top of page

Guest Blog: Led Zeppelin II

Tonight on the blog I asked my father (Randy Schwager) to guest blog and write about one of his favorite albums. He chose an album that has influenced me as a musician and guitarist. Here's what he had to say.


In 1969 I called Drake University’s Jewett Hall home. These were historical times. Vietnam was in full swing. Just down the street from us, protestors planted dynamite in a wing of Harvey-Ingam Science Hall, blowing it up while also blowing the windows out of numerous nearby buildings. I’m sure these protesters thought they were revolutionaries.

At the same time, there was another revolution going on. It was a music revolution. Artists topping the charts in ’69 included The Fifth Dimension, Tommy Roe, Tommy James and the Shondelles, and even Tom Jones. Then it happened. While at Farley’s, the local grocery store that sold everything a college kid could need, I made my first discovery of Led Zeppelin. It was LED ZEPPELIN II. Zep II was their second studio album, released in October of ’69. My friends and I had never heard anything quite like this blues-based sound, laced with driving guitar riffs. Upon release, it was Led Zeppelin’s first album to hit number one in both the U.S and the U.K.

I bought this album, even though I didn’t own a turntable. That’s right, but the rich kid down the hall, Tom Case, whose great grand dad invented Case Tractor’s had everything we needed. He routinely entertained the dorm with his Dual turntable, Marantz tuner and twin twelve Advent speaker cabinets. Residents from one end of Jewett to the other got to enjoy the virile sounds of this chart-busting piece of vinyl.

Slang terms we use seem to change from decade to decade. In 1970, this album was “heavy”. Heavy was the term we used to describe anything that was really good. In fact, it was heavy enough to knock the Beatles “Abbey Road” album out of the number one slot on the “charts.” And, the more I listened to ZEP II, I became more convinced that, while very few people can come close to emulating Robert Plant’s vocals, Jimmy Page’s guitar work was equally, if not more important to the album’s success.

According to band members, they were touring and playing live all of the time and this album was literally written on stages, during live performances. Page would continually experiment with lead lines and when he struck gold, they’d run to the studio to record. Of course, the sexual innuendo of songs like Whole Lotta Love and the Lemon Song probably didn’t hurt sales either. Remember, times were much different back then in regard to anything considered sexual.

"Whole Lotta Love," which opens the album, has to be the heaviest piece of music I’d ever heard . Hearing Jimmy Page wrenching indescribable sounds out of his guitar was like nothing else we’d ever witnessed. Then you’ve got Robert Plant, who is rumored to sing notes on this record that only dogs can hear, demonstrating his brilliance on every track.

Finally, the proof is in the numbers. Led Zepellin II went 12 times Platinum in the U.S., selling more than 12,000,000 copies. And it must be good, because I still have my copy from 1969. Well, sort of. My son Brian has it now. And one of my favorite things is to hear in our home studio is Brian playing along with Jimmy Page on all of those “heavy” guitar licks that have become so familiar over the decades.

Thanks for reading.

bottom of page