A Look at the First Band-Backed Documentary of Led Zeppelin

The band’s 1969 hit “Good Times Bad Tmes” rolls over the footage of the trailer, a fitting soundtrack to the first-ever band-sanctioned documentary of Led Zeppelin. Becoming Led Zeppelin is a montage of the making of classic legends from their first two years and into their next decade together, before the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980.

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Guitarist Jimmy Page admitted that he turned down some “pretty miserable” offers for a documentary on the band before connecting with producers Bernard MacMahon and Allison McGourty for Becoming Led Zeppelin. This is the first time the band has backed an official documentary, focused on their story and music.

All the footage focuses on the formative years of Led Zeppelin, from 1968 onward, and is spliced into interviews with the band’s three surviving members, Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones. The producers also obtained never-before-seen footage of the band’s earlier U.S. and British concerts, including an audio interview with Bonham in Australia prior to his death, which MacMahon found after sifting through 30,000 unmarked video reels.

Led Zeppelin (Photo: Dick Barnatt)

“When we first met we were probably a little nervous of each other, but the conduit was the storyboard,” said Page. “And I thought they’ve really got it. They really understand what it was about.”

First revealed in 2019, around the band’s 50th anniversary and five decades since their self-titled debut, the film is now complete and was recently screened at the Venice Film Festival, with no official release date at press time.

“This one, it’s everything about the music, and what made the music tick,” added Page. “It’s not just a sample of it with a talking head. This is something in a totally different genre.”

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