Roy Harper is a folk singer from England who Jimmy Page met at the Bath Festival in 1970. He became friends with Page and Plant, who used him as the opening act on some Zeppelin tours. The song is a tribute to him.
In 1971, Page played on Harper's album Stormcock, appearing in the credits as "S. Flavius Mercurius." In 1985, Page recorded an album with Harper called Whatever Happened To Jugula.
Explaining this track to Melody Maker before the album was released, Jimmy Page said: "This came about from a jam Robert and I had one night. There is a whole tape of us bashing different blues things. Robert had been playing harmonica through the amp, then he used it to sing through. It's supposed to be a sincere hats off to Roy because he's really a talented bloke, who's had a lot of problems."
Zeppelin never performed this live.
Roy Harper sang lead on Pink Floyd's "Have A Cigar." He was friends with the band, and they asked him to sing this because Roger Waters' voice was shot.
This was listed on the album as "Arranged by Charles Obscure," which was a pseudonym for Page.
The music is based on a Blues song by Bukka White called "Shake 'Em On Down."
Steve from United StatesI realize that this is supposed to be a serious song, a tribute to Roy Harper, but I simply cannot keep from laughing when I listen to it. I bought the album when it was released in 1970 and cracked up first time I heard it. I shut off the left channel just so I can listen to the hilarious recording of Plant's voice. I read all of the comments as of 09/08/2016 and it appears that I am the only one who thinks this song is humorous the way Plant and Page recorded it.
Lars-olof from Gothenburg, SwedenHi! I joined here only to ask a question about this song. Some background: I've heard two versions of the song, it's the exact same take, but one has the fade out a few seconds later then the other. I've listened to the original CD-pressings and all those have the one with the earlier fade out. So has both the original UK and Canadian vinyls. I'm not sure the remastered CD, but I think that has the one with the later fade out. Now, here's what I'd like to know: Do any of you guys know on which vinyl release/press the version with the later fade out can be found, please? It might be on the US press, but that's just a guess. Facts much appreciated!
Richard from Truth Or Consequences, NmIt might have been better if they left all that vibrato off Plant's voice, but I've never been able to get into this song. Just think if they decided to put "Hey, Hey, What can I do" on the album instead of as a single only. Put that on the beginning of side 2, Gallows Pole, Tangerine, That's the Way, Bron-yr-aur Stomp. I can't think of a better song to have gotten left off.
Lisa from East Tn. , TnI love Zeppelin and never listened to this one much until a couple of years ago and when I sat down and really listened to it....I was blown away by the simplicty of it,Jimmy Page slide is the best.The man still does NOT receive the credit due him. And the lyrics " no brown skinned woman gonna make no monkey outta me" was not intended the have racial overtones these guys loved and respected there blues influences.I truly believe it was done with love from Robert writing.Sonnyland Slim maybe a reference and most certainly Bukka White.
Sara from Kenosha, United KingdomPeople always say that they get goosbumps listening to a song, and that's never happened to me before, except right now when i just heard this song.
Max from Montreal, QcThats so crazy, James, I was listening to the song as i was reading the comments, and just as i read your quote he sang it. It was pretty scary.
Kevin from Joliet, IlThis song is different, but it's really grown on me. I think it's one of their best.
Peter Griffin from Quahog, Riderek, Led Zeppelin was more than one person, so they are not "he". They are "they".
Derek from Mulvane, Ksi thank led zeppelin can do better but he was trying new things
Jesse from East Setauket, Ny, NyLed Zeppelin is my all time favorite band, but in my opinion this is their worst song.
Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiI thought this song would be good when I first heard of it. However, when I first heard it, I was in awe, and not in a good way either. I thought, "What the hell IS THIS? This is a stoned piece of crap!" I instantly hated it, but I listened to it more and more and now I appreciate it. It is now one of my favorite Zeppelin songs.
Tyler from Erie, PaI really appreciate the slide guitar in this song, I'm glad Zeppelin made this song.
James from Gettysburg, PaI used to hate this song but it grew on me and it's almost a favorite. I love the trippy neo-blues shaky voice of Plant and Page's slide work is king. When Plant yells out "If that don't 'press her, I'm sure my SHOT SHOT SHOTGUN will!" it still scares me.
Bill from Topeka, KsThis song sucks to say the least what were they thinking here why not scrape this and put hey,hey What can I Do on Led Zepplein III instead of this garbage
Jon from Courtice, Canadaroy harper also sings on have a cigar from pink floyds album wish you were here
Bill from Erie, PaRoy Harper was also the inspiration to Pink Floyd's song "One of My Turns", particularly an incident where Harper trashed his tour trailer.
Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScAs a response to you coment Ben, I listened to Bukka White's original, and I observed it was harder to understand anything he said. I like both songs though. FYI, for any of you who wants to download the original, the best way to do that is to go to the www.publicdomain4u.com homepage, and there's a link to "Shake 'Em On Down." The other way Ben suggested didn't work. It was the first one I tried.
David from Orlando, FlInitially--and for quite some time afterwards--I didn't think much off this song & thought it was the only misfire Zeppelin used to close out an album. It's still pretty tame compared to closers like "The Ocean" or "Levee" but I'm slowly starting to like it. Btw, I just read the funniest bit on Roy Harper in 'Hammer of the Gods' about how he would stand offstage during Zep concerts shaking a toy gorilla towards the band. >:-]
Jeanette from Irvine, Caroy harper does seem to be friends with a lot of awesome bands.
Kyle from Naperville, IlThat was Boogie with Stu.
Rod from Worcester, MaI thought the original version of this was Ohh, My Head ,by Ritchie Valens. Sure sounds the same.
Nick from Solvang, CaThis song is strange. What I do is take out the headphone with the music going and listen to what Plant's saying. It's interesting. I did that when I coulded go on the internet and look up the lyrics. lol
Josh from Las Vegas, NvDude, when I'm a world class skater, this is going to be the song in my video part
Bob from Mt. Laurel, NjRoy Harper seems to be friends with a lot of bands.
Ben from Hilversum, NetherlandsIn fact, this is a cover from a song by Bukka White, called Shake 'm on Down. Plant sings the song in the way Bukka White sang it, and in the way many old blues singers, like Robert Johnson, used to sing. You can download Bukka White's original here: http://www.publicdomain4u.com/html/Bukka_White.htm nice to compare the two :-)
John from West Covina, Cathis song is pretty trippy sounding. it's very different.
Adrian from Wilmington, DeYeah Ben, those racial lyrics have always made me feel rather uneasy, but I doubt it reflected the band's personal views. The brown skin woman reference was a standard in a lot of early blues songs.
Ben from Durham, United StatesThis song definately has racial references. "No brown skin woman gonna make no monkey out of me."
Steve from Pleasant Grove , AlLyrics similar to "Put on your mornin' gown' Put in your nightshirt Mama we gonna shake 'em down" are used on the song "Custard Pie"