Led Zeppelin is widely considered one of the greatest hard rock bands in the history of rock and roll and they were also one of the most successful for having only played together for 12 years. Former Yardbirds lead guitarist Jimmy Page was eager to start a supergroup along with fellow Yardbirds lead guitarist Jeff Beck, and perhaps The Who’s drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle, after the Page and Beck left the band in 1966. Page, Beck and Moon, with John Paul Jones on bass did record "Beck’s Bolero" in 1966. Jeff formed the Jeff Beck Group that featured Rod Stewart and Ron Wood and Page looked to Jones, Hobbstweedle lead singer Robert Plant and Band of Joy drummer John Bonham to round out his lineup. Jimmy was able to convince the remaining Yardbird members, who had virtually disbanded by this point, to allow his new band, calling themselves the New Yardbirds, to complete the unfinished Scandinavian tour. Upon finishing the Scandinavian tour, the band changed their name to Led Zeppelin. The name was derived from the idiom that the band would go down like a "lead balloon", to which they dropped the "A" in lead and changed balloon to zeppelin in reference to the early 20th Century dirigibles. The new band combined hard and intricate guitar riffs and licks from Page’s guitar, the pounding drum beats and rhythm from Bonham and powerful and often high-pitched vocals of Plant. Led Zeppelin’s style intertwined blues, heavy metal, English folk and psychedelic blues to create a unique sound that was dubbed progressive rock. In 1969, they released their first album, Led Zeppelin (1969), which reached #6 in the UK and #10 on the United States Billboard charts. After a lengthy tour of the US and England, Led Zeppelin released Led Zeppelin II (1969), which vaulted the band into stardom as it reached #1 both in England and in the US. Behind the hard driving "Whole Lotta Love" and "Living Loving Maid", the band was one of the hottest on tour and they often played better four hours at various shows.
Now one of the top acts on the rock and roll scene, LZ released Led Zeppelin III (1970), which combined a more acoustic and folky sound reminiscent to the bands heritage and it too raced to #1 on both continents. They were now considered "biggest band in the world" playing to sold out arenas and stadiums. Led Zeppelin IV (1971), Houses of the Holy (1973), Physical Graffiti (1975), Presence (1976) and In Through the Out Door (1979) followed and songs like "Stairway to Heaven", "Immigrant Song", "Hey Hey What Can I Do", "Rock and Roll" and "The Ocean" have become anthems for multiple generations that have withstood the test of time. In 1980, as the band was on top of the world having just released In Through the Out Door, John Bonham died of excessive alcohol and drug use. While the band was preparing to embark on their first tour since 1977, Bonham was found dead on September 25, 1980. After cancelling the North American tour, Led Zeppelin came to an abrupt end as the remaining band members opted to disband rather than try to fill Bonham’s place behind the drums. Led Zeppelin sold more than 300 million albums worldwide, and "Stairway to Heaven" remains one of the most plays songs in the history of rock and roll and radio.
In 1980, they released their final album Coda (1982) that went to #4 and #6 in the UK and US, respectively. Since the band’s breakup, Robert Plant teamed with Jeff Beck, Paul Schaffer and Nile Rodgers to form the band the Honeydrippers, which released the highly successful "Sea of Love" in 1985. Jimmy Page teamed with Plant look-alike/sound-alike David Coverdale, of Whitesnake fame, to form Coverdale and Page and he also worked with Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers in The Firm during the 1980s. Plant and Page has come together on a number of ventures including Page and Plant in the mid-1990s, releasing three albums No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded (1994), The Inner Flame: Rainer Ptacek Tribute (1997) and Walking into Clarkdale (1998). Led Zeppelin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, introduced by Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler and lead guitarist Joe Perry. In 2007, Page, Plant, Jones and Jason Bonham, son of John Bonham, reunited at the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert in London. Led Zeppelin has also been one of the most influential bands in history having inspired such bands as Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Queen, the Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Soundgarden and even Madonna and Lady Gaga. In 2005, Jimmy Page was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and in 2009 Robert Plant was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 2012, on American soil, Page, Plant and Jones were all recipients of the Kennedy Center honors, alongside their inspiration Buddy Guy, actor Dustin Hoffman, late show host David Letterman and ballerina Natalia Makarova.