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Fans are only just discovering the cheeky meaning behind iconic band Led Zeppelin’s name-Brooke Ivey Johnson-Entertainment – Metro

‘I thought it was a great name, and I didn’t forget it.’

Fans are only just discovering the cheeky meaning behind iconic band Led Zeppelin’s name-Brooke Ivey Johnson-Entertainment – Metro

Led Zeppelin is one of the most famous bands of all time, but what does their name mean? (Picture: Laurance Ratner/WireImage)

You may know Led Zeppelin as one of the most iconic bands of all time, but did you know that Jimmy Page chose the band’s moniker as a defiant message to anyone who didn’t believe in them?

The story behind Led Zeppelin’s name is known by hardcore rock fans and your uncle who had an ear piercing in the 70s, but many more casual fans have never stopped to think about the bizarre epithet.

In fact, the source and reason behind the name is often a subject of hot debate on Reddit, with many believing that Jimmy Page came up with the name on his own while other’s claim that The Who’s Keith Moon was responsible.

User @Wuzzy_Gee wrote, ‘I would say Keith Moon inspired the name,’ a claim thatwas rebutted by user @smashthehandcock who posted: ‘My grandfather used to say, “Well that went down like a led zeppelin or balloon.”‘

Another user, @smurf_cherries, agreed: ‘”That went over like a lead balloon” is a very old saying. They just turned a common idiom into a band name.’

In reality, the story of the iconic name is a combination of these factors and features appearances by an array of famous rockers, making it one of the most legendary origin stories in music history.

John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, John Bonham, and Robert Plant comprised Led Zeppelin (Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Lead guitarist Jimmy Page was responsible for assembling Led Zeppelin in 1968 (Picture: Chris Walter/WireImage)

Page is considered one of the greatest guitarists in history (Picture: Getty Images

Why is Led Zeppelin called Led Zeppelin?

The tale of the band’s creation begins in 1966, when The Who’s Keith Moon and his bandmate, bassist John Entwistle, recorded the track Beck’s Bolero with Jimmy Page, multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones, and The Yardbirds’ Jeff Beck.

The musicians were so pleased with the track that they considered forming a brand new band. 

According to legend, Moon joked that the band would never work, in fact, it would go down ‘like a lead balloon,’ a quip that stuck with Page through the years.  

Keith Moon, the drummer for The Who, is credited by Page himself for coming up with the name Led Zeppelin (Picture: George Wilkes/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A year later in 1967, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones began to take the idea of forming a new band more seriously.

Page was fresh off his time playing for the Yardbirds, a legendary band that was responsible for launching the careers of Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and of course, Page himself. 

In 1965 Clapton left the Yardbirds and recommended Page, then just a session guitarist, as a new member for the band. Page spent about two years playing lead guitar alongside his childhood friend Jeff Beck and then as the group’s only lead guitar when Beck suddenly left the group in the middle of a tour. 

Led Zeppelin grew to become one of the most popular bands of the 1970s(Picture: Ed Perlstein/Redferns)

The band first got their start playing small venues (Picture: Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)

After Beck’s departure and another tour, the group broke up despite their success, leaving Page with lots of rock n roll in his soul but nowhere to put it. 

The band we know as Led Zeppelin today began to emerge from the marble in August of 1968 when Page invited vocalist Robert Plant and drummer John Bonham to join him and Jones on their new project.

In September of that year, the group played a tour of Scandinavia – funded out of Page’s own pocket – under the name the New Yardbirds. 

The band was soon forced to change their name after Chris Dreja, one of the founding members of the Yardbirds, issued a cease and desist letter, stating that Page was only allowed to use the New Yardbirds title for the Scandinavian tour.

The Yardbirds were comprised of Paul Samwell-Smith, Keith Relf, Jim McCarty, Eric Clapton, and Chris Dreja (pictured) with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page joining the lineup later on (Picture: GAB Archive/Redferns)

According to Page, he was intentionally concealing the band’s new name during this time anyway.

Inspired by Keith Moon’s comment about the band going down like a lead balloon, Page had landed on the name Led Zeppelin for his new group. It was obviously meant as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the astronomical odds stacked against a new band. But in reclaiming an idiom that means something is unpopular, the group found their identity.

Page upgraded the idiom from balloon to the largest inflatable of all: a zeppelin, which is an airship similar to a blimp.At the suggestion of music manager Peter Grant, the guitarist decided to drop the ‘a’ in lead so that the uninitiated wouldn’t pronounce it ‘leed.’ 

Led Zeppelin played their first-ever show at a teen club in Gladsaxe, Denmark under the name The New Yardbirds in 1968 (Picture: Jorgen Angel/Redferns)

Iconic music journalist Keith Shadwick later praised the imagery the name conjured, calling it ‘the perfect combination of heavy and light, combustibility and grace.’ 

Page told Ultimate Guitar of the name: ‘It was a name that Keith Moon had mentioned back then…And I asked him if we could use the name because I was gonna be in this band Led Zeppelin with Keith Moon, so was Jeff Beck.’

He continued: ‘So when we were playing in Scandinavia we were out there as New Yardbirds, it was a cloak of invisibility really.

The band’s name is intentionally tongue-in-cheek (Picture: WireImage)

‘And even on the first recordings, it said New Yardbirds on the box because I didn’t want anybody to know what the name of the band was until we really officially unveiled it. And [the first album] was it.’

That one fateful day recording Beck’s Bolero in 1966, which left such an impression on Page, can be credited for much of Led Zeppelin’s eventual culmination.

Page told David Fricke in 2012 of that day recording: ‘This session was absolutely magnificent, like a force of nature. Keith was having troubles in the Who. He’s going, “We should form a band with this.”‘

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were the heart and soul of Led Zeppelin (Picture: Art Zelin/Getty Images)

In fact, in opposition to the commonly held idea that Page had been inspired by Moon’s comment but eventually came up with the name himself, Page credited Moon exclusively: ‘“We can call it Led Zeppelin,”‘ Page remembered the drummer saying.

‘”Because it can only go down, like a lead balloon.” I thought it was a great name, and I didn’t forget it,’ he concluded.

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