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How would you place Led Zeppelin into a larger context of popular music?


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Many people say that led zeppelin was one of the bands in the late 60's that pioneered heavy metal. Do you consider this to be true? I want to use this topic to write a paper for my college music class, how would you place the band into a larger context of popular music? Thanks for any input!

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Well, personally I'd call a lot of Zeppelin's followers/imitators "heavy metal" but definitely not the band itself, which was much too subtle and interesting to just be a head-banging metal band.

This has been discussed here many times, you should be able to find several threads on it. :)

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Many people say that led zeppelin was one of the bands in the late 60's that pioneered heavy metal. Do you consider this to be true? I want to use this topic to write a paper for my college music class, how would you place the band into a larger context of popular music? Thanks for any input!

I guess the first question that pops into my mind is how do you feel about it? Afterall, you are the one that's writing the paper, correct?

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Led Zeppelin themselves were not heavy metal, no. A lot of the sounds they had were co-opted by heavy metal bands; emphasis on drums, screaming vocals, guitar innovation. If you wanted to classify what they were, put them in the hard rock category with AC/DC, Sabbath and KISS (pre-Dynasty) to name a few.

As for where they belong in the context of popular music, I'm not quite sure what you mean by that. I mean, one person's opinion of the band can differ radically from the next person's. I think they're one of the top 10 bands of all-time, and I'd put them in the Top 5.

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Led Zeppelin were more inventors of hard rock then of heavy metal, but they were and still are an high influential band. There's no deny in their influnce on rock music, many bands refer theirselves to Led Zeppelin.

I recently read an interview with the Canadian punkrockband Billy Talent, who said of theirselves to be "a punkrockband, that loves Led Zeppelin".

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Zeppelin is too varied to be 'heavy metal'. They were acoustic, for cryin' out loud! Seriously, how heavy metal is Goin To California?

However, I read a good article about this subject, and the author explained that it wasn't really the sound, but the structure of their music that built heavy metal. The chord progressions and the way the solos are arranged; stuff like that is what up-and-coming heavy metal bands followed.

I personally consider Black Sabbath the founders of heavy metal, as far as the deep, derk, menacing sound.

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Zeppelin is too varied to be 'heavy metal'. They were acoustic, for cryin' out loud! Seriously, how heavy metal is Goin To California?

However, I read a good article about this subject, and the author explained that it wasn't really the sound, but the structure of their music that built heavy metal. The chord progressions and the way the solos are arranged; stuff like that is what up-and-coming heavy metal bands followed.

I personally consider Black Sabbath the founders of heavy metal, as far as the deep, derk, menacing sound.

Yes, I completely agree, Black Sabbath was the origin of "heavy metal"

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Zeppelin is too varied to be 'heavy metal'. They were acoustic, for cryin' out loud! Seriously, how heavy metal is Goin To California?

However, I read a good article about this subject, and the author explained that it wasn't really the sound, but the structure of their music that built heavy metal. The chord progressions and the way the solos are arranged; stuff like that is what up-and-coming heavy metal bands followed.

I personally consider Black Sabbath the founders of heavy metal, as far as the deep, derk, menacing sound.

[/quote

You wouldnt happen to have that website would you?

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Many people say that led zeppelin was one of the bands in the late 60's that pioneered heavy metal. Do you consider this to be true? I want to use this topic to write a paper for my college music class, how would you place the band into a larger context of popular music? Thanks for any input!

Jimmy Page said that the first song he ever heard that he would characterize as 'heavy metal' was when he first heard the Beatles' "Helter Skelter."

Some argue it was the Kinks' "You Really Got Me," which may or (more likely) did not include Page on guitar.

I guess it depends on what your definition of Heavy Metal is ... other bands I can recall from the time would include Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly, Iggy Pop & The Stooges, the MC5 ("Kick Out the Jams, Mother F---er!!"), and of course, Black Sabbath. I'm sure I am missing many, many more!

As for the second part of your question, Zeppelin is definitely now more recognized as a major influence on popular music than in their day. Back then, you were considered a stoned-out teenager if you thought Led Zeppelin created anything resembling music, save "Stairway to Heaven." Now, that is no longer the case, and musicologists and music critics have re-thought their initial assessments of Led Zeppelin.

Edited by dpat
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I think that what places Zeppelin very high in popular music is that Zeppelin played and recorded what they wanted to play and record. It never will sound dated because it really doesn't fit into a certain category of popular music. Whether that category is in 1975, 1985, 1995, 2005, or 2015. There will always be some 13 year old kid gets hooked on a particular riff or song and the addiction will go from there, through the rest of there lives. Any Zeppelin song, still sounds "fresh" today. It's not quite heavy metal, not quite blues, sometimes it's kind of folk, and others rock-a-billy. Quite simply, it's Led Zeppelin, and there will always be Zeppelin fans, and it will always be just THEIR band. Make sense?

Good Luck.

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Agreed...

... R. Davies and heavy metal...never ever imagined that.......

Me neither nor do I see Helter Skelter by the Beatles as "heavy metal". Harder sounding than a lot of their other songs certainly but that's about as far as it goes for me anyways.

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I think that what places Zeppelin very high in popular music is that Zeppelin played and recorded what they wanted to play and record. It never will sound dated because it really doesn't fit into a certain category of popular music. Whether that category is in 1975, 1985, 1995, 2005, or 2015. There will always be some 13 year old kid gets hooked on a particular riff or song and the addiction will go from there, through the rest of there lives. Any Zeppelin song, still sounds "fresh" today. It's not quite heavy metal, not quite blues, sometimes it's kind of folk, and others rock-a-billy. Quite simply, it's Led Zeppelin, and there will always be Zeppelin fans, and it will always be just THEIR band. Make sense?

Good Luck.

Excellent post. Zeppelin are hard to classify into 1 particular category. If I need to use a generalization for Zep then I say they're blues/rock oriented.

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But then lots of bands played and recorded what they wanted to play and record, and in many cases that was blues/rock. I don't think this is so simple to pin down--for me it's simply the quality of what they did, not necessarily that it was radically different from what anybody else did.

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But then lots of bands played and recorded what they wanted to play and record, and in many cases that was blues/rock. I don't think this is so simple to pin down--for me it's simply the quality of what they did, not necessarily that it was radically different from what anybody else did.

Maybe it also was the elements they combined, how nobody else did. The weren't limited to one style, and they were good at every style they were making.

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Agreed...

... R. Davies and heavy metal...never ever imagined that.......

I think it's specifically the riff to You Really Got Me that can be described as the first example of heavy metal or heavy riff, not necessarily the band or the whole song itself. It is a pretty loud crunching riff for the time.

I don't think one can specifically pinpoint the exact start of heavy metal though. Music was just gradually getting louder and heavier throughout the sixties with many bands contributing. I think Led Zeppelin added the final ingredient with Robert Plant's high-pitched wailing vocals and with their music having special emphasis on riffs. This helped kick-start the genre even though they were never heavy metal themselves. By 1970 Deep Purple had turned heavy due to the influence of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath released their first album. And it is Black Sabbath that I would describe as the first fully fledged heavy metal band.

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I agree on the anti heavy metal thoughts, although they helped pioneer the heavy sound. In regards to hard rock, its more of a natural sound. Yeah some stuff has edge and chop to it, but it was never harsh, or cold, or stupid, in a heavy metal way. The current performance of -immigrant song by -beck and -page, is showing the eery quality of the song, with beck doing the vocal.

With led zeppelin's creativity and talent, they were very unique... which seemed to cause a negative impact on popular music, for a time, in the 80s...with metal bands and the music business. Within a larger context of popular music, they have alot of record sales....but with their sound, they stand alone like all great bands and artists do.

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Led Zeppelin were a Hard Rock band, not a Heavy Metal band, everyone would agree with that i think. They were a huge infuence in the Heavy metal mouvement, i think everyone will agree with that too. The fact is that Heavy Metal as every form of art it's in constant evolution, and that from the very begining. You can not state a band that created everything, be cause it was a progresive process of construction. Same Thing with rock evolving from the Blues, rock&roll, etc. For me Led Zeppelin is THE group that defines better what rock should be, it's like the final piece of the main puzzle. In that sense Zep has that hard rock edge, along with the acoustic, and more bluesy feel, but is that hard rock freaking loud edge that influences and kickstart the heavy metal movement. When youn listen to Comunication Breakdown....ohhh man...that's fucking proto heavy metal....as My Generation from The Who is proto Punk Rock. The downpicking Riff from Jimmy it's a pure heavy metal riff, Bob's pitching high vocals, and bonzo's pounding bass drum kicking...it's hard, it's galloping...it's heavy. Personally i think it's the fist heavy metal song...but not made from a heavy metal group anyway.

Then you have Black Sabath, who are in fact the Biggest influence in METAL in general,but i don't consider them a metal band at all....Sabbath sound still has a Hard Rock edge, but has a huge evolution into a more dark and loud sound.

In that sense, Zep, Sabbath, Purple, AC/DC are all hard groups that are a big part in that artistic evolution, but for me the final piece in heavy metal...as Zep was for Hard Rock, is Judas Priest with the "Sad Wings Of Destiny Album", in music, lyrical content, Look, attitude...there you have the final piece in the Heavy Metal puzzle.

To finish, the Legacy of Zeppelin in modern music it's bigger than the heavy metal aspects of their music, in a strict artistic way, they touched a lot of tryles and melted in a unique way, Blues, Rock, Folk, Funk, Heavy Metal, they defined the concept of album band making more than a snigle band making, they set new standards to live performances, taking the "jam" to something never seen before and since. But in other aspects far beyond the artistic they were really influencial... they and Peter Grant set new standards for the place of the artist in the business was, winning the battle over promotors, and in the "rocker syle of life on the road" they were the main shit at that time, and still.

Sorry for mi terrible Enlish folks!

Edited by El_Hermitaño
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But then lots of bands played and recorded what they wanted to play and record, and in many cases that was blues/rock. I don't think this is so simple to pin down--for me it's simply the quality of what they did, not necessarily that it was radically different from what anybody else did.

I would agree. Not only did they play and record what they wanted (no disco fad in Zeppelin), but the Quality HAD to be good. Rarely did they make TV appearances because sound quality wasn't good for the viewers.

Another aspect to the quality is the fact that Zeppelin rarely "marketed itself" in today's sense. They never had coorporate sponsers, did comercials. Even tours were sold out on just word of mouth alone (from the fans). The music HAD to hold up on it's own. It still does today and always will.

Great Point.

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Wow! Putting Led Zeppelin in one category, I'd have to say Blues and Rock and Roll (1950's) with a touch of Flower Power (60's style). Well darn, I just couldn't do it, I can't put them in just one large musical category.

If you want to only talk about the guitar progressions and the solo's, you have to say the old Country Blues styles of the 1920's and 1930's fit in well (for most of there work).

If you want to talk about the words, that's something else all together, there's way to much to relate for the words.

The drums are hard hitting shuffle beat's with some 1930's & 1940's type Jazz & 1950's Rock and Roll to boot.

The bass guitar and key's sound both dark melodic and the rock sounds of the late 1960's.

The singing style is a combo of old Country Blues and the later City Blues.

That's how I see it but tap me on the shoulder if I (and I'm sure I have) left anything out.

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