Led Zeppelin was formed in London in 1968 and consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. Their heavy, guitar-driven sound, rooted in blues on their early albums, has drawn them recognition as one of the progenitors of heavy metal. Although the group was initially unpopular with critics, they achieved significant commercial success with albums such as Led Zeppelin (1969), Led Zeppelin II (1969), Led Zeppelin III (1970), their untitled fourth album (1971), Houses of the Holy (1973), and Physical Graffiti (1975). 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 cement the popularity of the group.
Flip through the gallery for 10 Things You Might Not Know About Led Zeppelin!
Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham played together for the first time in a room below a record store on Gerrard Street in London in 1968
After changing their name from the New Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin signed a deal with Atlantic Records in November 1968. They secured a $143,000 advance, which was then the biggest deal of its kind for a new band
The band's debut album, Led Zeppelin, was released in the U.S. on January 12th, 1969. The front cover, which was chosen by Jimmy Page, features a black-and-white image of the burning LZ 129 Hindenburg airship
The origin of the band's name started when Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and The Who's Keith Moon and John Entwistle were discussing the idea of forming a group. Moon joked, "It would probably go over like a lead balloon", and Entwistle allegedly replied, "...a lead zeppelin!”
Led Zeppelin released their fourth album on November 8, 1971. In response to the treatment the band had received from critics, the band decided to release the album with no title. It is variously referred to as Led Zeppelin IV, Untitled, IV, Four Symbols, Zoso, or Runes
In 1973, three sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden were filmed for a motion picture, The Song Remains the Same, but the theatrical release was delayed until 1976. Before the final night's performance, $180,000 of the band's money was stolen from a safe deposit box at the Drake Hotel
In 1974, Led Zeppelin took a break from touring and launched their own record label, Swan Song Records, named after an unreleased song
Led Zeppelin disbanded following drummer John Bonham's death from alcohol-related asphyxia in 1980
Led Zeppelin reunited at the 2007 Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert in London, with Jason Bonham taking his late father's place behind the drums
Led Zeppelin is one of the best-selling bands in the history of audio recording with various sources estimating the group's record sales at nearly 300 million units worldwide