10 Interesting Facts About Led Zeppelin
#1) They Rarely Did Televised Performances
Throughout their decades-long history, Led Zeppelin only did handful of televised performances, one of which was for a French TV show in 1969. The band continued to perform in front of live audiences, but they were never seen performing on a TV program – French or otherwise – again.
According to Plant, the show's engineers modified and manipulated their sound in a manner that was unnatural. From that point on, Led Zeppelin no longer trusted TV shows and began to focus their efforts on live performances and studio recordings. Check out the video below to make your own decision regarding the sound manipulation of Zeppelin's last televised performance.
Video: Led Zeppelin - October 10 1969, French TV
#2) Robert Plant Paid a Radio Station $10K To Stop Playing Stairway To Heaven
The eight minute and two second long Stairway To Heaven is one of the most frequently played classic rock songs of all time. When the 20th anniversary single was released, it had already logged some 2,874,000 plays on air (translates into 44 years of straight STH. By the year 2000, Led Zeppelin's classic song had reached the monumental milestone of 3 million plays.
But Robert Plant apparently grew tired of hearing Stairway To Heaven and paid radio station KBOO or Portland, Oregon $10,000 to never play it again. Why would he do such a thing? Well, the station's DJ was trying to raise money and told listeners that he would stop playing Stairway To Heaven for a donation of $10,000. Plant was reportedly listening to the radio while driving across Oregon when he heard this offer and decided to help the financially struggling station. Using a company credit card belonging to Atlantic Records, plant donated the $10,000 to Portland's KBOO radio station.
#3) Led Zeppelin Is The Fourth Best-Selling Band In The U.S.
According to data presented by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Led Zeppelin is the fourth best-selling band in the U.S., boasting some 111.5 million record certifications. It's important to note, however, that record certifications refers to the number of “shipped units,” meaning the actual number of individual record sales is most likely higher. Some sources claim that Led Zeppelin has sold between 200 to 300 million records worldwide – and they aren't slowing down, as classic rock fans from across the world continue to purchase their songs and albums.
In case you were wondering, Garth Brooks is the third best-selling artist with 134 million record certifications, Elvis Presley is the second with 134.5 million record sales, and The Beatles are number one with 178 million.
#4) Jimmy Page Is an Officer of the Order of the British Empire
In 2005, England's Queen Elizabeth II honored Led Zeppelin lead guitarist Jimmy Page with the highly esteemed Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE. Award. Established by King George V in 1914, the OBE is the most populous order of chivalry in the Commonwealth honors systems. Page didn't receive this award for his exceptional guitar skills, however, instead, Page was given the award for helping Brazilian children.
He began working with Brazilian children in the mid 1990s, when street gangs and violence were rampant in the capital city of Rio de Janeiro. While promoting an album here, Page saw the atrocities first hand and wanted to help, so he joined the charity foundation Task Brazil to help up safe houses and offer assistance to the children.
“At that time in Rio the sun wasn't shining. The army was going into the favelas [shantytowns] and I heard about the plight of the street children," said Page in a post-ceremony interview with local news reporters. "I think when you're faced with a plight that's inescapable, and there's something you can do about it, you hope you can make a difference," he added.
#5) Led Zeppelin's Custom Plane, The Starship
You know you've made it in the music industry when you have your own private Boeing 720 passenger jet – and that's exactly what happened to Led Zeppelin. During the early 1970s, the legendary English rock band was primarily using a small Falcon jet to commute from city to city. When they were flying from San Francisco to Los Angeles, however, they encountered severe turbulence due to the Falcon's small size and lightweight body. This prompted them to purchase a commercial-grade Boeing 720 passenger jet to use for the remainder of the tour.
The Starship wasn't your ordinary passenger jet, though. It was completely remodeled to appeal to touring musical artists such as Deep Purple, The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, Alice Cooper, and of course Led Zeppelin. The Starship featured 40 luxury-style seats, a full-service bar, tables, revolving arm chairs, a massive 30-foot-long couch, television, video cassette player, a library of various VCRs, an electronic organ, and more. To complete the band's new method of transportation, the name “Led Zeppelin” was spray-painted on the exterior.
#6) There's a Reason Why The Album Cover of 'Four' Doesn't Include Their Names
Unlike their previous albums, Led Zeppelin's “Four” doesn't include the band's names or faces. Instead, it depicts a painting of an old man carrying a load of sticks on his back. Most people automatically assume this is Zeppelin's way of being unique and differentiating themselves from other rock bands. In reality, however, there's a good reason why they chose to not include their names or faces on the album cover.
In a 2001 interview with reporter Brad Tolinksi, Page said “It [the cover[ was designed as our response to the music critics who maintained that the success of our first three albums was driven by hype and not talent… So we stripped everything away, and let the music do the talking.” Some critics attributed Led Zeppelin's success to their name and not their success, so they chose to remove their names and faces from the album cover of Four.
#7) Jimmy Page Invented The Reverse Echo
The next time you hear a reverse echo (also known as backwards echo or reverse regeneration) in a song, you can thank Led Zeppelin front-man Jimmy Page. This sound engineering effect was invented by Page while the band was recording “Ten Little Indians” back in 1967. The reverse echo is characterized by a delayed audio signal played backwards, which results in a distinct techno/electronica sound.
In addition to being used in various songs, the reverse echo has also been used in television shows and movies. Horror movies are particularly fond of this effect, as it creates a more tense atmospheric setting.
#8) Led Zeppelin Released Very Few Singles
If you were a fan of Led Zeppelin back in the 1970s and 80s, you probably had trouble getting your hands on singles. In fact, they didn't release any singles in the U.K. until 1997, at which point “Whole Lotta Love” was released.
Why didn't Led Zeppelin release singles like so many other bands of this era? Manager Peter Grant reportedly feared that releasing singles would cut into their album sales. Grant and Zeppelin came together and agreed to focus on full albums rather than singles. Their position on singles has since changed, but the fact remains that it was nearly impossible to find one back in the band's early days.
#9) Was Stairway To Heaven Stolen From Another Song?
Throughout the years, several different musicians have stepped forward to claim that Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven was stolen from their own work. Most of these accusations were quickly dismissed, but there's one that stands out. The 1968 instrumental song “Taurus” by Spirit has a riff that's similar – at least to some degree – to Stairway To Heaven. However, Taurus is a 100% instrumental song that's just over two and a half minutes, whereas Stairway To Heaven is over eight minutes and contains vocals.
Spirit's bassist Mark Andes filed a copyright infringement against Led Zeppelin earlier this year. If the lawsuit is successful, Spirit will not be eligible to the song's estimated $550 past earnings, but they will be entitled to a share of the song's future profits.
#10) Led Zeppelin Is Regarded as One of The Most Influential Rock Bands of All Time
It should come as no surprise that Led Zeppelin is regarded as one of the most influential rock bands of all time. They are credited with influencing heavy metal bands Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Queen, Rush and Megadeth, along with progressive rock bands like Tool and Dream Theater. Led Zeppelin has also influenced alternative rock bands such as the Smashing Pumpkins, Sound Garden, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam.
It wasn't just rock artists who were influenced by the bold sounds of Led Zeppelin, however. Katie Melua, Shakira, and Lady Gaga have confessed to being influenced by Zeppelin. Even after all of these years, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham, and John Paul Jones continue to reshape the music industry.
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