Shortly after their first tour the group's first eponymous album was released. Its combination of blues and rock influences with distorted amplification made it one of the pivotal records in the evolution of heavy metal music and kick-started the band's career, especially in the United States, where they would frequently tour. The second record was more of the same, and included the bludgeoning riff of "Whole Lotta Love", which, driven by the rhythm section of John Bonham on drums and John Paul Jones on bass, defined their sound at the time.
The band members were blues fanatics; two of Led Zeppelin's early hits, "Whole Lotta Love" and "You Shook Me", were actually written by Willie Dixon. However, they were appropriated without credit and it was not until Dixon and Chess Records brought suit that proper credit (and a monetary settlement) was given.
For the third record, the band retired to "Bron-Y-Aur", a remote house in Wales without electricity. This would result in a sound (and a song, "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp") on their third album, titled "Led Zeppelin III", which was strongly influenced by folk music, and which revealed a different side of guitarist Page's prodigious talent.
The band's varying musical tendencies were fused on the fourth album, which although officially untitled, is usually called either "IV" or "Four Symbols" or "Runes". The record included the hard rock song "Black Dog", a Tolkienesque folksy mysticism on "The Battle of Evermore" and a combination of both genres in the lengthy song "Stairway to Heaven", a massive FM radio hit.
Their next two studio records featured further experimentation, in terms of longer songs and use of synthesisers, string sections arranged by Jones, and various forms of world music on tracks such as "D'Yer Mak'er" and "Kashmir". The former was prototype white reggae[?]; the latter was much closer to progressive rock than blues/rock.
In 1974, Led Zeppelin launched their own record label called Swan Song. Besides using it as a vehicle to promote their own albums, the label's roster also included other artists such as Bad Company, Pretty Things[?], Maggie Bell[?], Detective, Dave Edmunds, Midnight Flyer[?], Sad Café[?], and Wildlife.
By the time they released "Presence" and "In Through the Out Door", the band seemed slightly bereft of ideas. Shortly before embarking on a tour to the United States, drummer Bonham died after a lengthy nightly alcohol binge on September 25, 1980.
The remaining band members refused to continue as Led Zeppelin after Bonham's death, although there have been ongoing rumours of a reunion in amongst various collaborative projects.
In 1985 Page, Plant, Jones with drummers Tony Thompson and Phil Collins performed a short set at Live Aid. A year later in 1986, Page, Plant and Jones gathered at Bath, England for rehersals with drummer Thompson with a view to play again as a group, however a serious car accident with Thompson put an end to that plan. Bonham's son, Jason, joined the remaining three in 1988 for Atlantic Record's 40th Anniversary concert.
Page and Plant, without Jones, reunited in 1994 for an MTV Unplugged performance which eventually led to a world tour, with a Middle Eastern orchestra, and two albums.
The British press reported in 2002 that Plant and Jones had reconciled after a 20-year feud that had kept Led Zeppelin apart, and rumours of a reunion tour in 2003 surfaced. Drummer Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters was named as a potential replacement for Bonham.
The following albums were issued after the band ceased recording: