On this day in 1979 Led Zeppelin released their 8th studio album In Through the Out Door. It was also their final album of entirely new material. It was the last album released by the band before the untimely death of drummer John Bonham in 1980.
The album is a reflection of the personal turmoil that the band members had been going through before and during its recording. For example, frontman Robert Plant and his wife had gone through a serious car accident, and their young son, Karac Plant, died from a stomach illness. All four band members also felt weary of dealing with record companies and other associates. Despite this, the release wound up being a huge commercial success, particularly in the United States, where it reached #1 on the Billboard album charts in its second week.
The original album featured an unusual gimmick: the album had an outer sleeve which was made to look like a plain brown paper bag (reminiscent of similarly packaged bootleg album sleeves with the title rubber-stamped on it), and the inner sleeve featured black and white line artwork which, if washed with water, would become permanently fully colored.
There were also six different sleeves featuring a different pair of photos (one on each side), and the external brown paper sleeve meant that it was impossible for record buyers to tell which sleeve they were getting (there is actually a code on the spine of the album jacket which indicated which sleeve it was—this could sometimes be seen while the record was still sealed).
The pictures all depicted the same scene in a bar (in which a man burns a Dear John letter), and each photo was taken from the separate point of view of someone who appeared in the other photos. The walls are covered with thousands of yellowed business cards and dollar bills.
To date, the album has sold six million copies in the US.