Going to California

'Going to California' is a 1971 song by English rock band Led Zeppelin. The song was composed by Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant, and recorded at Headley Grange, Hampshire, England in January 1971, and mixed at Olympic Studios, London in February 1971. It appeared as the seventh track on Led Zeppelin's fourth album Led Zeppelin IV, released on 8 November 1971. 'Going to California' is a folk rock song, an ode to Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, hippies, and earthquakes in California. The original working titles for the song was 'Guide to California'.


'Going to California' was recorded one evening at Headley Grange, with guitarist Jimmy Page on acoustic guitar and bassist John Paul Jones on mandolin. Part of the lyrics by singer Robert Plant references 'I Had a King' by Joni Mitchell, of whom Plant admired, and the song alludes to his search for a 'Queen'. When the song was being mixed at Sunset Sound, in California, band manager Peter Grant, Page, and engineer Andy Johns experienced an earthquake themselves. The Sunset Sound mixes in the end proved unusable and the song was mixed at Olympic Studios instead. One of Led Zeppelin's gentlest songs, it has been covered by numerous artists since its release.

Live performances

'Going to California' was performed in the band's acoustic set. It made its debut on the United Kingdom spring tour of 1971 and remained until the 1972 US tour. It was revived for the Earls Court shows in 1975 and the 1977 North American tour. The 25 May 1975 Earls Court performances later appeared on the 2003 Led Zeppelin DVD. 'Going to California' was performed on Plant's solo tours in 1988, 1993, and 2002. Page and Plant played a version on their 1995, 1996, and 1998 tours.



  • Jimmy Page – acoustic guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
  • Robert Plant – vocals
  • John Paul Jones – mandolin, acoustic bass
  • John Bonham - tambourine, percussion


  • Peter Grant – executive producer
  • Andy Johns - engineer, mixing
  • Joe Sidore - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
  • George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)


  • Lewis, Dave (2012) Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1 (OCLC 782996334).
  • Welch, Chris (2009) Led Zeppelin: The Stories Behind Every Led Zeppelin Song. London: Carlton Books. ISBN 978-1-84732-286-9 (OCLC 317254118).

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