1. Zeppelin was intended to be a supergroup from the start.
When Jimmy Page was trying to refill The Yardbirds after some of his iconic bandmates departed, he was also toying with the idea of setting up another project that included Jeff Beck, Steve Winwood, plus Keith Moon and John Entwistle from The Who. When those are your starting “B” players, that’s a bar already set insanely high.
2. Their groundbreaking recording contract, its amazing stipulations, and the fact they were signed without anyone seeing them play live.
Based on each member’s reputation as session musicians alone, Atlantic Records offered them more money than any other act previously offered a contract at that time. Their deal also mandated that they would control their physical releases, the scheduling of their releases, their promotional materials, and retain all publishing rights.
4. Their first album (you know, the one that STARTS with “Good Times Bad Times”) was recorded in nine days after the band’s lineup had been together for one month.
Jimmy Page foot the bill for the all of the sessions. It cost a whopping $2,800 – estimated for today’s inflation.
6. The Reverse Echo.
In the recording process, Page had a major sonic breakthrough that would change recorded music forever: the reverse echo. It’s a psychedelic effect of an echo literally playing backwards, achieved by Page’s wizardry with layering tape in the studio. It can be heard most prominently in “Whole Lotta Love.”
7. They only did ONE television appearance in their history as a band.
Following a performance on a French program in 1969, they never played a promotional TV gig again because they had no trust in their sound being manipulated for audiences by outside audio engineers.
8. The Legend of ZOSO.
The band was loved by fans and hated by critics who were convinced they had ascended to fame based solely on hype. The quartet released IV in 1971 with only symbols to represent themselves in protest, and the determination that the music would speak for itself once and for all. They didn’t even have to put their name on their fourth album and it became an all-time bestseller, going 23x Platinum in the U.S. without EVER hitting #1 on the charts.
9. The subsequent legend of “Stairway to Heaven.”
Because Zeppelin was contracted to release albums only, “Stairway” was hand-plucked by DJs and became legendary on its own epic merit. It went on to become the most-requested and the most-played song on the radio without ever having been released as a single.
10. Creating and breaking arena rock records.
Zeppelin shattered The Beatles’ iconic Shea Stadium show attendance on their 1973 stadium tour in Tampa, Florida when they played to a crowd of 56,800 fans. They broke THAT record a mere two years later when they played to a crowd of 76,229 in Pontiac, Michigan and established the standards of the entire arena rock movement in the process.
11. The Riot House.
They didn’t just get a few hotel rooms on tour. They went ahead and took residency. Zeppelin established Los Angeles’ Continental Hyatt House (now the Andaz West Hollywood) as The Riot House, taking up to six floors at a time for their infamous debauchery, rumored to have included John Bonham blazing down a hallway on his motorcycle.
12. They had a custom private plane by 1973.
The Starship was purchased by their tour manager and renovated to include limited seating, a full bar, living room, an organ, multiple bedrooms, and their name emblazoned on the exterior. Other acts including Deep Purple, The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, and Alice Cooper all eventually chartered The Starship in the ’70s as well.
15. John Paul Jones is SO much more than a bass player.
The secret weapon of the group, JPJ is actually an incredibly dynamic multi-instrumentalist, contributing “organ, guitar, koto, lap steel guitars, mandolin, autoharp, violin, ukulele, sitar, cello, continuum, melllotron” and most importantly, the triple-layered recorder melody from “Stairway To Heaven” to the band’s discography.
16. John Bonham is a beast. Period.
He started drumming at age 5, never took a lesson, and didn’t get a proper kit until 15. His “basic” drum kit included a timpani and a gong; and his standard sticks were the variety known as “trees” – the heaviest weighted ones available. How the hell else do you think “When The Levee Breaks” could have possibly been made?
17. Beneath his total godliness and perfection, Robert Plant is a Tolkien-loving nerd.
Inspired by his own immersion in the Welsh countryside, Plant included Lord of the Rings and Hobbit references throughout tracks like “The Battle of Evermore,” “Misty Mountain Hop,” and “Over the Hills and Far Away” among others.
18. They never won a single Grammy, but got the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.
19. They’re not just rock royalty. Page and Plant are actual royalty now.
In 2005, Jimmy Page was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his charity efforts. Robert Plant followed in 2009, deemed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his musical contributions.