Led Zeppelin Were Not Happy About Having a Pop Hit

Led Zeppelin in 1970
Photo Credit
Art Zelin/Getty Images

On Jan. 31, 1970, Led Zeppelin found themselves entering the Top 5 on the most important singles chart in America...and it might surprise you to learn that they weren’t particularly pleased about the situation.

Recorded at Olympic Studios in London and included on Led Zeppelin II, “Whole Lotta Love” actually made its debut as part of the band’s live set some nine months earlier: they played it in concert for the first time on April 26, 1969, during the second of two nights of performances at the famed Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. Written collectively – as far as the credits are concerned, anyway – by John Bonham, John Paul Jones Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant, the song also later found another name added to the foursome: Willie Dixon...and to fair, it was for good reason.

Check out the lyrics to Dixon’s song “You Need Love” - made famous by Muddy Waters in 1962 - and you’ll see what we mean:

You've got yearnin' and I got burnin'
Baby you look so ho sweet and cunnin'
Baby way down inside, woman you need love
Woman you need love, you've got to have some love
I'm gon' give you some love, I know you need love

The whole thing was sorted after a lawsuit led to an out-of-court settlement for Dixon as well as his name being added to the credits. “Page's riff was Page's riff – it was there before anything else – (and) I just thought, 'Well, what am I going to sing?'” Plant explained to Musician in 1990. “That was it, a nick. Now happily paid for. At the time, there was a lot of conversation about what to do. It was decided that it was so far away in time and influence that...Well, you only get caught when you're successful. That's the game.”

But back to the whole thing with the single’s success and the band’s annoyance with it.

Yes, “Whole Lotta Love” climbed all the way to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, providing Led Zeppelin with a significant boost in profile, but the band was decidedly unhappy about Atlantic’s decision to release a single edit of the song. Needless to say, the number of singles released from the band’s subsequent albums dropped off dramatically...and it’s worth mentioning that the band’s annoyance did successfully keep the single edit of the song from being released in the U.K.

READ MORE: 50 years of "Led Zeppelin II"

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