Anniversary of Led Zeppelin's 1975 Earl's Court Run

05/23/2012
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(Gibson) On this day in 1975, Led Zeppelin started a three-night run at Earl's Court, London, England. Tickets cost 1 ($1.70) - 2.50 ($4.25). Gibson looks back: Led Zeppelin were on a roll in 1972. Their newly released album, unofficially titled Led Zeppelin IV, was selling like hotcakes, and history would eventually prove it to be one of the biggest-selling albums ever with, to date, over 23 million copies sold worldwide (and counting). The band decided to leave the album nameless they didn't even put their band name on it to thumb their collective noses at a generally less-than-adoring press who enjoyed lobbing "over-rated" and "hyped" mud pies at the band. As always, Led Zeppelin got the last laugh, especially when IV solidified their superstar status, thanks in no small part to the track "Stairway to Heaven," which, though never released as a single, to this day remains a perennial #1 entry on countless "All-Time Best Rock Song" and "Best Guitar Solo" lists.

In March of '73, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page held an acoustic performance in Hamburg, Germany, just ahead of the release of Zeppelin's fifth album, Houses of the Holy. The album showed the band expanding their sonic universe even more, including incorporating a heavier dose of synthesizers and some serious Mellotron love. Ironically, the song "Houses of the Holy," which was recorded during the Houses of the Holy sessions, didn't actually make it to vinyl until Zeppelin's '75 album Physical Graffiti.

Controversy hounded Houses of the Holy because of the album's cover, which depicted nude children, photographed from behind, making their way up the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The album was banned in many places, including Spain and all over America's Bible Belt. Of course, what they say about publicity bad or good held true, and the album shot to the top of the charts. The resulting tour was colossal. Zeppelin packed 56,800 fans in Tampa Stadium, shattering the previous record set by The Beatles during their 1965 Shea Stadium scream-fest, and they easily sold out Madison Square Garden for three consecutive nights, and event that was filmed and eventually released as the motion picture The Song Remains the Same.

Zeppelin took a well-deserved break from the road for much of 1974. During their time off, they launched their own record label, dubbing it Swan Song the name was derived from the title of one of the just five songs the band recorded but never released to the public. (Jimmy Page would eventually modify and re-record the tune for his band, The Firm's, debut album Midnight Moonlight.) In addition to promoting Led Zeppelin's albums, the Swan Song label also signed a number of acts, most notably Dave Edmunds, Bad Company, The Pretty Things, Midnight Flyer and Maggie Bell. The label, however, went belly-up three years after drummer John Bonham's death and the band's resulting split. more on this story

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Copyright Gibson.com - Excerpted here with permission.

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