ITs Musical Impact Essay, Research Paper
A Brief History of Ledd Zeppelin and ITs Musical Impact
Tell someone to name a band from the 1960s and ’70s and you could
probably listen to a dozen answers before hearing the same one twice. The
overwhelming amount of talent squeezed into these two decades has produced some
of the most popular, most powerful, and in some cases, the most bizarre music
ever. Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds,
Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Queen, Aerosmith, Crosby, Stills, Nash &
Young, The Eagles…. All were from this era that seemed to glorify music as no
other time period did, or ever will.
The amount of evolution of music that occurred in this time period is
amazing as well. The mainstream went from listening to songs like Bill Haley
and the Comet’s “Rock Around The Clock,” to The Beatles’ frightening “Revolution
While these two examples may seem completely different, they are not as
distant as one might think. Nearly all music from the ’60s and ’70s was bred
from its earlier ancestors. Music has been constantly evolving, and during the
two decades in question, it underwent a radical change like never before.
The New Yardbirds
In early 1968 the music group The Yardbirds was in shambles. Their last,
and half-put –together album “Little Games” was a total flop and the band had
to struggle to have the release of the album in the UK stopped. On March 30,
the group allowed a taping of their concert in Madison Square Garden to be
considered for a live album to be released later. They easily convinced their
record contractor, Epic Records, to ditch the project. The lead guitarist of
The Yardbirds, Jeff Beck, had suffered from a mental breakdown a few years
earlier and could no longer handle the pressure of touring. The band members,
Keith Relf, Chris Dreja, Jim McCarty, and Jimmy Page decided to throw in the
towel and let the band collapse. Playing wasn’t the same rush it used to be,
and it just wasn’t fun anymore. Each member elected to follow their own
projects. Dreja planned a career in photography, McCarty and Relf intended on
starting bands of their own. Lead guitarist, Jimmy Page was given legal rights
to the band’s name, songs, and albums. However, along with the rights that Page
was given, were 10 tour dates that still needed to be honored in Scandinavia.
Page needed to construct a new band in a matter of two months time.
In July ‘68, Page met ex-session guitarist and phenomenal arranger John
Paul Jones (b. John Baldwin, June 3, 1946, Sidcup, Kent). Willingly joined in
on bass. 19-year old vocalist, Robert Plant (b. August 20, 1948, West Bromwich,
W. Midlands.) is asked to perform with The New Yardbirds. Plant accepts and
leaves his homeland in the Midlands with only his subway fair in his pocket.
The last link to the chain was John Bonham (b. May 20, 1948, Bromwich) on drums.
The band finished their ten date tour of Scandinavia with some
unexpected success. Everywhere they went people were asking how a band like
this could go unnoticed. The unique blend of blues-influenced rock, and guitar-
riff based songs blew their audience away.
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, that Doug Ingle, lead singer for Iron Butterfly decided to
scrap the show. Reason 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
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
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. The giant had fallen.
“As it was, then again it will be,
Though the course may change sometimes,
Rivers always reach the sea.”
-Ten Years Gone