Home Music Music Lists

The 10 Wildest Led Zeppelin Legends, Fact-Checked

The mud shark, the hermit and the stairway to hell – we fact-check the rumors

led zeppelin

Led Zeppelin circa 1970.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Has any band inspired as much myth and misinformation as Led Zeppelin? Before the Internet, there weren't heaps of information available about rock stars, and fans (including legions of stoned, Zeppelin-obsessed teenagers) filled the void with rumors and wild stories involving debauchery, the devil or one notorious fish. Amazingly, they weren't all bullshit. Here's a guide to what's true, what isn't and what's stuck somewhere in between.

This list appears in Rolling Stone's new collectors edition, Led Zeppelin: The Ultimate Guide to Their Music & Legend, on sale now.

By Andy Greene

kieth moon

Chris Morphet/Redferns

Keith Moon of the Who Gave Led Zeppelin Their Name

THE BACKSTORY: In May 1966, Moon and Who bassist John Entwistle recorded the instrumental "Beck's Bolero" with Page, John Paul Jones and Jeff Beck. The track came out well, and they tossed around the idea of forming a new band. Moon allegedly said the band would go over like a lead balloon. Page remembered the joke two years later when he created Zep.

THE TRUTH: Accounts differ; for decades Entwistle claimed it was he, not Moon, who made the "lead balloon" crack. But history seems to favor Moon's version.

Jimmy Page

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Jimmy Page Once Owned Aleister Crowley’s Former Home

THE BACKSTORY: Crowley was a British philosopher and occultist who dabbled in black magic in the early 20th century. Page was obsessed with him, amassing a huge collection of memorabilia.

THE TRUTH: Page did, in fact, purchase Crowley's former home in Loch Ness, Scotland, in 1971 and later claimed it was haunted – but not necessarily because of Crowley. "There were two or three owners before Crowley moved into it," Page told Rolling Stone in 1975. "It was also a church that was burned to the ground with the congregation in it. Strange things have happened in that house that had nothing to do with Crowley. The bad vibes were already there. A man was beheaded there, and sometimes you can hear his head rolling down."

Led Zeppelin

Atlantic Records

If You Play ‘Stairway to Heaven’ in Reverse, You Hear Satanic Messages

THE BACKSTORY: Televangelist Paul Crouch brought this allegation into the mainstream in 1982, claiming that, when played backward, the "bustle in your hedgerow" segment of Zep's signature tune says this: "Here's to my sweet Satan/The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan/He will give those with him 666/There was a little toolshed where he made us suffer, sad Satan."

THE TRUTH: That part of "Stairway" does sound similar to Crouch's interpretation when played backward, but it's just a bizarre coincidence. "Who on Earth would have ever thought of doing that?" Robert Plant said of the backward-Satanism charges. "You've got to have a lot of time on your hands to even consider that people would do that."

Show Comments