Four Sticks

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Four Sticks
Appears on Led Zeppelin IV
Published by Superhype Music
Registration ASCAP 360107582
Release date 21 February 1972
Recorded February 1971 at
Island Studios, London.
Mixed at Olympic Studios, London.
Genre Hard rock, rock
Language English
Length 4 minutes 42 seconds
Composer Jimmy Page, Robert Plant
Label Atlantic Records
Producer Jimmy Page
Engineer Andy Johns

'Four Sticks' is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin from their fourth album, released in 1971.


The title came from the fact that drummer John Bonham played with two sets of two drumsticks, totalling four.[1] His decision to play the song with four sticks was a result of him being very frustrated with not being able to get the track down right during recording sessions at Island Studios. After he grabbed the second pair of sticks and beat the drums as hard as he could, he recorded the perfect take and that was the one they kept. This song was particularly difficult to record, and required more takes than usual.[2] John Paul Jones played a Moog synthesizer on the track, with an EMS VCS3 for overdubs.[3]

Guitarist Jimmy Page once said of the song: 'It was supposed to be abstract.' The abstract effect is further achieved by the unusual time signature of the song, featuring riffs in a mixture of 5/4 and 6/8 time signatures. After another take during the recording, Jimmy began to play an improvised guitar riff. That riff was later on developed into the second track of the album, 'Rock and Roll'.

The song was re-recorded by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant with the Bombay Symphony Orchestra in 1972, during their trip to India, along with another track, 'Friends' from Led Zeppelin III.[4] This version featured tabla drums and sitars. The recordings have never been released officially and are only available on Led Zeppelin bootleg recordings.

Live versions

The band is only known to have played this song live once, at Copenhagen on their 1971 European tour, as has been preserved on some bootleg recordings.[5]

Also in 1994, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page had rejoined in musical collaboration as Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. On 25 August and 26 August, live performances were taped in London, Wales, and Morocco with Egyptian and Moroccan orchestration of several Led Zeppelin tunes - 'Four Sticks' was one of them, and the arrangement features drummer Michael Lee playing with four sticks as well as multiple percussionists such as Hossam Ramzy. This new version of 'Four Sticks' was also included on the album No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded, and live performances were so successful commercially and artistically that the ensemble coordinated a 1995/1996 world tour.

Robert Plant played a version of the song during his solo tour in 2005, as is included on the DVD release Soundstage: Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation, although drummer Clive Deamer only plays with two sticks.

Formats and track listings

See 'Rock and Roll' single.


  • Musicians:
    • Jimmy Page – electric guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
    • Robert Plant – vocals
    • John Paul Jones – Moog synthesizer, EMS VCS3, bass guitar
    • John Bonham - drums, percussion
  • Production:
    • Peter Grant – executive producer
    • Andy Johns - engineer, mixing
    • Joe Sidore - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
    • George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)


  1. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 56. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  2. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 56. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  3. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 56. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  4. Liner notes to Boxed Set 2 by David Fricke
  5. Lewis, Dave and Pallett, Simon (2005). Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, Revised. London: Omnibus Press, 139. ISBN 978-1-84449-659-4.