50 Years Ago This Week: Led Zeppelin Releases Debut Album

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It was 50 years ago this week (January 12th, 1969) that Led Zeppelin released its self-titled debut album and forever altered the landscape of rock. Born out of the ashes of the Jimmy Page-led final lineup of the Yardbirds, the album, which became an immediate FM staple, was produced by Page at Olympic Studios with the legendary Glyn Johns behind the boards for the sessions, which were the first to feature Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham.

Led Zeppelin took two months to break onto the Top 10 of the Billboard 200, spending one week at Number 10. To date, the album has sold over eight million copies in the U.S. alone.

The tracklisting to 1969’s Led Zeppelin is:

Side One: “Good Times Bad Times,” “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” “You Shook Me” and and “Dazed and Confused”

Side Two: “Your Time Is Gonna Come,” “Black Mountain Side,” “Communication Breakdown, ” “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” and “How Many More Times”

Jimmy Page explained that Led Zeppelin happened because he was able to find in Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham, the key elements to bring his vision to reality: [“I was keen to form a band where I would produce it. And knew what I wanted to do and I knew how to go about doing it if I could find the personnel. It was going to be a guitar tour de force. However, it was not going to be at the expense of the other musicians. So, everyone was going to be featured and the group character, if you like; the fusion of the musicians was going to be representative of each of the individuals and I think that’s really how it. . . how it was.”] SOUNDCUE (:29 OC: . . . how it was)

During the pinnacle of Led Zeppelin’s fame and influence Robert Plant explained that after all is said and done — hard earned success felt great: [“In our position, we’ve spent years and years on the road, sort of playing in little church halls, and being beaten up, and bricks thrown through the van windows and everything; and to have money at last is just another figure in my mind of mass acceptance, which is what we all work for. I mean, everybody — however how much they like to deny the fact — really wants in the end to be accepted by the majority of people.”] SOUNDCUE (:22 OC: . . . majority of people)

John Paul Jones told us that when he and John Bonham first connected as a rhythm section, he knew immediately that history would be made between them: [“When I first played with Bonzo, I immediately knew. ‘Cause there’s a lot of guitarists, and there’s a lot of singers. There are less bass players, and there aren’t that many drummers — who are really good. And when a rhythm section recognizes each other, when you find each other, you go, ‘Wow! Right! OK!’ And Bonzo and I immediately recognized each other as we knew what we were doing, and we clicked.”] SOUNDCUE (:18 OC: . . . and we clicked)

Jimmy Page told us that he had the structure of Led Zeppelin completely mapped out before even attempting to form the band: [“I sort of knew what way I wanted this group to go. Having played with the Yardbirds in America where they had all the underground circuit, like, y’know, the sort of Fillmore’s, and the Grade Ballroom in Detroit — all these sort of places. That there’d been a real following for what we were doing in the Yardbirds. So, when they folded, I thought, ‘Well, I’ve just got to continue.’ I know what the climate is, the situation, and what the radio situation is over there. I knew we don’t want to do singles, and I knew I was going to produce the group. Y’know, I mean, that’s what I wanted to do.”

Photo Courtesy of Atlantic/Swan Song

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