Presence is the seventh studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released by Swan Song Records on 31 March 1976. It was written and recorded during a tumultuous time in the band's history, as singer Robert Plant was recuperating from serious injuries he had sustained in a recent car accident. The album received mixed reviews from critics and is also the slowest-selling studio album by the band (other than the outtake album Coda), only managing to achieve triple-platinum certification in the United States. Nonetheless, guitarist Jimmy Page describes Presence as the band's "most important" album, proving they would continue despite their turmoil.
Jimmy Page made the decision to record the album after Robert Plant sustained serious injuries from a car accident on the Greek island of Rhodes on 5 August 1975, which forced the band to cancel a proposed world tour that was due to commence on 23 August. At this point, Led Zeppelin were arguably at the height of their popularity. When he was taken to a Greek hospital after the accident, Plant recalled:
I was lying there in some pain trying to get cockroaches off the bed and the guy next to me, this drunken soldier, started singing "The Ocean" from Houses of the Holy.
During a convalescent period on the Channel Island of Jersey and in Malibu, California, Plant wrote some lyrics, and when Page joined him at Malibu, these compositions were fleshed out. The two prepared enough material for rehearsals to begin at Hollywood's SIR Studio, where drummer John Bonham and bass player John Paul Jones joined them.
After a month of rehearsals, the album was recorded in just eighteen days at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany, with Plant in a wheelchair. This was the fastest recording turnaround time achieved by the band since their debut album. The rushed recording sessions were in part a result of Led Zeppelin having booked the studio immediately prior to The Rolling Stones, who were shortly to record songs for their album Black and Blue. Upon their arrival, the Stones were amazed that Zeppelin's album had indeed been completed (both recorded and mixed) in a mere eighteen days. Page had simply stayed awake for two days straight to perform all of the guitar overdubs. As he later explained:
I just had to lay it down, more or less: first track... second track – you know, really fast working on that. And all the guitar overdubs on Presence were done in one night. But I didn't think I would be able to do it in one night, I thought I'd have to do it across maybe three different nights to get the individual sections. Everything sort of crystallised and you'll notice everything was just pouring out. I was very happy with the guitar playing on that whole album, you know as far as the maturity of playing goes.