The Reason Jimmy Page Changed His Band’s Name ‘Lead Baloon’ To ‘Led Zeppelin’
Led Zeppelin managed to become one of the most successful, innovative, and influential rock bands in history throughout its brief music career that spanned over 12 years other than slight reunions after its disbandment. On top of its musical influence, the band is also immensely successful commercially since Led Zeppelin is one of the best-selling music artists of all time with an estimated record sales of 200 to 300 million units worldwide.
The band consisted of vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones, and late drummer John Bonham. The band was originally named the New Yardbirds, mainly due to the fact that Page was a member of the Yardbirds prior to his tenure with Led Zeppelin and the story of how the name of the band was changed to the iconic name the whole world knows now represents the band’s proven success. Let’s dive into the story of Led Zeppelin’s name as well as its formation journey.
How Was Led Zeppelin Formed And Named By Jimmy Page?
After joining the Yardbirds to replace bassist Paul Samwell-Smith, Jimmy Page soon switched from bass to lead guitar, creating a dual lead guitar line-up with Jeff Beck, however, following Beck’s departure in October 1966, the band played their final gig in July 1968 at Luton College of Technology in Bedfordshire after being winded down by constantly touring and recording.
Jimmy Page first wanted to form a band towards the Yardbird’s final performances, and eventually, after drummer Jim McCarty and vocalist Keith Relf authorized him and bassist Chris Dreja to use the Yardbirds’ name to fulfill the band’s obligations, the two began putting a new line-up together. The New Yardbirds was formed with Robert Plant as the lead singer, John Bonham as the drummer, and John Paul Jones as a bassist since Dreja dropped out of the project to become a photographer. The four performed their first show in August 1968 in a room below a record store on Gerrard Street in London and the rest is history.
The story of how the band’s name changed from the New Yardbirds to Led Zeppelin is quite unique actually since the Who drummer Keith Moon had suggested that a supergroup including Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck would go down like a ‘lead balloon’ which is an idiom for failing disastrously and be considered a flop by the public. The band turned an insult into a legendary name by dropping the ‘a’ in lead at the suggestion of their manager, Peter Grant, and replacing the word ‘balloon’ with ‘zeppelin.’
Right from the start, Led Zeppelin members, especially the brilliant Jimmy Page wasn’t there to play, he was a musician who wanted to prove how exceptional and one-of-a-kind musician he was. Page didn’t only prove Keith Moon wrong, but he also proved to every other musician how Led Zeppelin created a music legacy like no other in an incredibly short amount of time which is admired by their fans and countless other musicians.