Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin song)

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Rock and Roll
1972 German single
Appears on Led Zeppelin IV
Published by Superhype Music
Registration ASCAP 480093727
Release date 21 February 1972
Recorded January 1971 at
Headley Grange, Hampshire with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio.
Mixed at Island Studios, London;
Olympic Studios, London.
Genre Hard rock, rock
Language English
Length 3 minutes 40 seconds
Composer Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham
Label Atlantic Records
Producer Jimmy Page
Engineer Andy Johns

'Rock and Roll' is a song by English rock band Led Zeppelin, which was first released as the second track from Led Zeppelin IV in 1971.


Befitting its title, the song is based on one of the most popular structures in rock and roll, the 12 bar blues progression (in A). 'Rock and Roll' stands as one of the best-known songs in the band's catalogue.

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has said that this song came to be written as a spontaneous jam session, whilst the band were trying (and failing) to finish the track 'Four Sticks'.[1] Drummer John Bonham was playing a medley of songs, which included a rendition of 'Keep a Knockin'' and Page then added a guitar riff.[2] The tapes were rolling and fifteen minutes later the basis of the song was down. The song also included Ian Stewart on piano who dropped in for the jam.[3]

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.[4]

'Rock and Roll' is one of the few Led Zeppelin songs where all four members share the composer credit.

Live performances

'Rock and Roll' was a key component of the band's set list at Led Zeppelin concerts from 1971 on. Initially, Plant referred it on stage as 'It's Been A Long Time', which is the first line of the song.[5] 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 concert tour of the United States, it became part of a medley encore with 'Whole Lotta Love', and during 1979 and 1980 it became an encore in its own right.[6]

When performing the song live, singer Robert Plant usually switched the second verse with the third.

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 JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, as part of the Led Zeppelin set. '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. 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'.

Cultural influence

In 2006, Bowl Games of America used 'Rock and Roll' as the finale for the Gator Bowl halftime show. (The song was performed by 28 high school marching bands, with over 2,500 players.) The song is currently used by New York Mets first baseman Frank Corbisiere as a walk-up song, along with 'La La Land' by Demi Lovato.


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Dave Marsh United States 'The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made'[7] 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'[8] 1994 *
Radio Caroline United Kingdom 'Top 500 Tracks'[9] 1999 21
VH1 United States 'The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time'[10] 2000 66
Q United Kingdom 'The 50 Most Exciting Tunes Ever..'[11] 2002 17
Q United Kingdom 'The 1001 Best Songs Ever'[12] 2003 201
DigitalDreamDoor United States 'The 100 Greatest Recordings From 1971'[13] 2007 17

(*) designates unordered lists.

Chart positions

Chart (1972) Peak position
US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart[14] 47
US Cash Box Top 100 Singles Chart[15] 42
US Record World 100 Top Pops[16] 38
Canadian RPM Top 100 Chart[17] 38
Japanese Singles Chart[18] 34
German Singles Chart[19] 13
Spanish Singles Chart[20] 14
Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart 51


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


  1. 'Classic Albums', 'Led Zeppelin IV', first broadcast on BBC Radio 1, 1992.
  2. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 53. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  3. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 53. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  4. Schulps, Dave (October 1977). "Jimmy Page: The Trouser Press Interview". Trouser Press 4 (22). ISSN 0164-1883.
  5. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 53. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  6. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 53. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  7. The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made - 1989. Da Capo Books. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  8. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll - December 1994. Jacobs Media. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  9. Top 500 Tracks - 1999. Radio Caroline. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  10. The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time - July 2000. VH1. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  11. The 50 Most Exciting Tunes Ever.. - January 2002. Q. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  12. The 1001 Best Songs Ever - 2003. Q. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  13. The 100 Greatest Recordings From 1971 - 2007. DigitalDreamDoor. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  14. Hot 100 Singles - 15 April 1972. Billboard. Retrieved on 2009-01-17.
  15. Top 100 Singles - 22 April 1972. Cash Box. Retrieved on 2009-01-17.
  16. Top 40 for 1972 - April 1972. Record World. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  17. RPM Singles Chart - 29 April 1972. RPM. Retrieved on 2009-01-15.
  18. Top 100 Singles - 1 May 1972. Oricon. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  19. Top 100 Singles - 19 June 1972. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  20. Top 50 Singles - June 1972. PROMUSICAE. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.