10 Things You Didn’t Know About Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti

Jimmy Page gives MOJO new insights into his band’s 1975 masterpiece. Just in time for MOJO 257’s US onsale.


“WE WERE ALL trying to push each other, to create something that hadn’t been heard before,” Jimmy Page tells us in MOJO 257 of the band’s intentions behind their landmark album, Physical Graffiti.

MOJO’s Jimmy Page Signature Cover – part of the Led Zeppelin Limited Vinyl Edition package. Click image for more info.

North American MOJO readers can now read that interview in full, with MOJO magazine now onsale coast to coast, a development we celebrate with 10 extra-strength Physical Graffiti facts, straight from the source. See below.

Don’t forget that MOJO 257’s Led Zep cover story is complemented by our bespoke Physical Graffiti Redrawn covers album, featuring the likes of Mark Kozelek’s Sun Kil Moon, White Denim and Laura Marling and more covering each track of the acclaimed album.

What’s more, in 196 branches of Barnes & Noble you can buy a limited double-vinyl edition of the album, which is accompanied by a Page-signature edition of the magazine and a replica poster. Click for a list of stockists – or order it online now, while stocks last.

And here are those 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Physical Graffiti.

1. “We weren’t the only ones doing large venues, but...”

“We weren’t the only ones doing large venues, but...”

Led Zeppelin’s US tour in support of Physical Graffiti was their tenth Stateside tour and began on January 18, a month prior to the album’s February 24 release, and came with the band’s biggest stage production yet – including lasers and back projection. It confirmed Led Zeppelin as the biggest band on the planet. “We weren’t the only ones doing large venues but I think we probably did more multiple nights at that point that anyone else,” says Page.

2. Queue jumping works!

Queue jumping works!

Around midnight on January 6, 1975, 2000 fans queuing overnight for Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti show at the Boston Gardens broke into the venue, forcing tickets to go on sale at 2.30am instead of the intended time of 6.00am. In the process, they caused a reputed $50,000 worth of damage.

3. Page hears William Burroughs' orgone cabinet confessions

Page hears William Burroughs' orgone cabinet confessions

Promoting Physical Graffiti in the US, Jimmy Page was interviewed by author William Burroughs for Crawdaddy magazine. Burroughs revealed to Page that he had an orgone cabinet which he used frequently. “He used to go in it for 20 minutes every day to recharge,” says Page.

4. Page's early foray into the book trade

Page's early foray into the book trade

In the run-up to the release of Physical Graffiti, Page had opened his own esoteric bookshop, Equinox, at 4 Holland Street in Kensington. It shared its name with the magazine founded by occultist Aleister Crowley in 1905 and, according to Page, “sold the kind of books you couldn’t get in regular bookshops”.

5. Christmas Magick!

Christmas Magick!

Before putting finishing touches to Physical Graffiti, Jimmy Page retreated to his Sussex residence, Plumpton Place. For Christmas ’74, he sent out cards to friends extending his ‘Thelemic Greetings’ – underlining his immersion in Aleister Crowley’s philosophical law of Thelema.
Image via www.lashtal.com.

6. Twisting The Who's knobs

Twisting The Who's knobs

A number of key Physical Graffiti tracks were demoed at his home studio in Plumpton Place using an eight track machine. “By the time we did [1979’s] In Through The Out Door, it was 24 track,” he says. “It had the console from the Pye mobile, so that’s the one that did the Eric Clapton, Delaney & Bonnie, but more importantly The Who – we’ll call it Live At Leeds.”

7. Swan Song ain't that long

Swan Song ain't that long

Demo tracks recorded at Plumpton Place included Kashmir – which started out as a tune named Swan Song. Zep lore suggests that there are demo versions of Swan Song that stretch for up to 58 minutes. “Nah,” counters Page. “But it was long.”

8. Physical Graffiti has got the funk!

Physical Graffiti has got the funk!

The funk influence on tracks like Custard Pie and Trampled Under Foot filtered through on visits to US nightclubs during Zep’s ’73 US tours. “The music we heard in discos definitely fed into what we were doing,” says Page, “but then again, we were always into funk. You could say we were playing funk on earlier records. The Lemon Song [on Led Zeppelin II], for instance.”

9. Jimmy Page's scrawl

Jimmy Page's scrawl

Jimmy Page came up with the title for Physical Graffiti. “We were talking about the physical impact of the music,” he explains. “Graffiti was just starting to surface and what it meant – the statement of graffiti, that urban thing - made me also think of a physical kind of graffiti: something that affected you. That’s it, really. It’s quite simple but it’s very effective, and I thought it was a fitting title for everything that was in there.”

10. Led Zep already had PG's follow-up planned

Led Zep already had PG's follow-up planned

Prior to the release of Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin were already aware of where to head next. “Oh, yeah,” says Page. “A guitar album. That was next. Like the first album. And that’s what we did with Presence – go back to the roots, if you will.”

11. Physical Graffiti Redrawn!

Physical Graffiti Redrawn!

OK, you might have heard about this one, but MOJO has commissioned a host of contemporary artists to recreate Physical Graffiti. Along with the likes of Mark Kozelek's Sun Kil Moon, White Denim and Laura Marling covering tracks, the limited edition double-vinyl version also features a unique Jimmy Page-signature edition of MOJO plus a poster. For a dekko at the full package watch our unboxing video.

Get your copy of Physical Graffiti Redrawn on double-vinyl, either in North American branches of Barnes & Noble or online, while stocks last.

For more on the band’s 40th anniversary edition of Physical Graffiti, overseen by Jimmy Page, visit www.ledzeppelin.com.