Why is Led Zeppelin so important to rock music? What magic element is it in their music that gives them staying power? Were they the first true “heavy metal” band? These questions have been asked over and over again by rock music lovers and radio dj’s. The truth of the matter is that Led Zeppelin was composed of top flight musicians. They could play!
The glue of the band is Jimmy Page, as he is the founder and the lead and rhythm guitarist. Jimmy Page was in The Yardbirds, which is another great band that came out of England from the early sixties. Page was also a freelance studio musician that graced many a rock album from those exciting times before he decided to form Led Zeppelin. He had heard through the grapevine that there was a singer with the right “chops” up in the northern area of Britain that he just had to check out. That singer is Robert Plant. From the moment Page heard Plant, he knew he had to sign him. Plant’s best friend was John Bonham, the heavy duty drummer that gave Led Zeppelin it’s blitzkrieg sound. From there John Paul Jones, another studio session player saw the ad and they all got together to jam. Something magic clicked, and Led Zeppelin was born.
But why the sustained legacy of a band formed forty years ago and dissolved with the death of John Bonham thirty years ago? Because Zeppelin knew not only how to play the blues better than any other rock band at the time, but could mix it up with other styles. The fact that each member knew his craft well gave Led Zeppelin the freedom to explore musical roads that other bands could only dream about. All one has to do is to listen to any one of their albums and carefully denote the timing inherent in their songs. They could be funky as in the song The Crunge, or electric bluesy, as in You Shook Me. They had vision, as in Stairway to Heaven,even though that song is probably the most over-played song of all time!
The fact is that they stayed on the cutting edge of music, years ahead of their time, and true genius never gets old. That is their legacy! For all the fans of the band, we are lucky we have the recordings to allow us to listen to them and re-live some of our fondest memories of that golden era.