Writers: Led Zeppelin
Producer: Jimmy Page
Recorded: Summer, 1971 at Headley Grange, Hampshire, England with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio
Released: November 8, 1971
|Jimmy Page – guitar
Robert Plant – vocals
John Paul Jones – bass
John Bonham – drums
|Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album (Atlantic, 1971)
Unlike much of the band's blues-influenced output, “Rock And Roll” has its roots with early rockers like Chuck Berry and Little Richard.
The song came about in a loose jam during the recording of Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album, with drummer John Bonham pounding out the riff to “Good Golly Miss Molly.” Guitarist Jimmy Page jumped in with a riff of his own and the heart of the tune was born. Luckily, the tapes were rolling the whole time and the song's essence was captured.
With the galvanizing opening line “It's been a long time since I've rock and rolled,” the song was frequently used to open shows beginning with the band's 1972. It maintained its set placement until 1975.
Singer Robert Plant's lyric was a gauntlet thrown in the face of critics who were lukewarm over the experimental, acoustic-oriented Led Zeppelin III. If it was rock and roll the people wanted, Zeppelin delivered it in spades with this song.
The song is listed in Dave Marsh's Heart Of Rock And Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made at Number 424. Writes Marsh: “Anybody who thinks you can't get to the biggest hard rock group of the '70s in a straight line from Chuck Berry – hell, Frankie Lymon for that matter – needs to listen up.”
Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album was cited by Billboard in 1990 as the highest-selling studio album of original material from a rock band in American chart history (only Def Leppard's Hysteria contends with it in terms of sales).