Feeling that Brits would still view them as "the old Yardbirds," Led Zeppelin brought their act to the US. In October, 1968, they signed with Atlantic Records. In early 1969 they started an American tour to set the stage for the release of their debut album, Led Zeppelin. One show at the Fillmore East, where they were the opening act for Iron Butterfly, so blew away the audience that Iron Butterfly refused to perform. Within two months of its release, Led Zeppelin had shot into the US top ten. The band toured relentlessly on both sides of the pond, yet still found time to record their second album, Led Zeppelin II. Released in October of 1969, it was an immediate hit and spent several weeks in the number one slot.
Three tragedies would impact Led Zeppelin in the coming years. First, Robert Plant and his wife were in a serious auto accident in 1975 forcing the cancellation of an American tour. Plant required the rest of the year to recuperate. In 1977, another American tour was cancelled when Plant's six-year-old son died of a stomach infection. Understandably, Plant needed time to heal. Toward the end of summer 1978, the group began work on an album. Through the Out Door was eventually released in September of 1979.
In September of 1980, while the group was preparing for another American tour, John Bonham was found dead in bed following an all-day drinking binge. Soon after, feeling they could not continue without Bonham, Zeppelin announced their break up.
In February of 2005, Led Zeppelin along with Jerry Lee Lewis and the late Janis Joplin were among those honored with Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Grammys at Los Angeles' Staples Center.
In the decades that followed John Bonham's death, the surviving members sporadically collaborated and participated in one-off Led Zeppelin reunions. The most successful of these was the 2007 Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert in London with Jason Bonham taking his late father's place behind the drums. In June 2005, Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones appeared on the Foo Fighters fifth album, In Your Honor.
Many critics consider Led Zeppelin to be one of the most successful, innovative, and influential rock groups in history. Various sources estimate the group's record sales at 200 to 300 million units worldwide. With RIAA-certified sales of 111.5 million units, they are the third-best-selling band in US history. Each of their nine studio albums placed in the top 10 of the Billboard album chart and six reached the number one. They reached number one in the UK with eight consecutive albums. Rolling Stone magazine described them as "the heaviest band of all time", "the biggest band of the Seventies", and "unquestionably one of the most enduring bands in rock history". They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and praised as being as influential during the 1970s as the Beatles were during the 1960s.