"Whole Lotta Love" is a song by English
Led Zeppelin. It is the opening track on the band's second album, Led Zeppelin II, and was released as a single in 1969 in several countries; as with other Led Zeppelin songs, no single was released in the United Kingdom. In the United States, it became their first hit and was certified
gold. Parts of the song's lyrics were adapted from
Willie Dixon's "
You Need Love", recorded by
Muddy Waters in 1962; originally uncredited to Dixon, a lawsuit in 1985 was settled with a payment to Dixon and credit on subsequent releases.
In 2004, the song was ranked number 75 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of
the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and in March 2005, Q placed "Whole Lotta Love" at number three in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. It was placed 11 on a similar list by Rolling Stone. In 2009 it was named the third greatest hard rock song of all time by
VH1. In 2014, listeners to
BBC Radio 2 voted "Whole Lotta Love" as containing the greatest guitar
riff of all time.
Jimmy Page came up with the guitar riff for "Whole Lotta Love" in the summer of 1968, on his houseboat on the River Thames at
Berkshire, England. However,
John Paul Jones stated that it probably was developed from a live improvisation during performances of "
Dazed and Confused". Page denied that the song originated onstage and that he had the riff and the rest took it from there.
Notation for the song indicates the key of
E major and a tempo of 92
beats per minute in a compound
AABA form. During the two day mix of the Led Zeppelin II album, audio engineer
Eddie Kramer discovered that there was some bleed though of Plant's vocals on the "Whole Lotta Love" track which couldn't be removed, so he put some echo on it, and Page liked the sound. Page also employed a
backwards echo production technique.
On 7 November 1969, "Whole Lotta Love" was released as a single in several countries, with "
Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)" as the B-side. In the US, Atlantic provided an edited 3:12 version as the flipside for radio stations.Billboard described the single as a "powerful, commercial swinger that should have no trouble putting [Led Zeppelin] up the Hot 100."Cash Box described it as "a mixture of rock and
blues with special
production touches and a rousing lead vocal performance." In the UK, Atlantic Records expected to issue an edited version, and pressed initial copies for release on 5 December 1969, but this was cancelled by request of manager
You've got yearnin' and I got burnin'
Baby you look so, ho, sweet and cunnin'
Baby way down inside, woman you need love
Woman you need love, you've got to have some love
I'm gon' give you some love, I know you need love
In 1966, the British band
Small Faces recorded the song as "
You Need Loving" for their
eponymous debut Decca album. According to
Steve Marriott, the group's vocalist and guitarist, Page and Plant attended several Small Faces gigs, where they expressed their interest in the song. Plant's phrasing is particularly similar to that of Marriott's, who added "he [Plant] sang it the same, phrased it the same, even the stops at the end were the same". Similarities with "You Need Love" led to a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin in 1985, settled out of court in favour of Dixon for an undisclosed amount. On subsequent releases, Dixon's name is included on the credits for "Whole Lotta Love". Plant explained in an interview with Musician:
Page's riff was Page's riff. It was there before anything else. I just thought, 'well, what am I going to sing?' That was it, a nick. Now happily paid for. At the time, there was a lot of conversation about what to do. It was decided that it was so far away in time and influence that... well, you only get caught when you're successful. That's the game.
In 2008, a reworked version by Jimmy Page on guitar, with
Leona Lewis on vocals, was performed in the "London 2012" presentation during the
closing ceremony of the
2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Both Lewis and the organisers requested that some of the lyrics be changed, notably "I'm gonna give you every inch of my love". Lewis felt that the line made little sense coming from a female singer.
"Whole Lotta Love" has been recorded by several artists. Versions that reached the record charts include:
CCS (or C.C.S.) recorded a mainly instrumental rendition with a flute playing the melody.Billboard described their version as a "blockbuster instrumental treatment of the Led Zeppelin hit", while Nick Coleman of The Independent thought that the cover "succeeded in ameliorating the tune's sexual specificity without stripping it of its rutty throb". Released as a single on the
RAK label, it reached No. 13 on the UK singles chart in November 1970; No. 26 in Belgium (Flanders); No. 37 on the
RPM 100 Singles in Canada; No. 58 on the US
Billboard Hot 100; and No. 58 on the US Cash Box Top 100 Singles. The UK music variety television programme Top of the Pops used brief versions by CCS members and others as its intro theme music at different times over the years.
King Curtis and the Kingpins recorded an instrumental version with the melody line performed on saxophone.
Atco Records released it as a single in the US, where it reached No. 64 on the Hot 100 and No. 43 on the R&B chart. A live version, recorded at the
Fillmore West, is included on Curtis' 1971 live album Live at Fillmore West.
1996 – British band
Goldbug, including a sample of "Asteroid" (the Pearl & Dean advertising music). It reached No. 3 in the UK singles chart, No. 24 in Ireland, and No. 9 in the Netherlands. In 2000, band member Richard Walmsley sued his former label
Acid Jazz over unpaid
royalties relating to the song. Walmsley received thousands of pounds following the battle.