Led Zeppelin was an English rock band, active in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Formed as the New Yardbirds in 1968, they consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. The band are widely considered to be one of the most successful, innovative and influential groups in the history of music.
Led Zeppelin did not release songs from their albums as singles in the United Kingdom, as they preferred to establish the concept of album-orientated rock. Their first two albums, with their heavy, guitar-driven blues rock sound, led to Led Zeppelin being regularly cited as one of the progenitors of heavy metal and hard rock, even though the band's individualistic style drew from varied sources and transcends any single music genre. Their next two albums incorporated wider musical influences, particularly from folk music; the fourth, untitled album, which featured the track "Stairway to Heaven", is among the most popular and influential works in rock music, and it cemented the status of the group as "superstars".
Subsequent albums saw greater musical experimentation and were accompanied by record-breaking tours, which, like the group's previous, earned them a reputation for excess. Although they remained commercially and critically successful, in the later 1970s the band's output and touring schedule were limited by the personal difficulties and circumstances of the members. Led Zeppelin disbanded following Bonham's sudden death in 1980. The band has released nine studio albums, three live albums, nine compilation albums, sixteen singles, eight music downloads, three charted songs and two video albums.
Their debut album, Led Zeppelin, charted at number six on the UK Albums Chart and at number ten on the United States Billboard 200. It received several sales certifications, including an 8 times multi-platinum from the Recording Industry Association of America and Diamond from the Canadian Recording Industry Association. Led Zeppelin's second studio album, Led Zeppelin II, recorded when the band were on tour, was released a few months after the first. It reached number one in several countries, including the UK and the US, where it was certified 12 times multi-platinum. The album produced Led Zeppelin's most successful single, "Whole Lotta Love", which peaked at several music charts in the top 10. Led Zeppelin III was a softer, more folk-based effort compared to the hard rock of the band's previous releases. It also peaked at number one in the UK and in the US.
Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album, often called Led Zeppelin IV, was released in November 1971, is their most commercially successful album. It received a 23 times multi-platinum certification from RIAA, the third-highest of all albums. The band's fifth album, Houses of the Holy, was released in 1973. Again a transatlantic chart-topper, it has received an 11 times multi-platinum certification from RIAA.
In 1974, the band set up their own vanity label, Swan Song Records, which would release the rest of Led Zeppelin's studio albums. The first was the 1975 double album Physical Graffiti, which has received a 16 times platinum certification from RIAA. However, Zeppelin's seventh album, Presence, did not perform as well as their previous releases, receiving a triple Platinum certification from RIAA. In October 1976, Led Zeppelin released their first concert film The Song Remains the Same. The recording of the film took place during three nights of concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York City, during the band's 1973 concert tour of the United States. The band's eighth album, In Through the Out Door, received a sextuple platinum certification. This was the last album released by the band before Bonham died of alcohol intoxication in 1980; Led Zeppelin disbanded immediately afterwards.
In 1982, Led Zeppelin released the album Coda, a compilation of outtakes from the band's previous recordings, but still considered to be a studio album. Since their break-up, the band have released numerous compilation and live albums from older concerts, including How the West Was Won, which peaked at number one on the Billboard charts, and the compilation album Mothership, which produced seven music downloads and was released on the same day Led Zeppelin's entire catalog became available in digital stores, including in the iTunes Store."Stairway to Heaven", which had never been released as an official single before, was one of these songs released in digital stores.
Since 1980, the surviving members have pursued solo careers and have been involved in a series of collaborations and one-off reunions. The band has sold over 300 million albums worldwide, including 111.5 million certified units in the United States. In 2007, 27 years after the group disbanded, the surviving members of Led Zeppelin reunited for the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert at The O2 Arena in London.