Led Zeppelin formed in 1968 as a residue of The Yardbirds. Jimmy Page was the last remaining member and had to fulfill some concert obligations in Scandinavia. Page teamed up with John Paul Jones, with whom he worked with on previous session engagements, and they decided to form a band together, after contributing to Donovan's Hurdy Gurdy Man album , they started searching for a singer and a drummer to complete the band. Page went to see Robert Plant on recommendation by Terry Reid (Terry didn't want to do the vocals, he also turned down DEEP PURPLE for that matter), and immediately loved his voice and stage appearance, Robert Plant on his turn recommended John Bonham for drums with whom he played before in his Birmingham based band "Band Of Joy". The band members hit it off immediately and together they went on the Scandinavian tour as 'The New yardbirds". Considering their intend of forming a rock band they needed a proper name. Keith Moon once commented on the New Yardbirds show "This band will go down like a lead balloon" and derived from that came the new name of the soon to be legendary band Led Zeppelin.
Over the years Led Zeppelin came in many guises, from the heavy blues rock that dominated their first two albums, to the folk and acoustics that made up half of their 3rd and 4th album, and the more funky, even slightly progressive Houses of the Holy, and the bombastically baroque Physical Graffiti to the classic rock that prevailed in their last two albums. Led Zeppelin can be categorized as a heavier continuation of what Cream set in motion, with blues drenched, folk inflected and guitar dominated rock, using all the different styles rock could be played in, from blues, to folk, funk, pop, classical elements, Rock and Roll and metal, with side-steps that even included country and reggae, as well as psychedelic and large portions of what can be considered progressive rock. Aside from being a great rock band, their influence was felt throughout the heavy rock spectrum.
Typical elements in Led Zeppelin sounds are the funky electric guitar drives, delicate and technical acoustic guitar pieces, sophisticated multi-layered arrangements, a fabulous rhythm section with heavy drumming from John "Bonzo" Bonham and great groovy bass lines and keyboards from multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones, and Plants sexual soulful voice and often mystical lyrics.
Their legend was based on continuous touring early in their career, combined with great albums and a mystic gothic aura that surrounded their music and lyrics. Rumours about satanic messages in their songs audible when played backwards, and disasters (sickness, car crashes and tragic death of Plants son Karac) that followed in Led Zeppelins trail only helped in mystifying and eventually legend forming of the band.
Over the years Led Zeppelin started playing bigger venues, becoming the ultimate stadium rock band, which led to their eventual demise as the archetype rock dinosaur that punk reacted upon. Led Zeppelin filled Knebworth stadium in 1979, which turned out to be their last live performance, when Led Zeppelin's career came to an abrupt end with the untimely death of drummer John Bonham, who died of suffocating in his own vomit after a drinking binge. Jimmy Page was devastated about it, and the band decided they couldn't go on anymore.
After the break, there were rumors about Led Zeppelin getting back together, but aside from a left-over album (Coda) and a one-off reunion for Life Aid there never came a real reunion. Plant and Page did work together again on Plant's Honeydrippers project and in 1994 Page and Plant joined forces again for MTV's unplugged program, which was released as "No Quarter - Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Unledded" and they made a new album together called "Walking Into Clarksdale"
In 1990 a box set 'The Best Of Led Zeppelin' was released, and in 2003 they released a triple live album (How The West Was Won) and a double DVD set(Untitled) saw the light, reminding the public of the force that Led Zeppelin once was.
How does Led Zeppelin fit into a progressive site as Progarchives is an ongoing debate, with many in favor, but also some objections. Basically Led Zeppelin wasn't a progressive rock band, but they used progressive textures and progressive elements in their music, but above all they influenced many progressive bands over the years, from YES, to JETHRO TULL, from RUSH to SPOCK'S BEARD, without Led Zeppelin rock and progressive music wouldn't be the same.
Tuxon, Netherlands, November 2006
Bio Courtesy of www.progarchives.com