Jimmy Page Inspired by Leadbelly and Chicago Blues
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page was first inspired by Lonnie Donnegan’s skiffle hit “Rock Island Line” to pick up guitar. “Rock Island Line” was originally recorded by the American folk and blues singer, Leadbelly.
Page closely studied American blues artists like Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and Leadbelly.
He also became a prolific session guitarist, contributing to numerous rock, blues, and pop songs.
In 1966-67 he joined the Chicago blues influenced rock and roll band, the Yardbirds, replacing Jeff Beck, who had himself replaced Eric Clapton. During this later era, their live show mixed blues standards with experimental psychedelia.
When starting Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page, not having enough original material, reworked a number of older blues songs. Led Zeppelin was a continued exploration of blues and psychedelia.
You Shook Me – Led Zeppelin
“You Shook Me” was a cover of a Muddy Waters’ song. Waters (aka McKinley Morganfield) was a Chicago based blues musician who recorded for Chess Records.
You Shook Me – Muddy Waters
When The Levee Breaks – Led Zeppelin
“When the Levee Breaks” was originally recorded by Memphis Minnie, one of the rare women blues guitar players of her era. It references the massive 1927 flood along the Mississippi River. The funky introductory drum riff to the Led Zeppelin version is often sampled by hip hop musicians.
When the Levee Breaks – Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie
Lemon Song – Led Zeppelin
The Lemon Song is based on Howling Wolf’s tune “Killing Floor”. Howling Wolf (aka Chester Burnett) was a Chicago based blues musician who recorded for Chess Records.
Killing Floor – Howling Wolf
I Can’t Quit You Baby – Led Zeppelin
I Can’t Quit You Baby was originally recorded by Otis Rush, a Chicago based blues guitar player and singer.
I Can’t Quit You Baby – Otis Rush
Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin
Whole Lotta Love is based on a Muddy Waters’ tune with a similar title.