Whole Lotta Love

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"Whole Lotta Love"
French single picture sleeve
Single by Led Zeppelin
from the album Led Zeppelin II
B-side "Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)"
Released 7 November 1969 (1969-11-07) (US)
Format 7-inch single
Recorded May 1969
Studio Olympic, London
Length 5:33
Label Atlantic
Producer(s) Jimmy Page
Led Zeppelin singles chronology
"Good Times Bad Times"
"Whole Lotta Love"
"Immigrant Song"
Audio sample

"Whole Lotta Love" is a song by English hard rock band Led Zeppelin. It is the opening track on the band's second album, Led Zeppelin II, and was released in the United States, several countries in Europe, and Japan as a single; as with other Led Zeppelin songs, no single was released in the United Kingdom. The US release became their first hit single, being certified Gold on 13 April 1970, having sold one million copies.[4] It reached number one in Germany, and number four in the Netherlands. Parts of the song were adapted from Willie Dixon's "You Need Love", recorded by Muddy Waters in 1962; originally uncredited to Dixon, a lawsuit in 1985 was settled with a payment to Dixon and credit on subsequent releases.

In 2004, the song was ranked number 75 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and in March 2005, Q magazine placed "Whole Lotta Love" at number three in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. It was placed 11 on a similar list by Rolling Stone. In 2009 it was named the third greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.[1] Already part of their live repertoire, "Whole Lotta Love" saw its first official release on the LP Led Zeppelin II on 22 October 1969 (Atlantic LP #8236). In 2014, listeners to BBC Radio 2 voted "Whole Lotta Love" as containing the greatest guitar riff of all time.[5]


The song is in compound AABA form.[6] Page came up with the guitar riff for "Whole Lotta Love" in the summer of 1968, on his houseboat on the River Thames at Pangbourne, England.[7] Playing the loose blues riff for the intro, on a Sunburst 1958 Les Paul Standard guitar[8] which ascends into the first chorus. Then, beginning at 1:24 (and lasting until 3:02) the song dissolves to a free jazz-like break involving a theremin solo and a drum solo and the orgasmic moans of Robert Plant. As audio engineer Eddie Kramer has explained: "The famous Whole Lotta Love mix, where everything is going bananas, is a combination of Jimmy and myself just flying around on a small console twiddling every knob known to man." Kramer is also quoted as saying:

[A]t one point there was bleed-through of a previously recorded vocal in the recording of "Whole Lotta Love". It was the middle part where Robert [Plant] screams "Wo-man ... You need ... Love". Since we couldn't re-record at that point, I just threw some echo on it to see how it would sound and Jimmy [Page] said, "Great! Just leave it."[9]

Led Zeppelin's bass player John Paul Jones has stated that Page's famous riff probably emerged from a stage improvisation during the band's playing of "Dazed and Confused".[10]

Alternatively, Jimmy Page has vehemently denied that the song originated onstage:

Interviewer: Is it true "Whole Lotta Love" was written onstage during a gig in America, when you were all jamming on a Garnett Mimms song?

Page: No. No. Absolutely incorrect. No, it was put together when we were rehearsing some music for the second album. I had a riff, everyone was at my house, and we kicked it from there. Never was it written during a gig--where did you hear that?

Interviewer: I read it in a book.

Page (sarcastically): Oh, good. I hope it was that Rough Guide. That's the latest one, the most inaccurate. They're all inaccurate, you know.[11]

In a separate interview, Page explained:

I had [the riff] worked out already before entering the studio. I had rehearsed it. And then all of that other stuff, sonic wave sound and all that, I built it up in the studio, and put effects on it and things, treatments.[12]

For this track, Page employed the backwards echo production technique.[8]


Upon release of the LP, radio stations looked for a track that would fit their on-air formats from the quickly successful LP with the pulsing lead track "Whole Lotta Love" being the prime contender. However, because many radio stations saw the freeform middle section as unfit to air they simply created their own edited versions. Atlantic Records was quick to respond and in addition to the release of the regular single in the US (coupled with "Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)" from the same LP as the B-side) released a 3:10 version of the track with the freeform section cut and an earlier fade-out on 7 November 1969. Both versions were released as Atlantic #45-2690. The edited version was intended for radio station promotional release but some copies were apparently released commercially in the US and are a collector's item for fans. The song was released as a single in the US, France, Germany (as No 1), Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia (where it was also issued as an EP) and Japan (countries where the band had less control). The edited version was withdrawn.

In the United Kingdom, Atlantic Records had expected to issue the edited version themselves, and pressed initial copies for release on 5 December 1969. However, band manager Peter Grant was adamant that the band maintain a "no-singles" approach to marketing their recorded music in the UK, and he halted the release. An official statement from the band added that they had written a special number which they intended to be their first British single. This never materialised, and despite much record company pressure, they declined to issue official singles in the UK throughout their career.[8]

Several years later, Atlantic Records reissued "Whole Lotta Love" (with its original B-side "Living Loving Maid") on its Oldies Series label (OS-13116) with a slight error. The edited 3:10 version was used for the reissue, but the labels were printed with the unedited running time of 5:33.

In 1997 Atlantic Records released a CD-single edited (to 4:50 this time) from the original 1969 recording of the song. This version charted in the UK where the band had maintained control over single releases during their existence.

Similarities to "You Need Love"[edit]

In 1962, Muddy Waters recorded a blues vocal, "You Need Love", for Chess Records.[13] As he had done with "You Shook Me", Waters overdubbed vocals on an instrumental track previously recorded by blues guitarist Earl Hooker and his band.[13] Willie Dixon wrote the lyrics, which Dixon biographer Mitsutoshi Inaba describes as being "about the necessity of love":

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[13]

In 1966, British band the Small Faces recorded the song as "You Need Loving" for their eponymous debut Decca album. According to Steve Marriott, the group's vocalist and guitarist, Page and Plant attended several Small Faces gigs, where they expressed their interest in the song.[14] Plant's phrasing is particularly similar to that of Marriott's, who added "he [Plant] sang it the same, phrased it the same, even the stops at the end were the same".[14] Similarities with "You Need Love" led to a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin in 1985, settled out of court in favour of Dixon for an undisclosed amount.[8] On subsequent releases, Dixon's name is included on the credits for "Whole Lotta Love".[15] Plant explained in an interview with Musician magazine:

Page's riff was Page's riff. It was there before anything else. I just thought, 'well, what am I going to sing?' 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.[16]

Charts and live history[edit]

The single entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart on 22 November 1969. It remained on the chart for 15 weeks, peaking at no. 4 and becoming the band's only top 10 single in the US.[17] Live, the song debuted 26 April 1969.[18] When performed live, "Whole Lotta Love" also occasionally included segments of other Led Zeppelin songs such as "I Can't Quit You Baby", "You Shook Me", "How Many More Times", "Your Time Is Gonna Come", "Good Times Bad Times", "The Lemon Song", "The Crunge", "D'yer Mak'er", "Black Dog", "Out on the Tiles" and "Ramble On".[citation needed] A famous show closer at Led Zeppelin concerts, it was since mid-1970 performed as a medley of blues and rhythm and blues interpolations favoured by the band.[citation needed] Many of these included classics by Eddie Cochran, Elvis Presley and John Lee Hooker.[citation needed]

Live versions of "Whole Lotta Love" were released officially on the following titles:

"Whole Lotta Love" was the last song Led Zeppelin ever played live. It was however performed again at the band's reunions at Live Aid in 1985 (with drummers Phil Collins and Tony Thompson), at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert in 1988, and at the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert at the O2 Arena, London, on 10 December 2007 (both with drummer Jason Bonham).[citation needed]


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Spin United States "100 Greatest Singles of All Time"[19] 1989 39
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame United States "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll"[20] 1994 *
Classic Rock United Kingdom "Ten of the Best Songs Ever!.. (Bubbling under)"[21] 1999 30
VH1 United States "100 Greatest Rock Songs"[22] 2009 46
Rolling Stone United States "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time"[23] 2003 75
Q United Kingdom "100 Greatest Guitar Tracks Ever"[24] 2005 3
Toby Creswell Australia "1001 Songs: the Great Songs of All Time"[25] 2005 *
Grammy Awards United States "Grammy Hall of Fame Award"[26] 2007 *
Rolling Stone United States "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time"[27] 2008 11
VH1 United States "VH1 Greatest Hard Rock Songs"[1] 2009 3
BBC Radio 2 United Kingdom "Radio 2's Top 100 Greatest Guitar Riffs"[5] 2014 1

(*) designates unordered lists.

Formats and track listings[edit]

1969 7" single (US: Atlantic 45-2690, Angola: Atlantic ATS 485, Australia/New Zealand: Atlantic AK 3412, Belgium: Atlantic BE 650186, Bolivia: Polydor 508007, Canada: Atlantic Oldies Series OS 13116, Chile: Atlantic 2164 002, France: Atlantic 650 186, Germany: Atlantic 70409, Greece: Atlantic 255 017, Holland: Atlantic ATL 2690, Italy: Atlantic ATL NP 03145, Japan: Warner Pioneer P-2550A, Mexico: Atlantic AT 45-52, Philippines: Atlantic ATR 0046, Sweden: Atlantic ATL 70409, Uruguay: Atlantic 2164002)

Notes (*) Withdrawn

Charts and certifications[edit]


Appearances and covers[edit]

The song has been widely covered by many artists. It was famous in the United Kingdom for having been the theme music for the long-running television programme Top of the Pops for much of its history. The first version used was based on a recording by the Collective Consciousness Society (or C.C.S.), a band led by blues guitarist Alexis Korner. The C.C.S. version reached No. 13 on the British charts in autumn 1970. The song returned as the theme in 1998, this time using a reworked version of the original Led Zeppelin guitar riff.[63]

A cover of the song by British band Goldbug, including a sample of "Asteroid" (the Pearl & Dean advertising music)[64] reached number 3 in the UK charts in 1996.[65]

A rewritten version of the song featured in the "London 2012" presentation during the closing ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing on 24 August 2008, with Jimmy Page on guitar and Leona Lewis providing the vocals. Both Lewis and the organisers requested that some of the lyrics be changed, notably "I'm gonna give you every inch of my love". Lewis felt that the line made little sense coming from a female singer.[66]

The 2008 Foreigner compilation album No End in Sight: The Very Best of Foreigner contains a live version of "Juke Box Hero" which crosses into "Whole Lotta Love" at one point.[67]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Winistorfer, Andrew (5 January 2009). "VH1's 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs list only slightly less annoying than their hip-hop list". VH1. Prefix Magazine. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Valdez, Stephen K. (2006). A History of Rock Music. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-7575-3379-2. 
  3. ^ "Led Zeppelin Biography". The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 17 July 2013. Led Zeppelin II found them further tightening up and modernizing their blues-rock approach on such tracks as "Whole Lotta Love," "Heartbreaker" and "Ramble On." 
  4. ^ "Gold & Platinum". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 10 September 2017. 
  5. ^ a b "Radio 2's Greatest Guitar Riffs". BBC Radio 2. 25 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  6. ^ Stein, Deborah (2005). "Form in Rock Music: A Primer (by Covach, John)". Engaging Music: Essays in Music Analysis. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 74–75. ISBN 0-19-517010-5. 
  7. ^ Myers, Marc (29 May 2014). "The Making of Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love'". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d Lewis, Dave (1994). The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-3528-9. 
  9. ^ "Kramer Archives: Bio". Archived from the original on 25 March 2009. . Kramerarchives.com.
  10. ^ Crowe, Cameron (1993). The Complete Studio Recordings (Media notes). 
  11. ^ Cavanaugh, David (May 2008). "Jimmy Page, 'Mission Accomplished.'". Uncut (132): 49. ISSN 1368-0722. 
  12. ^ Rosen, Steven (25 May 2007). "1977 Jimmy Page Interview (Audio/Text)". Archived from the original on 6 May 2008. . (originally published in the July 1977, issue of Guitar Player magazine) Modern Guitars.
  13. ^ a b c Inaba, Mitsutoshi (2011). Willie Dixon: Preacher of the Blues. Scarecrow Press. pp. 191–193. ISBN 978-0-81086-993-6. 
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  62. ^ "British single certifications – Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 10, 2017.  Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Enter Whole Lotta Love in the search field and then press Enter.
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External links[edit]