Led Zeppelin celebrate the 50th anniversary of their debut album that despite

No Quarter: Fifty years after they unleashed themselves on the public to VERY lukewarm reviews, Led Zeppelin still manage to set the bar for rock and roll excess and debauchery

  • Fifty years ago Led Zeppelin unleashed their self-titled debut which became a staple of 1970s rock 
  • When Led Zeppelin was released in January 1969, it went to the Top 10 in the US and UK charts despite lukewarm reviews
  • But it wasn’t just the music the band was famous for – their travels spawned many stories with rumors constantly swirling that they were constantly engaged in acts of wanton destruction and lewd behavior
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It’s 50 years since guitarist Jimmy Page and his bandmates released their self-titled debut LP on January 12, 1969.

Together with singer Robert Plant, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham, the band went on to become one of the best-selling acts in music history.

The band’s heavy, guitar-driven sound has led them to be cited as one of the progenitors of heavy metal. Their style drew from a wide variety of influences, including blues, psychedelia, and folk music. 

Although the group were initially unpopular with critics, they achieved significant commercial success with eight studio albums released over eleven years

The members of Led Zeppelin are seen in their first performance on September 7, 1968, in the Gladsaxe Teen Club in Copenhagen, Denmark. They performed under the name 'New Yardbirds' to fulfill a touring contract for Page's prior band

The members of Led Zeppelin are seen in their first performance on September 7, 1968, in the Gladsaxe Teen Club in Copenhagen, Denmark. They performed under the name ‘New Yardbirds’ to fulfill a touring contract for Page’s prior band

Jimmy Page December 1968

Robert Plant December 1968

John Paul Jones December 1968

John Bonham December 1968

Led Zeppelin members (left to right) Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham in December 1968. The band had just recorded their self-titled debut LP and were set to leave on their first North American tour

Led Zeppelin pictured at the 1969 Bath Festival. From left, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, John Bonham, Jimmy Page

Led Zeppelin pictured at the 1969 Bath Festival. From left, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, John Bonham, Jimmy Page

John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page pose with copy of a new book about the band - Led Zeppelin By Led Zeppelin

John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page pose with copy of a new book about the band – Led Zeppelin By Led Zeppelin

Many critics consider Led Zeppelin to be one of the most successful, innovative, and influential rock groups in history.  

When the group was was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, the museum’s biography of the band stated that they were ‘as influential’ during the 1970s as the Beatles were during the 1960s.

Page wrote most of Led Zeppelin’s music, particularly early in their career, while Plant generally supplied the lyrics.   

The latter half of their career saw a series of record-breaking tours that earned the group a reputation for excess and debauchery.

‘The band’s musical heritage, its public image and its extensive influence are all indissolubly connected to some of the most damning clichés of classic rock: a pilfering of the blues, a penchant for hedonistic excess, the romanticizing of a ’70s ‘groupie’ culture that preyed on naïve, sometimes-underage girls—its all a part of what Zeppelin was. And it all makes their legacy continuously and increasingly polarizing,’ writes Stereo Williams of the Daily Beast.    

John Bonham, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page - group shot, posed - arriving at Honolulu Airport, holding Led Zeppelin II master tapes 

John Bonham, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page – group shot, posed – arriving at Honolulu Airport, holding Led Zeppelin II master tapes 

Robert Plant, singer, and guitarist Jimmy Page on stage during a concert performance by Led Zeppelin, circa 1975

Robert Plant, singer, and guitarist Jimmy Page on stage during a concert performance by Led Zeppelin, circa 1975

Led Zeppelin are seen in January 1969 in San Francisco as they embarked on their first North American tour

Led Zeppelin are seen in January 1969 in San Francisco as they embarked on their first North American tour

Led Zeppelin perform on BBC radio for the first time, for the Top Gear program in March 1969 at London's Playhouse Theatre

Led Zeppelin perform on BBC radio for the first time, for the Top Gear program in March 1969 at London’s Playhouse Theatre

Led Zeppelin at the Hiroshima shrine in Hiroshima, September 1971

Led Zeppelin at the Hiroshima shrine in Hiroshima, September 1971

(left to right) Singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham performing on stage at the Bath Festival held in Shepton Mallet, England

(left to right) Singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham performing on stage at the Bath Festival held in Shepton Mallet, England

Williams notes that Zeppelin’s rise came as rock music was undergoing big changes at the end of the 60s with Little Richard becoming a minister, Chuck Berry ending up in prison and Buddy Holly killed in a plane crash at the age of 22.  

Many have considered Led Zeppelin to be one of the most successful, innovative, and influential bands in the history of rock music with the band selling more than 200 million albums worldwide. 

At Led Zeppelin’s peak, sex, drugs and rock & roll were at the heart of their fanbase, quickly becoming a mantra.

Numerous stories swirled about the group from when they began to tour in the 70s as their fame soared to new heights.

The band became the subject of stories of debauchery. One involved John Bonham riding a motorcycle through a rented floor of a hotel in Los Angeles while another involved the destruction of a room in the Tokyo Hilton, leading to the group being banned from the property for life. 

Led Zeppelin developed a reputation for off-stage excess trashing their hotel suites and throwing television sets out of the windows. 

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin at the Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois 

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin at the Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois 

The band members pose in a session to shoot cover art for their 1969 North American tour book

The band members pose in a session to shoot cover art for their 1969 North American tour book

Led Zeppelin are pictured in group a pose typical for the 1970s

Led Zeppelin are pictured in group a pose typical for the 1970s

The Mayor of Hiroshima presents the members of Led Zeppelin with a Peace Award following a free concert in 1971

The Mayor of Hiroshima presents the members of Led Zeppelin with a Peace Award following a free concert in 1971

Led Zeppelin perform on June, 2 1973 at Kezer Stadium in San Francisco during their ninth concert tour of the US

Led Zeppelin perform on June, 2 1973 at Kezer Stadium in San Francisco during their ninth concert tour of the US

Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham are seen disembarking their tour plane somewhere in the US during the 1973 concert tour

Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham are seen disembarking their tour plane somewhere in the US during the 1973 concert tour

British rock band Led Zeppelin, (left - right): John Paul Jones, John Bonham, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, pose in front of an their private airliner The Starship, 1973

British rock band Led Zeppelin, (left – right): John Paul Jones, John Bonham, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, pose in front of an their private airliner The Starship, 1973

One infamous story involves a female fan and a mud shark in which a young groupie was allegedly tied to a bed before she was then was ‘penetrated by pieces of shark’. 

The incident recounted in a 2002 book, Stairway to Heaven: Led Zeppelin Uncensored which stated: ‘Word about the escapade spread quickly. Rumours circulated that the girl had been raped…that she had been crying hysterically…that she had pleaded for me to stop…that she had struggled to escape…that a shark had been used to penetrate her. None of the stories was true.’

Williams writes that there were various other alleged rumors from Satanic worship to wild stories involving drummer John Bonham’s endless drinking. He acknowledges that it is ‘sometimes hard to separate what’s historical fact and what’s silly folklore with Led Zeppelin.’ 

Other incidents weren’t so much legendary as much as public knowledge. It was documented that Page had an alleged relationship with 14-year-old Lori Mattix who would often be kept in the band’s suite and kept away from the public by Page in the hope he would avoid statutory-rape charges.

Robert Plant is pictured backstage with a roadie covered in cream cakes

Robert Plant is pictured backstage with a roadie covered in cream cakes

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin performing on stage at Earls Court, London, in May 1975

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin performing on stage at Earls Court, London, in May 1975

Led Zeppelin rehearses on January, 17 1975 ahead of a concert at the Met Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Led Zeppelin rehearses on January, 17 1975 ahead of a concert at the Met Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Jimmy Page performs during one of Led Zeppelin's five legendary Earls Court performances in London during May 1975

Jimmy Page performs during one of Led Zeppelin’s five legendary Earls Court performances in London during May 1975

A draft version of the logo for Swan Song, the record label that Led Zeppelin launched in 1974

A draft version of the logo for Swan Song, the record label that Led Zeppelin launched in 1974

Lori was known as ‘Lori Lightning,’ and she and her friend Sable Starr were famously referred to by rock stars as the ‘baby groupies’ due to their being underage. 

Sable told The Guardian last year that #MeToo led to her reconsidering how she’d viewed her time with Page and in the 1970s.

‘I think that’s what made me start seeing it from a different perspective because I did read a few [articles], and I thought: ‘Shit, maybe,’ she said in regards to whether she’d been exploited and abused by Page. ‘That’s an interesting question. I never thought there was anything wrong with it, but maybe there was. I used to get letters telling me he was a pedophile, but I’d never think of him like that. He never abused me, ever.’

‘I don’t think underage girls should sleep with guys. I wouldn’t want this for anybody’s daughter. My perspective is changing as I get older and more cynical.’

Bonham, ranked the greatest drummer of all time by Rolling Stone, died in 1980, the surviving members of the band recently joined in to collaborate on the new book.

Digging into their archives, they contributed rare artwork that included unseen images and documents from the Atlantic Records vaults for what the publisher calls the ‘definitive’ Led Zeppelin book.  

Left to right, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page performing live onstage at London'd Earl's Court

Left to right, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page performing live onstage at London’d Earl’s Court

Jimmy Page is seen at Led Zeppelin's final performance of their last US tour at the Oakland Coliseum in 1977

Jimmy Page is seen at Led Zeppelin’s final performance of their last US tour at the Oakland Coliseum in 1977

Led Zeppelin pose for artwork used to promote their August 1979 shows at the Knebworth Festival in Hertfordshire, England

Led Zeppelin pose for artwork used to promote their August 1979 shows at the Knebworth Festival in Hertfordshire, England

Robert Plant (center), guitarist Jimmy Page (right), and bassist John Paul Jones perform during rehearsals for the Led Zeppelin - Tribute Concert to Ahmet Ertegun at the O2 Arena on December 9, 2007 in London, England

Robert Plant (center), guitarist Jimmy Page (right), and bassist John Paul Jones perform during rehearsals for the Led Zeppelin – Tribute Concert to Ahmet Ertegun at the O2 Arena on December 9, 2007 in London, England

Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Robert Plant (Led Zepplin) attending the 35th Kennedy Center Honors at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on December 2, 2012 

Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Robert Plant (Led Zepplin) attending the 35th Kennedy Center Honors at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on December 2, 2012