The spontaneous birth of Led Zeppelin's 'The Battle of Evermore'

Why one of Led Zeppelin's most unique tracks is special.
Led Zeppelin Performing in Concert
Led Zeppelin Performing in Concert / Jay Dickman/GettyImages

A recent article by Far Out makes a lot of points that many would agree with, and perfectly decsribes the best elements of the band Led Zeppelin. It's also partly about how one of their songs was made with surprising ease. Led Zeppelin, a band synonymous with rock excellence, indeed penned an array of timeless classics. "Far Out" notes that, as one of the most influential groups in music history, the English quartet accomplished the formidable task of filling the void left by The Beatles' 1970 disbandment (they certainly were one of the biggest post-"Beatlemania" rock bands).

Although Led Zeppelin made waves in the late 1960s, the 1970s truly belonged to them (though, of course, there will always be debate over which band truly domninated the 1970s). Embodying the pinnacle of British music, Led Zeppelin was indeed a formidable force, merging raw emotional power with technical mastery. One my disagree with the article's claim that Zeppelin surpassed contemporaries like Pink Floyd, but they certainly achieved a global reach among harder rock bands that was practically unprecedented at the time.

When reflecting on Led Zeppelin, the exceptional talent of each member is immediately evident. For some, Robert Plant, the lead vocalist, possessed a voice so ethereal and primal that it seemed to echo the mythical tales he often sang about, creating otherwordly music. Guitarist Jimmy Page is accurately described by Far Out as a true virtuoso who revolutionized guitar playing by infusing elements of proto-punk, metal, psychedelia, folk, and jazz. Beyond crafting some of rock's most iconic riffs, Page also served as the band's producer, a testament to his genius.

The rhythm section

John Paul Jones, the understated yet immensely skilled bassist and multi-instrumentalist, brought a classical training background to the band. Before joining Led Zeppelin, Jones was one of London's most in-demand session musicians, working with artists like Donovan and The Rolling Stones.
He even accompanied Dusty Springfield as her bassist during her Talk of the Town shows.

Drummer John Bonham, the final piece of the puzzle, may not appear in the song in question, but Far Out makes a point to mention how he revolutionized rock drumming by blending rock and roll with jazz influences. Alongside Ginger Baker, Bonham redefined the role of the modern rock drummer. His powerful yet purposeful playing was pivotal in shaping heavier music genres. Bonham's tragic death in 1980 marked the end of Led Zeppelin, underscoring his irreplaceable role in the band (his 20 minutes drum solo, "Moby Dick," no odubt still demonstrates his skills).

The song in question

Robert Plant, Sandy Denny
Plant And Denny / Michael Stroud/GettyImages

Led Zeppelin's collective brilliance enabled them to create iconic songs effortlessly. This spontaneity, coupled with their immense talent, imbued their music with a dynamic energy that remains palpable on their recordings. One such revered track is "The Battle of Evermore."

It's the third song on their 1971 masterpiece, Led Zeppelin IV. Written by Page and Plant at Headley Grange, the song emerged when Page experimented with a mandolin belonging to Jones. In a 1977 interview, Page revealed: "'The Battle of Evermore' was made up on the spot by Robert (Plant) and myself. I just picked up John Paul Jones’s mandolin, never having played a mandolin before, and just wrote up the chords and the whole thing in one sitting."

Adding to the song's distinction, it is the only Led Zeppelin track featuring a guest vocalist. Folk rock singer Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention joined Plant, adding a unique vocal dynamic to the piece. Described by AllMusic as "the pre-eminent British folk rock singer," her career was cut dramatically short after dying from a head injury after falling down a flight of stairs in 1978, at the age of 31.

For some, it's astounding to realize that such a cherished song was created so spontaneously. This serendipitous creativity is perhaps a testament to the band's legendary status.

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