Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin song)

'Rock and Roll' is a 1971 song by English rock band Led Zeppelin. The song was composed by Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham, and recorded at Headley Grange, Hampshire, England in January 1971, and mixed at Island Studios, London in February 1971. It appeared as the second track on Led Zeppelin's fourth album Led Zeppelin IV, released on 8 November 1971. 'Black Dog' was also issued as a promotional single in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, and Lebanon. Like 'Whole Lotta Love', it was released against the band's wishes. It reached number 47 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, number 38 in Canada, and number 51 in Australia. A rollicking rock and roll song, in early live performances the song was introduced as 'It's Been a Long Time'. It became a popular anthem of Led Zeppelin and beyond, being performed on almost every tour.

Overview

'Rock and Roll' was recorded at Headley Grange during a break in recording 'Four Sticks'. Drummer John Bonham was behind the impetus of the song, laying down a rockabilly beat. In a simple repetitive 12-bar blues format, guitarist Jimmy Page created a riff, and the other band members all joined in, including Rolling Stone Ian Stewart who was visiting Headley Grange to see how the Rolling Stone Mobile studio was going with the band. Stewart on the Grange piano performed his trademark boogie-woogie piano style, while singer Robert Plant made up lyrics on the spot, in what was a very spontaneous recording session. Reportedly it took less than 15 minutes and three takes to complete.

The song has been extensively covered by other artists including Heart, Van Halen, Def Leppard, and Roger Daltrey.

Live performances

'Rock and Roll''s live debut was on the spring 1971 tour, and was used as a set opener for the following 1972 and 1975 tours. It became part of the encore in 1977, and on the 1979 Knebworth shows plus the 1980 Over Europe tour. The song was also performed at Live Aid in 1985, the Knebworth Silver Clef reunion of Page and Plant, Jason Bonham's wedding reception in 1990, and the Page and Plant tours of 1995, 1996, and 1998. Plant sang 'Rock and Roll' on his 1993 and 1994 solo tours, and was performed by Page and David Coverdale on their 1993 tour. It was was the final song played at the 2007 Ahmet Ertegun concert at the O2 Arena in London, England. Page and bassist John Paul Jones performed the song at the Foo Fighters concert at Wembley Stadium in 2008.

Accolades

  • Dave Marsh - The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made (1989) 424
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll (1994) *
  • Radio Caroline - Top 500 Tracks (1999) 21
  • VH1 - The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time (2000) 66
  • Q - The 50 Most Exciting Tunes Ever (2002) 17
  • Q - The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003) 201
  • DigitalDreamDoor - The 100 Greatest Recordings From 1971 (2007) 17
  • Absolute Classic Rock - Top 10 Greatest British Rock Songs of All Time (2010) 7

(*) designates unordered lists.

Chart positions

  • US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart (1972) 47
  • US Cash Box Top 100 Singles Chart (1972) 42
  • US Record World 100 Top Pops (1972) 38
  • Canadian RPM Top 100 Chart (1972) 38
  • Japanese Singles Chart (1972) 34
  • German Singles Chart (1972) 13
  • Spanish Singles Chart (1972) 14
  • Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart (1972) 51

Formats and track listings

1972 7" single (US/Australia/New Zealand: Atlantic 45-2865, Austria/Germany: Atlantic ATL 10156, Brazil: Atco ATCS 10.005, Canada: Atlantic AT 2865, France: Atlantic 10156, Japan: Warner Pioneer P-1123A, Lebanon: Atlantic AT 16005, Mexico: Atlantic G-1136, the Netherlands: Atlantic ATL 2091190, Poland: Atlantic XN 82, Portugal: Atlantic ATL N 28-128, Spain: Atlantic HS 823)

  • A. 'Rock and Roll' (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) 3.40
  • B. 'Four Sticks' (Page, Plant) 4.44

1972 7" single (South Africa: Atlantic ATL 590)

  • A. 'Rock and Roll' (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) 3.40
  • B. 'Going to California' (Page, Plant) 3.31

1972 7" EP (US: Atlantic LLP 171 SD 7-7208)

  • A1. 'Rock and Roll' (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) 3.40
  • A2. 'Black Dog' (Jones, Page, Plant) 4.56
  • B. 'Stairway to Heaven' (Page, Plant) 8.02

1976 7" single (Japan: Atlantic P-105A)

  • A. 'Rock and Roll' (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) 3.40
  • B. 'Four Sticks' (Page, Plant) 4.44

Credits

Musicians:

  • Jimmy Page – electric guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
  • Robert Plant – vocals
  • John Paul Jones – bass guitar
  • John Bonham - drums, percussion
  • Ian Stewart - piano

Production:

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

Bibliography

  • 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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