What Does Led Zeppelin Actually Mean? (Origins & Fun Facts!)

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  • Read about the origins of the Led Zeppelin name.
  • What is their fourth album really called?
  • What are the symbols used by each band member?

You’d be pretty hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard the name Led Zeppelin.

As one of the most influential bands in rock music, decades later millions are still enjoying their music, and for good reason.

Led Zeppelin carved out a whole new sound in rock music, making a huge impact on the music scene and popular culture.

We all know the name, we’ve all heard the forbidden riff, we’ve even heard about the Led Zeppelin lawsuits — but what exactly does Led Zeppelin mean, and where did the name come from? It’s an unusual band name, but because it has become a household name, it’s easy to overlook.

The actual origin of the name Led Zeppelin is often disputed. Many want to take credit for the creation of one of the biggest band names in hard rock!

One such claim is that Chris Dreja of The Yardbirds came up with the name after wanting to hold back on the New Yardbirds name, encouraging the Led Zeppelin members to come up with a new title.

However, the most widely accepted origin story is all linked to Keith Moon of The Who.

What Does Led Zeppelin Mean?

In quite a humorous story (and quite the opposite of what actually happened) Keith Moon joked that the band’s music would go down “like a lead balloon”, a popular phrase meaning to completely fail or be badly received.

This stirred up some imagery in the band’s minds. Of course ‘Lead Balloon’ wouldn’t have quite the same ring to it and with such high ambitions, the band felt they needed something bigger than a balloon.

The biggest balloon of all? A Zeppelin!

A Zeppelin is actually a type of airship, named after Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin that actually dates back to 1874, way before any of the band members were even born.

However, the massive structure in many ways symbolized the band’s talent and ultimately their career success, not to mention their impact on hard rock.

So there you go – if anybody ever asks you “What Does Led Zeppelin Mean?”, you have the answer! Or at least the answer we are most sure of.

Formation and Early Years

Led Zeppelin was formed in 1968 and consisted of singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, drummer John Bonham, and bassist John Paul Jones.

Page came from a band named The Yardbirds (which featured another extremely important guitarist in the world of rock music, Eric Clapton), and the first incarnation of his new band went by the name of ‘The New Yardbirds’. Not quite as catchy!

Interestingly, it is reported that it took some time to persuade Bonham to join the lineup. We can only wonder what direction the band would have taken without one of rock’s most influential and iconic drummers.

The group signed to Atlantic Records and the rest is history. The band blew up in popularity due to their unique blend of hard rock and blues – despite the controversy around who wrote what. What is undeniable is that Led Zeppelin were incredible performers that helped to define the modern hard rock blueprint, along with contemporaries like Black Sabbath.

Debut Album Cover

Taking the name one step further, the band featured a literal Zeppelin on the front cover of their debut album.

Entering the studio in 1968, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham, and John Paul Jones reportedly created the entire album with a budget of £1,782.

The artwork was chosen by Page and features an image of the Hindenburg disaster, where the Hindenburg airship caught fire upon landing in 1937.

What Are Led Zeppelin Fans Called?

Collectively, they have become known as ‘Led Heads’. They are also sometimes known as ‘Zep Heads’.

As you can imagine, a band with such a huge impact on the hard rock scene has an extremely passionate and dedicated base of fans worldwide and of all ages.

Bands naming their fans is something that has become hugely popular, especially among the more hardcore fanbases.

For example, fans of The Killers are humorously known as ‘Victims’, and fans of Slipknot are known as ‘Maggots’ (entirely fitting with the band’s image).

What Do The Led Zeppelin Symbols Mean?

The Book of Signs

The Book of Signs contains 493 classified and documented illustrations, collected, drawn, and explained by the celebrated typographer Rudolf Koch.

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After some mixed reviews of their third album in October 1970, the band decided to try a new approach on their next release.

To do this, they released an album without any title or other identifiable markers on the cover. In doing so, the band decided to choose an occult symbol that represented them individually.

This didn’t stop the album from being collectively known as “Led Zeppelin IV.”

Still, the Led Zeppelin symbols have become instantly recognizable over the years, and are synonymous with this album. Jimmy Page’s Zoso symbol is arguably the most famous.

While the band members have never explicitly stated why they chose their own symbol or what they represent, it has been confirmed that they were all picked from a standard reference book of occult symbols.

Jimmy Page’s Zoso Symbol

Page’s Zoso symbol is named as such as it looks like the word “Zoso”, although the symbol isn’t actually spelling out that word.

Some theories state that the symbol is satanic in origin, whilst some link it to the planet Saturn (which would tie in with Page’s star sign Capricorn, which is ruled by Saturn).

While no theory has ever been confirmed, the symbol ultimately has come to represent Page himself.

Robert Plant’s Symbol

Showing a circle around a feather, the symbol could also be representing a pen, in reference to Plant’s position as the band’s lyricist.

The feather is actually the feather of Ma’at, who is the ancient Egyptian goddess of truth, justice, harmony, and balance.

John Bonham’s Symbol

Known as the Borromean symbol, John Bonham’s symbol can be found in the Book of Signs, published in 1933.

Like Page’s, the meaning behind the symbol is up for debate, but some believe the three rings represent the relationship between man, woman, and child.

Others simply speculate that it represents a drum kit!

John Paul Jones’ Symbol

Also borrowed from the Book of Signs, John Paul Jones’ symbol also appears on the cover of a popular book about Rosicrucians, a Russian religious cult.

The speculation with this one is that it represents confidence, however, in ancient times it was used as a symbol for exorcising evil spirits.