Personalities | Led Zeppelin | The Early Years (1968) | Key Events


The Yardbirds’ US Tour

With Jeff Beck gone and Peter Grant now in the picture, Page had another ‘more professional’ ally with an active interest in The Yardbirds. It wouldn’t be long before the group disbanded. Before that, however, Grant organized another tour of the US, this time hiring a young tour manager, Richard Cole. Born in East London, Cole had been a roadie since 1965 and would quickly become as protective over Page and Led Zeppelin’s interests as Peter Grant was. Essentially a one-man security system for Led Zeppelin, Cole would be the source (and often even cause) of many of their outrageous rumours. Alongside Grant, he contributed to the image that Led Zeppelin’s business was run like a hardened East-London gangster’s.


Band Gets Idea For Its Name

The source of Led Zeppelin’s band name has never been entirely revealed. Some say Page was inspired by The Yardbirds’ US contemporaries, Iron Butterfly, and their name, which juxtaposed a heavy substance with a light and airy object.

Other sources, however, claim that Richard Cole was given the idea when drinking in New York with John Entwistle and Keith Moon of The Who, while The Yardbirds stopped off there on their US tour. Legend has it that Entwistle and Moon were complaining about their bandmates Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, and wished they could start a supergroup with Steve Winwood and Jimmy Page. Entwistle had supposedly joked, ‘We’ll call it Lead Zeppelin, because it’ll f***ing go over like a lead balloon,’ upon which Cole told Page of the idea as soon as he got back to the group. What most people do agree on is that Peter Grant convinced Page to drop the ‘a’ from Le[a]d Zeppelin, in order to stop people pronouncing it ‘leed’.


Robert Plant Joins

After returning to England from their US tour, The Yardbirds disintegrated. For Jimmy Page and Peter Grant, the hunt was on for a new group, and that began with finding a new singer. Someone had suggested to Grant that he check out a new band called Hobbstweedle, fronted by a wailing blond blues singer named Robert Plant. Page and Grant travelled to Birmingham to see Plant in action and left knowing they’d found their man. Page played it cool, apparently telling Plant only that he’d call him within a week. Later, Page admitted, ‘It just unnerved me to listen. It still does. Like a primeval wail.’


John Bonham Joins

Plant had played with drummer John ‘Bonzo’ Bonham in the last line-up of Band Of Joy, and knew the drummer well from Birmingham musicians’ circles. He had already tried to convince Bonham to join the new group, but Bonzo was making enough money playing for Tim Rose, and wasn’t so keen on the risk. When Page saw him in London, however, his mind was made up. He had to have the driving sound that only John Bonham’s powerful drumming could...

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