Originally released in October 1970, Led Zeppelin III saw the band veering towards a folkier, more acoustic sound. 44 years on, as the album is remastered by Jimmy Page and reissued as a deluxe edition, we reveal 25 things you might not know about the original.
1: Bron Yr Aur, the cottage situated between Aberystwyth and Machynlleth in South Snowdonia where Page and Plant wrote and rehearsed material for Zep III, is Welsh for ‘golden hill’, ‘breast of the gold’ or ‘hill of the gold’.
2: That’s The Way was originally titled The Boy Next Door. Robert Plant introduced it under that title when they performed the song during their famous bill-topping appearance at the Bath Festival on June 28, 1970. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQfnyTxwMew)
3: During the making of their third album, Zep were the first band to record at the newly built Island Studio 2 in Basing Street, London. This would later be the location of the recording of the Band Aid single Do They Know It’s Christmas? in 1984.
4: Despite their no singles policy, Immigrant Song was at one time lined up to be a UK single backed with the third album leftover Hey Hey What Can I Do?. It was assigned a catalogue number 2091 043 and a release date of November 27th 1970 but was subsequently shelved.
5: A cover version of Immigrant Song by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor featuring Yeah Yeahs Karen O was used on the soundtrack of the David Fincher film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcp9Ysi75f0)
6: The lyrics of Hats Off To (Roy) Harper are based on Bukka White’s 1937 recording Shake Em On Down. Plant also leaned on that source for inspiration on Custard Pie, the opening track on 1975’s Physical Graffiti album. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4t59S92GpTc)
7: The traditional blues tale Gallows Pole that opens side two was discovered by Page on an album titled 12 String Guitar released in 1962 by American acoustic performer Fred Gerlach. The track was originally recorded in 1939 by iconic bluesman Leadbelly as Gallis Pole. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ye2N_2ce3QE)
8: The acoustic instrumental Bron-Yr-Aur was one of a handful of tracks left off the album – it would later appear on Physical Graffiti. Page’s acoustic work on the likes of Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp revealed the influence of folk guitarists Bert Jansch and Davy Graham. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YZ_lIpG1XQ)
9: Down By The Seaside, The Rover and Poor Tom were all originally worked on during the Zep III sessions but issued on subsequent Zep albums – Physical Graffiti and Coda respectively.
10: The original UK pressing of Zep III was released in October 1970 on the orange and maroon Atlantic label, distributed by Polydor. Copies bearing the inscription “Executive Producer Peter Grant”, which was omitted on later pressings, are worth around £100 in mint condition.
11: Friends, conceived by Page on the balcony of his Pangbourne boathouse home in early 1970, was later re-recorded by Page & Plant in India with the Bombay Orchestra in March 1972, a version that remains unreleased. Page & Plant returned to the song for their 1994 Unledded/No Quarter MTV performances. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulVFM6bjLr8)
12: Since I’ve Been Loving You previewed on the UK in 1970, some ten months before the album’s release. Listen carefully to the studio version and you can hear John Bonham’s bass drum pedal squeaking.
13: The title for Out On The Tiles was derived from a drinking song John Bonham used to recite in the studio with the words, “I’ve had a pint of bitter and now I’m feeling better and I’m out on the tiles”. It started out as a backing track dubbed “Bathroom Sound” (this version can be heard on the new Led Zeppelin III companion audio disc).
14: The Jimmy Page composed Tangerine was first recorded in April 1968 at the final Yardbirds recording session under the title Knowing That I’m Losing You. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPh1r32TCMY)
15: Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp was written at the Bron-Yr-Aur cottage about Plant’s dog Strider. The tune itself was first tried in an electric, rockier arrangement titled Jennings Farm Blues. This take can be heard on the new Zep III companion audio disc
16: Key To the Highway/Trouble In Mind was found by Page at the end of a studio tape reel from the recording session that produced Hats Off To (Roy) Harper.
17: A similar blues jam, recorded at the same session, features the band running through versions of Bukka White’s I Feel Like I’m Fixin To Die and Arthur Cruddup’s That’s Alright. Officially unreleased, this has surfaced on various bootlegs.
18: Just prior to the release of Led Zeppelin III, Zep jammed with Fairport Convention at a gig at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. Although recorded at the time, the tapes remain unreleased.
19: The elaborate Led Zep III sleeve was designed by Zacron, a former student of Kings Collage of Art, who Jimmy had first met in the early 60s.
20: The photos that adorn the back cover were taken by sleeve designer Zacron during a series of visits he made to each of the group members’ respective houses in the spring of 1970.
21: Original pressing of the album have an inscription on the run-out groove of each side - “Do What Thou Wilt” on side one and “So Mote It Be” on side two. Both are quotes from the black magic occultist Alistair Crowley, who Page had an interest in.
22: In September 1970, Led Zeppelin were voted the world’s top band in the annual Melody Maker Poll, ending The Beatles reign. Plant and Bonham appeared on BBC TV’s Nationwide news programme to explain their success (and have a smoke!)
23: The swirling noise that cross-fades Friends into Celebration Day was a deliberate edit effect by Page to cover up a studio cock-up when John Bonham’s original opening rhythm track to Celebration Day was wiped.
24: The famous bootleg album Led Zeppelin Live On Blueberry Hill, recorded at the LA Forum on September 4th 1970, includes live versions of Immigrant Song, Out On the Tiles and Since I’ve Been Loving You, performed a month prior to the album’s release.
25: Page mixed Led Zep III at Ardent Studios in Memphis with Terry Manning, a studio engineer Page knew from his Yardbirds days, when Manning was in the band Lawson and Four More.
The deluxe edition version of Led Zeppelin III is out today. Dave Lewis is the man behind Tight But Loose, the Led Zeppelin Magazine.
Read about the making of Led Zeppelin III in Classic Rock 198, available as digital or print editions from MyFavouriteMagazines.