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New Led Zeppelin Album Tops <i>Billboard</i> Chart - 2003-06-21

Classic rock legends Led Zeppelin broke up more than 23 years ago, but they've again reached the Number One spot on Billboard magazine's Albums chart. Their new, live three-CD set, How The West Was Won, captures two of their legendary concerts from June 1972.

Led Zeppelin's guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant are considered among the ultimate rock heroes, while bass and keyboard player John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham provided one of the most powerful rhythm sections in rock history. Together, they sold more than 200 million albums worldwide.

The British group officially disbanded in 1980 after Bonham's death, and the surviving members have been involved in various solo projects How The West Was Won is their first Number One album since 1979's In Through The Out Door. While digging through the band's archives, guitarist Jimmy Page discovered concert tapes from two 1972 Los Angeles-area shows, when the group was making an impact on its American audience. Unauthorized recordings of their concerts have been available, but this is their first official previously-unreleased live set in decades.

The three-CD set How The West Was Won includes an accompanying DVD, that shows a young, hungry band, determined to achieve success in the U.S. Bass player John Paul Jones comments, "The fire in the playing was particularly noticeable. We used to rip from one song into another, just roar into them at frightening speeds."

In assembling the DVD, Jimmy Page says he wanted to display "the full story" of Led Zeppelin, with concert excerpts from 1970, 1973, 1975 and 1979. The five hour, two-disc collection includes some of the band's classic tunes, with long improvisations lasting 20 minutes or more. Additional footage includes television appearances, interviews and other rare looks at the band. Singer Robert Plant comments, "It was just four guys flailing away. We had no expectations, but we knew we had something between us that was special."

The CD set, How The West Was Won, also features one of the first live performances of Led Zeppelin's anthem, Stairway To Heaven. John Paul Jones says, "We were in peak shape, and, on those two nights, the stars were aligned. It was magic."

Over the years, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones have reunited for selected benefit shows, while Page and Plant have recorded two albums together.

In answer to the question that's being asked by long-time fans, Jimmy Page says, "The members of the group have not yet discussed a reunion." Robert Plant remains firm that there could never be a true Led Zeppelin reunion without original drummer John Bonham. He has said he might be willing to play with his old bandmates again under another name. Jimmy Page says that they'd all have to get in the same room, play together, and see if the magic is still there. Perhaps earning a Number One album will help the process. The surviving trio has made several recent appearances together for screenings of the DVD footage, which has fueled even more reunion rumors.