When Led Zeppelin entered their rich purple patch, they were a formidable force, and no act could stand in their way as the group scaled their way to the top of the rock and roll pile.
The state of music was partially in flux when Zeppelin emerged as the swinging ’60s drew to a close, and it looked unknown as to what style of band would be next to breakthrough. While The Beatles were still together, they hadn’t played live in years, and the people were crying out for someone new to align themselves to.
Then Zeppelin came along and answered their prayers. Although the members were previously part of the blues scene, under their new guise, they magnificently concocted this unique broody, menacing sound that captivated audiences when they came together as a four-piece.
Their crucial role in developing heavy metal is undeniable, and Led Zep’s pioneering instincts meant their eyes stayed firmly looking forward rather than glancing at their competition.
Importantly, the band never concerned themselves with trends throughout their time together and simply allowed their unwavering creativity to flourish. Speaking a decade after their split, Robert Plant told Rolling Stone, “We were more concerned with diversity, self-satisfaction, creativity. So, really, there was nobody to compete with, because we were trying to entertain ourselves first and foremost, with no intentional stab at a pretty song for a pretty song’s sake.”
He added: “From the beginning, really, it was a group policy that singles were not to be considered, that the whole game would be that if you wanted to find out about Led Zeppelin, you had to get into the whole thing. We would not put out singles as calling cards. So, really, there was nobody to compete with.
“But I think the way the music moved around in its Englishness and its blues roots the inspiration didn’t allow it to compete with anybody, really. Because it wasn’t a pop band. I mean, it’s popular, but it certainly was not pop.”
Plant then explained why ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is the perfect example of Led Zeppelin’s unorthodox mindset. Although the song was picked up by radio stations worldwide, the band never released their most famous track as a single, and it made fans listen to the album in its entirety.
The band were operating on their own wavelength, which defied the norms of the music industry but made Led Zeppelin an irresistible proposition, and unlike anybody else. While The Rolling Stones had The Beatles to joust with, there simply wasn’t another group that made Plant sweat, and he instead stayed laser-focused on his race at hand. A decision that paid off rather fruitfully as Zeppelin came to dominate the world.