Led Zeppelin IV
Led Zeppelin IV

The untitled fourth studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, generally often called Led Zeppelin IV, was launched on 8 November 1971 by Atlantic Information. It was produced by guitarist Jimmy Web page and recorded between December 1970 and February 1971, principally within the nation home Headley Grange. The album is notable for that includes “Stairway to Heaven”, which has been described because the band’s signature track.[3]

The casual setting at Headley Grange impressed the band, and allowed them to attempt totally different preparations of fabric and create songs in a wide range of kinds. After the band’s earlier album Led Zeppelin III acquired lukewarm opinions from critics, they determined their fourth album would formally be untitled, and could be represented as an alternative by 4 symbols chosen by every band member, with out that includes the title or every other particulars on the quilt. In contrast to the prior two albums, the band was joined by some visitor musicians, equivalent to vocalist Sandy Denny on “The Battle of Evermore”, and pianist Ian Stewart on “Rock and Roll”. As with prior albums, a lot of the materials was written by the band, although there was one cowl track, a tough rock re-interpretation of the Memphis Minnie blues track “When the Levee Breaks”.

The album was a business and significant success and is Led Zeppelin’s best-selling, delivery over 37 million copies worldwide. It is among the best-selling albums within the US, whereas critics have frequently positioned it extremely on lists of the best albums of all time.

Writing and recording

A lot of the album was recorded at Headley Grange in Hampshire.

Following the discharge of Led Zeppelin III in October 1970, the group took a break from dwell performances to focus on recording a follow-up. They turned down all touring affords, together with a proposed New Yr’s Eve gig that may have been broadcast by tv. They returned to Bron-Yr-Aur, a rustic home in Snowdonia, Wales, to put in writing new materials.[4]

Recording periods for the album started at Island Information’ new Basing Avenue studios in London in December 1970.[5] The group had thought-about Mick Jagger’s house, Stargroves as a recording location, however determined it was too costly.[6] They subsequently moved the next month to Headley Grange, a rustic home in Hampshire, England, utilizing The Rolling Stones Cell Studio and engineer Andy Johns, with the Stones’ Ian Stewart aiding. Johns had simply labored on engineering Sticky Fingers and really useful the cell studio.[6] Guitarist and producer Jimmy Web page later recalled: “We wanted the form of services the place we may have a cup of tea and wander across the backyard and go in and do what we needed to do.”[7] This relaxed, atmospheric atmosphere at Headley Grange additionally offered different benefits for the band, as they had been capable of seize spontaneous performances instantly, with some tracks arising from the communal jamming.[7] Bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones remembered there was no bar or leisure services, however this helped focus the group on the music with out being distracted.[6]

As soon as the essential tracks had been recorded, the band added overdubs at Island Studios in February. Web page then took the multitrack tapes to Sundown Sound in Los Angeles for mixing, on Johns’ advice, with a plan for an April 1971 launch.[8][9] Nevertheless, the band disliked the outcomes, and so after touring by the spring and early summer season, Web page remixed the entire album in July. The album was delayed once more over the selection of canopy, whether or not it needs to be a double album, with a potential suggestion it could possibly be issued as a set of EPs.[10]


Facet one

“Black Canine” was named after a canine that hung round Headley Grange throughout recording. The riff was written by Web page and Jones, whereas the a cappella part was influenced by Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Effectively”. Vocalist Robert Plant wrote the lyrics, and later sang parts of the track throughout solo concert events.[11] The guitar solos on the outro had been recorded instantly into the desk, with out utilizing an amplifier.[12]

“Rock and Roll” was a collaboration with Stewart that got here out of a jam early within the recording periods at Headley Grange. Drummer John Bonham wrote the introduction, which got here from jamming across the intro to Little Richard’s “Maintain A-Knockin'”.[13] The observe grew to become a dwell favorite in live performance, being carried out because the opening quantity or an encore.[11] It was launched as a promotional single within the US, with stereo and mono mixes on both aspect of the disc.[14]

“The Battle of Evermore” was written by Web page on the mandolin, borrowed from Jones. Plant added lyrics impressed by a ebook he was studying concerning the Scottish Independence Wars. The observe contains a duet between Plant and Fairport Conference’s Sandy Denny, [15][a] who supplies the one feminine voice to be heard on a Led Zeppelin recording.[17] Plant performed the position of narrator within the track, describing occasions, whereas Denny sang the a part of the city crier representing the folks.[16]

A Gibson EDS-1275, much like this was used for dwell performances of “Stairway to Heaven”. The cease bars on the precise guitar had been farther from the bridges.

“Stairway to Heaven” was principally written by Web page, and the majority of the chord sequence was already labored out when recording began at Basing Avenue Studios. The lyrics had been written by Plant at Headley Grange, a few lady who “took every little thing with out giving something again”.[18] The ultimate take of the track was recorded at Island Studios after the Headley Grange session. The fundamental backing observe featured Bonham on drums, Jones on electrical piano and Web page on acoustic guitar.[18] The entire group contributed to the association, equivalent to Jones taking part in recorders on the introduction, and Bonham’s distinctive drum entry midway by the piece.[15] Web page performed the guitar solo utilizing a Fender Telecaster he had acquired from Jeff Beck and been his foremost guitar on the group’s first album and early dwell exhibits. He put down three totally different takes of the solo and picked the very best to placed on the album.[19]

The track was thought-about the standout observe on the album and was performed on FM radio stations often, however the group resisted all strategies to launch it as a single. It grew to become the centrepiece of the group’s dwell set from 1971 onwards; with a view to replicate the modifications between acoustic, electrical and twelve-string guitar on the studio recording, Web page performed a Gibson EDS-1275 double-neck guitar through the track.[15]

Facet two

“Misty Mountain Hop” was written at Headley Grange and featured Jones taking part in electrical piano.[15] Plant wrote the lyrics about coping with the conflict between college students and police over drug possession. The title comes from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.[20] Plant later carried out the observe on solo excursions.[15]

“4 Sticks” took its title from Bonham taking part in the drum sample that runs all through the track with 4 drum sticks, and Jones performed analog synth. The observe was troublesome to document in comparison with the opposite materials on the album, requiring quite a few takes.[15] It was performed dwell solely as soon as by Led Zeppelin,[15] and re-recorded with the Bombay Symphony Orchestra in 1972.[21] It was reworked for Web page and Plant’s 1994 album No Quarter: Jimmy Web page and Robert Plant Unledded.[22]

“Going to California” is a quiet acoustic quantity. It was written by Web page and Plant about Californian earthquakes, and looking for the proper lady. The music was impressed by Joni Mitchell, of whom each Plant and Web page had been followers. The observe was initially titled “Information To California”; the ultimate title comes from the journey to Los Angeles to combine the album.[15][23]

“When the Levee Breaks” comes from a blues track recorded by Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy in 1929. The observe opens with Bonham’s heavy unaccompanied drumming, which was recorded within the foyer of Headley Grange utilizing two Beyerdynamic M 160 microphones which had been hung up a flight of stairs; output from these had been handed to a limiter. A Binson Echorec, a delay results unit, was additionally used.[24] Web page recalled he had tried to document the observe at early periods, however it had sounded flat. The bizarre areas across the foyer gave the best atmosphere for the drum sound.[25] This introduction was later extensively sampled for hip hop music within the Eighties.[15] Web page and Plant performed the track on their 1995 tour selling No Quarter: Jimmy Web page and Robert Plant Unledded.[26]

Different songs

Three different songs from the periods, “Down by the Seaside”, “Evening Flight” and “Boogie with Stu” (that includes Stewart on piano), had been included 4 years in a while the double album Bodily Graffiti. An early model of “No Quarter” was additionally recorded on the periods.[15]


The unique vinyl document label with the 4 hand-drawn symbols

After the lukewarm, if not confused and typically dismissive, important response Led Zeppelin III had acquired in late 1970, Web page determined that the following Led Zeppelin album wouldn’t have a title, however would as an alternative function 4 hand-drawn symbols on the interior sleeve and document label, every one chosen by the band member it represents.[11] The document firm had been strongly towards the concept, however the group stood their floor and refused handy over the grasp tapes till their determination had been agreed to.[27]

Web page has additionally acknowledged that the choice to launch the album with none written data on the album sleeve was opposite to robust recommendation given to him by a press agent, who stated that after a 12 months’s absence from each data and touring, the transfer could be akin to “skilled suicide”.[28] Web page thought, “We simply occurred to have numerous religion in what we had been doing.”[28] He recalled the document firm had been insisting {that a} title needed to be on the album, however held his floor, as he felt it could be a solution to critics who couldn’t evaluation one Led Zeppelin album and not using a level of reference to earlier ones.[29]

Releasing the album with out an official title has made it troublesome to constantly establish. Whereas mostly known as Led Zeppelin IV, Atlantic Information catalogues have used the names 4 Symbols and The Fourth Album. It has additionally been known as ZoSo (which Web page’s image seems to spell), Untitled and Runes.[11] Web page often refers back to the album in interviews as “the fourth album” and “Led Zeppelin IV”,[28] and Plant thinks of it as “the fourth album, that is it”.[30] The unique LP additionally has no textual content on the entrance or again cowl, and lacks a list quantity on the backbone.[11]


Symbols representing members talked about above

Rather than a title, Web page determined every member may select a private emblem for the quilt. Initially pondering of a single image, he then determined there could possibly be 4, with every member of the band selecting his personal.[28] He designed his personal image[11] and has by no means publicly disclosed any reasoning behind it. It has been argued that his image appeared as early as 1557 to symbolize Saturn.[31] The image is usually known as “ZoSo”, although Web page has defined that it was not the truth is meant to be a phrase in any respect.[11] Jones’ image, which he selected from Rudolf Koch’s E-book of Indicators, is a single circle intersecting three vesica pisces (a triquetra). It’s meant to symbolise an individual who possesses each confidence and competence.[11] Bonham’s image, the three interlocking (Borromean) rings, was picked by the drummer from the identical ebook. It represents the triad of mom, father and baby, however, additionally occurs to be the brand for the Gun Producer Krupp and, turned the other way up, Ballantine beer.[11] Plant’s image of a feather inside a circle was his personal design, being primarily based on the signal of the supposed Mu civilisation.[11] A fifth, smaller image chosen by visitor vocalist Sandy Denny represents her contribution to “The Battle of Evermore”; the determine, composed of three equilateral triangles, seems on the interior sleeve of the LP, serving as an asterisk.[32]

Sandy Denny’s image of three downward-pointing equilateral triangles

Throughout Led Zeppelin’s tour of the UK in winter 1971 shortly after the album’s launch, the symbols could possibly be seen on the group’s stage tools; Web page’s on considered one of his amplifiers, Bonham’s on his bass drum head, Jones’ on a overlaying for his Rhodes piano, and Plant’s on the aspect of a PA cupboard. Solely Web page’s and Bonham’s symbols had been retained for subsequent excursions.[33][34]

Salisbury Tower

The Nineteenth-century rustic oil portray on the entrance of the album was bought from an vintage store in Studying, Berkshire by Plant.[11][35] The portray was then juxtaposed and affixed to the inner, papered wall of a partly demolished suburban home for the {photograph} to be taken. The block of flats seen on the album is the Salisbury Tower within the Ladywood district of Birmingham.[36] Web page has defined that the quilt of the fourth album was meant to deliver out a metropolis/nation dichotomy that had initially surfaced on Led Zeppelin III, and a reminder that individuals ought to take care of the Earth.[28] He later stated the quilt was presupposed to be for “different folks to savour” quite than a direct assertion.[37] The album cowl was among the many 10 chosen by the Royal Mail for a set of “Traditional Album Cowl” postage stamps issued in January 2010.[38]

The within illustration, entitled “The Hermit”, painted by Barrington Coleby (credited to Barrington Colby MOM on the album sleeve),[32] was influenced by the design of the cardboard of the identical title within the Rider–Waite tarot deck.[11] This character was later portrayed by Web page himself in Led Zeppelin’s live performance movie, The Tune Stays the Identical (1976).[39] The interior portray can be known as View in Half or Various Gentle.[40] The typeface for the lyrics to “Stairway to Heaven”, printed on the within sleeve of the album, was Web page’s contribution. He discovered it in an previous arts and crafts journal known as The Studio which dated from the late Nineteenth century. He thought the lettering was attention-grabbing and organized for somebody to create an entire alphabet.[35]


The album was launched by Atlantic on 8 November 1971.[1] It was promoted through a sequence of teaser ads displaying the person symbols on the album paintings.[11] It entered the UK chart at No. 10, rising to No.1 the next week and has spent a complete of 90 weeks on the chart.[41] Within the US it was Led Zeppelin’s best-selling album,[42] however didn’t prime the Billboard album chart, peaking at No. 2 behind There is a Riot Goin’ On by Sly and the Household Stone and Music by Carole King.[43][44][b] “Finally”, writes Lewis, “the fourth Zeppelin album could be probably the most sturdy vendor of their catalogue and probably the most spectacular important and business success of their profession”.[11] At one level, it was ranked as one of many prime 5 best-selling albums of all time.[46] The album is among the best-selling albums of all time with greater than 37 million copies offered as of 2014.[47] As of 2021, it’s tied for fifth-highest-certified album within the US by the Recording Business Affiliation of America at 24× Platinum.[48]

The album was reissued a number of instances all through the Nineteen Seventies, together with a lilac vinyl urgent in 1978, and a field set package deal in 1988.[49] It was first issued on CD within the Eighties. Web page remastered the album in 1990 with engineer George Marino in an try to replace {the catalogue}, and several other tracks had been used for that 12 months’s compilation Led Zeppelin Remasters and the Led Zeppelin Boxed Set. All remastered tracks had been reissued on The Full Studio Recordings,[50] whereas the album was individually reissued on CD in 1994.[51][52]

A remastered model of Led Zeppelin IV was reissued on 27 October 2014, together with Homes of the Holy. The reissue is available in six codecs: a regular CD version, a deluxe two-CD version, a regular LP model, a deluxe two-LP model, a brilliant deluxe two-CD plus two-LP model with a hardback ebook, and as high-resolution 24-bit/96k digital downloads. The deluxe and tremendous deluxe editions function bonus materials. The reissue was launched with an inverted color model of the unique album’s paintings as its bonus disc’s cowl.[53] The album’s remastered model acquired widespread acclaim from critics, together with Rolling Stone, who discovered Web page’s remastering “illuminative”.[54]

Essential reception

Skilled rankings
Retrospective skilled rankings
Mixture scores
Supply Ranking
Metacritic 100/100[55]
Evaluate scores
Supply Ranking
AllMusic [56]
Blender [57]
Christgau’s Report Information A[58]
The Encyclopedia of Common Music [59]
Leisure Weekly A+[60]
Mojo [61]
MusicHound Rock 5/5[62]
Pitchfork 9.1/10[63]
Q [64]
The Rolling Stone Album Information [65]

Led Zeppelin IV acquired overwhelming reward from critics.[46] In a recent evaluation for Rolling Stone, Lenny Kaye known as it the band’s “most constantly good” album but and praised the range of the songs: “out of eight cuts, there is not one which steps on one other’s toes, that tries to do an excessive amount of abruptly.”[66] Billboard journal known as it a “powerhouse album” that has the business potential of the band’s earlier three albums.[67] Robert Christgau initially gave Led Zeppelin IV a lukewarm evaluation in The Village Voice, however later known as it a masterpiece of “heavy rock”.[68] Whereas nonetheless discovering the band’s medieval concepts limiting, he believed the album confirmed them on the pinnacle of their songwriting,[69] and regarded it as “the definitive Led Zeppelin and therefore heavy metallic album”.[58]

In a retrospective evaluation for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine credited the album for “defining not solely Led Zeppelin however the sound and magnificence of ’70s onerous rock”, whereas “encompassing heavy metallic, folks, pure rock & roll, and blues”.[56] In his album information to heavy metallic, Spin journal’s Joe Gross cited Led Zeppelin IV as a “monolithic cornerstone” of the style.[70] BBC Music’s Daryl Easlea stated that the album made the band a worldwide success and successfully mixed their third album’s folks concepts with their second album’s onerous rock model,[71] whereas Katherine Flynn and Julian Ring of Consequence of Sound felt it featured their debut’s blues rock, together with the opposite kinds from their second and third albums.[72] Led Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame biography described the album as “a totally realized hybrid of the people and hard-rock instructions”.[73] PopMatters journalist AJ Ramirez regarded it as one of many biggest heavy metallic albums ever,[74] whereas Chuck Eddy named it the primary metallic album of all time in his 1991 ebook Stairway to Hell: The five hundred Greatest Heavy Steel Albums within the Universe.[75] In line with rock scholar Mablen Jones, Led Zeppelin IV and significantly “Stairway to Heaven” mirrored heavy metallic’s presence in countercultural developments of the early Nineteen Seventies, because the album “blended post-hippie mysticism, mythological preoccupations, and onerous rock”.[76]

Steven Hyden noticed in 2018 that the album’s reputation had given rise to a reflexive bias towards it from each followers and critics. “There are two unwritten legal guidelines” concerning the album, he wrote. The primary was {that a} listener should declare a observe from aspect two, the “deep cuts with credibility” aspect, was his or her favourite, and the second was that one ought to by no means say it was their favourite among the many band’s albums. He blamed this later tendency for why “rock critics who attempt too onerous all the time make a case for In Via the Out Door being Zeppelin’s finest.” The band members themselves, he famous, additionally appeared to desire performing the songs from aspect two of their solo exhibits.[77]


In 2000, Led Zeppelin IV was named the Twenty sixth-greatest British album in a listing by Q journal.[78] In 2002, Spin journal’s Chuck Klosterman named it the second-greatest metallic album of all time and stated that it was “probably the most well-known hard-rock album ever recorded” in addition to an album that unintentionally created metallic—”the origin of every little thing that sounds, feels, and even tastes vaguely metallic”.[79] In 2000 it was voted quantity 42 in Colin Larkin’s All Time Prime 1000 Albums.[80] In 2003, the album was ranked quantity 66 on Rolling Stone journal’s checklist of “The five hundred Best Albums of All Time”, then re-ranked quantity 69 in a 2012 revised checklist,[81] and re-ranked 58 in a 2020 revised checklist.[82] It was additionally named the seventh-best album of the Nineteen Seventies in a listing by Pitchfork.[83] In 2016, Traditional Rock journal ranked Led Zeppelin IV as the best of all Zeppelin albums.[84]

Accolades for the fourth Led Zeppelin album
Accolade Publication Nation Yr Rank
“The 100 Best Albums Ever Made”[85] Mojo UK 1996 24
Grammy Corridor of Fame Award[86] Grammy Awards US 1999 *
“Album of the Millennium”[87] The Guitar US 1999 2
“100 Best Rock Albums Ever”[88] Traditional Rock UK 2001 1
“500 Best Albums Ever”[82] Rolling Stone US 2020 58
“Prime 100 Albums of the Nineteen Seventies”[83] Pitchfork US 2004 7
1001 Albums You Should Hear Earlier than You Die[89] Robert Dimery US 2005 *
“100 Greatest Albums Ever”[90] Q UK 2006 21
“100 Best British Rock Albums Ever”[91] Traditional Rock UK 2006 1
“The Definitive 200: Prime 200 Albums of All-Time”[92] Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame US 2007 4
NME’s The five hundred Best Albums of All Time[93] NME UK 2013 106

* designates unordered lists.

Observe itemizing

Facet one[94]
No. Title Author(s) Size
1. “Black Canine”
  • Jimmy Web page
  • Robert Plant
  • John Paul Jones
2. “Rock and Roll”
  • Web page
  • Plant
  • Jones
  • John Bonham
3. “The Battle of Evermore”
  • Web page
  • Plant
4. “Stairway to Heaven”
  • Web page
  • Plant
Facet two[94]
No. Title Author(s) Size
5. “Misty Mountain Hop”
  • Web page
  • Plant
  • Jones
6. “4 Sticks”
  • Web page
  • Plant
7. “Going to California”
  • Web page
  • Plant
8. “When the Levee Breaks”
  • Web page
  • Plant
  • Jones
  • Bonham
  • Memphis Minnie


Whole size: 42:20
2014 deluxe version bonus disc
No. Title Size
1. “Black Canine” (Primary observe with guitar overdubs) 4:34
2. “Rock and Roll” (Alternate combine) 3:39
3. “The Battle of Evermore” (Mandolin/Guitar combine from Headley Grange) 4:13
4. “Stairway to Heaven” (Sundown Sound combine) 8:03
5. “Misty Mountain Hop” (Alternate combine) 4:45
6. “4 Sticks” (Alternate combine) 4:33
7. “Going to California” (Mandolin/Guitar combine) 3:34
8. “When the Levee Breaks” (Alternate UK combine) 7:08
Whole size: 40:32



Gross sales chart efficiency for the fourth Led Zeppelin album
Chart (1971–72) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[97] 2
Austrian Album Chart[98] 3
Canadian Albums Chart[99] 1
Danish Albums Chart[100] 2
Dutch Album Chart[101] 1
Finnish Album Chart[102] 7
French Album Chart[103] 2
German Album Chart[104] 5
Norwegian Album Chart[105] 3
Spanish Albums Chart[106] 8
Swedish Album Chart[107] 2
UK Albums Chart[49] 1
US Billboard 200[43] 2
US Money Field Prime 100 Albums[108] 1
US Report World Album Chart[109] 1
Chart (2014) Peak
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ)[110] 13
Polish Albums (ZPAV)[111] 18


Gross sales certifications for the fourth Led Zeppelin album
Area Certification Licensed items/gross sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[112] Platinum 60,000^
Australia (ARIA)[113] 9× Platinum 630,000^
Brazil (Professional-Música Brasil)[114] Platinum 250,000double-dagger
Canada (Music Canada)[115] 2× Diamond 2,000,000^
France (SNEP)[116] 2× Platinum 600,000*
Germany (BVMI)[117] 3× Gold 750,000^
Italy (FIMI)[118]
gross sales since 2009
Platinum 50,000double-dagger
Norway (IFPI Norway)[119] Silver 20,000[120]
Norway (IFPI Norway)[121]
2× Platinum 40,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[122] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[123] 6× Platinum 1,800,000^
United States (RIAA)[124] 24× Platinum 24,000,000double-dagger

* Gross sales figures primarily based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures primarily based on certification alone.
double-dagger Gross sales+streaming figures primarily based on certification alone.




  • Lewis, Dave (1990). Led Zeppelin : A Celebration. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-7119-2416-1.
  • Lewis, Dave (2010). Led Zeppelin: The “Tight However Unfastened” Recordsdata. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-220-9.
  • Lewis, Dave; Pallett, Simon (2007). Led Zeppelin: The Live performance File. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-7119-5307-9.
  • Shadwick, Keith (2005). Led Zeppelin: The Story of a Band and Their Music, 1968–80. Backbeat. ISBN 978-0-87930-871-1.

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