Led Zeppelin II dies of a heart attack

Led Zeppelin II has died.

Not the album ... the man.

Zeppelin, of downstate Bethalto, near St. Louis, was known most of his life as George Blackburn before officially changing his name last fall.

"He and Mom got divorced and he wanted to start his life over, like a new chapter," said his daughter Mindy Baker of Seattle, adding that her father had seen Jimmy Page and Robert Plant's English band probably about 20 times in its heyday of the late 1960s and early '70s. "He had always liked Led Zeppelin since they came out, and it was just time to do it.

"My mom says that he talked about it for probably five years before the divorce."

The 64-year-old Zeppelin "climbed the Stairway to Heaven" May 18 at Alton Memorial Hospital, according to a death notice published in newspapers, including the Tribune. He died of a heart attack, his daughter said.

Zeppelin was born in Milwaukee in 1947 and was raised in Chicago. He worked 32 years for TWA in Chicago until about 1983, his daughter said, and then in St. Louis. He retired in 1997.

Led Zeppelin II, released in 1969, included such familiar songs as Whole Lotta Love and Ramble On. It was the band's second studio album and the first to reach No. 1 in the U.S.

"That's the one he just really related to," his daughter said, "just the whole thing."

She said her father redid his living room in album covers following the divorce, his third. That included, of course, Led Zeppelin's, but also those of AC/DC, Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd, among others.

"I reinvented myself," Zeppelin told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last fall, after the name change was made official in Madison County court. "Since I became Led Zeppelin, my life has improved a thousand fold."

Zeppelin told the newspaper that he was enchanted by zeppelins as a child, and grew equally fascinated with the band that took its name from the large airships. He cited a 1960s performance in Chicago as a personal turning point.

"They changed my life forever," Zeppelin said, "and that's my whole reason for doing this.

"I don't want to appear to be some off-the-wall, drug-addict idiot. I just changed my name from the standpoint that I can be a better person than I used to be."

Zeppelin is also survived by another daughter, Melissa Gray, of Phoenix.

From: Chicago Tribune
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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

January 09, 1944 - James Patrick Page was born in Heston, Middlesex
January 03, 1946 - John Baldwin was born in Sidcup, Kent
January 02, 1946 - Led Zeppelin Tour Manager Richard Cole was born in Kensal Rise, London, England
January 05, 1967 - Jimmy Page begins recording Little Games with The Yardbirds at De Lane Lea Studios in London.
January 17, 1969 - Led Zeppelin released in the US
January xx, 1970 - Led Zeppelin now play without support acts in order to perform longer sets
January 09, 1970 - Royal Albert Hall gig filmed and recorded for documentary that is eventually scraped. (But was recalled for 2003’s DVD)
January xx, 1971 - Recording continues at Headley Grange
January xx, 1972 - Page has a studio built into his home
January 02, 1973 - Plant’s car breaks down and Bonham and he barely make the Sheffield City Hall gig
January 22, 1973 - Led Zeppelin record a live gig at Southampton University
January xx, 1974 - Recording Physical Graffiti at Headley Grange
January xx, 1974 - The band resigns with Atlantic and forms their own label
January 03, 1975 - Jimmy breaks a finger at Victoria Station just a week before the European warm up shows
January 17, 1975 - The band rehearses in Minneapolis for the upcoming US tour. Bootleg "Johnny Kidd And The Pirates" evolves out of this rehearsal
January xx, 1976 - Jimmy contemplates the release of The Song Remains The Same film but, continues work on the soundtrack
January 01, 1976 - In Paris, Robert takes his first unaided steps since his car accident
January xx, 1977 - Rehearsals for US tour take place at Manticore Studios in Fulham
January 24, 1977 - Bonham and Plant watch The Damned perform at the Roxy in London
January xx, 1978 - Media still claims Led Zeppelin have broke up
January 21, 1979 - Robert Plant is now proud father to son Logan Romero
January xx, 1980 - Zeppelin donate Candy Store Rock to a benefit album to benefit children
January 31, 1995 - Jimmy Page escaped being knifed when a fan rushed the stage at a Page and Plant gig at Auburn Hills, Michigan. The fan was stopped by two security guards, who he knifed instead. After his arrest, he told police that he wanted to kill Jimmy Page because of the Satanic music he was playing.
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