Nowadays Led Zeppelin are considered legends. But the story of how they got there is the most interesting story of all.
Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers singer Terry Reid passed on joining the band. He had just been signed by a producer who was aiming to turn him into a solo act, so Jay told Jimmy Page no and suggested he give the gig to Robert Plant.
The group first performed as the New Yardbirds, and their first show together took place just 15 hours after they had practiced together for the first time at the Gladsaxe Teen Club in Denmark. The set list included “You Shook Me,” “Dazed and Confused,” and “Train Kept-A-Rollin.”
John Paul Jones’ real name is John Baldwin. The Rolling Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham hired him to work on a single by another group he was managing, and liked his playing but wanted him to have a more artistic name. Oldham liked the name of a 1959 movie called “John Paul Jones,” and called Baldwin to inform him of his new name.
In 2010, folk singer Jake Holmes claimed he wrote “Dazed and Confused.” Holmes opened for The Yardbirds in August of 1967. The next day, Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty and bassist Chris Dreja bought Holmes’ debut album with his song “Dazed and Confused” on it so that the band could practice and play their own version of it. Jimmy Page was credited as sole writer of the song when Zeppelin put it on their first record.
Tired of negative reviews, Page convinced the band to try and make the album cover of the 4th record as anonymous as possible. They agreed on one symbol for each band member. Fans thought Page’s spelled out “Zoso,” which is what some call the album. Page has insisted that there are no letters.
The album “Presence” was recorded in 18 days in Munich, Germany. Prior to that, Plant had been in a car crash in Greece. Page told “The Guardian,” “Robert was really keen to do the recording, and we all were, because there wasn’t anything else that we could do.” Plant recalled a failed attempt to move on crutches, and Page had to run from the control room to pick him up. “He was like an Olympic athlete! I’d never seen him move so fast in my life!”
The band had their own airplane called “The Starship” for $30,000 for their 1973 US Tour. It was the first Boeing 720-022 ever built. Bonham actually flew the plane from NY to LA once, according to Peter Grant. He did not have a license.
Like most fans, Page also had trouble nailing the “Stairway to Heaven” guitar solo. John Paul Jones tried to help him when he noticed his bandmate showing concern, by yelling at him “You’re making me paranoid!” To which Page responded, “You’re making me paranoid!” The 2 then laughed and a few takes later the solo was nailed.
The song then became legendary, which Page was not comfortable with. In 1988 he said, “I’d break out in hives if I had to sing that song in every show. I wrote those lyrics and found that song to be of some importance and consequence in 1971, but 17 years later, I don’t know. It’s just not for me.
Plant wrote “Going to California” about Joni Mitchell. Apparently, Plant was “in love” with the songwriter. He also wrote about his fear of earthquakes in California, of which there was a minor one while mixing the untitled 4th Zeppelin album.
Page produced every record himself, and made sure he had a new engineer on every new album so no one else could take credit for their sound.
Page lived in Aleister Crowley’s previous home. In 1971, Page bought the former Loch Ness, Scotland home of the British philosopher, and he claimed it was haunted. He said “It was also a church that was burned to the ground wit the congregation in it. Strange things have happened in that house that had nothing to do with Crowley. The bad vibes were already there. A man was beheaded there, and sometimes you can hear his head rolling down.”
Zeppelin established Los Angeles’ Continental Hyatt House (now the Andaz West Hollywood) as The Riot House during tour, taking up to six floors at a time for their infamous debauchery, rumored to have included John Bonham blazing down a hallway on his motorcycle.
Jimmy Page, former fellow Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck, John Paul Jones, Entwistle and Moon got together in May of 1966 to record the instrumental tune “Beck’s Bolero” and liked it so much that they talked about forming a supergroup. Allegedly, Moon said the band would go over like a lead balloon, and Entwistle said, “a lead zeppelin!”
in their entire history as a band, they only did ONE television appearance.
In 2005 the UK Planet Rock Radio conducted a poll among 3,500 music fans asking them to put together a 4 member rock “fantasy band”. The results were:
1. Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin)
1. Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
1. John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)
1. John Bonham (Led Zeppelin)
So, they basically put Zeppelin back together.