The band was originally formed in 1968 by guitarist Jimmy Page under the name The New Yardbirds in order to fulfill some performance commitments booked in Scandinavia before the break up of the original Yardbirds. Vocalist Robert Plant, known from his work with The Band of Joy, was himself on the verge of a record deal when Page saw him perform at West Midlands College of Education with a pickup band of art students and drafted him into the new band. Plant brought with him drummer John Bonham. Bassist John Paul Jones was informed by his wife that Page was forming a group; Jones and Page knew each other well from their days as session musicians and Jones contacted Page who asked him then to join the band.
After some concerts as the New Yardbirds, the band's name was changed to Led Zeppelin, after Keith Moon, drummer with The Who, said, 'With that lineup you'll go down like a lead balloon'. The word 'lead' is misspelled deliberately to avoid confusion, fearing Americans might pronounce it 'lead Zeppelin' (as in 'lead singer', as opposed to a zeppelin constructed of lead.