Led Zeppelin IV: Facts, Legends And Mysteries About Zep's Biggest Seller

By | November 7, 2020

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The enigmatic cover painting. Source: Amazon

Led Zeppelin IV is famous not only for "Stairway to Heaven," "Rock and Roll," "Black Dog," and other Zeppelin classics, as well as its lore and trivia. No other band has been able to establish and maintain a mystique quite like Led Zeppelin. By 1971 the four members of the group, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham were superstars, but they wanted more than popularity, they wanted to be rock gods. Led Zeppelin IV (officially untitled, and also known as Runes and Zoso), produced by Page and recorded in the country house Headley Grange, is a cryptic puzzle featuring runes rather than the names of the band members, and songs based on the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien and Scottish history. There's magic buried inside Led Zeppelin IV, and we're going to get to the bottom of it.

Headley Grange provided a respite for the group after a disappointing start to the decade

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source: happy mag

When Zep released Led Zeppelin III in October 1970 they faced backlash from critics even though it contains some of the band's most beloved tracks (among them "Tangerine" and "Immigrant Song"), and rather than tour the album into the ground they started recording its followup. After a writing session at the country house Bron-Yr-Aur they decamped to Basing Street Studios in London in December 1970.

The atmosphere at Basing Street was stifling, and not at all what they were looking for so they moved to Headley Grange with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio in tow, along with Andy Johns and Ian Stewart to engineer. Jimmy Page explained the change of scenery as necessary as normal recording studios were too stifling:

We needed the sort of facilities where we could have a cup of tea and wander around the garden and go in and do what we had to do.