On October 15, 1968, Led Zeppelin, made up of Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham, made it’s official debut at Surrey University. The group began touring the US, backing up such headliners as Vanilla Fudge, and The MC5 shortly thereafter. Instantaneous recognition followed. The groups popularity was soaring. On January 31, ’69, Led Zeppelin opened for Iron Butterfly, then one of the world’s biggest bands. Led Zeppelin received such a resounding approval from the audience, which Doug Ingle, lead singer for Iron Butterfly decided to scrap the show. Reasons being are that Iron Butterfly was afraid that they can’t produce such an effect on their crowd… in their own concert…in which they are headlining.
Led Zeppelin soon became a headliner in their own right. Within eight months of their official debut, Led Zeppelin were at the top of the bill at the Playhouse Theater in London, and the Pop Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London. On October 17, ’69, a year and two days from the bands conception, Led Zeppelin played in Carnegie Hall, ending a ban on rock groups at the concert hall, originally caused by the Rolling Stones in 1965. While playing in Denmark, Eva von Zeppelin, relative of the designer of the airship, Ferdinand von Zeppelin, threatened to sue the band if they used the name in the country. Led Zeppelin played under the alias The Nobs.
The first album Led Zeppelin climbed to #10 in the US and to #6 in the UK. Album two, entitled Led Zeppelin 2, moved up to #1 in both the US and the UK, staying on the charts for 98 in the States and an astounding 138 weeks in Britain.
Six straight #1 albums in either the US or the UK. Countless sellout concerts. Records for box office drawings. Records for attendance. 51,000 tickets for 3 shows Earls Court, London sell out in less than two hours. International fame. No other group had ever become so popular in such a small period of time. Led Zeppelin was revolutionizing music as they went. While most bands were shunned from playing a song different from it sounds on the record, Led Zeppelin was free to roam in their music. It wasn’t unusual to hear a song that would be half-an-hour long, as opposed to its counterpart on the album, which was only five minutes long. These lengthy jam sessions diguised as concerts gave way to new ground being touched musically. Led Zeppelin introduced the world to the music of black artists such as Muddy Watters, Otis Rush, Otis Redding, and Willie Dixon. Pieces of songs from the 1930s were being worked into their own music, as in their covers of Dixon’s You Need Love, and Rush’s Can’t Quit You, and it was working. The blues riffs incorporated into their own music later influenced bands heavily, and opened doors to new tastes in music for the predominately American audience. The most significant thing about Led Zeppelin’s music today, is that it doesn’t sound dated. The music seems similar to music today. The lasting impression of their music is obvious, and can be heard in any Rock band of today.
Unfortunately, the machine that was Led Zeppelin came to a screeching halt on the morning of September 25, 1980. When band members decided to go into Bonham’s bedroom to pull a prank on him in his sleep, Bonham was found dead. After a night of heavy drinking, Bonham had turned the wrong way in his sleep, and asphyxiated himself upon his own vomit. A statement was released on December 4, 1980, stating that the band could not go on in its present state. After 11 incredible years, the band could not function with “the loss of our dear friend.” Led Zeppelin had owned the 70s, and they were going to finish their reign quietly, and let the throne open to the next “supergroup.” As suddenly as Led Zeppelin began, it had ended even more so.