10 Facts All Fans Should Know About the Mighty Band Led Zeppelin
10 Facts All Fans Should Know About the Mighty Band Led Zeppelin

10 Facts All Fans Should Know About the Mighty Band Led Zeppelin

Josh - July 24, 2018

Led Zeppelin is one of the most iconic bands to come out of the Golden Age of Rock. With an estimated 300 million records sold worldwide, they undoubtedly cemented their names in music history as one of the highest examples of career achievement for artists and bands alike. Five of their albums reached Diamond status – Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin IV, Physical Graffiti, Houses Of The Holy, and the Led Zeppelin boxed set. Aside from their most notable achievements, let’s take a look into 10 facts about Led Zeppelin that your cool burnt out Uncle may not even know!

10 Facts All Fans Should Know About the Mighty Band Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin in the late 70’s. Clockwise, John Bonham, Jimi Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones. Photo: Wikipedia.com

They Never Had a No.1 Hit

That’s right. Just like Black Sabbath, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix, to name a few surprising others, they never managed to climb to the top of the charts and snag a number one spot. The highest rank the band ever achieved on the Billboard Hot 100 was in 1969, at the number four spot with “Whole Lotta Love”. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page got a one up in 1985 with Robert’s then band, The Honeydrippers, with “Sea of Love,” coming in at number three.

So how does a band of this caliber not get a number one hit? It could be the fact that at the time, they were considered hard rock. In those days Hard Rock and Heavy Metal were comprised of bands like Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, KISS, and Deep Purple (who all also never had a number one hit) and historically, even to this day, it’s always pop bands that routinely take the top spots. At the time groups like the Jackson 5, The Beegees, and The Beatles, were usually the names rounding out the top.

It could have also been the fact that Led Zeppelin approached the media very differently than most artists and outside of touring were usually recluses. Unlike the Beatles who were constantly on television and in the eye of the people, they never appeared on tv. According to Robert Plant, no matter how well they performed they were always at the mercy of the in house audio and sound engineers, who had no idea how to record live bands. They constantly toured but when they were in the off season, if there is such a thing for top tier rock bands, they were usually holed up in their homes. Or in Jimmy Page’s and Robert Plant’s case, at the now famous Bron-Yr-Aur cottage in the remote part of the Snowdonia National Park.

10 Facts All Fans Should Know About the Mighty Band Led Zeppelin
The newly formed Led Zeppelin pose for a quick shot with Jimmy Page holding one of his iconic guitars, a Gibson Les Paul. Photo: Wikipedia.com

Led Zeppelin Had Supposedly Been Cursed

Thanks to a little indirect help from Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin’s luck was about to run short. Robert Plant would seem to take the brunt of the bad luck, but John Bonham would pay the ultimate price. Jimmy Page had been rumored to be a satanist, the band is also said to have sold their souls for fame, all but John Paul Jones who would later have no ill effects of the supposed curse. But It wasn’t until Page got on the bad side of Kenneth Anger, a man he would eventually live with in the Aleister Crowley home, Boleskine, and work on some projects together, that the unfortunate events would start to unfold. The falling out came when Page failed to deliver enough music for the soundtrack to Kenneth’s movie “Lucifer Rising”; soon after, Page would also abruptly kick Kenneth out of the home. According to legend, Kenneth cursed Page and Led Zeppelin, what would happened next is more than just coincidence.

Robert Plant, his Wife Maureen, and his children were on a small vacation from the Physical Graffiti tour in Greece. While driving a car he had rented, Plant lost control and crashed the vehicle over a hill and into a tree. Everyone in the car suffered injuries and Plant’s were severe enough to cancel the tour and even postpone the next album, Presence, which he would eventually record in a wheelchair. Plant then had his car fall on him while he was working on it, crushing his ribs. But Plant’s bad luck did not end there: he would also contract Laryngitis and would have to postpone the beginning of a tour by two months. The most tragic of all is the two phone calls that would change his life forever. Before a show in New Orleans, Robert would get a phone call stating his son was suffering from a stomach infection and was in critical condition. Within two hours, he would get another call saying his son had passed from the illness. Robert immediately cancelled the tour and put a temporary halt to Led Zeppelin all together.

John Bonham would get wrapped up in what had almost nothing to do with him but ultimately landed John, Peter Grant, and John Bindon in prison. For a little background information, Grant was the band manager for Led Zeppelin and Bindon acted as a sort of body guard for the band. Now that we have that straight, buckle up, because events fall into place quickly.

Also known as the Oakland incident, Bill Grahm, who was a large music promoter, noticed a boy taking a Led Zeppelin sign down from the venue. That boy, Grant’s son or Warren Grant, said he just wanted it for keeps but was really just trying to get rid of it. Matzorkis who was a guard for Graham, took it back rather violently. Bonham noticed this transaction and reported back to Grant what had happened. Later that evening Grant and Bindon found Matzorkis in his trailer, locked the door, and savagely beat the man within an inch of his life. Reports say his eyes had to be put back into socket when he arrived at the hospital. The next morning, John Bonham, Grant, and Bindon were all arrested and held on a $2 million dollar bond.

The next tragic event would be when Led Zeppelin would cease to exist. John Bonham was at band practice for an entire day at Jimmy Page’s house. The rest of the gang was there but after burning the midnight oil and consuming 40 shots of Vodka, John passed out. Jimmy then put John in his spare bedroom for the night. The next morning Jimmy had found John, deceased. He had choked on his own vomit. On September 25, 1980, two deaths had occurred. John Bonham, and Led Zeppelin.

10 Facts All Fans Should Know About the Mighty Band Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin early in their career. From left to right: John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, John Bonham, and Robert Plant. PPcorn.com

They Had Bad And Odd Hotel Manners

All Rockstars abused Hotel rooms at one time or another. Smashing, crashing, and bashing their fame on the walls of some poor Inn-keep’s walls. But what about slapping a groupie, among other sexual acts, with a mud shark? That’s right. The band was staying at the famous Edgewater Hotel, in Seattle, Washington. It’s the very same that The Beatles stayed and made so famous a few years prior. The hotel had a “fish from your window” policy. Led Zeppelin took that policy and ran with it. After catching a mud shark, they then proceeded to take that poor shark, slap a young red headed groupie they had been getting to “know” and reportedly use pieces of that shark as bedroom toys. That ultimately landed them a lifetime ban from the hotel. They would later circumnavigate that ban to end up throwing five television sets into the ocean that night!

Nothing could beat a mud shark that had multiple bedroom uses right? Except maybe, just maybe, Jimmy Page having to be handcuffed to a toilet on multiple occasions so he wouldn’t be able to do one of his favorite traditions: Dress up like a Nazi and shoot heroin down at local Trans clubs. Some rockstars have uniforms they always loved to don. Angus Young wore the school boy outfit, Jimi Hendrix wore his school band uniform. Jimmy Page wore his uniforms, but kept with his usual approach to things: he took it to the next level.

While this next bad hotel behavior doesn’t top the other crazy habits the band exhibited, this is definitely one for the books. In Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles, California, Led Zeppelin left many scars and memories down the polished halls. This chateau was the setting for many historic pop culture events. Some of the most notable are, James Dean hopping through a window for an audition, Jim Belushi overdosing in bungalow three, and Led Zeppelin riding through the halls on Harley Davidsons. This wasn’t the first time the group had done this. Especially for John Bonham, it was almost his debauchery trademark when it came to overnight stays in strange places. So the group did not make the hotel infamous on its own, but certainly left their mark for years to come.

10 Facts All Fans Should Know About the Mighty Band Led Zeppelin
Surving members of Led Zeppelin, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page with President Barack Obama. Wikimedia Commons.

A Rock Band with Highest Honors

Among all of the achievements Led Zeppelin has accrued over their careers, these next few may be some of their most prestigious and humbling. They won multiple awards for their work in charity organizations and were honored for their influence on music. The first goes to the surviving members of the band. John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page. On December 12th, 2012, the guys were at the Kennedy Center Honors for “lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts.” President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were in attendance, and the president even had a few moments with the band to himself. The evening also had a moving performance from the band Heart and their cover of “Stairway to Heaven”.

Individually, the band members also received high praise for their work in the world community. Jimmy Page was recognized multiple times throughout his career for achievement, but one charity stands out the most was to his work for underprivileged children in Brazil, rather than his music career. Page first discovered his interest in helping the unfortunate children in Brazil, where he and his wife started the Task Brazil charity. This charity helps underprivileged children in Brazil where they live in Casa de Jimi, a home built by Jimmy himself, where the children can seek shelter, be fed, and help get back on their feet through foster care or adoption. For his work and dedication to this region, Jimmy Page was awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire from the Queen in 2005.

In 2009, Robert would also be honored and awarded the title Commander of the British Empire, for his contributions to British culture and fundraising efforts. This particular honor is generally rewarded to people who exhibit contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organizations, and public service outside the Civil Services. It is bestowed upon the recipient by The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, a British order of chivalry. To really add to the prestige of the title, the ceremony was performed by the Prince of Wales.

10 Facts All Fans Should Know About the Mighty Band Led Zeppelin
The New Yardbirds. Who would later rename and become Led Zeppelin. Clockwise, Jimmy Page, John Bonham, John Paul Jones, And Robert Plant.

Jimmy Page had other band members in mind in the beginning, and a different name

In the early years, Jimmy Page was a successful session musician and playing guitar/bass in probably the most famous unknown band, The Yardbirds. The Yardbirds, who had Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Keith Moon in its roster over the years, were coming off the road and were tired. Jimmy Page who was in the band at the time wanted to keep it going. So he decided to get new people in the band and start his own supergroup.

Jimmy Page first asked Terry Reid, a vocalist he had worked with in the studio and live shows, to be the singer. Terry declined the position, having just signed a deal to be a solo artist. Terry recommended Robert Plant, a friend of his and who he described as someone who looked like a “Greek god”.

After Chris Dreja, former band mate of Jimmy Page, denied the role of drummer, Robert Plant then suggested his old band mate John Bonham to take the role. John Paul Jones, who was looking to be in a supergroup himself, asked Jimmy if he could join. Both Johns came on board and they would go on to play their first show together as The New Yardbirds – not as Led Zeppelin. They would eventually get their now famous name when Keith Moon, drummer for The Who, said the band would go down like a lead Zeppelin. Jimmy Page then named the band Lead Zeppelin but quickly changed the spelling to Led Zeppelin so people would stop pronouncing it “Leed Zeppelin”.

10 Facts All Fans Should Know About the Mighty Band Led Zeppelin
John Paul Jones then and now. Conceritos Music.

John Paul Jones, The Unsung Hero and Jack of All Music Trades

John Paul Jones, (born John Baldwin, who would later change his name for better stage appeal) along with John Bonham, were the back bone of Led Zeppelin. Throughout his career in Led Zeppelin, he did more than just groove on the bass. The keyboard, synthesizer, mandolin, and effects were all thanks to Mr. Jones. But Led Zeppelin wasn’t the only band he worked with and rock wasn’t always his game.

The accomplished bassist would find new fame while working with Paul McCartney on his film “Give My Regards To Broad Street”, as the Bass Player on the soundtrack. He would also worked with Dusty Springfield’s “Dusty…. Definitely” in 1968. He also played in Cat Steven’s album “Matthew And Son”, and also recorded with Jeff Beck earlier and later in both musician’s careers.

John also had a talent for musical arrangements. John Paul Jones can be credited with the string arrangement of “She’s A Rainbow” from the Rolling Stones. A song written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards; the guys reached out to John to help add a lighter side to the song. He is also responsible for R.E.M.’s orchestral arrangements on their album Automatic For The People in collaboration with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

10 Facts All Fans Should Know About the Mighty Band Led Zeppelin
Robert Plant, then and now

Robert Plant, The Would Be Accountant That Shaped Rock and Roll

Early in his days, Robert Plant was born in the industrial part of England. His father was a civil engineer and wanted Plant to be an accountant. After two weeks of training, Plant quit to chase his passion of music. More specifically, the blues. Chasing his dream of becoming a full time musician he worked as an asphalt layer and paver.

Plant would play with two notable early bands including the Crawling King Snakes, where he would meet drummer John Bonham, and The Band of Joy – a band both Robert and John started and would play in for some time. Robert had three obscure singles on CBS records. He would continually hone his skills as a singer and songwriter.

Robert Plant would continue to delve into new music collaborating after Led Zeppelin with his own band, The Honeydrippers. He would also go in collaboration with Alison Krauss on their album “Raising Sand” which would win Album Of The Year in 2008 at the Americana Music Honors and Awards and again in the 2009 Grammy Awards. Robert Plant would also go on to win a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

10 Facts All Fans Should Know About the Mighty Band Led Zeppelin
Jimmy Page, Now and Then.

Jimmy Page, The Icon Who Almost Retired From Music At 19

Jimmy Page has always been very successful at music. His first live tv appearance was when he was 13 years old on BBC’s All Your Own in 1957. He was playing in a skiffle band at the time (skiffle is kind of like British bluegrass or folk music) and was already wowing the music community.

By the early mid-60’s Page was already one of the most successful studio musicians around and considered retiring from music at the ripe old age of 19 to pursue art. Luckily, story has it, when he first caught wind of the American blues scene, it sparked a new love and motivation for the young rockstar and he would go on to play with The Yardbirds and eventually help form Led Zeppelin.

Jimmy Page worked in charity and giving back to the community and the world after he “retired” from music the second time. He would go on to work with the Ahmet Ertegun Education Fund, AIDS Memorial Campaign, Childline, and Action for Brazil Children’s Fund which he and his wife created. The latter of which would get him a trip to see Queen Elizabeth II and the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire!

10 Facts All Fans Should Know About the Mighty Band Led Zeppelin
John “Bonzo” Bonham

John Bonham, the crowd-shy rock drummer whose first drum set was cooking pots and pans

The late, great John Bonham is considered one of the best in the business. With a consistent sound that had anything but ordinary rhythm, John is a continuous source of inspiration. But how do you get to be that sensational? Probably by starting at 5 years old on a set that was fabricated by cooking pots and pans. He didn’t get his first snare drum until 10 and his first full set until he was 15. Talk about making due with what you have!

John Bonham had terrible stage fright. You would think after years of performing it would be natural but he routinely had panic attacks before shows. John cut his teeth with a band called the Crawling King Snakes. A band where he would meet Robert Plant in and form a strong bond. They would later start band called The Band of Joy. John was mostly influenced by Jazz drummers like Gene Krupa, and Buddy Rich.

John Bonham’s Nickname was Bonzo and he was known for hitting the drums hard – very hard. He would often use very long and heavy drumsticks, calling them “trees” to aid in the aggressive sound he was known for. John Bonham passed away from alcohol poisoning on September, 24, 1980. He legacy lives on in many players, his hometown where they recently put up a statue in his honor, and even has signature drum models produced by the Ludwig Drum Company that match the ones he used while he was with Led Zeppelin.

10 Facts All Fans Should Know About the Mighty Band Led Zeppelin
A young Led Zeppelin pose for a shot.

Led Zeppelin Had A Problem With Plagiarism.

The most iconic case of this is their “Stairway To Heaven” fiasco. It came about whenever a band named Spirit claimed the band had stolen their intro from the song “Taurus” – give it a listen and you would have probably done the same! Other bands from that time had the same problem. Even The Rolling Stones would experience this problem when recording a song called “Love in Vain” that Robert Johnson originally wrote, but they failed to credit it to him.

But the guys had a knack for doing first and asking for forgiveness later. The most controversial songs include:

  1. “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” a song originally done by Ann Brendon
  2. “Dazed and Confused” a song first done by Jake Holmes
  3. “Whole Lotta Love” a song where the lyrics were borrowed from
  4. “You Need Love” by Willy Dixon and Muddy Waters
  5. “The Lemon Song” who’s lyrics were taken from Chester Burnett aka “Howlin Wolf”
  6. “Since I’ve Been Loving You” another song’s whose lyrics were taken from one of Robert’s favorite bands Moby Grape.

There are also a few other songs but the similarities are quite debatable. Give some of these songs a listen, especially the first example, and see if you think they had any similarities other than a simple nod to their creation.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources.

“20 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Early Led Zeppelin”. Nick Deriso, Ultimate Classic Rock.com

“About Led Zeppelin” Wikipedia

“Led Zeppelin Discography” Wikipedia

“Led Zeppelin’s 10 Boldest Rip offs” Gavin Edwards, The Rolling Stones.com

“Aleister Crowley, Jimmy Page and the Curse of Led Zeppelin-When Myth, Magick and Weird Facts Collide” CarWreckDeBangs.com

“The Long Shadow Of Led Zeppelin” Mikal Gilmore, The Rolling Stones.com

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