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" 45rpm, 10" 78rpm
Recorded Chicago
summer 1956
Genre Blues
Length 2:56
Label Cobra (Cat. 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] The song, a slow twelve-bar blues, has been recorded by various artists, including Led Zeppelin, who included it on their debut album.

Otis Rush version[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 #6 in the Billboard R&B chart in 1956.[3] In his autobiography, Willie Dixon explained that "I Can't Quit You Baby" was written about a relationship that Rush seemed to be preoccupied with at the time and that Dixon used that to draw out an impassioned performance by Rush.[2]

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. This is the version on which most cover versions would be based.

Led Zeppelin version[edit]

"I Can't Quit You Baby"
Song by Led Zeppelin from the album Led Zeppelin and Coda
Released 12 January 1969 (1969-01-12)
Recorded Olympic Studios, London
October 1968
Genre Psychedelic blues[4]
Length 4:42
Label Atlantic
Writer Willie Dixon
Producer Jimmy Page
Led Zeppelin track listing
""Communication Breakdown"
"I Can't Quit You Baby"
"How Many More Times"
Coda track listing
"Poor Tom"
"I Can't Quit You Baby"
"Walter's Walk"

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".[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 9 January 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 14 May 1988 Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary Celebration, but was not performed during the event.[8]

Other versions[edit]

A variety of artists have recorded "I Can't Quit You Baby", 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), Nine Below Zero from Live at the Venue (1989), Willie Dixon from I Am the Blues (1969), Dread Zeppelin from Un-Led-Ed (1990), and Gary Moore from Power of the Blues (2004).


Otis Rush's original Cobra single "I Can't Quit You Baby" was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1994.[9]


  1. ^ 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. ^ Led Zeppelin at AllMusic
  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.
  9. ^ Blues Hall of Fame Inductees - Classics of Blues Recordings - Single or Album Tracks


  • Led Zeppelin: Dazed and Confused: The Stories Behind Every Song, by Chris Welch, ISBN 1-56025-818-7
  • The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, by Dave Lewis, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9

External links[edit]