1968-1970: Early years

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Posted on Wed, 11/12/2014 - 12:25pm
by John MacMillan

Member since: Tue, 01/07/2014

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The band began their first tour of the UK on 4 October 1968, still billed as the New Yardbirds, and played their first show as Led Zeppelin at the University of Surrey in Battersea on 25 October. Tour manager Richard Cole, who would become a major figure in the touring life of the group, organised their first North American tour at the end of the year. The first show was in Denver on 26 December 1968, followed by other West Coast dates before the band travelled to California to play Los Angeles and San Francisco. Their debut album, Led Zeppelin, was released in the US during the tour on 12 January 1969, and peaked at number 10 on the Billboard chart; it was released in the UK, where it peaked at number 6, on 31 March. According to Steve Erlewine, the album's memorable guitar riffs, lumbering rhythms, psychedelic blues, groovy, bluesy shuffles and hints of English folk, made it "a significant turning point in the evolution of hard rock and heavy metal".

In their first year, Led Zeppelin completed four US and four UK concert tours, and also released their second album, Led Zeppelin II. Recorded almost entirely on the road at various North American studios, it was an even greater commercial success than their first album, and reached the number one chart position in the US and the UK. The album further developed the mostly blues-rock musical style established on their debut release, creating a work with a sound that was "heavy and hard, brutal and direct", and which would be highly influential and frequently imitated. Steve Waksman has suggested that Led Zeppelin II was "the musical starting point for heavy metal".

The band saw their albums as indivisible, complete listening experiences, disliking the re-editing of existing tracks for release as singles. Grant maintained an aggressive pro-album stance, particularly in the UK, where there were few radio and TV outlets for rock music. Without the band's consent, however, some songs were released as singles, particularly in the US. In 1969 an edited version of "Whole Lotta Love", a track from their second album, was released as a single in the US. It reached number four in the Billboard chart in January 1970, selling over one million copies and helping to cement the band's popularity. The group also increasingly shunned television appearances, citing their preference that their fans hear and see them in live concerts.

Following the release of their second album, Led Zeppelin completed several more US tours. They played initially in clubs and ballrooms, and then in larger auditoriums as their popularity grew. Some early Led Zeppelin concerts lasted more than four hours, with expanded and improvised live versions of their repertoire. Many of these shows have been preserved as bootleg recordings. It was during this period of intensive concert touring that the band developed a reputation for off-stage excess. One alleged example of such extravagance was the shark episode said to have taken place at the Edgewater Inn in Seattle on 28 July 1969.

In 1970 Page and Plant retired to Bron-Yr-Aur, a remote cottage in Wales, to commence work on their third album, Led Zeppelin III. The result was a more acoustic style that was strongly influenced by folk and Celtic music, and showcased the band's versatility. The album's rich acoustic sound initially received mixed reactions, with critics and fans surprised at the turn from the primarily electric arrangements of the first two albums, further fuelling the band's hostility to the musical press. It reached number one in the UK and US charts, but its stay would be the shortest of their first five albums. The album's opening track, "Immigrant Song", was released as a US single in November 1970 against the band's wishes, reaching the top twenty on the Billboard chart.

 

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Led Zeppelin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : taken from - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Led_Zeppelin http://creativecommons.org/li...