Sänger Robert Plant und Gitarrist Jimmy Page live auf der Bühne.

Moments of Rock: Led Zeppelin’s Debut

What’s the most influential rock band of all time? There isn’t one right answer but there are some good contenders. Led Zeppelin being one of them. Despite only being together around 12 years, the band has become finely interwoven into the tapestry of legends and impacted the world of rock. So let’s take a look at Led Zeppelin’s debut and where it all started.

The man in need of band

One star, one professional and two newcomers – this how you could describe the beginnings of Led Zeppelin. Jimmy Page, was already a celebrated guitarist in the UK. He was a member of the band  The Yardbirds, consisting of Eric Clapton. The Yardbirds were set to tour together in 1968, however the band broke up leaving Jimmy Page with a touring contract, but no band to tour with. So he quickly set out to find a new band.

 “We can call it Led Zeppelin,’” Page said after the Who drummer, Keith Moon, said. “’Because it can only go down, like a lead balloon.’”

It started with Paul Jones putting himself forward to play bass after he heard Page was on the lookout for new band members. As for the lead singer, Robert Plant, he got Page’s attention while performing with his former band. And Plant, the now singer, knew a drummer who could create a sound like no other – John Bonham. And before they knew it, they had already formed the then The New Yardbirds, which would later be renamed.

Jimmy Page once said in a interview that the protocol of the band was to play louder and harder than any other band around. It should be a “front-line attack on the ears.” And this statement is something we can relate to when we think of Led Zeppelin. However, as their first album showcased their music was just more than a loud sound massacre.

The impact of the first Led Zeppelin Album

Aufnahme des 1937 havarierten Luftschiffs Hindenburg.
On their first album they used the image of the burning Zeppelin called Hindenburg.

Led Zeppelin are often noted as the forerunners of heavy metal and progressive and rock. Their music was fresh, diverse making an impact of the music scene at the time. The debut show how versed and varied they were. The songs were rooted in Blues but with incorporating psychedelic and folk influences. Their songs were also often longer with innovative structures and tempos. And of course, their songs were accompanied by epic solos.

This fusion of blues and rock can especially be noticed in the song Dazed and Confused. At the start the song are blue influences but as it plays on the bass and the drums gradually become louder and more present. The riffs get harder,  making the middle of the song more psychedelic, which is then followed by an instrumental where Page and Bonham give it all they’ve got.

Led Zeppelin’s debut also started with folk music. The band covered some folk songs, highlighting their softer sound but they were still a lot heavier than the originals. However, the album opener doesn’t follow their softer sound, as the drummer wanted to make his mark as one of the best drummers around, so created an audio masterpiece that we all can’t forget.

The critics destroyed their debut album, however commercially it was successful. US radio stations gave it a lot air time making the album reach the Top 10 on the album charts. However, their major success was to follow in the years to come.

The highs and lows of the band

The 1970s belonged to Led Zeppelin. They released 7 studio albums before 1980. Containing the rock classics like Whole Lotta Love in 1969 from the second album Led Zeppelin II. Nearly each one of the seven albums made it to the top of the charts in the USA and Great Britain.

However, their legendary status was more about their onstage presence. The concerts could last for hours. The songs would last a lot longer than the album version, with Page playing guitar solos that would last up to 20 minutes long. Bonham and Jones would relentlessly try to bring the songs alive, and the singer Robert Plant as the singer would performance hard and powerful, to match the strength of the sound around him.

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As you can imagine there was a lot going on backstage. The band was constantly on the go, either recording or touring. And drugs, alcohol were rumored to be always present. There was a personal crisis and disagreement between the band members. However, it all came to both a climax and end when the band member, John Bonham, died on September 25th 1980. He chocked on his own sick due to an aggressive drunken state, after recording with the band.

Around two years later the album Coda came out. It was a selection of old songs that the band recorded that never made it on to previous albums. It was noted that Jimmy Page, only released this album to meet the agreements of an old record deal.

Loudspeakers for rock stars

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What ROCKSTER Backstage gets up to …
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Stereos for proper music lovers

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header image: ©Shutterstock/Bruce Allan Bennett
Image 1: © Heinrich Klaffs / Quelle: Wikimedia Commons


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