December 1980: The Last Day of LED ZEPPELIN

Monday, December 6, 2021
The Backdrop from their 1975 Stage Setup during Led Zeppelin in Concert at Chicago Stadium at Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois, United States. (Photo by Laurance Ratner/WireImage)

For many rock fans, the '70s officially ended on December 4, 1980. That was the day Led Zeppelin announced that they were no more.

The news of Zeppelin's dissolution came just a few months after the shocking death of drummer John Bonham during tour rehearsals in guitarist Jimmy Page's Windsor home. Bonham's death had caused the tour to be cancelled, negating thousands of tickets that had already been sold for a handful of shows in Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, Montreal and more. The announcement was made via a Atlantic Records press release (see below).

"Led Zeppelin wasn't a corporate entity. Led Zeppelin was an affair of the heart," Page would say in 2014. "Each of the members was important to the sum total of what we were. I like to think that if it had been me that wasn't there, the others would have made the same decision. And what were we going to do? Create a role for somebody, say, 'You have to do this, this way?' That wouldn't be honest."

Meanwhile, stunned fans who'd purchased tickets for the now-cancelled North American tour began receiving refunds and apologies, like this letter sent to one such fan in Chicago:

LZ Chicago cancellation letter

The last time the remaining members of the band would perform together was in 2007 at the Ahmet Ertegun tribute show in England, featuring John's son Jason Bonham on drums.

"There were attempts [at a reunion] that didn't work — trying to push it together in a hurry," Page said in 2014. "That's why the [2007] show had to be done with such intent — rehearsing as much as we could so Jason elt he was part of the band as opposed to a novelty. He was filling big shoes, and we needed all of that."