The revealed original contract between Led Zeppelin and Atlantic Records discloses Jimmy Page’s authority to replace other band members at his discretion

Author Arto Mäenpää - 1.2.2024

The recently unearthed original contract signed by Led Zeppelin with Atlantic Records in 1968 has surfaced, revealing a surprising provision allowing band leader Jimmy Page to replace other members as he saw fit. Obtained by LedZepNews, an unofficial Led Zeppelin news site, the document was part of a 2005 court filing related to Steve Weiss, the band’s attorney.

Dated November 11, 1968, and signed by Jimmy Page and Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, the contract contains clauses that may astonish fans. Notably, it grants Page the authority to substitute Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham with other musicians at his discretion. The agreement specifies that Page would always remain a member and the leader of Led Zeppelin, with terminated individuals prohibited from using the band’s name in any commercial or artistic pursuits.

The contract, established between Atlantic and Page’s company, Superhype Tapes Limited, allows for the engagement of alternative members. Additionally, it permits Atlantic to release up to two “Greatest Hits” or “Best Of” albums annually, while Led Zeppelin would receive royalty rates of 7.33% on record sales in the US, Canada, and the UK, and 5.5% elsewhere.

Notably, the contract was not signed by Plant, Bonham, or Jones. Atlantic’s prerogative to release press releases for two weeks post-signing announcement, titled “Atlantic Records signs England’s hot new group, Led Zeppelin, in one of the biggest deals of the year.” Describing the band’s lineup, the release highlighted Jimmy Page as the leader and lead guitarist, John Paul Jones as the bassist, pianist, organist, and arranger, John Bonham as the drummer, and Robert Plant as the lead vocalist and harmonica player.

The contract sheds light on Led Zeppelin‘s early days, as their eponymous debut album was released on January 12, 1969. Later that year, the band extended their original three-year contract with Atlantic by an additional two years. The complete contract can be reviewed below for those interested in delving into the details.