Any modern hard rocker, heavy metal-head or fan of those genres worth their salt will acknowledge that the foundations were laid brilliantly by Led Zeppelin, whose guitar-driven anthems "Stairway to Heaven," "Black Dog," and "Kashmir" drove them to become one of the greatest rock bands ever. Coming up in Britain at the same time the Bay Area was busting with psychedelia, Led Zeppelin would move to break all boundaries known to traditional rock.
When the Yardbirds split in 1967, Jimmy Page was left to fulfill concert obligations left by the band. With two integral members missing, Page and bassist Chris Dreja were left with the rights to the band's name. Page went to hear Robert Plant, who at the time was singing with Hobbstweedle. Taken by Plant's voice and stage presence, Page tapped Plant as the band's frontman. John Paul Jones soon replaced Dreia, and Page courted John Bonham for a month before he joined. Touring under the name the New Yardbirds, the foursome fulfilled the old band's concert schedule and in October 1968 the band, now called Led Zeppelin, (after a doomsaying prediction by Keith Moon, i.e. "well, that'll go down like a lead zeppelin."), went into the studio and recorded their self-titled debut album in under 30 hours.
Zeppelin signed a contract with Atlantic Records and set out to tour the States in support of Vanilla Fudge. The band's self-titled debut vied with Jeff Beck's Truth as the definitive British blues/rock album. The group was already a headline act, drawing sell-out crowds across the USA, when Led Zeppelin II confirmed their explosive potential. "Whole Lotta Love" has since become a classic. The untitled album (referred to as 'Led Zeppelin IV') in 1971 featured "Stairway To Heaven," "Rock & Roll" and "When The Levee Breaks," and rightfully became the band's biggest album, selling more than 16 million copies over the next 25 years.
In the spring of 1973, the band broke from their traditional album-naming convention with the release of Houses of the Holy, which debuted at #1 both in America and England. On their supporting tour, Led Zeppelin shot footage that would later be produced as their 1976 rockumentary, The Song Remains The Same. To better accommodate their recording needs in 1974, Led Zeppelin formed their own label, Swan Song. Zeppelin would record all their albums on Swan Song from this point---including the double album, Physical Graffiti, Presence and In Through The Out Door, the band's eighth and final studio album.
In September 1980, the group rehearsed in preparation of an America leg of their tour. On Sept. 25, John Bonham was found dead in his bed following an all-day drinking binge. In December of that same year, the surviving members of the band reported that,without Bonham, Led Zeppelin could not be a band, and broke up.Jones went on to become a successful producer, notably with the Mission, while Plant embarked on a solo career, launched with Pictures At Eleven.
Page scored the movie Death Wish 2 and, after a brief reunion with Plant and the Honeydrippers project in 1984, he inaugurated the short-lived Firm with Paul Rodgers. He then formed the Jimmy Page Band with John Bonham's son, Jason, who in turn drummed with Led Zeppelin on their appearance at Atlantic Records' 25th Anniversary Concert in 1988. In 1994 Page and Plant went two-thirds of the way to a re-formation with their ironically titled Unledded project, though John Paul Jones was conspicuous in his absence. The duo cemented the relationship with an album of new Page and Plant material in 1998.