Good Times, Bad Times

Album: Led Zeppelin (1969)
Charted: 80
Play Video


  • The first song on Led Zeppelin's debut album, John Bonham, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page are the credited songwriters on this track. Page explained how it came together in his 2012 Rolling Stone interview: "John Paul Jones came up with the riff. I had the chorus. John Bonham applied the bass-drum pattern. That one really shaped our writing process. It was like, 'Wow, everybody's erupting at once.'"
  • The lyric is a little disjointed, but the song rocks so hard, most listeners don't notice. Robert Plant sings about coming of age, falling in love at 16 and losing his woman to a brown-eyed man (possibly inspired by Chuck Berry's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man." The end of the song finds him proclaiming his love for his woman back home, telling her they will never part.
  • Jimmy Page passed his guitar through a Leslie speaker to create a swirling effect. The Leslie contains a rotating paddle and was designed for organs, but some musicians used it to process guitars and vocals. Eric Clapton used it on "Badge."
  • John Bonham used a technique called a "triplet" on his bass drum for this song to get a double bass pedal sound. He used the tip of his toe to flick the bass pedal back fast, creating an effect many drummers tried to copy. Jimmy Page explained in the BBC Book Guitar Greats, "'Good Times, Bad Times,' as usual, came out of a riff with a great deal of John Paul Jones on bass, and it really knocked everybody sideways when they heard the bass drum pattern, because I think everyone was laying bets that Bonzo was using two bass drums, but he only had one." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Thomas - Toronto, Canada
  • Led Zeppelin played this at their live shows until 1970.
  • Page put microphones all over the studio to capture a live sound when they recorded this.
  • Godsmack recorded this for their 2007 Greatest Hits album, which was titled Good Times, Bad Times... Ten Years of Godsmack. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jonna - Lester, AL
  • When the band re-formed for a benefit show on December 10, 2007 with Jason Bonham playing drums in place of his father, this was the first song in the set. Bassist John Paul Jones told Rolling Stone magazine after the show: "That's the hardest riff I ever wrote, the hardest to play."
  • There are some rumors that "Good Times Bad Times" (and "Your Time Is Gonna Come") was played in its entirety once or twice in 1968 when the group was transitioning from The New Yardbirds to Led Zeppelin. However, there is no recording of this, and there's no complete version on any of the unofficial live recordings from 1968 to 1980, the closest being inside a "Communication Breakdown" medley on September 4, 1970, in which John Paul Jones played a bass solo. They did play parts of it in different medleys, usually either "Communication Breakdown" or, most often "Whole Lotta Love." The first recorded instance of the entire song being played by the full band is the 2007 reunion. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Nathan - Boca Raton, FL
  • This is one of the songs that helped John Bonham earn legend status. Kenny Aronoff, a session drummer who has appeared on tracks by John Fogerty, Mick Jagger and Stevie Nicks, puts Bonham's drum performance on this song in his Top 5 of all time. "Every song he played was genius, but I'll pick 'Good Times Bad Times' because he is introducing footwork with his single bass drum – his triplet thing," Aronoff told Songfacts.

    "If you played what he played during the days when I was doing sessions all day, seven days a week, you'd get fired! If you played drums the way John Bonham did on that song, it would be considered overplaying and you'd get thrown out of the studio!"
  • Longtime Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley was one of the many who were introduced to Led Zeppelin via "Good Times Bad Times" when they dropped the needle on the band's debut album. Frehley covered the song on his 2020 album Origins Vol. 2. "I was lucky enough to see Led Zeppelin's first New York appearance at the Fillmore East when I was a teenager," he told Songfacts. "They were opening for Iron Butterfly. They just blew me away. I knew from the minute I saw them that they were going to be huge."

Comments: 53

  • Willie from Scottsdale, AzI noticed this is used in the TV commercials for the "American Hustle" film with Christian Bale, but no mention of it on the soundtrack. Hmmm.
  • Nathan from Boca Raton, FlThere's some rumors that "Good Times Bad Times" (and "Your Time is Gonna Come") was played in its entirety once or twice in 1968 when they were transitioning from "The New Yardbirds" to "Led Zeppelin". However, there is no recording of this, and there's no complete version on any of the unofficial live recordings from 1968 to 1980, the closest being inside a "Communication Breakdown" medley on September 4, 1970 in which John Paul Jones played a bass solo. The first recorded instance of the entire song being played by the band is the 2007 reunion.
  • Willie from Scottsdale, AzFWIW, this was not the first song on the cassette version. Somehow Atlantic got the recording sides backwards, and the first song on the original Atlantic cassette was "Your Time Is Gonna Come." GTBT was the first song on the reverse side of the cassette. I still have one.
  • Phil from London, United KingdomI hate to break it to you folks, but even though Bonham rarely played with a double bass kit, it would be a lie to say he never did.
  • Tim from Chicago, IlThis is one of the reasons I play bass :)
  • Todd from Athens, GaJohn Bonham made the triplet famous with his pedal. I have the exact style pedal Boham used and trust me it is hard.Drummers today don't hold a candle to Bonham the only one who comes close is Neal Peart. We will never know how good John would have come but we do know how good he was and in my opinion was the best part of Zeppelin.
  • David from Los Angeles , CaThose small sectional bass solos by JPJ are freaking crazy. John Paul Jones has to be one of the most talented underrated bassist, and musician of all time. He is that shadow in the dark that kept Led Zeppelin going. Listen to other Led Zeppelin songs and JPJ is usually playing and keeping up with whatever Jimmy Page is playing.
  • David from Los Angeles , CaBonham was a beast in that intro
  • Jesse from Madison, WiBonham - Power, Force, Emotion.
    Peart - Technique, Finesse, Detail.

    Two different universes. Both great, but very different. I have an article with commentary by Carmine Appice circa 1984 where he states Bonzo played this on two bass drums, using a set that Bonzo copied from his own. No s--t - was that guy full of his own s--t or what? I think every self-respecting drummer knows Bonzo never used two bass drums!

    You wanna know the only other drummer who sounded (nearly) exactly like Bonzo? Bust out you Heart albums and listen to hits such as Barracuda, Magic Man, et al. The drums duplicated almost everything to a T. But Bonzo was FIRST. Period.
  • Phil from High Wycombe, United KingdomThis is for all the people who said that no-one can top bonzo's bass drum work.
    First of all let me state that I do agree with you to the extent that his technique was revolutionary, this was 1969', and know-one had ever heard anything like it before. However this video shows drummer Virgil Donati using the same technique, with BOTH feet... for about 2 minutes straight! He is playing straight 32nd notes (for all the non-drummers) he is playing 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & - Beat RllrRllrRllrRllrRllrRllrRllrRllr - kick footwork
    Some people would criticize that he doesn't change this or that it becomes boring or monotonous, but this is simply a demonstration that he can play that fast... for that long... with that technique. Cheers, Phil
  • Jason from Denver, CoIf by some 1 in a 1,000,000 chance any members of Led Zeppelin are reading this. I have a question. Is the reunion concert ever coming out on CD or DVD? It sure would be great...hint, hint
  • Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiThe Rolling Stones had a song with the EXACT same name released several years before this, but the two songs have no similarities otherwise. Not even lyrically.
  • Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiTrain Kept A-Rollin' was actually Zeppelin's first song, and I think it should have been on this album. Aerosmith has a cool version of that song, I wish it could have been recorded in the studio by Zeppelin! And I meant first song ON an album.
  • Scott from Boston, MaNot Led Zeppelin's first song, just the first one on that album. They had already played "Train Kept A-Rollin" and "Dazed and Confused" together for a while. May have been the first one they actually wrote, but I don't think there's any proof.
  • Melanie from Seattle, Walisten to that bass
  • Erock from Alsip, IlI don't understand the comments that reference Neil Pert. Pert plays nothing like Bonham. It's a very different style. Pert is very technical and uses double bass. Bonham not so much, which is what makes him so powerful. The Appice brothers play very Bonham like. Carmine Appice played with Cactus, Beck, etc. & Vinnie Appice played with Dio, Sabbath, ect. Good drummers, very much in the vein of John Bonham. And to be historically correct, Bonham adapted his style to that of Carmine Appice.
  • Angelo from Las Vegas, Nvone of the greatest drum intros of all time!!!
    Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers played this intro on the chili Peppers live in Hyde Park album.
  • Joey from Boston, MaThe riff that Jimmy Page plays during the second verse is one of the greatest in rock history.
  • Mark from Worcester, MiThis is a John Paul Jones riff. Nicole in LA, the writer is talking about keeping the neighbors up by being loud. They're making to much noise.
  • Nicole from Los Angeles, CaHey Joel from Nicole and im 14...comment me...i lvoe led zepp..thisis an awsomne song...and i love how fat it is...what does he mean by "i dont care what the neighbors say, gona love you baby each and every day"?
  • Reuben from Amsterdam, NetherlandsSo funky, this tune. A good friend from Washington state who stayed with us in the Netherlands for a year in college, introduced me to Led Zeppelin. Thank you for that, and for all the good times back then, Barton!
  • Esteban from Tijuana, Mexicothis is one of greatest solos from Page..

    some ppl say this was declared as the fastest solo when it came out..
  • Jonathon from Clermont, FlThis is the first song anyone heard when they put on Led Zeppelin's first album. You can bet they were blown away.
  • Zac from Cornwall, CanadaPage is God, absolutely amazing guitar solo's, cannot be topped by many, good drumming, and lyrics,definitely favourite song ever, LED ZEPPELIN ROCKS!!!
  • Xavier from Pune, IndiaWell, here's my list..
    5.When the Levee breaks 4.Moby Dick 3. In My time of Dying 2.Achilles Last Stand 1.Good Times Bad Times
  • Xavier from Pune, IndiaNice story Jim.. I reckon Bonzo would have been very angry, if he would have found out that! lol.. And knowing the beast that he was, He would have crushed Pagey and Percy.. j/k
  • Jim from Dayton, OhFurther, Bonzo never used any double kicks. The band feared he'd get too reliant on the second bass drum and become lazy. One band story tells of how Ludwig sent a new set, including two bass drums, to the studio while Bonzo was out to tea. Robert and Jimmy supposedly absconded with one of the kicks and rolled it down a nearby hill for laughs.
  • Jim from Dayton, OhThe "double" bass pounds are indeed SINGLE bass hits. The bounce effect is done by stiffening the foot and calf muscles. The trick is to keep each hit consistent in terms of rhythm and volume.

    Bonzo was a master at this.

    "GTBT" is a gold standard in my book for any beginning rock drummer. I use the bass work done by Bonzo as a warm-up prior to rehearsals. If that doesn't improve your pedal chops, nothing will.
  • Josh from Surrey, CanadaIt's too bad John Bonham died
  • Caleb from Cincinnati, Ohjohn bonham you were a beast but then you died so now you are like a ghost beast r.i.p. john bonham
  • Fremont from Concord, NhMost of the people bragging about how they can use the double bass drum like Bonham don't even realize that he only uses a single bass drum, and a single pedal. No one is better than Bonham... except maybe Neil Peart.
  • Sean from Colorado Springs, CoYES! Mike... finally.. someone said it. Who cares if you can play Bonham? Or for that matter, Page? Jones? You cant play it as well, and there's absolutely no way you can improvise and create new material like them. Im sorry.. but thats something that you would have to prove to me after ive already labeled it as horn-tooting, self-serving BS. Triplets are insanely difficult, and doing them as fast and clearly as he can?? With fills before, during, and after?? How about somehow managing to create a pure wall of sound with just drums?!? Here's your teenage dream killer.. how about turning a crowd of tens upon tens of thousands into a frenzy with your playing? AND this is by no means the most difficult playing you can hear from him. Have any of you ever heard Moby Dick from How The West Was Won? There are a few points in the song where I could swear he's morphed into a being from beyond this world. I dont care.. unless your name is Jason Bonham.. there's just no way ANY of you can measure up to that work of art. It drives me mad when people say the greatest of all time is overrated! Listen to more music.. and unless you're hearing a Moon or a Peart wail on the drums.. you're going to be disappointed.. I want to write more! Im ravenous with a need to beat some sense into certain kinds of ego-centric people. Screw it.. I want to talk.. this may not be the Moby Dick page, but what im hearing right now is so far beyond your scope.. that even mindless cover-band repetition would escape your realm of talents. Perfection... *laughs* good luck with that dudes. Long live Bonzo.
  • Mike from Saint John, United StatesOk, i'm 16 and i've been playing drums for 7 years. I practice ALOT. And yeah, i can play most of Bohnams stuff, but seriously, you could never top him. I could never top him. It's not only the fact that he plays cool beats, but he writes them. Even his timing is weird in some songs, but it always works out and sounds good. Thats the thing. Like Black Dog? The whole song is insane, not hard, but i could never come up with something as creative as that.
  • Joel from Stockholm, SwedenOver 3 years. And I didn't say that I can top him. I'm just saying that I can play most of the things that he plays.
  • Mike from Astoria, Ny2 years of playing and you think you can top Bonham? It doesn't matter if you can play it. You can't play it as good as he can. And that's the point, no one can.
  • Joel from Stockholm, SwedenWhat's all this stuff about Bonzo's drums on this song being so fantastic? I'm 14, I've played for like 2-3 years, and I have absolutely no problems at all playing the double bass drum pounds nor the fills. The very intro in which he hits a cowbell and stomps the hi-hat at the same time, and then start off with a fast fill, it's really not hard at all. Bonzo's a great drummer, and Led Zeppelin is my favorite band of all time, but I must say, he is over-rated.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI was listening to this song a few minutes ago and now I'm listening to magaritaville by some guy. It's so unLedZeppelin. I think my BrAIn eXpLoDed.
  • Josh from North Branford, Ctfirst of all this song is so awesome....this shows Bonhams skill on the kick drum beat that sounds so much like a double bass but bonham never used a double bass. I bet no other drummer can lay down something like this on the bass drum nearly as good as bonham did....and second of all Zola is wrong...its more like Bonham > Moon....dont get me wrong....Moon was a great drummer but Bonham is the most unique rock drummer to ever play. His stuff is always being attempted to be copied like his crazy triplet fills and his double bass like kick drum beats....the only rock drummer that i know of that comes close to bonham with his fills is neil peart of Rush.
  • Chris from Whitesboro, NyI don't think that this was ever fully played live. It was part of a few medleys, but never in it's entirety....
  • Matthew from Sarasota, FlPage did use a telecaster on this track. I think it was the one beck gave him. This is the most unique and diffucult song for drums. I think this song should have been played alot more than there communication breakdown, live, of which it was replaced with.
  • Sam from Shanghai, Chinathis was the first solo I learned on guitar. very nice stuff. i love how there's the pause after the chorus, and then it just rips through the silence like a banshee. does anyone know if page used his telecaster on this track?
  • Niall from Toulouse, FranceThis song is wicked. The solo rocks, and so does the bridging lick. I'm trying to find out how to play it on the guitar...
  • Marvin from Trenton, NjMy Favorite Led Zeppelin Song No contest, I love the solo, and the, the lyrics.
  • Zola from Dublin, Ohmy favorite ledzep song because it has everything, great lyrics, kickass drums and bass, and a tite guitar solo
    Moon > Bonham, but Bonham still great
  • Alessandro from Roma, Italy...great song...incredible sound for the 1968...
  • Ryan from Los Angeles, Cayeah i thought i heard it but i wasn't sure. looks like it was i guess since you also heard it.
  • Mason from Greenville, NcWasn't this used in a car commercial a few years ago? I think it was Mazda who did. Does anyone else remember this, or am I just nuts?
  • Ryan from Los Angeles, Cacopyong bonhams kick technique isnt that hard. im 13 and i can do it. whats hard is closing the hi-hat pedal while doing it and i think hitting a cowbell. what i love about this song are all of the fills that Bonzo does. those are harder for me than the bass.really great song though!
  • Dave from Winnipeg, CanadaDoes anyone else consider this one of pages best solos?
  • Billy Ross from Hagerstown, MdThis is also on their 2 disc "Best Of" cd.
  • Jonathan from Ann Arbor, MiI don't see why they stopped playing this in 1970. It has to be one of the best Zeppelin songs around. I don't really like to toot my own horn, but I mastered the John Bonham bass drum tripilets with one pedal. I just wish that Bonzo were here to see it.
  • Mark from Far North, New ZealandBonzo used only one bass drum and pedal to play this song - incredible!
  • Kelly from Los Angeles, Cathis was the perfect song to kick-start their awesome debut album.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Dwight Twilley

Dwight TwilleySongwriter Interviews

Since his debut single "I'm On Fire" in 1975, Dwight has been providing Spinal-Tap moments and misadventure.

Wedding Bell Blues

Wedding Bell BluesSong Writing

When a song describes a wedding, it's rarely something to celebrate - with one big exception.


PrinceFact or Fiction

Prince is shrouded in mystery, making him an excellent candidate for Fact or Fiction. Is he really a Scientologist? Does he own an exotic animal?

Subversive Songs Used To Sell

Subversive Songs Used To SellSong Writing

Songs about drugs, revolution and greed that have been used in commercials for sneakers, jeans, fast food, cruises and cars.


WeezerFact or Fiction

Did Rivers Cuomo grow up on a commune? Why did they name their albums after colors? See how well you know your Weezer in this Fact or Fiction.

Songs Discussed in Movies

Songs Discussed in MoviesSong Writing

Bridesmaids, Reservoir Dogs, Willy Wonka - just a few of the flicks where characters discuss specific songs, sometimes as a prelude to murder.