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Led Zeppelin III is the third studio album by Led Zeppelin, released in October 1970. It showed a progression from straightforward rock towards folk and acoustic music.
While hard rock influences were still present, such as on Immigrant Song, acoustic-based songs such as Gallows Pole and That's The Way showed Led Zeppelin were capable of playing different styles successfully. The band wrote most of the material themselves, but as with prior records, included two songs that were re-interpretations of earlier works: Gallows Pole, based on a traditional English folk song, by way of American singer Fred Gerlach; and Hats Off To (Roy) Harper, a reworking of a blues song by Bukka White.
The acoustic material developed from a songwriting session between band members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant at Bron-Yy-Aur cottage in Wales, which influenced the musical direction. The songs were recorded in three locations. Much of the work was done at Headley Grange, a country house, using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. Additional sessions were held in more traditional recording studios, such as Island Studios and Olympic Studios in London. As with the prior album, the band eschewed the use of guest musicians, with all music performed by band members Page (guitars), Plant (vocals), John Paul Jones (bass, keyboards), and John Bonham (drums). The range of instruments played by the band was greatly enhanced on this album, with Jones especially emerging as a talented multi-instrumentalist, playing a wide range of keyboard and stringed instruments, including various synthesizers, mandolin and double bass, in addition to his usual bass guitar. As with prior albums, Page served as producer on the album, with mixing done by Andy Johns and Terry Manning.
The album was one of the most anticipated of 1970, and its shipping date was held up by the intricate inner sleeve design based around a volvelle, with numerous images visible through holes in the outer cover. It was an immediate commercial success upon release and topped the UK and US charts. Although critics were typically confused over the change in musical style and gave the album a mixed response, Led Zeppelin III has since been acknowledged as representing an important milestone in the band's history and a turning point in their music.
Led Zeppelin III was a trans-Atlantic number one hit. In the UK, it reached No. 1 on 7 November 1970 and remained on the chart for 40 weeks. In the US, it entered the chart at No. 3 on 24 October and reached No. 1 the following week. It remained on the chart for 19 weeks and was certified Gold on 8 October 1970.
Despite mostly indifferent reviews and lower sales than Led Zeppelin's previous two albums, Led Zeppelin III's reputation has recovered over time. The RIAA certified the album 2 times platinum in 1990, and 6 times platinum in 1999.