Read the Story Behind the Album Led Zeppelin Recorded Before ‘Led Zeppelin’
Before they christened themselves Led Zeppelin, John Bonham, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Robert Plant were the New Yardbirds — and in the fall of 1968, they entered the studio for the first time together as the backing band for singer P.J. Proby’s 1969 album ‘Three Week Hero.’
Dangerous Minds posted a look at the story behind those sessions, which act today as an interesting footnote to the group’s legendary career. As most Zeppelin fans are already aware, Page and Jones were busy session musicians at this point, and when Jones acquired the gig for Proby’s album, it seemed only natural that he bring in his fellow New Yardbirds. DM’s piece quotes Jones as recalling, “I was committed to doing all the arrangements for the album. As we were talking about rehearsing at the time, I thought it would be a handy source of income. I had to book a band anyway, so I thought I’d book everybody I knew.”
The sessions, which kicked off August 25, 1968, produced an album that failed to make much of a commercial impact when it was released in April 1969 — but Proby, who continues to tour and record today, knew his new backing band was destined for bigger and better things. The post lifts a quote from an interview Proby did with the Finding Zoso fan site in which he remembers offering the New Yardbirds a job as his touring band, which they agreed to accept following a couple of concert obligations.
“The boys told me they were going over to play in San Francisco and all that, and I said, ‘Look, from what I’ve heard and the way you boys played tonight, not only are you not going to be my backing band, I’m going to say goodbye right now, because I don’t think I’m ever going to see you again. That’s how successful you’re going to be. You’re exactly what they want, you play all that psychedelic stuff and everything,’” Proby recalled. “I said, ‘You’re going to go over there and go down so great I don’t think you’re ever going to come home.’ They didn’t ever come back until they changed their name to Led Zeppelin and stayed over there and came back huge huge stars. … I said goodbye that day when I cut that album and I haven’t seen one of them since.”