9/15/79: Led Zeppelin's Final Studio Album Hits #1

posted by Kenny Young - 

As your resident Led Zeppelin aficionado and host of the "Stairway-to-Seven" here on 'ZLX, I felt it necessary to look back at some history of these legends on this date. After only a 3-week recording session at ABBA's Polar Studios (yes, that ABBA) in Sweden the previous Nov/Dec., Zeppelin finally released their 8th Studio Album In Through The Out Door in August of 1979. There had been a lot of tension both personally and professionally leading up to what would be their last record. John Paul Jones and Robert Plant tended to work on their craft during the daylight hours and seemed to have the most creative input.  Meanwhile, Page and Bonham would arrive late at night, or sometimes not at all, due to various substances. (read: shenanigan's) 

Despite this rift within the band, they produced some strong songs and some clever marketing to help album sales. In Through The Out Door  was packaged to look like a brown paper bag (like the bootlegs of the era.) The inner sleeve featured black and white line artwork which, when you got it wet, would become fully colored. With the cover being obscured by the brown paper wrapper, Fans didn't know which of the six different album jackets they would get. Surely, this led to multiple copies being purchased by the die-hards. Like I said, clever marketing. Incidentally, the artwork designed by Storm Thorgerson was  nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Album Package in 1980.  

Within 2 weeks of its release, the album soared up the Billboard charts and reached #1 on September 15, 1979. It remained there for seven weeks and would sell over 3-million copies by the end of the month. At the time, Led Zeppelin's entire studio catalog was still in the Billboard Top 200, besting their own previous feat in '75 with Physical Graffiti. Some suits at the time said ....Out Door was the album that helped revive the Rock Record Industry in the age of Disco. Amen to THAT!  In an interview with Mojo Magazine in 2004, Jimmy Page reflected back saying:  "we wanted, after In Through the Out Door, to make something hard-hitting and riff-based again. Of course, we never got to make that album"

Kenny Young

Kenny Young

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