This week 49 years ago, a ragtag foursome hailing of the outskirts of London released their first album, Led Zeppelin, in the UK with limited expectations. Completely unknown to anyone in the US, Led Zeppelin chose its name based on an early critic review in which the author ripped the band apart, claiming they would go as far as a “lead zeppelin.”
Obviously this early review, along with negative reviews from the likes of Rolling Stone Magazine, proved to be completely unaligned with youth sentiment across the globe. Thus far Led Zeppelin has been certified 8x platinum, selling over 8 million copies in the US alone.
Following in the footsteps of early hard rock artists like Cream and Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin took things to the next level by fusing earlier blues influences with heavy distortion, ear-striking guitar solos and ground pounding drums rhythms.
Thanks to the large amount of time the band had spent rehearsing while on the road for earlier European shows in 1968, the band’s first album astonishingly only took 36 hours to record – a millisecond in comparison to most albums
The real magic and momentum for the band gained traction after multiple live shows, however. Live renditions of hits from the album such as “Communication Breakdown,” and “Dazed and Confused” would go well longer than the studio recording as guitarist Jimmy Page and drummer John Bonham endlessly soloed in front of mesmerized fans.
The artwork for album, which features the explosion of the airship Hindenburg burning towards the ground, was as explosive as the band’s skyrocketing popularity once they started touring the US. Within a couple months of pushing singles on the radio and gigging across the states, Zeppelin finally reached Billboard’s Top Ten.
At the time, Led Zeppelin was considerably heavier than most rock n’ roll bands that preceded the group – borderline heavy metal. Generations of hopeful musicians have used the album as a foundation for what a great rock group should sound like.
The muted fret picking of Page in combination with singer Robert Plant’s uncanny ability to wail at the top of his lungs in the correct pitch have been recreated and improved upon hundreds of times in the last half century, and likely will be many, many more.