Sunday, November 15, 2009

40 Years Ago: Led Zeppelin chart with “Whole Lotta Love” (11/15/1969)

Updated 1/27/2019.

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Whole Lotta Love

Led Zeppelin

Writer(s): John Bonham, Willie Dixon, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant (see lyrics here)


Released: 11/7/1969


First Charted: 11/15/1969


Peak: 4 US, 2 CB, 4 HR, 21 UK, 2 CN, 12 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 1.0 US, 0.2 UK, 1.2 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: --


Video Airplay *: 75.6


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

“Whole Lotta Love” can be traced back to a 1962 Willie Dixon song, although he wasn’t credited until 1985. Dixon was a Chicago blues songwriter who penned the song “You Need Love” in 1962 for Muddy Waters. The Small Faces, a British rock band, covered the song as “You Need Loving” on their debut album in 1966. According to Steve Marriott, the band’s singer and guitarist, future Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant came to some of their gigs and expressed interest in the song. WK

Jimmy Page was the guitarist in the Yardbirds in the late 1960s. When the group folded, Page set about creating a group originally dubbed “The New Yardbirds” which included Plant on vocals. The group eventually settled on the monker “Led Zeppelin” and set about “jamming on the blues standards they loved, stretching them out into psychedelic orgies.” RS500 On its first two albums, Led Zeppelin covered “You Shook Me,” “I Can’t Quit You, Baby,” and “Bring It on Home” – all by Willie Dixon. RS500

The band’s reworking of “You Need Love” bore similarities to the Small Faces’ version. Marriott pointed out that Plant “sang it the same, phrased it the same, even the stops at the end were the same.” WK However, it wasn’t until Dixon brought legal action in 1985 that he got a rightful share of the credit. RS500 The band settled out of court for an undisclosed amount and, on subsequent releases, included Dixon’s name in the credits. WK Dixon used the money to set up a program which provided instruments for schools. SF

Plant also tossed in lines from “Shake for Me” and “Back Door Man,” a pair of Dixon songs written for Howlin’ Wolf. RS500 The band also borrows a phrase from Blind Lemon Jefferson and Robert Johnson, in asking to have one’s lemon squeezed “till the juice runs down my leg.” RP-124

Page developed the riff in the summer of 1968 on his houseboat on the River Thames in England, although bassist John Paul Jones said it came out of improvisation on stage during their song “Dazed and Confused.” WK In 2014, a BBC radio listeners’ poll rated “Whole Lotta Love” as having the greatest guitar riff of all time. WK The song was also rated in the top 5 on similar lists from Q magazine and VH1. WK


Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.

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