Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin song)

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"Rock and Roll"
Rock & Roll45.jpg
German single picture sleeve
Single by Led Zeppelin
from the album Led Zeppelin IV
B-side "Four Sticks"
Released 21 February 1972 (1972-02-21) (US)
Format 7-inch single
Recorded 1971
Studio Headley Grange, Headley, England
Length 3:40
Label Atlantic
Producer(s) Jimmy Page
Led Zeppelin singles chronology
"Black Dog"
"Rock and Roll"
"Over the Hills and Far Away"

"Rock and Roll" is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, which was first released as the second track from the band's fourth album in 1971. The song features a guest appearance by the Rolling Stones pianist Ian Stewart.


Befitting its title, the song is based on one of the most popular structures in rock and roll, the three-chord song.[citation needed] It is performed in the key of A at a tempo of 170 beats per minute.[4] "Rock and Roll" stands as one of the best-known songs in the band's catalogue.

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page explained that the song developed from a spontaneous jam session, whilst the band were trying (and failing) to finish the track "Four Sticks", at the Headley Grange mansion they had rented in Hampshire, England to record the track.[5][6] John Bonham began by playing the drum introduction from the Little Richard song "Keep A-Knockin'" to which Page added a Chuck Berry-style guitar riff.[7][8] The tapes were rolling and fifteen minutes later the basis of the song was completed.[9] Page commented:

We were recording another number [Four Sticks]; we’d just finished a take and John Bonham did the drum intro and we just followed on. I started doing pretty much half of that riff you hear on Rock n Roll and it was just so exciting that we thought, "let’s just work on this". The riff and the sequence was really immediate to those 12-bar patterns that you had in those old rock songs like Little Richard, etc, and it was just so spur-of-the-moment the way that it just came together more or less out of nowhere.[6]

He added:

It actually ground to a halt after about 12 bars, but it was enough to know that there was enough of a number there to keep working on it. Robert [Plant] even came in singing on it straight away.[10]

Live performances[edit]

"Rock and Roll" was a key component of the band's setlist at Led Zeppelin concerts from 1971 on. Initially, Plant referred to it on stage as "It's Been A Long Time", which is the first line of the song.[8] In 1972 it was elevated to the opening number of all concert performances and it retained this status until 1975. For the band's 1977 North American tour, it became part of a medley encore with "Whole Lotta Love", and during 1979 and 1980 it became an encore in its own right.[8]

A live performance of the song from Madison Square Garden in July 1973 was recorded for the band's concert film The Song Remains the Same and accompanying soundtrack album. There is also a June 1972 live recording of "Rock and Roll" which has been captured on the album How the West Was Won.

In 1985 Page, Plant and Jones reunited and performed the song at the Live Aid concert at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, as part of the Led Zeppelin set featuring drummers Tony Thompson and Phil Collins. "Rock and Roll" was also performed as the final encore at Led Zeppelin's reunion show at the O2 Arena, London on 10 December 2007, where, due to Robert Plant's ageing voice, it is played down a whole step.[11] On 7 June 2008, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones joined Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl and drummer Taylor Hawkins on stage at Wembley Stadium to perform "Rock and Roll," along with "Ramble On".

Formats and track listings[edit]

1972 7-inch single (US/Australia/New Zealand: Atlantic 45-2865, Austria/Germany: Atlantic ATL 10156, Brazil: Atco ATCS 10.005, Canada: Atlantic AT 2865, France: Atlantic 10156, Holland: Atlantic ATL 2091190, Japan: Warner Pioneer P-1123A, Lebanon: Atlantic AT 16005, Mexico: Atlantic G-1136, Poland: Atlantic XN 82, Portugal: Atlantic ATL N 28128, Spain: Atlantic HS 823)

  • A. "Rock and Roll" (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) – 3:40
  • B. "Four Sticks" (Page, Plant) – 4:44

1972 7-inch single (South Africa: Atlantic ATL 590)

  • A. "Rock and Roll" (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) – 3:40
  • B. "Going to California" (Page, Plant) – 3:31

1972 7-inch EP (US: Atlantic LLP 171 SD 7-7208)

  • A1. "Rock and Roll" (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) – 3:40
  • A2. "Black Dog" (Jones, Page, Plant) – 4:56
  • B. "Stairway to Heaven" (Page, Plant) – 8:02



Chart (1972) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[13] 51
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[14] 38
Germany (Official German Charts)[15] 13
Japan (Oricon)[16] 34
Spain (AFE)[17] 14
US Billboard Hot 100[18] 47
US Cash Box[19] 42
US Record World[20] 38


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Dave Marsh United States "The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made"[21] 1989 424
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame United States "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll"[22] 1994 *
Radio Caroline United Kingdom "Top 500 Tracks"[23] 1999 21
VH1 United States "The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time"[24] 2000 66
Q United Kingdom "The 50 Most Exciting Tunes Ever.."[25] 2002 17
Q United Kingdom "The 1001 Best Songs Ever"[26] 2003 201

(*) designates unordered lists

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ Bashe, Philip (1985). Heavy Metal Thunder: The Music, Its History, Its Heroes. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-19797-7. Besides his inspired phrasing and his extemporaneous howls and asides, Plant could convincingly convey slow blues ("You Shook Me"), gutbucket rock & roll ("Rock and Roll"), and even folk ballads ("Going to California"), in a strong, cutting voice 
  2. ^ "The 40 Greatest Led Zeppelin Songs of All Time – 'Rock and Roll' (1971)". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Schuman, Michael A. (2009). Led Zeppelin: Legendary Rock Band. Enslow Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7660-3026-8. The fourth album also has its share of hard rock tracks. Three that received a lot of radio airplay are "Black Dog," "Misty Mountain Hop," and the appropriately named "Rock and Roll." 
  4. ^ Led Zeppelin: Mothership – Authentic Guitar Tab Edition. Van Nuys, California: Alfred Publishing. 2008. pp. 103–113. ISBN 978-0-7390-5317-1. 
  5. ^ "Classic Albums", "Led Zeppelin IV", first broadcast on BBC Radio 1, 1992.
  6. ^ a b Jackson, James (8 January 2010). "Jimmy Page on Led Zeppelin IV, the band's peak and their reunion". The Times. Archived from the original on 9 August 2011. 
  7. ^ Schinder, Scott; Schwartz, Andy (2008). Icons of Rock. 2. Westport, Conneticut: Greenwood. p. 390. ISBN 978-0-31333-845-8. 
  8. ^ a b c Lewis, Dave (1994). The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-3528-9. 
  9. ^ "Triple J Music Specials – Led Zeppelin". Triple J. ABC Online. 7 December 2000. (first broadcast 12 July 2000). Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  10. ^ Schulps, Dave (October 1977). "Interview with Jimmy Page". Trouser Press. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  11. ^ "Critiquing the Celebration Day Performance". 21 November 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  12. ^ Case, George (2011). Led Zeppelin FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the Greatest Hard Rock Band of All Time. Backbeat Books. p. 219. ISBN 978-1-61713-025-0. 
  13. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". Hung Medien. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  14. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 100211." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  15. ^ " – Led Zeppelin – Rock And Roll". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  16. ^ "Top 100 Singles – 1 May 1972" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  17. ^ "Top 50 Singles – June 1972". Productores de Música de España. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  18. ^ "Led Zeppelin IV – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  19. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending APRIL 22, 1972". Cash Box. Archived from the original on 8 September 2012. 
  20. ^ "The Singles Chart" (PDF). Record World. 22 April 1972. p. 23. ISSN 0034-1622. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  21. ^ "The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made – 1989". Da Capo Books. Archived from the original on 4 February 2002. 
  22. ^ "Experience The Music: One Hit Wonders and The Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  23. ^ "THE CHART ROOM – Radio Caroline Top 500 Tracks 1999". Radio Caroline. Archived from the original on 27 August 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  24. ^ "It's Only a Riff, But We Like It". VH1. Archived from the original on 8 April 2009. 
  25. ^ "The 50 Most Exciting Tunes Ever.. – January 2002". Q. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  26. ^ "Q – 1001 best songs ever (2003)". Q. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 

External links[edit]