We’re celebrating 50 years since Led Zeppelin unleashed one of the greatest rock songs of all time, Black Dog, originally arriving as the commanding opener of the band 1971 masterpiece Led Zeppelin IV, but, due to the song's undeniable star power, it was given its own single release – a custom the Jimmy Page and co. often opted to avoid – in the US, this week in 1972. Black Dog was the burgeoning rock legends’ debut entry in the US charts where it peaked at number 15 and remained in the charts for eight weeks running – not a bad start for a band opposed to singles!
The track’s title, Black Dog, was inspired by a nameless black Labrador retriever who would wander around the Headley Grange (where the band recorder Led Zeppelin IV) studios during their recording sessions.
From the band's formation in 1968, to the polished stadium force of nature – a collective power arguably unmated to this day – Led Zeppelin transformed, in a few short years, into nothing short of a phenomenon. Not only would they become one of the most influential, innovative, and successful groups in modern music, selling more than 300 million albums worldwide, the band, and their prolific path, is a sum of all parts; Jimmy Page’s virtuoso, skill, vision and taste; John Bonham’s thunderous presence leading the captivating arrangements with the surety of a steam train; matching restraint the powerful; and confident restraint of John Paul Jones slickly groves, never failing to glue it all together with seamless finenesé; allowing Robert Plant’s otherworldly wail to soar with unbridled emotion; making you feel every moment.
– Like siren annoying to the beginning of a decade-plus reign group that would see them (deservedly) transform into the biggest and most innovative rock band in the world had ever seen. famously, Led Zeppelin’s untitled fourth album was famously issued with no text on the front or back covers, including the band’s name or an album title – a radical (and overwhelmingly confident) idea at the time.
Watch below to relive Led Zeppelin tear through Black Dog live at New York City in July 1973 from The Song Remains the Same.
Led Zeppelin | ‘Black Dog’ [Live at Madison Square Garden, 1973]
“After the release and success of the third album, we were still getting negative reviews about the albums and concerts in certain trade journals in America,” Page recalled. “And even after the third album, it was being said that we were ‘a hype’ and one thing and another. It was slightly aggravating. It seemed as though it would be an interesting proposition to actually put out an album with no information on it at all…and see how it would sell.”
“The cover means whatever people want to read into it,” said John Bonham around the album’s release. “For me, it means: ‘I’d rather live in an old house than a block of flats.’ My personal view is that the album is the best thing we’ve ever done. I love it. It’s the fourth album and it’s the next stage we were in at the time of recording. All the albums have been different and to my mind, this is the best and that’s not trying to be big-headed or flash.”
To learn more about Led Zeppelin's legendary fourth album and more, check out The History of Led Zeppelin on the band's official YouTube channel.
Led Zeppelin IV is the most artistically influential and commercially successful albums in the history of music. The album defined the sound of rock music for a generation with ubiquitous anthems such as Stairway To Heaven, Rock And Roll, Black Dog, and When The Levee Breaks.
Led Zeppelin | ‘Rock & Roll’ [Madison Square Garden, 1973)
A new re-issue of Led Zeppelin's fourth and most popular album, newly remastered by original producer Jimmy Page, is available as a single CD packaged in a gatefold card wallet. Get it, here.
If you haven’t listened to Led Zeppelin IV in a while, revisit it on streaming below and remember just how amazing it is.
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We're making 50 years (ago this week) since Led Zeppelin unleashed 'Black Dog' – one of the most iconic