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Formed in 1968 by Jimmy Page (guitar), Robert Plant (vocals, harmonica), John Paul Jones (bass guitar, keyboards, mandolin), and John Bonham (drums), Led Zeppelin was the definitive heavy metal band. They are regularly cited as one of the progenitors of heavy metal and hard rock music.

Led Zeppelin, an English rock band formed in London in 1968, consists of nine studio albums, three live albums, nine compilations, 21 singles, and two video albums. The group was composed of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham. The band was originally formed by guitarist Jimmy Page under the name The New Yardbirds in order to fulfill some performance commitments booked in Scandinavia before the break up of the original Yardbirds. The group was active between 1968 through 1980. More than any other band, Led Zeppelin established the concept of album-oriented rock, refusing to release popular songs from their albums as singles. In doing so, they established the dominant format for heavy metal, as well as the genre's actual sound.

Led Zeppelin was rock's first real Heavy Metal band. Yet many of their fans were not even fans of metal music. They came about after guitarist Jimmy Page, (who was rock's most sort after session man in the early and mid sixties) was left with what was the remains of theYardbirds. He had join the Yardbirds to record with them on what would be their final album, Little Games in 1967.

In the spring of 1968, Page played lead guitar on Donovan's song "Hurdy Gurdy Man" which also featured bassist John Paul Jones. By the summer of '68 the Yardbirds' frontman Keith Relf, along with James McCarty left the band leaving behind Page and bassist Chris Dreja with the rights to the name and obligation of fulfilling an upcoming fall tour. Page wanted to hire vocalist Terry Reid as Relf's replacement, but Reid was still with Procol Harum and recommended Page check out his friend, Robert Plant, who was singing for a band called Hobbstweedle. After hearing his singing, Page asked him to join the Yardbirds. About the same time, Dreja left the band and Jones joined the group. Plant then suggested that Page hire his former drummer John Bonham, who played with Plant in the group, The Band Of Joy.

Initially Bonham turned them down as he was being offered more money by others, but by that September he agreed to join them. They played the previously booked Yardbirds engagements in late September '68 as the "New Yardbirds". The following month they changed the name to Led Zeppelin (the name was suggested by the Who's Keith Moon, who got the name from fellow Who member John Entwistle, who came up with the name and wanted to use it for his backup band). Page felt a new name was needed since they really were no longer in any way the Yardbirds. They wanted to play the blues, but in a way not yet done by any other bands.

Led Zep then signed with Atlantic Records in the United States and began to record their debut album, which was released in early 1969, along with a tour of the U.S. They started their tour in America since they felt England would only look upon then as the "old" Yardbirds. They were paid very little at first, playing one show for only $200. The album Led Zeppelin, made the US top ten and the band toured non stop the entire year in both America and England. While on the road they recorded their second album Led Zeppelin II, which was released on October 22, '69 and spend seven weeks at number one. Considering it passed the Stones new album Let It Bleed and knocked the Beatles' Abbey Road from the number one spot two months after its release, it was most definitely a powerful statement.

The band's varying musical tendencies were fused on their untitled fourth album, which is usually called either 'Zoso,' 'Runes,' 'Four Symbols,' or just 'Led Zeppelin IV. Released November 8, 1971, this record included hard rock such as 'Black Dog', Tolkienesque folksy mysticism on 'The Battle of Evermore', and a combination of both genres in the lengthy song 'Stairway to Heaven', a massive FM radio hit that has been acknowledged by many as the all-time greatest classic rock song. The album winds up with one of their best blues songs, a Memphis Minnie cover titled 'When the Levee Breaks'.

Their next studio record, 1973's Houses of the Holy, featured further trialing: longer songs, expanded use of synthesisers and string sections arranged by Jones. With songs like 'The Song Remains the Same', 'No Quarter' and 'D'yer Mak'er'. Led Zeppelin was again pushing the limits defining rock music. Their 1973 tour of the U.S. again broke records for attendance: at Tampa Stadium, Florida they played to 56,800 fans (more than the Beatles' 1965 concert at Shea Stadium). Three sold out New York shows at Madison Square Garden were filmed for a concert motion picture, but this project would be delayed for several years.

In 1974, Led Zeppelin launched their own record label called Swan Song, named after one of only five songs that the band never recorded for commercial release (the track was re-tooled as 'Midnight Moonlight' by Page's post-Zeppelin band The Firm on their first album). Besides using it as a vehicle to promote their own albums, the band stretched out the label's roster, signing artists such as Bad Company, Pretty Things, Maggie Bell, Detective, Dave Edmunds, Midnight Flyer, Sad Café and Wildlife.

1975 saw the release of Physical Graffiti, their first double album set, on the Swan Song label. The band again showed exciting range with songs like the melodic 'Ten Years Gone', the acoustic 'Black Country Woman', the driving 'Trampled Underfoot' and the thundering, Middle Eastern tinged 'Kashmir'. Shortly after the release of Physical Graffiti, the entire Led Zeppelin catalogue of six albums was simultaneously on the top 200 album chart, a feat never before accomplished. The band embarked on another U.S. tour, again playing to record-breaking crowds. At this peak of their career, Led Zeppelin was the biggest rock band in the world.

If the band's popularity on stage and record was impressive, Zeppelin travelled in a private jet, rented out entire sections of hotels, and became the subjects of many of rock's most famous stories of debauchery: trashed hotel rooms, sexual escapades, and heavy use of drugs including alcohol.

Led Zeppelin have been nominated for and won several awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, the Q Merit Award in 1992, the Polar Music Prize in 2006, a MOJO Award in 2008 voted by readers for the "best live act", and inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (12 January 1995), UK Music Hall of Fame (16 November 2004), and the Mojo Hall of Fame 100 (November 2003: 10th Anniversary Issue). The band is ranked #1 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock and #4 on their list of 100 Greatest Artists of Rock & Roll. In February 2002, Led Zeppelin were ranked the third-greatest band of all time by Spin magazine.

In January 2005, Led Zeppelin were honoured with the "International Artist Award" at the American Music Awards. The four members of Led Zeppelin were voted the United Kingdom's ideal supergroup in a 2005 Planet Rock radio poll. Led Zeppelin are ranked no. 1 on Classic Rock's "50 Best Live Acts of All Time".The band topped "NME's Pop Poll" for consecutive three years (1974-76) under the category of the best "Vocal Group". At the end of the BBC Two series "I'm in a Rock 'n' Roll Band!" on 5th June 2010, Led Zeppelin were named the best rock 'n' roll band of all time. Page and Plant, without Jones, reunited in 1994 for an MTV Unplugged performance (dubbed Unledded) which eventually led to a world tour with a Middle Eastern orchestra, and two albums.

1997 saw the release of the first Led Zeppelin album in over 15 years. This two-disc set included almost all of the band's recordings for the BBC, though fans noticed the nonappearance of one session from 1969 that included the unreleased 'Sugar Mama'. At this time Atlantic also released a single edit of 'Whole Lotta Love' making it the only Led Zeppelin CD single.

The British press reported in 2002 that Plant and Jones had reconciled after a 20 year feud that had kept Led Zeppelin apart, and rumours surfaced of a reunion tour in 2003. Drummer Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters was named as a potential replacement for Bonham, a claim later denied by Page.

2003 saw yet another resurgence of the band's popularity with the release of a live album featuring material from the band's heyday. At year's end, the DVD had sold more than 520,000 copies, easily making the list of the most popular DVDs of the year.

In 2004, the band came out with another DVD named No Quarter Unledded, with a reunion of Page and Plant

It was announced in early 2005 that Led Zeppelin will receive a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award on February 13, 2005.

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