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The British are Coming: Led Zeppelin to iTunes in the fall?

Scan the register of bands on iTunes and you aren’t likely to find many famous names unrepresented.   From Johnny Cash to Beyonce from B.B. to Bono, from Eric Clapton to Queen, there’s a sampling of music across generations and genres.

zeppelin itunesBut if you’re of the generation that, when you picked up a guitar, the first song you wanted to learn how to play was Stairway to Heaven? Going to iTunes might leave you calling out “Houston, we’ve got a problem.”

Besides the Beatles, classic rock legends Led Zeppelin have been among the few major holdouts that’ve refused to go digital and go Apple.  It’s ironic in a way, the two bands, (along with fellow famous holdout, Radiohead), represent music’s British Invasions but so far when it comes to digital, they’ve been strictly isolationist. That’s reportedly soon to change.

Thom Yorke and Radiohead may still holdout to protest breaking albums into singles but the Beatles are coming, it’s a just a question of when.  And now for Led Zeppelin that question of a date is not an issue either. 

According to the UK’s Observer, Led Zeppelin has officially picked a date to hitch with digital.  In a marketers dream, it would happen on April 19th, the same day Paul Revere famously rode yelling “The British are Coming.”  That won’t be the case but Led Zeppelin will hit iTunes in time for Thanksgiving. The report is, November 12th is the day.

As was the case with Metallica, and other late entrants, a full back-catalog of Led Zeppelin’s music won’t be available.  Instead, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Robert Plant have hand picked tracks to be assembled into an iTunes album called Mothership.  Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love and Dazed and Confused are reported among the songs to make the list.

If the report from the Observer is accurate (it’s not yet noted among the band’s recent press releases nor alternately confirmed), the release will coincide with the band’s issuance of a two-CD greatest hit set planned for November 13 (and also called Mothership). The CD issue will include songs from the bands eight studio albums. Additionally, on November 20th, the band will reissue soundtrack and DVD sets of "The Song Remains the Same" which was an concert film and accompanying soundtrack audio release recorded at Madison Square Garden in 1973. Liner notes will be written by former music writer and famed film writer/director Cameron Crowe (known for "Almost Famous", "Jerry Maguire" and "Say Anything".)

Led Zeppelin is responsible for four of Rolling Stone Magazine’s top 100 albums of all time. The Beatles are behind 8  (including 4 of the top 10).  It will be a notable achievement, for Apple and for fans, when iTunes formally has songs from both groups in its library.

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