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Royal Orleans

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Royal Orleans
Appears on Presence
Published by Flames of Albion Music
Registration ASCAP 480112269
Release date 18 June 1976
Recorded 9-27 November 1976 at
Musicland Studios, Munich.
Mixed at Musicland Studios, Munich.
Genre Hard rock
Language English
Length 2 minutes 58 seconds
Composer Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham
Label Swan Song Records
Producer Jimmy Page
Engineer Keith Harwood

'Royal Orleans' is a song by English rock group Led Zeppelin, from their 1976 album Presence.


When in New Orleans on concert tours, members of the group would stay at the Royal Orleans Hotel, and the song is reportedly based on an incident that occurred there.[1] The story goes that, once when staying at the hotel in the early 1970s, a member of Led Zeppelin accidentally brought a drag queen up to his room, thinking he was a woman. Both smoked a joint and fell asleep, the drag queen with a lit spliff in her hand, which caught fire and burnt the room down (though everyone escaped). The lyrics include lines such as 'Be careful how you choose it' and 'Poor whiskers set the room alight' to reference the event.

It has been suggested that the member of the band referred to in the song was bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones.[2] The song suggests that it is John Paul Jones from the line:

And when the sun peeked through
John Cameron with Suzanna,
He kissed the whiskers, left & right

John Cameron was a studio rival of John Paul Jones.[3]

In an interview he gave to Mojo magazine in 2007, Jones clarified the reliability of this rumour, stating that:

The transvestites were actually friends of Richard [Cole's]; normal friendly people and we were all at some bar. That I mistook a transvestite for a girl is rubbish; that happened in another country to somebody else... Anyway 'Stephanie' ended up in my room and we rolled a joint or two and I fell asleep and set fire to the hotel room, as you do, ha ha, and when I woke up it was full of firemen![4]

'Royal Orleans' is the only song on the album credited to all four members (or any members besides Robert Plant and Jimmy Page). Vocalist Robert Plant wrote most of the lyrics, using the song as a way to poke fun at Jones, allegedly because of a comment Jones once made that vocals were the least important part of the band. The song was the B-side of 'Candy Store Rock'. Drummer John Bonham played bongo drums on this track.[5]

Live performances

'Royal Orleans' was never performed live by the band at Led Zeppelin concerts.[6]


  • Musicians:
    • Jimmy Page – electric guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
    • Robert Plant – vocals
    • John Paul Jones – bass guitar
    • John Bonham - drums, bongos, percussion
  • Production:
    • Peter Grant – executive producer
    • Keith Harwood - engineer, mixing
    • Jeremy Gee – tape engineer
    • 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, 80. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  2. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 80. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  3. Williamson, Nigel (2014). “The Music: 50 Great Led Zeppelin Tracks”, The Dead Straight Guide to Led Zeppelin. London: Red Planet Publishing, 229. ISBN 978-1-9059-5952-5. 
  4. Snow, Mat (December 2007). "The Secret Life of a Superstar". Mojo (169): 81.
  5. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 80. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  6. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 80. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1.