Rock And Roll

Album: Led Zeppelin 4 (1971)
Charted: 47
  • As the title suggests, the song is based on one of the most popular structures in rock and roll; namely, the 12-bar blues progression (in A). The phrase "Rock and Roll" was a term blues musicians used, which meant sex.
  • Robert Plant wrote the lyrics, which were a response to critics who claimed their previous album, Led Zeppelin III, wasn't really rock and roll. Led Zeppelin III had more of an acoustic, folk sound, and Plant wanted to prove they could still rock out.

    "We just thought rock and roll needed to be taken on again," he told Creem in 1988. "I was finally in a really successful band, and we felt it was time for actually kicking ass. It wasn't an intellectual thing, 'cause we didn't have time for that - we just wanted to let it all come flooding out. It was a very animal thing, a hellishly powerful thing, what we were doing."
  • This song came about when the band was working on "Four Sticks" at the Headley Grange mansion they had rented in Hampshire, England to record the album. With a pretty much unplayable drum pattern, John Bonham got frustrated with the session, and tensions rose. In a pique of anger, he started playing something completely different: a riff based on the intro to the 1957 Little Richard song "Keep a Knockin'" (Session great Earl Palmer was the drummer on that one).

    Infused with creative energy, they put "Four Sticks" aside and started working on this new song, which they called "It's Been a Long Time." Jimmy Page blasted out a guitar part, and the bones of the song were completed in about 30 minutes.
  • The band often used this either as an encore or to open live shows from 1971-1975.
  • Nicky Hopkins played the piano on this track. Hopkins was a renowned session player who appeared on tracks for The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and many others.
  • Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones played this at Live Aid in 1985. It was the first time they played together since the death of John Bonham in 1980. Tony Thompson and Phil Collins sat in for Bonham on drums, which didn't go over well with Page and Plant. When the band reformed for a benefit show on December 10, 2007, it was with John Bonham's son Jason on drums. This was the last song they played at the show, which raised money for the Ahmet Ertegun education fund.
  • Besides Live Aid, the remaining members of Led Zeppelin played this on two other occasions. When Robert Plant's daughter Carmen turned 21 in 1989, they played it at her birthday party. They also played it at Jason Bonham's wedding in 1990. Jason is John Bonham's son, and he sat in on drums on both performances.
  • This has been covered by many other artists, including Def Leppard and Heart. In 2001, it was recorded by Double Trouble (Stevie Ray Vaughan's backup band), for their 2001 album Been A Long Time. Susan Tedeschi sang lead on the track.
  • All four band members got writing credits for this. Many Zeppelin songs are credited only to Page and Plant.
  • This was the first Led Zeppelin song used in a commercial. Cadillac used it to kick off a new advertising campaign in 2002 with the tagline "Breakthrough." The company was going for a hip, new image, since their audience was slowly dying off. The spots aired for the first time on the Super Bowl, and sales rose 16% the next year.
  • The lyric "It's been a long time since the book of love" is a reference to the Monotones' 1958 hit "Book Of Love," which is also referenced in "American Pie."
  • Since the death of his father, Jason Bonham has filled in behind the drum set for various Led Zeppelin reunion gigs. He told American Songwriter this is the hardest Zeppelin song to play as, "a lot of people out there try and play it, and really it's a two-handed shuffle all the way through, playing the sixteenth notes, it's not just boom bap-boom-bap-boom- bap, it's boom-boom-bap-bap-boom-boom-bap-bap on the snare and the hi-hat. It's a hard one to play properly."
  • Stevie Nicks added this to her live set in 2001. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Kazryn - Potters Bar, England
  • Jimmy Page recalled to Uncut magazine how this song seemed to come out of thin air. "We were recording something else when John Bonham started playing the drum intro to 'Keep a Knockin' by Little Richard and I immediately started playing the riff for 'Rock And Roll.' Instead of laughing it off and going back to the previous song, we kept going. 'Rock And Roll' was written in minutes and recorded within an hour."

Comments: 79

  • Melinda from AustraliaIt’s interesting how LED Zepplin succeeded in a monumental way... financially. Where other bands like Cream didn’t keep going.
    Jimmy Page has claimed that Cream didn’t have good management.

    It doesn’t matter which way you research it, though, the success of Led Zeppelin came down to their outstanding experience as musicians and Jimmy Page’s astute decisions.

    Hiring the almost Gangster-like, violent, and experienced Manager, Peter Grant. Who protected them like a lion. And would only agree for them to tour/perform for ridiculous amounts of money.
    It assured success.
    Jimmy Page chose him specifically. Grant was also an enforcer.

    And Page also produced the Led Zeppelin albums himself. A talent he learned through observation as years as a session musician.
    Further, Jimmy Page paid for Led Zeppelin’s 1st album ($30,000 in today’s Money) so that they could retain total creative control. And have more bargaining power when they went into contract negotiations. It worked.

    Jimmy Page also generally refused to make singles. Only albums ..As he’d learned when in the Yardbirds that unpopular singles can cause irreversible failure for a band.
    And he deliberately created songs too long to be played on commercial Radio. Why?
    Cause he wanted Led Zeppelin to stay an underground band.
    The combined genius of Led Zepplin band members cannot be denied. But without Jimmy Page they would not have been successful I don’t think. Sadly it was all but over by 1980, when, as we know their drummer John Bonham died aged 30. What a loss.
  • Melinda from AustraliaI literally go berserk when I hear this song.
    It’s the ultimate. It doesn't get any better than this. It’s the perfect rock song. And I lurrrve the lyrics. Loud! Real loud.
    When I was young I had no idea how hot Jimmy Page was. So hot lookin he should have been illegal.
    In the 70’s people ‘seemed’ more focussed on Led Zeppelin’s association with Witchcraft and deciphering hidden meanings in their album covers than the actual music. Which I thought was stupid. They had legions of female fans. Crazy ones.
    And it was only Jimmy Page who had an interest in Witchcraft.
    But as musicians, the God-like status Led Zeppelin get. They deserve.
    Check out pics online of the passenger jet they bought and converted into sort of a flying living room and hotel room. They called it The Starship. They were so rich.
  • Dave from UsaDoes anyone know if it's a back track message or an actual lyric in between the lyrics, "let my love come running in" & "It's been a long time?"
    I swear it's a back track message but I've never fully researched it before. It sounds like he says devil backwards to me, but I could be completely mistaken and would like to know if anyone out there has confirmed what it actually is.
  • Louis from Drexel Hill, PaThis song is an amazing tribute to rock 'n roll. So much of rock history is rolled up into this song.
    The lyrics, "...been a long time since I did the stroll...", "...been so long since I walked in the moonlight...", and others reference famous early rock songs.
    The instrumental parts perform the same thing.
    Someone here better than me should itemize all the rock references in this song, album version and live versions.
  • Patrick Aloysius from Hell,caThis is another case of Zep borrowing a song and claiming it as their own. "Rock N Roll" is "Train Kept A Rollin " with the 12 bar blues in (A) guitar riff slowed down. The drum intro is stolen from Little Richard.

    As far as I can tell the lyrics weren't borrowed from another song. As my proof I offer this:
    The Yardbirds did "Train Kept" as far back as 1966, Page had played that song 100s of times. Led Zep opened with "Train Kept" on the '69 tour (Plant mumbled some slightly different lyrics).
    Led Zep opened with "Rock n Roll" on '73 tour.
    Led Zep opened the 79 /80 tour with "Train Kept."

    Seems like the two songs are flip-flopping.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyIn the U.S., this was the B-side to the song "Black Dog", which wasn't getting any traction on the charts. Then DJ's flipped it over and started to play "Rock And Roll", so it finally did make some chart movement, as a double A-side record. Billboard started listing two-sided records as a single entity in 1969.
  • Randy from Houghton Lake, MiWhile giving my teenage daughter's friend Phil (like a son to me) a ride to our house, this song came on the radio. I told him this is one of the best rock and roll songs you'll ever hear, cranked up the volume and sat in the driveway until it was over. He's in his 30s now and still remembers that day... he says I was right.
  • Deethewriter from Saint Petersburg, Russia FederationOne of the few Led Zeppelin songs with writing credits from all band members, 'Rock and Roll' is based in twelve-bar blues and contains lyrical references to early hits of the rock genre.
    The creation of 'Rock and Roll' came about during an attempt to end the song 'Four Sticks', when the band spent fifteen minutes improvising.
  • Josh from Champaign, IlThe piano passage is fitting, considering the inspiration from Little Richard as it matches the style of his playing as well as that of Jerry Lee Lewis and a host of 50's piano rock players.
  • Josh from Champaign, IlLucyintheSky from Philadelphia, PA has no soul.
  • Joe from Cincinnati, OhVan Halen did a live cover in their DVD "Live Without a Net".
  • Randy from Houghton Lake, MiBack in the mid 90s I was on the way to my house with Phil (my teenage daughter's friend) when this song came on the radio. He had never heard it so I cranked the radio and drove around the block until it was over. He was blown away. "THAT F____ING ROCKS !!!" he proclaimed. Couldn't have said it better myself
  • Lawrence from Erie, PaThis is my all time favorite Led Zeppelin song. I have always been a LED fan, But this song makes me get up and convulse uncontrollably. MOVE THE FURNITURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Daevid from Glendale, CaLove the drums on the very end-----i suppose that was just Bonham goofing around.
  • Wayne from Salem, VaTo Carolyn from Phillie,PA (see below). As Frank Zappa once said "Most people wouldn't know good music if it came up and bit them in the face". Stick with your local Hall and Oates. They sound more to your style.
  • Wayne from Salem, VaIn my comments on "Rock And Roll". I meant to say that I was a little bit awed or somewhat awed. In stead of saying I was little awed that the 45 single version was somewhat different than the album version. Thanks,
  • Wayne from Salem, VaIn the early 70's a friend of mine had this on a 45 single. Black Dog was also on there. I can't remember which song was the A-side and which was the B-side. Anyway on the original 45 single of Rock And Roll. When it gets to the middle jam,Jimmy Page plays a couple of extra licks before it gets back to the vocal. A couple of extra licks meaning the jam is extended a little more than the version on the album. I had already heard the entire 4th album. So I was little awed that the single version was different. I never bought the single for myself. In the late 80's when they still sold records. I was at a music store in the mall. There was the 45 of Rock And Roll. I had the guy at the counter play it. And it was the album version. The same one you have always heard. I know that I am right about this. Led Zep-4 was released in 1971. And I heard the above mentioned 45 single version in either 1972 or 1973. I know my facts on music. Especially on rock music. Can someone out there who also knows these things. Can you please validate this for me. The Rolling Stones were good about this. On their early and middle albums that is. Meaning releasing two different versions of the same song. The album version,then a slightly different version as a single. An example is "Time Is On My Side"(which they covered,and not write). The Hot Rocks version was the single. The album version(12X5) has a slow organ intro. To where the other is a bluesy intro. Sorry gang, didn't mean to go on and on like that. But I know I am right about the Rock And Roll song. To my knowledge it isn't out there on any Zeppelin compilations different from the album version. And no I wasn't stoned when I heard it. I was only 12 in 1972. If any of you can say "yes" I am right. Then please do. A classic Zeppelin tune. John Bonham was never better! Thanks,
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InYou always go back to the classics, and this one fits that mold.
    Also, Heart's well known (live!) cover of this is easily one of the best covers for any song.
    Anne Wilson belts out the vocals even better than Plant (IMNSHO), and the band just nails the rest of the song.
    Not a precise note for note cover, but it is entirely in the spirit of the song, and it even manages to improve on the original in some areas, especially the vocals.
  • Andy from Halesowen, West Midlands, United KingdomOne of my all time rock favourites. One of those songs you can not keep still and listen to :) Had the absolute joy of hearing Robert Plant sing this at the Town Hall in Birmingham, England in late 2007, at a charity gig. He still has the voice and the crowd loved it. (Played Black Dog too)
  • Thang from Led Zep, Viet NamJerry Lee Lewis (a good old boy of Rock 'N" Roll..) has a cover of this song in his lastest album "Last Man Standing". Jimmy Page on guitar.
  • Bubba from Anaheim, CaIn the movie TSRTS, Plant transposes the 2nd and 3rd verses very effectively "Been long while since I walked in the moonlight!" The solo on the album also was one of the best Page ever pulled off, consisting of 3 attempts put together deeming that one take had the right feel, and more amazing because it sounds like there are two guitars playing but is Page ingeniously alternating between the standard boogie in A with an intermittant myxlodian. Bubba Anaheim Hills CA
  • Jeffery from Myrtle Beach, ScLed Zeppelin is my favorite band and this is an amazing song by them. This song is pretty easy to play on guitar. All it is, is the blues is A and some other riffs. Great song. Hope Zep does a tour soon!
  • Mike from Lincoln Park, Mithis song ROCKS!!! and I think this song was used in a MAZDA commercial
  • Lucyinthesky from Philadelphia, PaLike the 8 Led Zeppelin songs I have heard,6 of them are terrible and about 3 of them are dreadful and this is really one of the worst songs I have ever heard! Banging around crap noise with no creative quality and Robert Plant,as he so often does just screaming like a retarted monkey UHGGGG!!!!!
  • Bill from Topeka, Ksgreat drums at the end bonham kicks ass as usual
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaWonderful straight-ahead Rock and Roll from Zep! The Heart cover of this is brilliant. Gawd, that Ann Wilson can sing!
  • Mario from Slunj, CroatiaFor me, rock and roll is best song that i ever heard, I'm really enjoing every time I played it
    led zeppelin is the best
  • Mark from Worcester, Mi"Four Sticks" is the song they were working on when they took the side trip into "Rock and Roll." The problem with songs like this in commercials is that it ruins them for kids. My kids like Zep but this is the "Car commercial song" and they have no interest. It's really not a good thing unless it's the right product IMO. I don't fault the bands though for making a few bucks if they want to. Just one mans opinion.
  • Dylan from Olmsted Falls, United StatesZeppelin will ALWAYS be the best band ever, for ever and ever!!
  • Chelsea from Wichita, KsEasily the greatest Zeppelin song ever.
  • Thomas from Staten Island, NyListen in at around 2:21 and you'll hear a piano. Its not a huge part of the song but it certainly adds to its effect. I love the drums in the song but the cymbals seem to sort of drown out the rhythm guitar and piano at parts.
  • Lindsey from Erie, Pamaybe the band members wanted something and copuldnt get it, so they said that. idk.
  • Elaine from Spokane, WaI've heard Heart do this live and they don't hold a candle to Led Zeppelin. Of course, who could? Anyway, this is a great song, but I can't hear the piano in it and Ian Stewart isn't even included in the album credits. Am I the only one who noticed this?
  • James from OntarioThey made this when they were just fooling around... John Bonham just started playing Little Richard's "Keep a Knockin" on the drums and Jimmy Page decided to make up a riff and jam with him. The lyrics came later.
  • Ray from Stockton, Njthis is in my top 5 zeppelin songs.(stairway, kashmir, communication breakdown, rock and roll, moby). It has great guitar and drums mainly drums. The ending is awesome. so is the beginning.
  • Mike from Nashville, TnI have heard this song performed live by two other artists. Heart, who started out as a Zep Tribute band, tore the roof off with their version that was true to the original. The other artist that covered this song was believe it or not, Stevie Nicks. My wife is a huge SN fan and thought the version was better than the original, but to me it was just marginal. Not nearly as good as the Heart version. But whatever makes her happy lol.
  • Dalton from Columbus, Gaokay, greatest drums EVER
  • Tom from Dosen't Matter, CtAwesome song, awesom drum solo at the end, any live version of this song has the best/fastest drum solo i have ever seen in my life R.I.P. John Bonham, you arer most definately missed
  • Jeanette from Irvine, Camaybe because nothing is better than LZ and pink floyd and to a lesser extent the beatles.
  • Jordan from Shokan, Nysimply put-masterpiece.
  • Sam from Boise, IdWhy doesn't everyone review this song some more? I honestly think that we need more than ten million reviews on Led Zeppelin. Afterall, they aren't popular enough, and there are no other bands out their worthy of reviews. Judging by the reviews, I don't think there are ANY other bands out there. Jesus, why don't people listen to anything besides pop music, LZ, Pink Floyd, the Beatles, and Metallica?
  • Jon from New Prague, MnCritics bashed Led Zeppelin III saying the band didn't know how to "Rock" anymore. This is kind of a "F you" to the critics.
  • Sjb from Waco, TxI grew up with this song on car commercials before I had a clue what Zeppelin was, and when I realized it was a Zeppelin song during a bus ride in which this dude introduced me to Zeppelin, I was surprised to say the least. I can't really get into this song since I heard it so much and took it for granted.
  • Jeanette from Irvine, Cathis song is great! i agree with James from canada my friends mom was saying led zeppelin was a bad band and then rock and roll started playing in the car and she was totally singing along and so i was like what??? and then i told her that it was a zeppelin song and she was like 'really o okay.' and now she plays zep songs in the car all the time! great song!
  • Marlow from Perth, Australiapage and plant PLEASE reform and do a world tour!
  • Kurt from Flemington, NjI can't wait until I get a really nice car like a Cadillac XLR, pull up to a stoplight w/ the top down blasting Rock & Roll, the greatest headbanging, high intensity rock songs of all-time.
  • Nick from Baton Rouge, Laits funny on the older commercials.. they have a black guy singing it in the car... that was before i was a rabid zeppelin fan, but it still amused me, because everybody knows that zeppelin is primarily a masculine, white/middle class, band
  • Jack from Birmingham, EnglandJimmy Page said that " 'Rock And Roll'" was a spontaneous combustion. We were doing something else at the time, but Bonzo played the beginning of Little Richard's 'Good Golly Miss Molly' with the tape still running and i just started doing part of the riff. It actually grounded to a halt after about 12 bars,but it was enough to know that there was enough there as a number to keep working on it. Robert even came in singing on it straight away."
  • Carter from Smithfield, NcI would rather hear Zep in commercials than anything except maybe the Beatles or Stones - beats all the soul less "New Music" hands down!
  • Luke from Maple Grove, MnIm pretty sure Blink 182 used the beginning of their song "feeling this" but they put the drums through a weird effect.
  • Alessandro from Roma, Italy..nothing to say...great groove...unhuman bonzo??....try:
  • Lane from Billings, MtRyan,
    I know exactly what you mean. My friend's little brother did the exact same thing while it was playing in my car once.
  • Ryan from Los Angeles, Cai wish those idiots at Cadillac didn't put this on the commercial. the first time my friends heard it, they laughed and said isnt this on a commercial? i said yes and then they didnt want to listen to it anymore.
  • Cherry from Idunno, MtI can't stand Brittany Spears, along with many other pop musicians. They spend more time on their looks then their music
  • Ryan from Los Angeles, CaThis is a great song! i listen to it like 10 times a day! Bonzo's drum solo at the end is short but really awesome!
  • Ryan from Los Angeles, Cayeah i love this song. i listen to it like 5 times a day and i like to play along to it sometimes on my drum set. Great song!
  • Wocky from Atlanta, GaExactly...Bring back the Zeppelin. They make me hot.
  • Robert from Dallas, Txi am responsible for this song being used by Cadillac. i submitted it as a joke (i hate commercial music being used for ads). i was positive Zeppelin would never sell. a little known fact: the original song for this campaign was "Break on Through." the Doors backed out at the last minute.
  • Angela from Auckland, New Zealandthis song is just unreal. it gets me in the mood to just get up and dance. its wicjed how led zep, they haf the power to jst captivate u.frm my opinion, led zeppelin are truly the greatest rock bands eva. they truly feel the music.
  • Brandon from Victoria, CanadaKabrams, the problem is that a great rock classic is reduced to a gimmick to attract younger audiences. It has nothing to do with the music, just improving sales.
  • Dave from Winnipeg, CanadaMan, the live solo to this song is unreal. Right when it starts Page jumps in the center stage and starts bustin... its pretty cool.
  • Sam from Sydney, Australiaim tired of all this pop crap! they have no skill, they suck so much that they dont even sing at concerts. this song rules, the guitars r so mad
  • Mark Bacigalupo from Windham, NhNo, they won't. Brittany Spears is anything BUT great.
  • Tony from Shepherdsville, KyIt's funny, I saw the Zep at Madison Square Garden in 1972 and probably half the people contributing here never heard of them back when they were in their prime. Great music lasts forever; will they be saying this about Britney Spears thirty-three years from now? Guess we'll have to wait and find out, huh?
  • Mariah from Miami, FlI believe the cello-rock group, Rasputina, covers this in concerts. =D
  • Kabrams from Dallas, Txi don't condone selling out or anything, but what's wrong with letting Cadillac use this song?
  • Paulo from New York, NyAs far as the "hip, new image" thing is concerned, the Cadillac has always been a favorite of the elderly population. Well now a lot of the people who grew up listening to this song are becoming elderly themselves. :O
  • Paulo from New York, NyStrangely enough, the Cadillac ads don't turn me off to the song. Led Zeppelin's music transcends commercialization even when exploited by it.
  • Will from Portland, OrCadilacs should stay out of Rock, and stay in rap!

    this is a good song
  • Seth from Caerleon, WalesThank the ad-execs for ruining another classic song
  • Adrian from Wilmington, DeThis song is the ultimate blending of the classic 12-Bar Blues form and Zeppelin's all-out hard rock. It just jams on for four minutes and leaves you begging for more.
  • James from Fredericton, CanadaGreat quote from Waynes World "Led Zeppelin didn't write songs that everyone liked, they left that to the Beegees" great thing about zeppelin is that most people reconize the songs but don't know who sings them. A lot of my roomates bashed zeppelin but loved the songs fool in the rain and all of my love and now are huge fans.
  • Terence from Mumbai, Indiathis was the next song i heard after the legendary stairway to heaven and fell in love with zeppelin
  • Shane from San Francisco, CaLed Zeppelin is simply soo cool, they can call it hip new stuff and get away with it considering everyone still likes it so its not like it ever got old.
  • Tom from Trowbridge, EnglandLove this song, impossible not to start headbanging when I hear it! Definitely one of Led Zeppelin's best songs!
  • Jason Lee from New York, NyYes, I agree, not many people would describe led zeppelin as "hip and new". I would describe them as "my favorite band" however.
  • Jon from Mountain Home, IdYes it was Bon, its very funny, and its funny how I tell people who hate led zeppelin about how that is a zeppelin song, and they love that song. Oh man its a great song to just jam out to. Would have been awesome to see Bonham play it.
  • Bon from Dallas, TxI enjoy the Cadillac executives tauting their "hip, new image" with a 31 year old song!
  • David from Lunceston, AustraliaThe performance of this at Live Aid in 1985 in Philadelphia actually featured dual drummers - Phil Collins and Tony Thompson of Chic (not Jason Bonham)
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