Led Zeppelin/Lead Balloon
Posted by Wart Hog on December 05, 2003
In Reply to: Lead Zeppelin posted by Keith Moon on December 04, 2003
: In the late '60's Keith Moon and John Entwistle of The Who left the band over a disagreement and formed a band with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. During a rehearsal, Keith Moon said, "This is gonna go over like a Lead Zeppelin". Thus, when Moon and Entwistle rejoined The Who, Plant and Page kept the name and became Led Zeppelin.
The expression 'go down like a lead balloon' has been around for a while and was in common English usage prior to the 1960s. It was in using a variation of 'go down like a lead balloon' - meaning the sense of to crash/fall to the earth/be very unsuccessful - that Moone (I think) said the band would flop. I thought it was because (Led Zep under the name of) The New Yardbirds were taking over the dates of the Yardbirds that they expected to crash and burn. The Yardbirds with Eric Clapton had superstar/cult status and following his departure (I think just before the release of 'I feel free' which he thought was too far from their blues/r&b roots) a crowd expecting to see, say Jeremy Spencer et al. would not appreciate a bunch of 2nd streamers. Jimmy Page did not have the reputation that the likes of Clapton/Spencer/Peter Green enjoyed. The tour replacing such luminaries was expected to be a mega-flop. Hence that the band, whatever they were called, would go down (as in be accepted/appreciated) like a lead balloon (as in something entirely unmeritorious and unsuccessful).
The result - they took on board Moone's opinion and to avoid mispronounciation of 'lead' as in lead-er as opposed to 'lead' as in plumbum - they called themselves 'Led' and with it being perhaps the most famous dirigible balloon, 'Zeppelin'.
The timing and who exactly decided may be lost in the Purple Haze of the 1960s, but in essence the story of the origin of the name seemes consistent.
Nobody yet ponders the origin of The Darkness - perhaps it is the antithesis of the colour Cream? or a reaction to Milan Kundera's book - "the Unbearable Lightness of being"?