Sick Again

Album: Physical Graffiti (1975)

Songfacts®:

  • This was the closest Led Zeppelin came to glam rock. It sounded a little like T-Rex and David Bowie, but Zeppelin was not about to put on make up or wear feminine clothes.
  • The song is about Led Zeppelin's groupies. Robert Plant's vocals are hard to hear because they are buried in the mix.
  • Led Zeppelin performed this live on their 1975 and 1977 tour dates, and for fun, dressed up in drag one night to perform it.
  • At the end of this number, a suitably sickly cough arises from John Bonham, whose health was not always in best shape after "A night on the tiles."
  • In an interview with Rolling Stone (March 13, 1975) the interviewer, Cameron Crowe, commented that Robert Plant seemed to be depressed about the thought of growing up. Plant responded: "Well, I am. I haven't lost my innocence particularly. I'm always ready to pretend I haven't. Yeah, it is a shame in a way. And it's a shame to see these young chicks bungle their lives away in a flurry and rush to compete with what was in the old days the goodtime relationships we had with the GTOs and people like that. When it came to looning, they could give us as much of a looning as we could give them. It's a shame, really. If you listen to 'Sick Again,' a track from Physical Graffiti, the words show I feel a bit sorry for them. 'Clutching pages from your teenage dream in the lobby of the Hotel Paradise/Through the circus of the L.A. queen how fast you learn the downhill slide.' One minute she's 12 and the next minute she's 13 and over the top. Such a shame. They haven't got the style that they had in the old days... way back in '68."
  • Multiple rock journalists have floated the hypothesis that this song is about a groupie named Lori Maddox. Maddox, whose name is sometimes spelled Mattix and who is sometimes called Lori Lightning, was a teen groupie who supposedly had an affair with Jimmy Page. She was only 14 when the alleged affair started, which would have made the relationship statutory rape. The lines that possibly give away Maddox as the song's subject are:

    One day soon you're gonna reach 16
    Painted lady in the city of lies


    Maddox went to clubs with her friend, a groupie named Sable Starr, who supposedly slept with big-name rockers like Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and others. For most of her life Maddox said these encounters were consensual with fond memories, but that tune started to change in her older years as she viewed the situation very differently. She said she'd not wish for other young girls to sleep with grown men and that she sees the abusive aspect of it.

    The stigma against sexual relations with younger women wasn't the same in the '60s as it became later in American culture.

    Some journalists who have backed this hypothesis are Paul Rees (Robert Plant: A Life) and Mick Wall (When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin).

Comments: 30

  • Brad from Lexington, KyGlam? Wth? This is nothing like glam. In fact, this is one of Zeppelin's heaviest songs. And you're right Fred from Seattle, JB does do an amazing drumming job on this track.
  • Fred from Seattle, Wai can't believe not one of you mentioned the fact that this is one of the best drummed tracks of all time - JB's talent is just a listen away, apparently you all need to go back and have another, and forget about all this glam rock nonsense -
  • Stephanie from Pasadena, CaWhen Plant sings "Through the circus of the L.A. queens" he's referring to this group of groupies
    that cruised the sunset strip in the 70's. The leader of that group was this 15 year old girl named Morgana Welch. She dated John Paul Jones and Robert Plant. She wrote a book about her experiences called "Hollywood Diaries".
  • Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiThis song reminds me neither of David Bowie or T. Rex.
  • Bill from Topeka, Ksi like this tune itfits nicely as the ending of physical grafiti
  • Scott from Chicago, IlAgree with Mark, way underrated.
    Nasty guitar work, great lyrics. Sad but true story
    about idol worship. Excellent that you have to actually look up the lyrics. I never skip this one when it comes up on the Ipod.
    No other band has the diverse body of work that LZ has.
    No other band had the integrity to not reunite after the death of one of it's parts.
    No other band even comes close.
  • Paul from Muskegon, MiRobert Plant's voice style is glam, along with the guitar riffs.
  • Rob from Saint John Nb, CanadaAwesome song. good riffs and great premise for a song. i wish i could have been a fly on those walls
  • Chris from Conshohocken, Pai dont see glam rock in it? isnt glam rock about the look, hence glam?
  • Joe from Bethlahem, PaCorrection, they said the closest not closet. Sometimes I have a tough time reading.
  • Joe from Bethlahem, PaNot glam. What do they mean by closet Zeppelin? Each Zep member was straight.
  • Jeanette from Irvine, Caactually...i'm just classifying queen as glam rock because iTunes says so. so don't listen to me.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScYo. I love Houses of The Holy, Ledzep 3 and Ledzep 4 as well. But Physical Grafiti is also one of my favorites. In fact, Ledzep III and IV and Physical Grafiti were the first Ledzep albums I listened to. I became a Ledzep fan after listening to them. Btw, it's Stef not Steph.
  • Jeanette from Irvine, Cawell queen is glam rock and they're awesome.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScBtw, yes Jeremy I did read what it says.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScI guess those lyrics would be more similar to something Bolan would sing.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScJeremy: You seem a bit peeved at our comments. I didn't think about that. Still though, glam rock is more known for the way people looked and what they wore for their performances than what the songs sounded like.
  • Jeremy from Warren , RiIf you read what it says it clearly says the "closet" to glam rock for Zeppelin since they weren't part of the glam movement, it is actually the most glam type of song that Zeppelin does, I mean take the time to picture Bolan or Bowie singing the lyrics to this song, i'll think youll see the glam then!
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI don't see the glam in it either Nick. I thought glam rock was more known for its look than the way it sounded.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScThe guitar in this kicks major a**,, and plant's Vocals are awesome too. Btw, I knew this song was about a groupie, and it's on the best Led zep album... Physical grafitti! Rock on!
  • Nick from Baton Rouge, Lai dont see the glam in it
  • Mark from Lubbock, TxAlong with "Tangerine" the two most underrated Zeppelin songs.
  • Blake from Fullerton, Cadidn't zep form the basis of glam rock and hev. metal
  • Wocky from Atlanta, GaThe song is about the L.A. Queens. Robert took pity upon the teenage girls who would flock to the hotel rooms of Zeppelin to offer them favours, and wrote a song about it. At least thats what I read in an interview.
  • Todd from Philadelphia, PaThis is by no means glam rock; Listen to that funky wining guitar riff. It's all about the bends - difficult to master. It kinda sounds like its teasing you. Like - na na na nah-na na-nah nah, nah nah nah. This song is very under-rated.
  • Janine from Memphis, TnI think this song is about me. :)
  • Frankie from St. Louis, Moi know that im probably wrong, but it seems like this song might have to do something with the underage girl in what is and what should never be...? who knows, i thought about that a while back. and bowie sucks.
  • Regina from Beaumont, TxKick ass song! "Do you know my name" would be great catch phrase, especially for a commercial product. I wish I could have been a Led Zeppelin groupie! If only I'd been born about 30 years earlier. :(
  • Adrian from Wilmington, DeWay too hard to be glam rock. One of the best songs on Physical Graffiti.
  • Kelly from Los Angeles, Cano matter what style led zeppelin attempted, they always succeeded. this is better glam rock than t rex.
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