Photo Editor

Photo by Neil Preston

Photo by Ross Halfin

Legendary rock band Led Zeppelin was formed in London in 1968. It consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. Over the years that the band was active, it became one of the most influential rock acts in history. Many people also believe that its heavy, guitar-driven sound made it the precursor to heavy metal. Even though, at first, critics were lukewarm about the band’s music, its albums would achieve significant commercial success, albums that include “Led Zeppelin,” “Led Zeppelin II,” “Led Zeppelin III,” “Led Zeppelin IV” and “Houses of the Holy.” It is probably best known by the general public for its song “Stairway to Heaven,” which appeared on its fourth album, “Led Zeppelin IV.” Led Zeppelin disbanded after Bonham died in 1980. But its music has continued to be enormously popular and influential.

This year, Reel Art Press is publishing a one-of-a-kind book about the legendary band, “Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin.” The surviving members of the band, Plant, Page and Jones, teamed up with the publisher, giving it unrestricted access to Led Zeppelin’s archive. The 400-page book looks at the band’s history since it was formed 50 years ago. Inside the book, you’ll find hundreds of photographs and artworks that have been personally picked by the band members. The book also contains extensive annotations by the band members, like this one from Page, talking about how the band was formed:

My idea was to form and produce a band, to rehearse the band, so much so that we would feel confident to do some shows, then go in and start recording; to manifest what I had learned during my touring and recording time with The Yardbirds.

That process led me to Robert Plant. When I heard him in the Midlands with his band, Obs-Tweedle, I invited him to my house in Pangbourne to introduce him to the material I wanted to do. He was open to those ideas. After a few visits, he talked of John Bonham and that John was touring with Tim Rose. We went to see Tim and John in a London club; I really felt a profound connection with John’s playing and immediately I knew he would be perfect. I figured the new band would give John Bonham the chance to play and present John Bonham’s playing unlike anything he had experienced before. This would ring true for each of us. John Paul Jones called me up soon after and asked if I was putting a band together and did I need a bass player? I said yes, and a rehearsal was pencilled in.

Robert Plant / Photo by Dick Barnatt

Led Zeppelin in San Francisco, 1969 / Photo by Bob Stinnett/Globe Photos

John Bonham / Photo by Dick Barnatt

John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Bonham in Copenhagen in 1966 when they were still the New Yardbirds / Photo by Jorgen Angel

Jimmy Page / Photo by Dick Barnatt

Photo from Jimmy Page Collection

John Paul Jones / Photo by Dick Barnatt

Photo by Neal Preston

In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.

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