On November 8,1971 Led Zeppelin released their fourth album "Led Zeppelin IV", which followed the band's method for naming their first three albums. Led Zeppelin IV has alternately been referred to as The Four Symbols, the Album, The Runes, Untitled, the Hermit and ZoSo.
Upon it's release Led Zeppelin IV became a critical and commercial success. The album sold 32 million units making Led Zeppelin IV one of the best selling albums in the world. Alone, there have been over 23 million units shipped to the United States, making it the third best selling album in the United States.In 1998, Q Magazine readers voted Led Zeppelin Iv the 26th greatest album of all time; in 200 Q placed it #26 in its list of the "100 Greatest British Albums Ever" (I wonder why so low) In2003,it was ranked #66 on Rolling Stone magazine list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". It is ranked #7 on Pitchfork Media's Top 100 Album of the 1970's.
In 2006, the album was rated #1 on Classic Rock magazine's 100 Greatest British Albums poll and #1 in Guitar World 100 Greatest Album's readers' poll and was ranked # 7 in ABC media's top 10 albums.
The album was a massive instant seller.It entered the UK chart at #1and stayed on the chart for 62 weeks. In America it stayed longer than any other Led Zeppelin album and became the biggest selling album not to top the charts, it peaked at #2.
Led Zeppelin IV was initially recorded at Island Record's Basing Street Studios, which was just newly opened, in London at the same time, the British rock group, Jethro Tull was recording their album, Aqualung, in December of 1970. So upon the suggestion of the music group Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin relocated to the former poorhouse in Headley, East Hampshire, England, U.K., Headley Grange, to do additional recordings. While there they used the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. This relaxing atmosphere proved to be inspirational , for while at Headley Grange for the whole recording period, many of the tracks were were made up on the spot and recorded to tape, practically then and there.
When the basic tracks had been recorded, overdubbing was done at Island Studios and the completed master tapes were taken to Los Angeles to Sunset Sound for mixing. The mix eventually proved to be unsatisfactory and this created unwanted delays in the release of the album. Because of more mixing having to be undertaken in London, Led Zeppelin IV release date was pushed further back.
Because of the critical reaction to Led Zeppelin III had received in late 1970,Jimmy Page decided to let the next Led Zeppelin album have a title, but instead it would have symbols, hand-drawn on the inner album sleeve and record label, each one chosen by the band member it represents. This was done deliberately to play down the group name, according to Page.
Page also stated that the release of the album without any written information on the sleeve was contrary to strong advice given to him by a press agent, who thought that after a year's absence from recording and touring, that the move would be akin to professional suicide.
Because of the lack of a title, Atlantic Records initially distributed of the graphics of the symbols in many sizes to the press for inclusions articles and charts. Led Zeppelin IV was one of the first to be produced without conventional identification and this communicated an anti-commercial stance that was controversial at the time (especially among certain Atlantic record executives) .
Jimmy Page stated that he designed his own symbol and never gave a public reason behind it.
John Paul Jones chose his symbol from Rudolf Koch's "Book of Signs" is a single circle intersecting a triquetra. It is meant to symbolize a person who has both confidence and competence.
John Bonham used the same book to choose his symbol, three interlocking rings. This represents the triad of mother,father and child, but also happens to be the logo of Ballantine beer.
Robert Plant's symbol is one that is his own design, being based on the sign of the supposed Mu ( akin to Atlantis) civilization.
Following the release of the album, the band visually projected the four symbols onto their stage equipment durin Led Zeppelin's UK tour in the winter of 1971.