August 1979: Led Zeppelin Releases "In Through the Out Door"

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(Swan Song)

It was truly the end of an era when Led Zeppelin released the band's final studio effort, In Through the Out Door. The group that came to all but define the decadent decade bowed out right before the arrival of the '80s. It was the sound of an outfit on the verge of potentially blazing whole new trails in rock and roll. It was potential never realized, due to the untimely death of drummer John Bonham in September 1980.

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Recorded in Stockholm, In Through the Out Door is famous for being the album touted as having the most overt John Paul Jones influence on the material, with a strong assist from singer Robert Plant.

"Jonesy and I, who had never really gravitated toward each other at all, started to get on well," Plant is quoting as saying in the book, Stairway to Heaven: Led Zeppelin Uncensored. "It was odd, but it gave the whole thing a different feel: things like 'All My Love' and 'I'm Gonna Crawl.' We weren't going to make another 'Communication Breakdown,' but I thought 'In the Evening' was really good."

Band manager Peter Grant agreed with the assessment: "John Paul Jones certainly did pick up the reins of the band with the In Through the Out Door album. People tended to think of him as a bass player, but he went far, far beyond that."

Released on August 15, 1979, In Through the Out Door struck an immediate chord with fans hungry for new material from the band. The album crashed the charts with a vengeance, knocking Get the Knack from the #1 spot for the week of September 15, 1979. It held the #1 position for seven weeks straight. In Through the Out Door was finally dethroned by the Eagles' The Long Run, which would go on its own chart-topping run through the rest of the year.

The opposite of a singles band, Led Zeppelin nonetheless produced a single from the In Through the Out Door set: the funky stomp of "Fool in the Rain." Released on December 7, 1979, the track enjoyed a strong chart run, peaking at #21 on the Hot 100 for the week of February 16, 1980. The #1 song in America that week: Captain and Tennille's "Do That to Me One More Time."

In Through the Out Door is also famous for it's cover art, designed by Hipgnosis legend, Storm Thorgerson. The album came wrapped in a plain brown paper bag wrapper. The original vinyl pressings came with six different cover images, although buyers couldn't tell which one they were getting due to the wrapper. The record's black and white inner sleeve was actually a water color image: sprinkle on a little water, and the image's true colors emerged. The results were nominated for the Best Album Package at the Grammys. The award went to Supertramp's Breakfast in America.

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