I Can't Quit You Baby

'I Can't Quit You Baby' is a 1956 blues song by American singer-songwriter Willie Dixon. The song was released by guitarist Otis Rush as a single, recorded at Cobra Studios in June 1956. It reached top ten on the US Billboard R & B Singles chart. Rush would later perform the song on the album Chicago, the Blues, Today! (Vanguard 79217) in 1966, which is his most famous version. Dixon would later record his own version on his solo album I am the Blues in 1969. 'I Can't Quit You Baby' has been notably covered by many artists including John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, the Savoy Brown Blues Band, Led Zeppelin, Dread Zeppelin, Gary Moore, Pat Travers, B. B. King, John Lee Hooker, and Gov't Mule. The 1956 version was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1994.


Wanting more artistic control and better pay, Willie Dixon left Chess Records for Eli Toscano's new Cobra Records, a Chicago based rival label, in 1956. Toscano started the label in August of that year in the West Side, to record and promote the emerging harder electric blues sounds of up and coming artists, dubbed the 'West Side' sound. Written and produced by Dixon, 'I Can't Quit You Baby', was his first product for Cobra and was a debut commercial success for artist Otis Rush, reaching number six on the Billboard R & B singles chart. An adagio 12-bar blues, it broke in Chicago and then Nashville radio, before becoming a hit on influential radio station WLAC in the deep south.

Rush's version of the song on 1966's Chicago, the Blues, Today! (Vanguard 79217) was a little different than the original, featuring a staccato guitar and new turnaround of a tonic chord followed by a half-step above the tonic chord. However it ended up being the most covered version. This composition by Willie Dixon was the only real commercial success for Otis Rush.


A notable version is John Mayall's Bluesbreakers cover on the 1967 album Crusade. The Savoy Brown Blues Band also recorded 'I Can't Quit You Baby' as a B-side to 'I Tried' in August 1966, with Jimmy Page sessioning on guitar. The most well known cover of Dixon's composition is Led Zeppelin's recording. The song has appeared on both their 1969 eponymous debut album Led Zeppelin as the penultimate song, as well as the 1982 release Coda, albeit in a live context. This live version was recorded on 9 January 1970 at Royal Albert Hall and was included in the 2003 Led Zeppelin DVD.

The band consistently performed 'I Can't Quit You Baby' live at Led Zeppelin concerts from 1968 to early 1970. In 1970, the song was discontinued from Led Zeppelin's typical concert set list as they infused material from Led Zeppelin III into their performances, with 'I Can't Quit You Baby' essentially being supplanted by the song 'Since I've Been Loving You'. It was however revived as part of the 'Whole Lotta Love' medley during some Led Zeppelin concerts in 1972 and 1973, as can be heard on the live release How the West Was Won. 'I Can't Quit You Baby' was rehearsed by the surviving members of Led Zeppelin for the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary reunion in May 1988, but it was not included on the night. It was performed by Page and singer Robert Plant in 1994, 1995-96, and 1998 tours.

Formats and track listings

1956 7" single (US: Cobra 5000)

  • A. 'I Can't Quit You Baby' (Dixon) 2.53
  • B. 'Sit Down Baby' (Dixon) 2.13

1956 10" single (US: Cobra 5000) 78 rpm

  • A. 'I Can't Quit You Baby' (Dixon) 2.53
  • B. 'Sit Down Baby' (Dixon) 2.13



  • Otis Rush – electric guitar, vocals
  • Shakey Horton – harmonica
  • Willie Dixon – bass guitar
  • Lafayette Leake - piano
  • Al Duncan - drums, percussion


  • Willie Dixon – producer
  • Eli Toscano - engineer, mixing


  • Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin (1969)
  • Led Zeppelin, Coda (1982)
  • Nine Below Zero, Live at the Venue (1989)
  • Dread Zeppelin, Un-Led-Ed (1990)
  • Todd Wolfe, Live from Manny's Car Wash (1999)
  • Lennon Page, LA Rockabilly Blues (2002)
  • Gary Moore, Power of the Blues (2004)
  • Mike Manne and Tiger Blues, Mr Blues and I (2006)


  • Lewis, Dave (2012) Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1 (OCLC 782996334).
  • Palmer, Robert (1981) Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-006223-6
  • 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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