Although Led Zeppelin is associated with a sound that generally combined psychedelic rock and blues rock, the heavy style of their music and focus on major guitar riffs has led many to say that they were one of the earliest influences behind the creation of heavy metal. The band got together in 1968 with a lineup of John Bonham on drums, John Paul Jones on bass and keyboard, Jimmy Page on guitar and Robert Plant on vocals. Each one of them brought a strong level of passion to their music, with Page’s guitar skills becoming one of the most notable qualities of the band’s music.
While there are many who speak of the band’s greatness today, they were not particularly loved by some critics during much of their early time in the spotlight. During the first two years after the band was formed, 1969 and 1970, many bands were experimenting with various musical styles. Led Zeppelin, however, was at the forefront of experimentation. On Led Zeppelin III, released in 1970, they were all about the beauty of the music. But when they released their untitled fourth album in 1971, they released a number of songs such as “Stairway to Heaven,” “Going to California” and “Black Dog,” each with its own unique style. Even the design of the album was unique, featuring no markings to indicate the name of the band, and substituting each of the band members’ names with unique symbols.
This made them something of a fringe group as far as many critics were concerned, especially Jimmy Page and the unique style of guitar playing that he had adopted while playing for the Yardbirds prior to playing with Led Zeppelin. Even so, his work on songs such as “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “Stairway to Heaven” have made those songs classics today. He was known for unique improvisational techniques, such as playing the guitar with a cello bow during songs such as “Dazed and Confused” in the concert film The Song Remains the Same.
The drum parts performed by John Bonham were unique as well. He played the drums with both speed and power, and he was able to improvise exceedingly well during some of the band’s live jam sessions. In fact, he was so important to the band that they decided not to continue without him. After he died in 1980, the band disbanded. His son, Jason, would eventually fill in for him during some of Led Zeppelin’s later reunion concerts. However, they have never gotten back together for good.
Led Zeppelin is one of the most timeless influences on heavy metal artists, as well as rock musicians in general. Guitarists are generally familiar with the work of Jimmy Page, while the same can be said of many drummers and John Bonham. Led Zeppelin’s contributions to musical experimentation in the late 1960s and 1970s are widely believed to have changed the face of rock music for quite some time thereafter, leading to their perpetual status as rock and roll icons.
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