The Making of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” – An Oral History

This comes from–of all places–the Wall Street Journal!

In late 1968, Led Zeppelin began pioneering a heavier, more metallic-sounding form of rock geared for FM radio’s new album-oriented stereo format. By combining a slashing electric guitar and wailing vocals with a rhythmic bass and locomotive drums, the band quickly became the darlings of better stereo systems and large indoor arenas—and inspired several generations of metal-driven rockers.When “Whole Lotta Love” was released in October 1969, it appeared first on “Led Zeppelin II,” the band’s second album, and then as a single weeks later—with a shorter edit for AM radio. While the single reached No. 4 on Billboard’s pop chart, the album shot to No. 1 in November, and a three-month battle with the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” for the top spot ensued.

With the reissue of Led Zeppelin’s first three albums on Tuesday by Atlantic Records, guitarist Jimmy Page, 70, recording engineer George Chkiantz, 70, and final-mix engineer Eddie Kramer, 71, reflected on how the famed guitar riff evolved, why the voice of lead vocalist Robert Plant pre-echoes on the recording and how a 1985 lawsuit by blues artist Willie Dixon resulted in a co-songwriter credit for “Whole Lotta Love.” (Mr. Plant, who opposes a reunion tour, and bassist John Paul Jones declined to be interviewed.) Edited from conversations.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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