Is Led Zeppelin III the band's most important record?
When the reigning kings of rock holed up in the Welsh countryside to write a new album, no one expected the folky pastoral results. But it became one of the band's essential albums...
By the time Led Zeppelin returned from their latest US tour in April 1970 – 25 ‘heartland’ dates, no New York, no LA, just deep inside the belly of the beast – what Robert Plant called “the craziness count” had definitely gone up. John Bonham, whose bouts of homesickness seemed to be growing in direct proportion to how successful the band became, began drinking more heavily and taking out his frustrations on hotel rooms. The show at the hockey arena in Pittsburgh at the end of March had to be stopped when a bloody brawl erupted in the audience. Elsewhere, cops hassled the band members at their own shows, blaming them for the uncontrolled antics of the audience.
“I don’t think we can take America again for a while,” John Paul Jones said at the end of the tour. “America definitely unhinges you. The knack is to hinge yourself up again when you get back.”
Plant suffered, too. “More than anyone, Robert seemed on the brink of collapse,” tour manager Richard Cole later noted.
As usual at the tour’s end, they took refuge in West Hollywood, though no longer staying at the Chateau Marmont – the Manson murders the year before had thrown all of LA into a fug of paranoia, and manager Peter Grant decreed the Marmont’s spread of isolated bungalows too easy a target for any potential “nutters”, of which there were more than a few now following the band around on tour. Instead, they had relocated to the Hyatt House (or the “riot house”, as Bonzo and Plant now dubbed it) a few blocks up on Sunset. There, a never-ending parade of girls found their way up to the ninth floor where the band and their entourage were sequestered for a week. Richard Cole remembers the limo for the shows being so weighed down by girls that “the trunk [had] become stuck on the riot house driveway, requiring a push off the kerb… absolute madness.”