Led Zeppelin released their fourth studio album today in 1971, but most of it wasn’t recorded in a studio. Instead at the suggestion of Fleetwood Mac, Jimmy Page took his band to a former 18th century poorhouse in Headley East Hampshire called Headley Grange. It was a bit run down and lacked central heating, but the Mac had rehearsed there and liked the place and Page wanted to work with the whole band, living together as he and Robert Plant had at Bron-Yr-Aur in Wales for the 3rd album. So he rented The Rolling Stones mobile recording truck, and the band arranged and laid down songs they’d been working on, and made up several on the spot. Stung by some of the critics on Led Zeppelin III, Page decided to put this one out with no name or any indication of what it was on the cover, a photograph of an 18th century painting Plant had found in a junk shop, hung on the wall of a partially demolished block of flats. The band members were named only with symbols, Page designed his own (he’s admitted as much, but has never said if it means anything) “ZoSo”, then had the others pick their own: John Paul Jones‘ “triquetra” said to mean confidence and competence in Rudolph Koch’s Book of Signs; Bonham’s 3 “Borromean” rings from the same book, symbolizing the triad of mother, father, and child (it also happens to be the Ballentine beer logo); and Plant’s own drawing of a feather within a circle, supposedly based on the symbol of the mythical civilization of the lost continent of Mu. There is a 5th, smaller symbol (three triangles) used in the credits for guest vocalist Sandy Denny, who sang on The Battle of Evermore. Though it has been called Four Symbols, Runes, ZoSo, and Untitled, the band has always used Led Zeppelin IV or The 4th Album, and it remains not only their best-seller but the third-best selling album in history behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller and The Eagles Greatest Hits.
David Bowie made his live U.S. TV debut today in 1975 when he did Fame on CBS’s Cher show.
Rock and Roll Birthdays
Rodney Slater, sax player for The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (the only other band to play in The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour and close friends with the Monty Python troupe), is 75.
Bonnie O’Farrell Bramlett is 72. She was the first white singer in Ike and Tina Turner’s “Ikettes” in the 60’s, then moved to L.A. where she met Delany Bramlett and married him, the two performing as Delany and Bonnie, which soon morphed into Delany and Bonnie and Friends, the friends in question including Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Dave Mason, and Duane Allman. Several of them would go on to play in Clapton’s Derek and the Dominoes.
Roy Wood, guitarist and songwriter with The Move and The Electric Light Orchestra is 70.
Blues guitarist Bonnie Raitt is 67.