Led Zeppelin IV

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Led Zeppelin IV
Type Studio album
Artist Led Zeppelin
Release Date 8 November 1971 (US), 12 November 1971 (UK)
Recorded December 1970 – August 1971 at
Island Studios, London;
Headley Grange, Hampshire, with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio;
Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California.
Mixed at Island Studios, London;
Olympic Studios, London.
Genre Hard rock, blues rock, folk rock
Language English
Length 42 minutes 34 seconds
Label Atlantic Records
Catalogue Atlantic SD 7208 (US), Atlantic 2401 012 (UK)
Producer Jimmy Page
Engineer Andy Johns

Led Zeppelin IV is the conventional, but unsanctioned designation of the untitled fourth album of English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was issued on 8 November 1971 in the United States and 12 November 1971 in the United Kingdom. Although several of Led Zeppelin's early albums sold well and made an impact on the world of music, Led Zeppelin IV enjoyed the greatest commercial success of all of the band's albums and is the band's best-known album (charting at number two in the US and number one in the UK, Canada and Japan respectively). Containing such classics as 'Black Dog', 'Rock and Roll', and the epic eight-minute 'Stairway to Heaven', the album combined the blues influenced hard rock of the first two albums and the folk of the third, with the band finding a perfect balance on their fourth album.


Almost immediately after the release of Led Zeppelin III, the band headed back to the studio to record a fourth album. The LP was at first recorded at Island Records' Basing Street Studios, London[1] prior to final sessions taking place at Headley Grange, a secluded Victorian era manor in East Hampshire, England, in addition to overdubs and mixing at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, California, which delayed the album's release until November 1971. Chief songwriters Page and Plant previously wrote some songs at Bron-Yr-Aur, and they arrived at Headley Grange with 12 taped demos, including the chord structure of a tune that would evolve into the epic 'Stairway to Heaven'. They'd rehearsed previously there, but now, in the depths of winter, the place had deteriorated and was cold and damp but due to Led Zeppelin's gruelling touring schedule they only needed to write and rehearse for a week. Then the Rolling Stones' mobile recording studio was booked to record the album, which was hired for just six days, with engineer Andy Johns and Page at the controls. The hallways and stairwells at Headley Grange however proved ideal for recording John Bonham's booming drum sound.[2]

There was some talk of calling the album Led Zeppelin IV, but the band insisted, perhaps as a way of confusing the critics, that the album remain nameless. 'The music is what matters,' said Page. 'Let people buy it because they like the music. I don't want any writing on the cover! Period!' Subsequent to the perplexed and sometimes indifferent reception Led Zeppelin III was greeted with in the autumn of 1970 by the music press, producer Jimmy Page resolved that the following Led Zeppelin album would not have a name, but would in its place present four representative glyphs on the interior sleeve and spine, each one selected by the group member it symbolised. 'We decided that on the fourth album, we would deliberately play down the group name, and there wouldn't be any information whatsoever on the outer jacket', Page elucidated. 'Names, titles and things like that do not mean a thing.'[3]

Obligated due to the lack of an official name, Atlantic Records originally disseminated typefaces of the glyphs in various font sizes to the media for insertion into album reviews and charts. The release was one of the earliest to be shipped without traditional identification, and this conveyed an anti-establishment standpoint that was contentious at that point in history (especially among some accountants at Atlantic Records).[4]

The album was released on 8 November 1971, in the United States, and on 12 November 1971, in the United Kingdom. This album also had variety like the third one, with some grinding songs and some acoustic songs, Led Zeppelin IV continues to be a recurring choice on classic rock programming and introduces highlights such as 'Stairway to Heaven', one of the most celebrated and requested rock epics ever recorded.


© Image: Atlantic Records
Four symbols as appeared on the album Led Zeppelin IV, representing (l. to r.) Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, John Bonham, and Robert Plant.

It has no endorsed appellation published anywhere on the album's frontispiece, but is normally called Led Zeppelin IV after the group's preceding three releases. Atlantic Records' catalogue libraries have used the titles Four Symbols (Zoso.png) and The Fourth Album interchangeably; it has also been monikered as ZoSo, which the first sigil appears to signify, as well as Untitled. The album has also been referred to as Man with Sticks. Led Zeppelin guitarist Page commonly refers to the title in interviews as either Four Symbols or Led Zeppelin IV, while vocalist Robert Plant deems it as 'the fourth album, that's it'. It is one of the greatest selling albums in history, with over 23 million units shifted in the United States, currently third on the all-time sales list.[5] The lack of any information on the sleeve of the album was also in response to the prevalent trend amongst music critics of the day to label successful bands as being 'hype'. The band wanted the music to solely speak for itself.

All band members selected a personal insignia for the project:

  • Jimmy Page's symbol is usually referred to as 'ZoSo,' though it is in fact meant to represent a non-alphabetic non-pronounceable sigil with a basis in alchemical hermeticism. It's true meaning has not been deciphered although it is similar to esoteric symbols representing the planet Saturn and the elemental symbol for fire.
  • John Paul Jones' symbol is a solitary ring with overlapping triquetra. According to calligrapher Rudolf Koch, It signifies an individual with self-assurance and proficiency, and has links with the elements of water.[6]
  • John Bonham's symbol is a trio of intertwined rings of identical size. The three rings signify father, mother and child, and form an inverse of Jones' symbol. The selection of Jones' and Bonham's emblems emphasises the interlocked rhythm section of the band, whereby each shape compliments and balances each other. The symbol has links to the element of earth.
  • Robert Plant's symbol is am ostrich quill representative of the Egyptian goddess Ma'at, enclosed by an unbroken ring. The quill is symbolic of balance, honesty, and justice and the ring eternity.

For this particular album, vocalist Sandy Denny's symbol chose three touching triangles, which according to Koch represents the 'godhead'.[7]

The usage of the symbols appeared on stage equipment following the release of the album. Page's 'ZoSo' sigil was hand-painted onto the front of his Marshall amplifier stack, Bonham's bass drum featured his symbol, Jones' symbol was painted upon a white sheet fixed to the front of his keyboards and Plant PA cabinet featured his symbol. Page and Plant would later use their symbols for the Page-Plant series of tours, and Page's sigil appeared again during his tenure with the Black Crowes.

Cover design

The portrait on the album's frontispiece, presents an old man burdened by a sheaf of firewood. The painting is attached to the peeling wallpaper of a decaying house with skyscrapers rising in the background, was meant to carry the symbolism of an old simple way of life being replaced by the isolation of a new one. Reputedly purchased from a second-hand store in Reading, Berkshire by Plant, who wished to work it into the rustic appeal of Led Zeppelin III but found use for it on Led Zeppelin IV.[8]


In 1998, Q magazine subscribers voted Led Zeppelin IV the 26th greatest album of all time; in 2000 'Q' positioned it at number 26 in its register of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. It is listed at number 7 on Pitchfork Media's Top 100 Albums of the 1970s. A 2005 audience survey conducted by Toronto, Ontario classic rock FM station Q107 christened Led Zeppelin IV the number 2 best classic rock album of all time. In 2006, the release was ranked number one on the Classic Rock magazine's '100 Greatest British Albums' poll[9]; that same year it was voted number 1 in Guitar World 100 Greatest Albums readers' poll and was rated number 7 in ABC media's top ten albums.


Reviewer Country Review Year Score
Scott Floman (Goldmine) United States Rock and Soul Album Reviews 2002 A+


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Mojo United Kingdom The 100 Greatest Albums Ever Made[10] 1996 24
Grammy Awards United States Grammy Hall of Fame Award[11] 1999 *
The Guitar United States Album of the Millennium[12] 1999 2
Classic Rock United Kingdom 100 Greatest Rock Album Ever[13] 2001 1
Q United Kingdom The Greatest Classic Rock Albums Ever[14] 2004 *
Robert Dimery United States 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die[15] 2005 *
Q United Kingdom 100 Best Albums Ever[16] 2006 21
Classic Rock United Kingdom 100 Greatest British Rock Album Ever[17] 2006 1
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame United States The Definitive 200: Top 200 Albums of All-Time[18] 2007 4

(*) designates unordered lists.

Track list

Album information

Track listing:

  • Side 1:
  1. 'Black Dog' (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones) – 4:57
  2. 'Rock and Roll' (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham) – 3:40
  3. 'The Battle of Evermore' (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant) – 5:52
  4. 'Stairway to Heaven' (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant) – 8:01
  • Side 2:
  1. 'Misty Mountain Hop' (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones) – 4:38
  2. 'Four Sticks' (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant) – 4:46
  3. 'Going to California' (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant) – 3:31
  4. 'When the Levee Breaks' (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham, Memphis Minnie) – 7:07

Chart positions


Chart (1971) Peak Position
Japanese Albums Chart[19] 2
Norwegian Albums Chart[20] 3
UK Albums Chart[21] 1
US Billboard The 200 Albums Chart[22] 2
German Albums Chart[23] 9
French Albums Chart[24] 2
US Cash Box Top 100 Albums Chart[25] 1
US Record World Top Pop Albums Chart[26] 1
Chart (1972) Peak Position
Canadian RPM Top 100 Albums Chart[27] 1
Spanish Albums Chart[28] 8
Australian Go-Set Top 20 Albums Chart[29] 2


Year Single Chart Position
1971 'Black Dog' US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart[30] 15
1972 'Rock and Roll' US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart[31] 47

Sales certifications


Country Sales Certification
Argentina (CAPIF) 60,000+ Platinum[32]
Brazil (ABDP) 50,000+ Gold[33]
Canada (CRIA) 2,000,000+ 2× Diamond[34]
Switzerland (IFPI) 50,000+ Platinum[35]
France (SNEP) 600,000+ 2× Platinum[36]
Spain (PROMUSICAE) 80,000+ Platinum[37]
Germany (IFPI) 300,000+ Platinum[38]*
United States (RIAA) 23,000,000+ 23× Multi-Platinum[39]
Netherlands (NVPI) 60,000+ Platinum[40]*
United Kingdom (BPI) 1,800,000+ 6× Platinum[41]
Australia (ARIA) 630,000+ 9× Platinum[42]

Note: (*) Remastered sales only

Certification history

Organization Level Date
RIAA – USA Gold 16 November 1971
RIAA – USA Platinum 11 December 1990
RIAA – USA 10× Platinum 11 December 1990
RIAA – USA 11× Platinum 18 December 1992
RIAA – USA 16× Platinum 26 January 1996
RIAA – USA 17× Platinum 25 November 1997
RIAA – USA 21× Platinum 3 May 1999
RIAA – USA 22× Platinum 15 November 1999
RIAA – USA 23× Platinum 30 January 2006


  • Musicians:
    • Jimmy Page – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, producer, remastering, digital remastering
    • Robert Plant – vocals, harmonica
    • John Paul Jones – bass guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, mandolin, recorders
    • John Bonham - drums, percussion
  • Guests:
    • Sandy Denny – vocals (on 'Battle of Evermore')
  • Production:
    • Peter Grant – executive producer
    • Andy Johns - engineer, mixing
    • George Chkiantz – mixing
    • Richard Digby Smith - assistant engineer
    • Graphreaks – design coordinator
    • Barrington Colby MOM – inside illustration (The Hermit)
    • Joe Sidore - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
    • George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)


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  2. Welch, Chris (2009). Led Zeppelin: The Stories Behind Every Led Zeppelin Song, Revised. London: Carlton Books, 63. ISBN 978-1-84732-286-9. 
  3. Welch, Chris (2009). Led Zeppelin: The Stories Behind Every Led Zeppelin Song, Revised. London: Carlton Books, 65. ISBN 978-1-84732-286-9. 
  4. Williamson, Nigel (2014). “The Music: Albums and Solo Projects”, The Dead Straight Guide to Led Zeppelin. London: Red Planet Publishing, 162. ISBN 978-1-9059-5952-5. 
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  7. Koch, Rudolf (1930). The Book of Signs Which Contains All Manner of Symbols Used From the Earliest Times to the Middle Ages by Primitive Peoples and Early Christians. London: The First Edition Club, 5. 
  8. Lewis, Dave (2003). Led Zeppelin: The Tight But Loose' Files: Celebration II. London: Omnibus Press, 26. ISBN 978-1-84449-056-1. 
  9. Parker, Steve (30 May 2011). 100 Greatest British Rock Album Ever. More Classic Rock Lists. RockList.net. Retrieved on 19 April 2014.
  10. The 100 Greatest Albums Ever Made - January 1996. Mojo. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  11. The Grammy Hall of Fame Award. National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved on 2007-08-18.
  12. Album of the Millennium - December 1999. The Guitar. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  13. Classic Rock - 100 Greatest Rock Album Ever - December 2001. Classic Rock. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  14. The Greatest Classic Rock Albums Ever - October 2004. Q. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  15. Dimery, Robert (2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Universe Publishing, 856. ISBN 978-0-7893-1371-3. 
  16. 100 Greatest Albums Ever - February 2006. Q. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  17. Classic Rock - 100 Greatest British Rock Album Ever - April 2006. Classic Rock. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  18. The Definitive 200: Top 200 Albums of All-Time. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (United States). Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  19. Top 100 Albums - 8 November 1971. Oricon. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  20. Top 20 Albums - 28 November 1971. norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  21. Top 100 Albums - 4 December 1971. chartstats.com. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
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  34. CRIA Led Zeppelin IV - 28 June 1995. CRIA. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  35. Swiss Charts Certifications: Led Zeppelin IV - 1997. swisscharts.com. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  36. Disque en France: Led Zeppelin IV - 18 October 2001. SNEP. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
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  40. NVPI: Led Zeppelin IV - 2006. NVPI. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
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