Why Led Zeppelin Suddenly Split up in 1980

The band Led Zeppelin was formed in 1968 by Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham. Following the death of Bonham in 1980, Led Zeppelin elected to disband. After the band’s disbandment, the remaining members took on solo projects, reunited for certain concerts and events, and put out special anniversary releases.

A black-and-white photo of John Bonham, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died in 1980

In Led Zeppelin, Plant served as the lead vocalist, Page played guitar, Jones was a bassist and keyboardist, and Bonham was the band’s drummer.

In September 1980, the band was set to begin their upcoming U.S. tour following the release of their 1979 album In Through the Out Door. On Sept. 24, 1980, Bonham reportedly drank alcohol consistently throughout the day.

According to Ultimate Classic Rock, “his assistant Rex King told the authorities how he and Page’s assistant Albert Hobbs had put Bonham to bed that evening” after he had rehearsed with the group during the day.

Ultimate Classic Rock reports that “Led Zeppelin’s road manager Ben Lefevre attempted to stir Bonham” the next day on Sept. 25, 1980, but he was unable to do so.

Bonham’s death was ruled an accident, with the known cause being that Bonham choked to death from vomit.

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Led Zeppelin disbanded after John Bonham died

While some assumed other drummers might replace Bonham in the group, the remaining members of Led Zeppelin decided to disband instead.

According to the Daily Express, Led Zeppelin released a press statement announcing their disbandment in 1980.

The statement reads, “We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were.”

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What happened after the band split up

Since the rock group disbanded, performances featuring Page, Plant, and Jones have been few and far between.

The three have reunited for a handful of charity and anniversary concerts, and they also played together when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

Page, Plant, and Jones have also tried solo careers of their own and collaborated with other bands and artists.

In a 2007 interview with NPR, Plant discussed how he felt more at ease when performing or making music than he did spending time at home.

“I was talking to Dave Gilmour. I said, ‘How long are you out for?’ He said, ‘Three weeks, and you?’ I said, ‘Well it’s 128 shows in and I can’t see it ending,'” said Plant. “So, I mean, it depends on whether you actually just do a few gigs to please the record company and go back to the fortress. Or you find that your home is everything, everywhere and everyone.”

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