a cold travel van doesn’t help his physical condition.  So the ambitious guitarist is sidelined from working on the road.  His undeniable talent is recognised when he finds work as a session musician, anonymously performing guitar duties on recordings by other artists.  In 1964 Jimmy Page plays second guitar on The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’ and their debut album.  In 1965 he appears on ‘I Can’t Explain’ by The Who and that group’s first album; ‘Gloria’ and ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ by Irish group Them, featuring Van Morrison; and ‘It’s Not Unusual’ by Tom Jones.  Jimmy Page is also said to have played on sessions for Jeff Beck, The Pretty Things, The Rolling Stones, Georgie Fame, Herman’s Hermits, Petula Clark and Val Doonican in these early days.

During this period, Jimmy Page is invited to join The Yardbirds in January 1965 as a replacement for their famed guitarist Eric Clapton.  Page declines due to both concerns about his physical ability to resume the life of a musician on the road and the fact he is making a tidy profit from his session recording work.  On 26 February 1965 Jimmy Page releases a rare solo single, ‘She Just Satisfies’, on Fontana Records.  The Yardbirds come knocking again in July 1966, this time asking Page to join them as bassist Paul Samwell-Smith has left.  This time he accepts.  Presumably Jimmy Page still has ambitions to make a name for himself instead of being just an anonymous hired hand.  Yardbirds second guitarist Chris Dreja swaps to bass, leaving Page to assume his duties.  Jeff Beck, the man who replaced Eric Clapton after Page’s earlier refusal, remains lead guitarist.  Jeff Beck is forced to take a break due to illness, so Page steps up to the position of lead guitarist.  When Beck recovers he and Page share the role of lead guitarist from 19 October 1966 – for two gigs before Jeff Beck quits.  Jimmy Page remains lead guitarist for The Yardbirds from November 1966 to July 1968.  On 7 July 1968 The Yardbirds fall apart.  However they are still contractually obligated to play some dates in Scandinavian countries, so Jimmy Page has to assemble a new version of the band for the task.

Helping Jimmy Page is The Yardbirds’ manager, Peter Grant.  A hulking brute with an intimidating, brusque manner, Peter Grant has been a sheet-metal worker, stage-hand, professional wrestler, part-time actor, and bouncer.  He starts managing rock acts with The Alan Price Combo, who go on to become The Animals.  Peter Grant also looks after The Nashville Teens and handles U.K. tours for Little Eva, Bryan Hyland, Chuck Berry and Gene Vincent.  Peter Grant is dedicated to his charges and he proves vital to Jimmy Page’s new mission.

The first person Jimmy Page recruits for The New Yardbirds is John Paul Jones (born John Baldwin, 3 January 1946).  Jones is, like Page, a veteran of the session scene.  He plays bass and keyboards as well as handling some musical arrangements.  John Paul Jones starts out in 1963 working with Jet Harris and Tony Meehan, former members of The Shadows.  On 10 September 1964 he appears on ‘Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl’, the first single by Rod Stewart.  His client list includes The Rolling Stones, Shirley Bassey, Lulu, Dusty Springfield, Herman’s Hermits and Donovan.  Unlike Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones is already a married man.  He met his future wife, Maureen, in 1965 and married her in 1967.  The couple go on to have three daughters: Jacinda, Tamara and Kierra.  Jones and Page crossed paths in their session duties.  They ‘talked loosely about forming their own group.’

Jimmy Page asks B.J. Wilson to act as drummer for the Scandinavian tour, but he declines since he has already signed up with Procul Harum in 1967, a fact Page is either ignorant about or had hoped would be less attractive than his own offer.  For vocalist, Jimmy Page selects Terry Reid.  He too declines because he is more intent on his own solo career which is just getting started.  However, Reid recommends Robert Plant to Jimmy Page.

Robert Plant (born 20 August 1948) is a gigging musician who has been working in the Birmingham area with a group called Band Of Joy.  Around 1966 – 1967 Robert Plant cut a few solo singles for the British branch of America’s CBS Records.  Band Of Joy provided the backing on these recordings.  The 18 year old singer was ‘bearded, beaded [and] caftan-clad.’  The drummer in Band Of Joy is John Bonham.  When Robert Plant is offered the spot as singer with Jimmy Page’s new enterprise, he suggests Bonham act as drummer for the tour.

John Bonham (31 May 1949 – 25 September 1980) has been playing in ‘anonymous Birmingham area outfits.’  Starting out in 1964 with Terry And The Spiders, he went on to Steve Brett And The Mavericks, then The Way Of Life.  Along the way, the bearish sticks man acquired the nickname ‘Bonzo’.  Like John Paul Jones, John Bonham is already a family man.  He married Pat Phillips in 1965 and they have a son, Jason (born 15 July 1966).  They will later have a daughter as well, Zoe (born 10 June 1975).

So with a line-up of Robert Plant (vocals), Jimmy Page (guitar), John Paul Jones (bass, keyboards) and John Bonham (drums) the quartet undertakes the journey around Sweden and Norway as The New Yardbirds.  Although it could have been over as soon as the tour is complete, the four musicians find the chemistry between them enjoyable and think they could do something more.  Did they think they would become as big as they were fated to be?  As Robert Plant puts it, “It got big the minute we met.”

Retuning to London, they try to find a new name and identity for the group.  The Whoopee Cushion and The Mad Dogs are two sobriquets they consider and discard.  Ultimately, they take their name from a remark made by Keith Moon, The Who’s drummer, who claims they will go down like a ‘lead balloon’ (i.e. fail).  This is modified to the more aggressive Zeppelin, the large airships used for mass air transport in the 1920s before passenger airplanes.  ‘Lead’ is purposefully misspelled as ‘Led’ to avoid it being pronounced as ‘lead’ (i.e. first, guide, direct).

Creatively, Led Zeppelin’s songs are mainly written by the duo of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.  The usual formula is that Plant writes the words he will sing and Page composes the music.

Led Zeppelin melds the contributions of its four distinct component members.  Jimmy Page’s experience as a session musician serves him well as both producer and guitarist.  He makes the most of his own considerable skills as a guitarist but never at the expense of the band as an ensemble.  Robert Plant is a golden-haired man-god flashing a semi-naked torso.  He also provides vocals that range from a bluesy bark to a gentle croon…and throws in some harmonica playing on selected songs as well.  John Paul Jones’ bass throbs like a headache while his keyboard work is the band’s secret weapon.  John Bonham plays like he is dropping anvils rather than hitting drums.

The sound produced by the newly christened Led Zeppelin can be described as heavy metal.  The group has broader musical abilities but “There’s no denying the fact that the elements of what became known as heavy metal are definitely there in Led Zeppelin,” Jimmy Page acknowledges.

The term ‘heavy metal’ is first used in the book ‘The Soft Machine’ (1962) by William S. Burroughs.  One of the characters in the book, Uranium Willy, is known as ‘The Heavy Metal Kid.’

Perhaps the first heavy metal song is ‘You Really Got Me’, a hit for the British group The Kinks in 1964.  As may be recalled, future Led Zeppelin founder Jimmy Page played on this track in his days as a session musician.  The sheer brutish simplicity of the song’s distorted guitar riff marks this as a sort of proto-heavy metal.

In the beginning at least, heavy metal owes a debt to the blues.  Reaching a height of popularity in the 1940s – 1950s, the blues is the music of African-Americans.  It represents a way of working through heartbreak or hard times by channelling that emotion through bent or distorted guitar notes.  When Eric Clapton left The Yardbirds, after a stint in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, he went on to form Cream (1966 -1969), a blues rock trio.  Jimi Hendrix, during the main part of his recording career (1967 – 1970), also plays a sort of super-charged blues.  Jeff Beck, with whom Jimmy Page worked in The Yardbirds, forms his own Jeff Beck Group and his interplay with vocalist Rod Stewart is sometimes cited as an influence on Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.  Cream, Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck may all predate Led Zeppelin by a little, but they are also contemporaries of Page and company.

As a genre in its own right, the five characteristics that distinguish heavy metal are extreme volume – it is REALLY LOUD; supernatural images or similar references in the lyrics; an attitude that women are mere sex objects; lengthy instrumental solos; and long hair.

Peter Grant sets out to secure a recording contract for Led Zeppelin.  He and the band want to have an international focus so rather than sign with a British label Grant obtains a deal for the group with Atlantic Records in the U.S.A.

On 9 November 1968 Robert Plant marries Maureen Wilson.  The couple have three children: Carmen (born 1968), Karac (1972 -1977) and Logan (born 1979).  This means that at the time Led Zeppelin release their first album only Jimmy Page is a single man.

‘Led Zeppelin’ (1969) (UK no. 6, US no. 10, AUS no. 9) is released in January.  The cover image is a photo of the destruction of the Hindenburg, whose fiery crash on 6 May 1937 brought to an end the era of large-scale airship travel.  This disc is ‘the template for everything Zeppelin achieve in the 1970s.’  Though the band has little interest in singles, Atlantic Records chooses to issue ‘Good Times, Bad Times’ (US no. 80) from the album in that format.  It strikes like a lightning bolt; John Bonham’s tapping and pattering around the drum kit giving way to the song’s full thrust.  Jimmy Page’s solo uncoils like a cobra lunging into action.  John Bonham is credited along with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page as one of the song’s authors.  Annie Breedon’s late 1950s song, ‘Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You’, is given such a work-over that Page and Plant feel qualified to credit themselves along with her as co-authors of Led Zeppelin’s version.  Its acoustic guitar patterns give way to John Bonham’s crashing drum fills.  Jimmy Page is the sole author of the brooding and bruised ‘Dazed And Confused’: “For so long it’s not true / Soul of a woman was created below.”  Here can be seen the heavy metal characteristics of both the supernatural (intimations of a hellish underworld) and sexism (woman as instrument of unholy forces).  Page’s guitar howl of pain puts such considerations on pause.  This song was part of The Yardbirds repertoire but had not previously been recorded.  The ‘brutal rock’ of ‘Communication Breakdown’ warns “It’s always the same / Having a nervous breakdown / Drive me insane.”  The well-oiled stop-and-start of the arrangement is evidence of it being co-written by the band’s three instrumentalists: Page, Bonham, and John Paul Jones.  ‘How Many More Years?’ is ‘a crosscut of blues artists Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘How Many More Times?’ and Albert King’s ‘The Hunter’.  The blues is a primary influence, but Robert Plant points out, “We mutilated the blues and twisted it upside down.”  The album also encompasses ‘thundering power balladry’ in the form of ‘Your Time Is Gonna Come.’  “There were so many colours and shapes and textures on [the first album],” Robert Plant marvels.  This album, like all Led Zeppelin albums, is produced by Jimmy Page.

‘Led Zeppelin II’ (1969) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) follows a mere nine months later in October.  This release is ‘destined to become the heavy metal Bible.’  The first single is ‘Whole Lotta Love’ (US no. 4, AUS no. 1) backed with ‘Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman)’.  All four members of Led Zeppelin are credited as authors of ‘Whole Lotta Love’.  Jimmy Page’s surging guitar riff is irresistible (and is used for many years as the theme music for British television show ‘Top of the Pops’).  Again, this is a song owing a debt to an old blues number, Willie Dixon’s ‘You Need Love’.  Robert Plant’s macho persona is to the fore as he sings “Way, way down inside / I’m gonna give you my love / I’m gonna give you every inch of my love.”  The song goes on to collapse in orgasmic groans and sighs before regrouping to restate its basic theme.  The concise, focused riff of the flipside is too often overlooked.  With waggish charm, Plant recalls a woman “Telling tall tales of how it used to be / With the butler and the maid and the servants three.”  “It’s to a castle I will take you,” Plant offers for ‘What Is And What Should Never Be’, a song whose bluesy verses rouse John Bonham’s drums, as though summoning up the Loch Ness monster, for the devastating choruses.  Jimmy Pages’ sighing guitar solo is beautifully executed and the pause late in the song for the guitar to jump from right to left speaker and back again is still pleasantly startling.  Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Killing Floor’ gets a nod in ‘The Lemon Song’, another group composition.  This is a ribald ditty where Robert Plant exclaims “The way you squeeze my lemon / I’m gonna fall right out of bed.”  Just in case the point was not clear, he adds a request to be squeezed “Til the juice runs down my leg.”  Yet Led Zeppelin are also capable of great tenderness in the delicate ‘Thank You’ featuring John Paul Jones’ cathedral-like organ tones.  ‘Ramble On’ hosts some of the band’s most blatant references to ‘Lord of the Rings’ (1954 -1955), J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece: ‘Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor / I met a girl so fair / But Gollum and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her.”  ‘Moby Dick’ is bracketed by a simple, yet effective riff composed by Page and Jones while the mid-section is written by the band’s drummer and is an extended instrumental drum solo.  Bonzo flails about, even slapping the drum skins with his bare hands.  Jimmy Page observes that “On the second LP, you can hear the real group identity coming together.”

In 1970 Charlotte Martin becomes Jimmy Page’s long-term romantic partner.  Though they never marry, the couple have a daughter, Scarlet (born 1971).  Also in the early 1970s, Page owns an occult bookshop, Equinox, in Holland Street, Kensington, London.

When Led Zeppelin plays a show in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 28 February 1970 they appear as The Nobs.  The reason for the temporary assumed identity is the band is under the threat of a legal suit in Denmark if they use the Led Zeppelin designation.  Eva von Zeppelin, a relative of the airship designer Ferdinand von Zeppelin, is apparently not impressed with the British group’s use of her family name.

Britain’s ‘Melody Maker’ rock music publication announces the results of their reader’s poll on 16 September 1970.  Led Zeppelin win the title of Great Britain’s most popular group, displacing the recently disbanded Beatles who received the accolade for the each of the eight years previous.

‘Led Zeppelin III’ (1970) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1), released in October, features a complicated cover with turning wheels to show different pictures in its multiple little circular peepholes.  Perhaps the highpoint of the album is ‘Immigrant Song’ (US no. 16, AUS no. 16) in which Robert Plant and Jimmy Page get their Viking on.  Page’s riff thunders forth like a longship breasting the waves as Plant screams “We come from the land of the ice and snow / From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.”  Between Tarzan yells, the golden-maned vocalist announces “Valhalla [the Viking heaven] I am coming”.  John Paul Jones collaborates with Page and Plant for ‘Celebration Day’.  Page’s fingers nearly run off the end of the guitar neck as he negotiates the song’s supercharged rockabilly twangs.  In the other corner, Plant babbles “My, my, my / I’m so happy / I’m gonna join the band / We gonna dance and sing in celebration / We are in the Promised Land.”  The same trio author the slow blues slalom of ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’.  The album also includes ‘Hats Off To Harper’, a tribute to idiosyncratic U.K. singer-songwriter Roy Harper.  Mainly though, this album is most notable for featuring ‘more semi-acoustic, folk-oriented material.’  Jimmy Page claims “When Robert [Plant] and I first got together we realised we could go in two possible directions – heavy blues, or an Incredible String Band trip [a reference to a British acoustic folk act].”  ‘Led Zeppelin III’ sees the band explore a bit of that road not taken.

The balance between thunderbolts of heavy metal and delicate acoustic touches is more artfully achieved on ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ (1971) (UK no. 1, US no. 2, AUS no. 2), released in November.  ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ is perhaps the album’s best known designation but it is also sometimes called ‘Untitled’, ‘Symbols’, ‘The Runes Album’ or ‘Zoso’.  The last three all refer to the band adopting a symbol for each of its members.  Jimmy Page uses ‘Zoso’.  This artfully lettered word originates in an alchemical grimoir, ‘Ars Magica Arteficii’ (1557) by Gerolamo Cardono.  Robert Plant is represented by a feather within a circle.  John Paul Jones has a ‘trique tra sigil’ which looks like three interlinked leaves.  John Bonham has three linked rings that, purportedly, represent mother, father, and child.  The album kicks off with the rolling explosions of ‘Black Dog’ (US no. 15, AUS no. 9).  “I put of lot of work into my lyrics,” claims Robert Plant.  “Not all my stuff is meant to be scrutinised though.  Things like ‘Black Dog’ are blatant let’s-do-it-in the-bath type things, but they make the point just the same.”  “Hey, hey mama, said the way you move / Gonna make you sweat / Gonna make you groove,” leers Plant, before going on to note, “I don’t know, but I been told / A big-legged woman ain’t got no soul.”  ‘Black Dog’ is released as a single, backed with ‘Misty Mountain Hop’, another song referencing ‘Lord of the Rings’, this time right in the title.  John Paul Jones shares songwriting credit with Plant and Page for both sides of this single.  ‘Rock And Roll’ (US no. 47, AUS no. 51) is credited to the whole group and, as the title suggests, is a salute to rock.  Bonham’s opening cymbal crashes replicate Little Richard’s 1957 hit ‘Keep A-Knockin’’.  “It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled / It’s been a long time since I did the stroll / Let me get it back,” bawls Robert Plant.  “Oh baby, the river’s red/ Oh baby, in my head,” he sings on the flipside, ‘Four Sticks’, a track whose name is derived from the fact that Bonzo is using two drumsticks in each hand on this song.  Perversely, Led Zeppelin’s all-time best song, ‘Stairway To Heaven’, is never officially released as a single.  It is a ‘resounding masterpiece and one of the songs of the decade.’  It starts as a soft acoustic piece with pastoral flutes and grows by increments into a full-blown metal assault – before a final gentle exit bow.  Jimmy Page recalls Robert Plant writing eighty per cent of the song’s lyrics in a stream of consciousness as Page was putting together the melody.  “There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold / And she’s buying a stairway to heaven” are the opening lines of this morality fable.  The album closes with a reworking of Memphis Minnie’s ‘When The Levee Breaks’.  The band’s co-writing credit is just about justified given the power of their version.  John Bonham’s drum beats echo like cannon fire.  Considered in total, ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ is the group’s high water mark.

‘Houses Of The Holy’ (1973) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1), released in March, is the first Led Zeppelin album to have an actual name instead of a number.  There is a song called ‘Houses Of The Holy’ – but it is not on the album; it appears on the band’s next set.  What is present is ‘The Song Remains The Same’, whose galloping rhythm slows for the vocals.  There is also the wistful ‘The Rain Song’.  The group expands their style palette with the ballad ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ (US no. 51); an odd approximation of a dance song, ‘The Crunge’; and the group composition ‘D’Yer Mak’Er’ (as in ‘Jamaica’) (US no. 20), a very good attempt at reggae.  ‘No Quarter’, penned by Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, is a slower, calmer sister to ‘Immigrant Song’.  Over water-like keyboards, Plant intones “The winds of Thor are blowing cold / They’re wearing steel that’s bright and true / They carry news that must get through.”  This album is ‘perhaps the band’s most diverse collection.’

On 4 May 1973 Led Zeppelin begins what prepublicity describes as the ‘biggest and most profitable rock & roll tour in the history of the United States.’  That may not be an exaggeration as the tour ‘breaks box-office records established by The Beatles.’  On the road, Zeppelin are prone to ‘hotel trashings and groupie fests.’  Jimmy Page uses a violin bow to play his Les Paul electric guitar for a bit of showmanship on the odd song.  Yet the scale of the event may be dwarfing the more important aspects.  “I wasn’t that keen on the really big venues,” admits John Paul Jones.  Afterwards, the group takes time out.  “1974 didn’t really happen, did it?” shrugs Jimmy Page.

When Led Zeppelin returns in February 1975 it is with an elaborate double album.  ‘Physical Graffiti’ (1975) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 2) shows a cover image of 96 – 98 Mark’s Place in New York City with movable scenes appearing in the windows a la ‘Led Zeppelin III’.  Among the highlights of this album is ‘Trampled Underfoot’ (US no. 38, AUS no. 60), built on John Paul Jones’ playing of an agitated clavinet (a kind of electric piano).  Jones co-writes the song with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.  In the lyrics, Plant growls “Take that heavy metal underneath your hood,” while he is “Talkin’ about love.”  Also present is the delayed ‘Houses Of The Holy’ that welds a metallic guitar scrape to an almost funky rhythm.  Part of the lyrics say, “From the houses of the holy / We can watch the white doves go / From the door comes Satan’s daughter / And it only goes to show.”  ‘In My Time Of Dying’ is ‘eleven minutes of slow blues lava.’  ‘Kashmir’ introduces Middle Eastern textures as Plant sings “I’m a traveller in both time and space” to the accompaniment of sawing strings.  John Bonham takes a co-writing credit on this track.  ‘Physical Graffiti’ is the first release on Led Zeppelin’s own Swan Song label.

On 4 August 1975, Robert Plant, his wife and children are all injured in a car crash that takes place during a family holiday on the Mediterranean island of Rhodes.  The vehicle rolls off a narrow highway.  Plant’s recovery requires Led Zeppelin to put tour plans on hold.

‘Presence’ (1976) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 4) is issued in March.  The album’s best song is probably ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’.  Jimmy Page serves up a fine cockerel-like guitar riff, John Bonham spatters drum beats across the musical canvas and Robert Plant stammers the song’s vocals.  ‘Achilles’ Last Stand’ is an epic (10:23) piece of Greek mythology, replete with vistas of battle and pulse-quickening musical surges.

On 20 October 1976 Led Zeppelin’s film, ‘The Song Remains The Same’ (1976), premieres in London.  The movie shows live performances from the band’s 1973 show at Madison Square Garden in New York City as well as songs performed on the movie lot at Pinewood Studios in England.  Linking them are fantasy sequences, some of which feature ‘the iconology of the black arts.’  Of course, the film is accompanied by a soundtrack album, ‘The Song Remains The Same’ (1976) (UK no. 1, US no. 2, AUS no. 8).

Robert Plant’s 5 year old son, Karac, dies in 1977.  The death is attributed to ‘a rare virus infection’, though latterly the cause of death is said to be stomach cancer.  Barely recovered from his car crash injuries, Plant is now grieving the loss of his son.  Some Led Zeppelin tour dates are cancelled.

On 9 August 1979 Led Zeppelin play their first U.K. concert in four years.  The venue is the Knebworth Festival in Knebworth Park, Hertfordshire, England.

Eleven days later, the group’s next album is released.  ‘In Through The Out Door’ (1979) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 3) was recorded in Sweden late in 1978.  In an unlikely alliance, Swedish pop group Abba invited Led Zeppelin to record at their studio.  ‘All My Love’ is an unusual co-write for Robert Plant and John Paul Jones.  The latter’s synthesisers imitate a string section on the song.  Usual songwriting partner Jimmy Page pitches in with Plant and Jones for ‘In The Evening’.  The rollicking rockabilly of ‘Hot Dog’ (US no. 21) leavens the atmosphere of the album.

A European tour follows, beginning on 17 June 1980.  However tragedy strikes on the eve of a U.S. tour.  Drummer John Bonham is found dead on 25 September 1980.  He ‘dies of asphyxiation on his own vomit after drinking forty measures of vodka.’  He was 32.  On 4 December 1980 it is announced that Led Zeppelin will not continue.

A final album, ‘Coda’ (1982) (UK no. 4, US no. 6, AUS no. 9), cleans out the vaults and includes a live recording (minus audience sounds) of Willie Dixon’s ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’.

Jimmy Page’s relationship with Charlotte Martin comes to an end around 1982 -1983.  Robert Plant and his wife, Maureen, divorce in August 1983.

On 13 July 1985 Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones reunite to play a few songs at Live Aid, a massive all-star charity concert to raise funds to fight famine in Ethiopia.  The surviving Led Zeppelin members are augmented on this occasion by Paul Martinez (bass) and both Tony Thompson (drums) and pop star Phil Collins (drums).

In 1986 Jimmy Page marries Patricia Ecker, a model and waitress.  They have a son, James III (born April 1988).

On 14 May 1988 Led Zeppelin again reconvenes, this time at a concert to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Atlantic Records.  John Bonham’s son, Jason (now 21), plays drums with his father’s old colleagues.

In 1991 Robert Plant has a son, Jesse, with Shirley Wilson, the sister of his ex-wife, Maureen.

‘No Quarter: Jimmy Page And Robert Plant Unledded’ (1994) (UK no. 7, US no. 4, AUS no. 2) features the two Led Zeppelin mainstays performing acoustic versions of some of their legendary band’s songs.

Jimmy Page and Patricia Ecker divorce in 1995.  He later marries a Brazilian woman, Jimena Gomez-Paratcha.  Page adopts her daughter, Jana (born 1994), and fathers two children with his new spouse: Zofia (born 1997) and Ashen (born 1999).

On 10 December 2007 Led Zeppelin again get together, this time for a concert in tribute to the late Ahmet Ertegun, former Atlantic Records boss.  Once again, Jason Bonham plays drums for the show.  A movie is made of the concert, ‘Celebration Day’ (2012), and there is an accompanying soundtrack album ‘Celebration Day’ (2012) (UK no. 4, US no. 4, AUS no. 3).

On 14 August 2009 Robert Plant is made Vice President of Wolverhampton Wanderers, the football (i.e. soccer) team he has fanatically followed all his life.

In 2012 Robert Plant is living with U.S. singer Patty Griffin.  Despite rumours of a secret wedding, Plant and Griffin never actually wed.  They part ways in 2014.

Jimmy Page may have admired Aleister Crowley, but with Led Zeppelin, Page worked a form of sorcery himself.  The band cast a spell over listeners and those fans appreciated the enigmatic magic men behind the songs.  Page’s professed attraction for the unknown helped him codify a new musical genre, heavy metal, and stretch out to other modes such as folk, reggae and blues.  Led Zeppelin were ‘the definitive dizz-buster heavy metal rock combo, spawning a host of imitators.’  ‘Led Zeppelin rebaptised acid rock as a dream of druid community, playing riffs as if they were runes carved in granite, singing lyrics as if they were ciphers containing The Truth.’

Sources:

  1. wikipedia.org as at 22 April 2013, 1 January 2015
  2. ‘Rock Stars’ by Timothy White (Columbus Books, 1984) p. 168, 170
  3. ‘The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock’ by Nick Logan, Bob Woffinden (Salamander Books, 1978) p. 137, 138, 188, 209
  4. You Tube, Jimmy Page: The Ultimate Interview Pt.1 (13 August 2012)
  5. songfacts.com as at 8 May 2013
  6. ‘The Kinks’ (1964) – Sleeve notes by Pete Doggett (Castle Communications PLC, 1998 reissue) p. 3
  7. ‘Rolling Stone Rock Almanac’ by the Editors of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (Papermac, 1984) p. 92, 99, 121, 146, 149, 163, 169, 176, 214, 245, 261, 301, 316, 319
  8. ‘The Illustrated Rock Handbook’ edited by Roxanne Streeter, Ray Bonds (Salamander Books, 1983) p. 128, 141
  9. familyzep.pizco.com as at 15 May 2013
  10. Charlie Rose, CBS Morning Show (U.S. television program) interview with Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones (22 December 2012)
  11. You Tube, Jimmy Page interview (posted 20 June 2012)
  12. ‘The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time’ – ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (February 2004) p. 41, 45, 46, 53
  13. azlyrics.com as at 14 May 2013
  14. lyricsfreak.com as at 14 May 2013
  15. ‘The Rolling Stone Illustrated History Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘Led Zeppelin’ by Jim Miller (Plexus Publishing, 1992), p. 455, 458
  16. ‘The Independent’ (U.K. newspaper) as at 21 August 2014 – via (1) above

Song lyrics copyright Superhype Publishing Inc., Flames of Albion Music Inc.

Last revised 2 January 2015

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