Their music, characterized by a fusion of heavy blues, John Bonham’s powerful drumming, and Jimmy Page’s electrifying guitar work, laid the foundation for a new era of rock music, perfectly complemented by Robert Plant’s commanding vocals.
From the raw energy of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ to the intricate rhythms of ‘Carouselambra’, Led Zeppelin’s journey through the decade is marked by a series of groundbreaking albums that showcased their evolution from skilled instrumentalists to pioneers of musical innovation.
Their exploration of complex musical structures, while occasionally bordering on the pretentious, underscored their fearless approach to creativity.
One of their most ambitious projects came in 1971 with the release of their fourth, untitled album, which included ‘Four Sticks’, a track notorious for its live performance challenges. This piece, seemingly straightforward, involved a sophisticated interplay of time signatures that even stumped Bonham, the master behind the drums.
John Paul Jones recalls the difficulty Bonham faced in mastering ‘Four Sticks’, highlighting the drummer’s struggle with the song’s rhythmic complexity and his unique approach of using two sticks in each hand for the recording. Despite its studio success, ‘Four Sticks’ was performed live only once, in Copenhagen in 1971, before being shelved indefinitely.
Led Zeppelin’s setlists over the years omitted several of their songs due to various reasons, including the complexity of performing them live. Notable tracks that never graced the stage include ‘Houses of the Holy’, ‘Carouselambra’, ‘D’yer Mak’er’, and ‘The Rover’.
Conversely, the band had an arsenal of hits that consistently electrified live audiences. ‘Dazed and Confused’, originally by Jake Hughes but reimagined by Led Zeppelin, emerged as their most frequently performed song, making an appearance in 413 concerts. Following closely behind were ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and ‘Moby Dick’, solidifying their status as staples in the band’s live repertoire with over 300 performances each.
Led Zeppelin’s musical legacy, defined by their fearless experimentation and iconic live performances, remains a testament to their unparalleled contribution to the rock genre.