The Marquee Club - A tribute site dedicated to the history of the legendary Marquee club at London's 90 Wardour street.

Led Zeppelin - Biography

Led Zeppelin

Gigs at the Marquee club: 4
Period of performances: 1968/1971
Formed in: London, UK, 1968
Members who played at the Marquee:
Robert Plant (vocals)
Jimmy Page (guitar)
John Paul Jones (bass, keyboards)
John Bonham (drums)

Although Led Zeppelin only played at the Marquee for four nights, their apereance at the club was one of the most important events in the history of the club since they were one of the most relevant bands in the history of rock music.

Led Zeppelin was originally formed in 1968 under the name the New Yardbirds by guitarist Jimmy Page, right after the split of the Yardbirds in early 1968.

The Yardbirds was one of the pioneering British bands of the transition from rhythm and blues to pop music. They were also one of the most representative bands at the Marquee club during the mid 60's and had their first residency at the club in February, 1964. Jimmy Page had joined the Yardbirds eventually as a bass player in the summer of 1966 and he later replaced Jeff Beck on lead guitar. During this period he was also eventually replaced on bass by his long-time friend and recording session player John Paul Jones. At this stage, Page was investigating on different techniques of guitar playing by using violin and cello bows and the use of the wah-wah pedal.

The first New Yardbirds line-up consisted of Jimmy Page (guitar), Robert Plant (vocals), John Bonham (drums), Mike Scott (vocals) and Chris Dreja (bass). Dreja quit to become a professional photographer and was replaced by John Paul Jones. Originally, Terry Reid was invited to join the New Yardbirds as a lead singer but he declined the offer and recommended Robert Plant, who accepted and also brought in his old friend drummer John Bonham from the Band of Joy.

Born James Patrick Page in London, 1944, Jimmy Page began learning guitar at the age of 12 nder the influence of rock n' roll guitarists Scotty Moore, James Burton and Johnny Day, folk guitarists Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, and blues artists such as Elmore James and B.B. King. As a teenager he played for the Beat poet Royston Ellis and later joined Red E Lewis and The Red Caps. He later joined the Crusaders. During his period as an student at Sutton Art College in Surrey, Page started jamming very often at the Marquee with artists such as the Cyril Davis All Stars, Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. In 1963, during one of these nights, Jimmy Page was spotted by John Gibb of the Silhouettes, who invited him to record a series of singles for EMI records. Since then, Page started doing regular studio sessions for Decca Records for artists such as Jet Harris & Tony Meehan, Mickey Finn, Carter Lewis and The Southerners, Brian Pool & The Tremeloes, the Rolling Stones, Marianne Faithfull, the Nashville Teens, Dave Berry, Lulu, the Kinks, and the Who. In 1965 Jimmy Page was started working as a producer to the Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham's new label Immediate Records. During this period Page played for artists such as John Mayall, Nico, and Eric Clapton. He also started writing music in collaboration with his ex-girlfriend Jackie DeShannon and it is estimated that together they appear on 60% of rock music recorded in England between 1963 and 1966, before his involvement in the Yardbirds.

Born Robert Anthony Plant in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, in 1948, Robert Plant had been involved in different blues bands such as Listen, Crawling King Snakes, and Band Of Joy, and he had also worked with Alexis Korner. Both, Robert Plant and John Bonham, played two nights at the Marquee club on the 8th of February 1968 with the Band of Joy. John Bonham, born John Henry Bonham in 1948, learned how to play drums at the early age of five using an improvised homemade drum kit. He played his first Premier drum kit at the age of fifteen and by 1964 he joined Terry Webb and the Spiders. During this period, Bonham also drummed for local Birmingham bands such as the Blue Star Trio and The Senators. He later joined A Way of Life and the blues band Crawling King Snakes, which featured Robert Plant on vocals, and where he developed a reputation of being "the loudest drummer in England". In 1967 Plant and Bonham formed Band of Joy and a year later they were invited by American singer Tim Rose to tour Britain as a supporting band. Eventually Bonham ended up drumming for Tim Rose, as well as for Joe Cocker and Chris Farlowe.

Born in 1946, John Paul Jones started working as an organist and choir master at the early age of 14. In 1964 he started a prolific career as a musical director and arranger and session musician, working to artists such as the Rolling Stones, Nico, P.P. Arnold, Andrew Oldman, Billy Nichols, Robert Stigwood, Mickey Most, Hermans Hermits, Donovan, Lulu, Jeff Beck, Cliff Richard, Cat Stevens, Marc Bolan, Anita Harris, Tom Jones, Everly Brothers, Burt Bacharach, Sammy Davis, Englebert Humperdink, Dinah Washington, Marianne Faithfull, the Superemes, Bo Diddley, Shirley Bassey, and George Martin. During this period he worked to more than a hundred record, film and TV sessions.

On October the 18th 1968, Jimmy Page's new band, featuring Robert Plant (vocals), John Paul Jones (bass, keyboards) and John Bonham (drums), debuted at the Marquee club under the name of the New Yardbirds. It was not the first time that the band's members played at the club since the four of them had performed before with their respective bands, especially Jimmy Page with the Yardbirds. Apparently, the Marquee club's manager, John Gee, said later that he wasn't very impressed with the band's performance and either the audience. Years later he recalled: "The group was very loud, I thought they were overpoweringly loud for the size of the Marquee. Anyway, the lads received an enthusiastic but not overwhelming reaction from the audience." A review in the Melody Maker published on December the 21st mentioned also that the band was too loud. Two weeks after this show the band started their first American tour under the legendary name of Led Zeppelin, which was supposedly suggested by the Who's drummer Keith Moon. On the 10th of December 1968, Led Zeppelin performed their first gig at the Marquee club under that name. The band was announced on the papers with the old name the New Yardbirds in smaller letters to let the audience know about the identity of the new supergroup.

Led Zeppelin's first album was released in January 1969, shortly after their first tour and it was a powerful combination blues, rock n' roll and boogie influences. Led Zeppelin built the foundations of the hard rock and heavy rock music for the forthcomming decades. The album also featured English folk acoustic masterpieces such as "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" and the Indian influenced "Black Mountain Side". The album was an international success that launched the band's career and was presented at the Marquee club on the 28th of March 1969. That same year Led Zeppelin released the second album "Led Zeppelin II",which included the all time rock classic "Whole Lotta Love", reaching the Number 1 in the US and UK charts.

In 1970, the band retired to a remote cottage in Wales called Bron-Yr-Aur for the writing of their third album "Led Zeppelin III", which was released that same year. The album was a new step in the band's sound towards English folk, Celtic and Indian music. Around that time, Led Zeppelin had been confirmed as one of the most powerful and creative groups in the history of rock music as a live and studio band. Led Zeppelin created a massive and personal sound with a remarked spirit of progression, innovation and experimentation. They became a legendary band that influenced the forthcoming generations of hard rock, heavy rock, heavy metal, progressive rock, punk rock and alternative rock musicians. That same year, Led Zeppelin went into a period of disagreement with the record label Atlantic records and their manager, Peter grant, after the release of several singles without their consent. This also caused the refusal of the band to do television appearances and press interviews.

Led Zeppelin @ the Marquee

Led Zeppelin at the Marquee, March 1971

On the 23th of March, 1971, Led Zeppelin played for the last time at the Marquee club, shortly before they would become a big arena band. In November that same year, the band released their fourth album "Led Zeppelin IV".

The album also featured the contribution on vocals of folk rock singer Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention on the Tolkien inspired song "The Battle of Evermore". The success of this album was followed in 1973 by "Houses of the Holy", which took another step into further experimentation. "Led Zeppelin IV" is considered as one of the top albums in the history of rock music and includes the all time classic "Stairway to Heaven".

That same year Led Zeppelin broke records for attendance at Tampa Stadium, Florida, where they played to 56,800 fans, and played three sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden which were filmed for the motion picture "The Song remains the Same".

In 1974, the band launched their own record label, Swan Song, signing artists such as Maggie Bell, Bad Company, Detective, Pretty Things, Dave Edmunds, Sad Café, Midnight Flyer and Wildlife. A year later Led Zeppelin released the double album "Physical Graffiti" in their new label. This was followed by the re-issue of their entire catalogue and they re-entered the top-200 album chart. At his stage Led Zeppelin was called "the biggest rock band in the world". They played five sold-out nights at the UK's Earls Court and in 1975 they were the most awarded band along with Yes at the Melody Maker's readers poll. At the same time they grew a reputation for off-stage wildness and luxury. the name of Led Zeppelin started being associated in the press where reality and legend where mixed with stories about trashed hotel rooms, groupies, drugs, alcohol and the involvement of Jimmy Page into esoteric and black magic practises. Actually, Jimmy Page bought in 1971 the country house Boleskine House, located by the Scottish Loch Ness and which used to be owned by the early century magician Aleister Crowley.

In 1976, while on holiday in Greece, Robert Plant and his wife had a car crash and she was very seriously injured. Robert suffered a broken ankle and, unable to tour, the band was forced to returned to the studio, recording their seventh studio album "Presence", which was a platinum seller. This coincided with a period of bad reviews on the press and the beginning of Jimmy Page's adiction to heroin. A year later, Led Zeppelin embarked on another massive U.S. tour which was cancelled halfway after the tragic dead of Robert Plant's son, Karac, from a stomach virus. He was five years old. This coincided also with the arrest of manager Peter Grant and several members of the staff for almost beating to death a member of the Bill Graham's Oakland concert staff. Despite all the trouble times the band managed to record a new studio album in the summer of 1978, entitled "In Through the Out Door", and in August next year they were headling the Knebworth Festival to play to 400,000 fans. This was followed by a US Tour that was tragically cancelled after the death of John Bonham on September 25th, 1980. He died of accidental asphyxiation while he was sleeping at Jimmy Page's country home in Windsor, after heavy alcohol drinking. John "Bonzo" Bonham is still considered one of the most powerful and skilled drummers in the history of rock music who pioneered the use of large size bass drums to create an unique massive drum sound and the use of phasing cymbals. Boham also worked to artists such as Screaming Lord Sutch, Roy Wood, and the Wings. John Bonham's son, Jason Bonham is today a reputed rock drummer who formed the Jason bonham Band and has worked with artists such as Paul Rodgers, Jimmy Page, Motherland and Airrace.

John Bonham's death meant the end of Led Zeppelin, who announced the disband in December 1980. After this, Robert Plant started a successful solo career and formed the rhythm and blues band the Honeydippers. In 1982 he released his first solo album "Pictures at Eleven", which was followed by "The Principle of Moments" (83), "Shaken 'n' Stirred" (1985), "Now and Zen" (88), "Manic Nirvana" (1990), "Fate of Nations" (1992) and "Dreamland" (2002). In 2000 Robert Plant formed the Priory of Brion, featuring Kevin Gammond, Paul Timothy, Paul Wetton, and Andy Edwards. That same year he formed the band Strange Sensation. He also worked with Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck in the Honeydippers project, and with artists such as Black Crowes. He is considered as one of the best and most unique vocalists in the history of rock music.

Jimmy Page became one of the most legendary and influential guitarists in the history of rock music. In 1981 he was part of a project called XYZ with ex-Yes members Chris Squire and Alan White, which never saw the light. In 1983 Plant appeared onstage with the ARMS Charity series of concerts which honoured the deceased Small Faces bass player Ronnie Lane. In 1985 Page took part of Paul Rodgers' band, the Firm. Jimmy Page has also worked with artists such as Roy Harper, Graham Nash, the Rolling Stones, Box of Frogs, David Coverdale, and the Black Crowes and has collaborated with Robert Plant's Honeydrippers. He has also worked in the music for the film " Death Wish II" (82) and released the solo albums "Lucifer Rising" (87) and "Outrider " (88). Apart from having remastered the entire Led Zeppelin back catalogue for CD, he has been involved in numerous charity concerts, including the Action for Brazil's Children Trust.

John Paul Jones is considered one of the most reputed bass players, arrangers and producers in rock music. Since the split of Led Zeppelin, he has worked with artists such as Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel, La Fura Dels Baus, Brian Eno, Jon Anderson, the Butthole Surfers, R.E.M., Diamanda Galas, Madeline Bell, John Renbourn, the Mission, and Cinderella. In 1981, he opened his own electronic music studio in Devon, where he taught electronic composition at Darlington College of Arts. In 1990 he opened a 32 track digital electronic music studio near Bath and in 1996 he opened a new recording studio in London. John Paul Jones released his first solo album "Zooma" in 2000. He has also wrote and co-worked in several works for the film industry, including Paul McCartney's "Give My Regards to Broad Street" (83), "Scream for Help" (84) and "Risk" (93).

On the 13th of July, 1985, the three remaining members of Led Zeppelin rejoined to play at the Live Aid concert and featuring drummers Tony Thompson and Phil Collins. A year later, they met together at Bath, England, to work together with drummer Tony Thompson, but the project was cancelled after Thompson suffered a serious car accident. In 1988, the band did an special appereance at the Atlantic Records' 40th Anniversary concert, featuring John Bonham's son Jason on drums. After a brief appereance at the Knebworth music festival in 1990, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page reunited in 1994 for an MTV Unplugged show, which was followed by a world tour with a Middle Eastern orchestra and the release of the albums "No Quarter" and "Walking Into Clarksdale" in 1988. This caused the disagreement of John Paul Jones for not having been invited into the project. In 1995, the three members joined at a party when the band inducted the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and jammed along with Joe Perry, Steven Tyler and Neil Young. In 2005, Led Zeppelin received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and were ranked #1 in US cable channel VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock special.

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The New Yardbirds gigs at the Marquee Club


Led Zeppelin gigs at the Marquee Club


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