I Can't Quit You Baby

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"I Can't Quit You Baby"
Single by Otis Rush
B-side "Sit Down Baby"
Released 1956 (1956)
Format 7-inch 45 rpm, 10-inch 78 rpm
Recorded Chicago, circa July 1956
Genre Blues
Length 2:56
Label Cobra (no. 5000)
Writer(s) Willie Dixon
Producer(s) Willie Dixon
Otis Rush singles chronology
"I Can't Quit You Baby"
"Violent Love"/ "My Love Will Never Die"

"I Can't Quit You Baby" is a blues standard written by Willie Dixon and first recorded by Chicago blues artist Otis Rush in 1956.[1] It was Rush's first recording and became a record chart hit. The song, a slow twelve-bar blues, has been recorded by various artists, including Led Zeppelin, who included it on their debut album.

Original song[edit]

"I Can't Quit You Baby" was a vehicle for arranger/producer Dixon to launch Rush and Cobra Records, as it was the first single for both.[2] In this regard, it was a success, reaching number six on Billboard's Rhythm & Blues Records chart in 1956.[3] In his autobiography, Willie Dixon explained that "I Can't Quit You Baby" was written about a preoccupied relationship Rush was having at the time. Dixon used this statement to draw out an impassioned performance by Rush.[2]

Well, I can't quit you baby
But I got to put you down a little while
Well, I can't quit you baby
But I got to put you down a little while
Well, you done made me mess up my happy home

The song was Rush's first recording and took place in Chicago around July 1956.[4] Accompanying Rush on lead guitar and vocal are Big Walter Horton on harmonica, Red Holloway on tenor sax, Lafayette Leake on piano, Wayne Bennett on second guitar, Dixon on bass, and Al Duncan on drums.[4]

Otis Rush revisited "I Can't Quit You Baby" several times over the years, most notably when he recorded the song for the 1966 blues compilation Chicago|The Blues|Today! Vol. 2 (Vanguard 79217). This version featured an altered arrangement with an unusual turnaround (tonic chord followed by a half-step above the tonic chord) and staccato guitar fills. Most cover versions are based on Rush's Vanguard rendition.

Led Zeppelin versions[edit]

"I Can't Quit You Baby"
Song by Led Zeppelin from the album Led Zeppelin
Released January 12, 1969 (1969-01-12)
Recorded Olympic Studios, London, October 1968
Genre Blues rock
Length 4:42
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Willie Dixon
Producer(s) Jimmy Page

English rock band Led Zeppelin recorded "I Can't Quit You Baby" for their multi-platinum 1969 debut album Led Zeppelin.[5][6] Their rendition generally follows Otis Rush's 1966 Vanguard version, but with different instrumentation and dynamics.[7] It also incorporates a break during the guitar solo where Jimmy Page plays a four-bar unaccompanied set-up before relaunching into the solo. Although missing the turnaround coming out of the solo, "I Can't Quit You Baby" "ends up as one of the most successful pieces on the first album, with no flat spots and a perfectly symmetrical form, all within the classic blues tradition", according to biographer Keith Shadwick.[7]

Led Zeppelin regularly performed "I Can't Quit You Baby" in concert from 1968 to early 1970.[8] Two live versions from 1969 are included on the 1997 Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions. A performance of the song on January 9, 1970, at Royal Albert Hall is included on the 2003 Led Zeppelin DVD (an edited version of this performance was released on the 1982 Coda album). In 1970, the song was dropped from Led Zeppelin's typical concert lineup as they incorporated material from Led Zeppelin III into their shows, with "I Can't Quit You Baby" essentially being replaced by "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.[8] The song was rehearsed by the surviving members of Led Zeppelin for the May 14, 1988, Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary Celebration, but was not performed during the event.[8]

Recognition and influence[edit]

Blues historian Gerard Herzhaft identifies "I Can't Quit You Baby" as a blues standard.[1] Rush's original Cobra single was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1994, which described it as "a Willie Dixon production revealing Rush as an extraordinary talent with an impassioned approach."[4] A variety of artists have recorded the song, including John Lee Hooker for the album More Real Folk Blues (produced in 1966, released in 1991), John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers for Crusade (1967), Little Milton on Checker single 1212 (1969), Willie Dixon from I Am the Blues (1969), Nine Below Zero from Live at the Venue (1989), Dread Zeppelin from Un-Led-Ed (1990), and Gary Moore from Power of the Blues (2004).


  1. ^ a b Herzhaft, Gerard; Harris, Paul; Hanssler, Jerry; Mikofsky, Anton J. (1997). Encyclopedia of The Blues, (2nd. Sub edition), University of Arkansas Press, ISBN 978-1-55728-452-5.
  2. ^ a b Dixon, Willie; Snowden, Don (1989). I Am The Blues, Da Capo Press, ISBN 978-0-306-80415-1.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988, Records Research, Inc., ISBN 978-0-89820-069-0.
  4. ^ a b c Blues Foundation (1994). "1994 Hall of Fame Inductees: I Can't Quit You Baby – Otis Rush (Cobra 1956)". The Blues Foundation. Retrieved February 7, 2016. 
  5. ^ "BPI Certified Awards". 
  6. ^ "RIAA Certification". 
  7. ^ a b Shadwick, Keith (2005). Led Zeppelin: The Story of a Band and Their Music 1968-1980, Backbeat Books, ISBN 978-0-87930-871-1
  8. ^ a b c Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.

External links[edit]