Why Led Zeppelin Never Played On TV

Led Zeppelin helped usher in a change in the music scene, and not just for the way they played. Founding guitarist Jimmy Page insisted the band sign with Atlantic Records so they wouldn’t share a label with Eric Clapton’s band, and from there the band operated on their terms until their breakup. . Led Zeppelin almost never performed on television, an approach shared by few major bands of the time.

(lr) Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page, John Bonham and John Paul Jones | Michael Putland/Getty Images

Led Zeppelin operated differently from other bands of the time

Zeppelin took a stand when they signed their record deal, and it was the first of many times they forged their own path in the music industry.

They only released a handful of singles in the United States, cutting off a lucrative source of income for other artists. Page hated the butchered version of a Led Zeppelin single, and the band didn’t release their first single in the UK until 1997.

Unlike the late-era Beatles, who used the studio as their backdrop, Zep didn’t tinker when it came time to record. Page said their debut took 30 hours and Zeppelin recorded Presence in less than three weeks.

Where contemporaries such as David Bowie or the Rolling Stones never shied away from performing on the hit, Led Zeppelin had a reason to almost never perform on television.

Led Zeppelin Never Appeared On TV Because They Didn’t Want To Reveal Anything

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Led Zeppelin’s TV performances were so rare that it’s no exaggeration to say they never happened.

Danish television broadcast a performance in March 1969, and the group performed on Japanese television that year (via YouTube). Where artists performed regularly for Ed Sullivan or on The Tonight Show, Led Zeppelin hardly ever performed on television.

But they had a reason for taking this approach. Not playing on live television added to the mystique of the band. Led Zeppelin were an English band that first broke through in the United States. Since they weren’t releasing singles, the only way to hear the music as soon as it was released was to buy albums or concert tickets (or both).

“They didn’t release any singles, and they didn’t appear on TV, and it was such a groundbreaking decision at the time,” said Mark Blake, author of Bring It On Home: Peter Grant, Led. Zeppelin, and Beyond – The Story of Rock’s Greatest Manager, told WBUR radio. “People thought it was career suicide, but again it added to the mystique. [If] you wanted to listen to the music, you had to buy a long-playing record. If you wanted to see them, you had to buy a concert ticket. You wouldn’t see them on TV. And it was unheard of at the time. »

Blake told WBUR that Led Zeppelin not performing on television also contributed to the bottom line. The manager grants the venues strong guns to give the band 90% of the door (30% more than most acts of the time). So when Led Zeppelin broke the Beatles concert attendance record, chances are they earned a big payday at the same time.

The band achieved huge success despite saying no to TV performances

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Led Zeppelin almost never played on TV, but that didn’t matter in the end. They became one of the most popular bands of all time solely because of their music:

They have sold millions of records. All of their albums, including the post-breakup Coda collection and The Song Remains the Same live album, went platinum. Six of their eight studio albums reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts (only Led Zeppelin I and IV did not). They won a $2 million paycheck for a song nearly 50 years after its release. Led Zeppelin inspired Black Sabbath to overhaul its sound, according to Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne.

Led Zeppelin not performing on TV might have seemed like a mistake at first, but the band reaped the rewards for forging their own path.

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