On this day, October 22, 1969, Led Zeppelin released their second album. Ray Koob, MGK’s resident ‘Led Head’ and host of MGK’s Get The Led Out (weekdays at 8p), gives his thoughts on this monumental album.
In keeping with Keith Moon’s pronouncement of the New Yardbirds going over like “a lead zeppelin,” the critics panned the first Led Zeppelin record, which despite their opinions, sold…big! The band then proceeded to build their live legend with constant touring. In between tours and on off-days on the road, the band would hole up and record the new songs they were working up.
The work for what would become Led Zeppelin II took place in places like Olympic Studios in London, a variety of studios in L.A. including A&M, Quantum, Sunset, Mirror Sound and Mystic. They also hit Ardent Studios in Memphis, and did sessions in New York at A&R, Juggy Sound, Groove and Mayfair Studios. Since the recording was partially done on the road, they toted the tapes with them. Dozens of heavy reels…
1969 was one helluva year for Zeppelin! In January, they released the first album, and toured, and recorded, and toured and recorded, all the while writing new songs and breaking them in on the road. If the songs on the second record sound road-tested, it’s because they were!!!
Engineer Eddie Kramer said it was crazy, recording some parts here, other parts there, and mixing it all in the 3rd place. The result was magical! The songs, every one of them, have left indelible impressions on the fans, the only ones who really mattered to the band, and their manager, Peter Grant.
So, it comes out, October ’69, and critics be damned, Zeppelin II goes straight to #1, knocks “Abbey Road” off the #1 spot, and holds it for 7 weeks, selling over 3 million copies by Spring of 1970. Now, me being an AM radio kid at this point, this where I jump on the Zeppelin bandwagon. One day in November 1969, riding somewhere with my family, I hear this unreal sound coming from the single speaker of the family station wagon. All at once I think, “WHAT IS THIS!?!?” as my dad reaches for the radio, and I quickly react, “Don’t change it!” I quickly found out it was this band, Led Zeppelin, who came from the aftermath of the break up of The Yardbirds. Man, they were wilder than any Yardbirds song I ever heard.
In the end, LZ IV may have eclipsed their sophomore effort, but it was the breakout fury of Led Zeppelin II that set the mood for the band, and Rock, for the rest of the 1970’s!