50 years of "Led Zeppelin II"

Led Zeppelin II album
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(Courtesy of Atlantic)

Released October 22, 1969, Led Zeppelin II is a true cornerstone of rock and roll. It’s the inimitable combination of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham launching their blues-based sound into the stratosphere. With Page handling production and Eddie Kramer engineering, they crafted an enduring collection of thunderous tracks forever etched in the Mount Rushmore of rock and roll.

It was an album that was crafted amidst the heart of rock and roll chaos. Led Zeppelin had blown the doors off the rock scene with their debut album. While touring and dealing with the ensuing mania that came with their newfound fame is when II was created.

“It was quite insane, really,” Jimmy Page told Rolling Stone years after the fact. “We had no time, and we had to write numbers in hotel rooms. By the time the album came out, I was really fed up with it. I’d just heard it so many times in so many places. I really think I had lost confidence in it.” Recorded in various studios around the world, Page was particularly keen on getting to work in America. So much so that he corralled the band into a New York studio the same night they were out celebrating Led Zeppelin hitting gold status. “There was an urgency to being in the States,” John Bonham would recall. “I remember we went out to the airport to meet our wives, got them back to the hotel and then went straight back to the studio and did ‘Bring It on Home.’ We did a lot that year like that.”

Page’s urgency paid off. Led Zeppelin took off like a rocket, selling three million copies in six months and dethroning The Beatles’ Abbey Road from the top of the charts in January of 1970. FUN FACT: it was during this feverish period of activity for Led Zeppelin that the band’s notorious manager, Peter Grant, turned down an invitation for the group to perform at Woodstock. “I said no to Woodstock because I knew we’d just be another band on the bill,” was Grant's explanation for the decision.

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