Whole Lotta Love: Led Zeppelin's Biggest Tracks

Led Zeppelin
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Bob Verhorst/Redferns

On May 12, 1977, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin attended the Ivor Novello Awards - one of England's most prestigious ceremonies for music - where they received a trophy for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. Weeks before, they broke a world record for indoor attendance when they took the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan, playing for a gathering of 76,229 fans.

Though they'd only issue one more studio album in 1979, months before breaking up following the death of drummer John Bonham, their legacy was already pretty secure. And it still is, decades later: one of the later holdouts to putting their music out digitally, their songs have since racked up hundreds of millions of streams from not only fans who were there when their albums lit up the charts, but generation after generation discovering their relentless rock sound. Here's a rundown of their most popular songs to this day, based on digital play counts.

"Stairway to Heaven": Are you surprised? This eight-minute opus - one of the most requested rock radio songs ever and ranked highly on Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs of all time - remains handily the band's most popular song. (This, despite the band refusing multiple requests to edit it for single release, leading the band's untitled fourth album to be consumed as a full body of work.) Over an increasing cascade of Jimmy Page's guitars, acoustic and electric, Robert Plant sings to the heavens - switching from regal mysticism to skyward howl in due course. "I knew it was good, but I didn't know it was going to be almost like an anthem," Page later said. "But I knew it was the gem of the album, sure."

READ MORE: "Stairway to Heaven" Almost Derailed Led Zeppelin's 1988 Reunion

"Immigrant Song": The opening track to Led Zeppelin III, with its iconic vocal riff, was well-loved before 2017, when the blockbuster Marvel film Thor: Ragnarok fittingly used it in both a trailer and the feature itself. Since then, millions have ridden the track all the way to Valhalla even more devoutly.

"Whole Lotta Love": Zeppelin famously did not like to release singles from their albums, but that message hadn't quite gotten across the pond when Led Zeppelin II was released in 1969. For better or worse, this bluesy stomp was the track that helped establsh the band outside of England, hitting No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

READ MORE: Led Zeppelin Were Not Happy About Having a Pop Hit

"Black Dog": It was bassist John Paul Jones who came up with the mighty riff for the band's fourth album opener, inspired by Muddy Waters' psychedelic Electric Mud album. Though he and Page copped to having a tough time clearing the tricky time signature change, Bonham decided to play the song straight from his kit, adding to the song's sideways mystique.

READ MORE: What Four? Behind Led Zeppelin's Most Symbolic Album Title

"Kashmir": A strange meter driven by another immortal drum track by Bonzo drives the second side closer to Physical Graffiti, beefed up even more in the studio by a string and horn section. Not even a bizarre sample by Puff Daddy for the Godzilla soundtrack in 1998 could dim the track's shine.

READ MORE: February 1975: Led Zeppelin Releases "Physical Graffiti"

"Ramble On": A folky killer from Led Zeppelin II, there's so much to love about "Ramble On" - including some choice strumming and solos from Page and an infectious bass groove from Jones - that you might not immediately notice that Page is singing about Lord of the Rings for some reason.

"Rock and Roll": Rarely has a song personified its title as simply as this track from the fourth record. Everyone is firing on all cylinders here, building a track that's pumped up everything from Cadillacs to Billy Joel concerts.

READ MORE: February 1972: Led Zeppelin Releases "Rock and Roll"

"Going to California": A gentle, reflective track from that iconic fourth album, "Going to California" remains a seminal song for anyone going through new experiences at a young age - just like Plant was when he wrote the tune. "[It] might be a bit embarrassing at times lyrically," the singer later admitted to Spin in 2002, "but it did sum up a period of my life when I was 22."

"Good Times, Bad Times": The very first Zeppelin song most heard, by way of opening their self-titled debut or being released as a single in the States. Their formula for success was established from the jump: whirling guitar from Page, a melodic bass line from Jones, Bonham's rambunctious rhythms and a soaring vocal from Plant. At just under three minutes, it almost ends too soon; luckily, there was plenty more where that came from.

READ MORE: April 1969: Led Zeppelin’s First U.S. Single Hits Its Chart High

"D'yer Mak'er": Led Zeppelin were well known for incorporating deep blues and folk traditions in their music. But nobody quite knew what to expect when this song from Houses of the Holy dropped - with a dub reggae style and a title playing off the island of Jamaica, where reggae first formed. Critics weren't sure if the track was supposed to be a joke, but fans liked it enough to give the group a Top 20 hit - and Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose has cited it as a formative track.

READ MORE: September 1973: Led Zeppelin Releases "D'yer Mak'er"

 

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Ross Marino/Getty Images
From prog cuts to pop hits, we want them to play these!
Sotheby's
It's the most expensive rock and roll tee ever sold.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Stagecoach
That little ol' band from Texas played with the same three-piece lineup since 1969.

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