Robert Plant achieved fame as Led Zeppelin‘s vocalist in the 70s and helped to create many classic Hard Rock albums but after the 80s during his solo career begun, he used a variety of influences from many other music genres on his records. In a participation on the BBC Radio 6 show “6 Music’s Festive Takeover” back in 2021 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), the singer listed 14 songs that are some of his favorite of all time and explained why they are so important to him.
Considered one of the greatest singers in the history of Rock music, Robert Plant was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 as a member of Led Zeppelin. Formed in London back in 1968 the group was active until the death of the legendary drummer John Bonham in 1980. They remain as one of the best-selling bands of all time with more than 300 million records sold worldwide.
14 songs that Robert Plant listed as some of his favorites of all time
Muddy Waters “Got My Mojo Working”
“McKinley Morganfield, Muddy Waters ‘Got My Mojo Working’, there is 10.000 versions of that. I believe in my younger days I must have killed it at least 10.000 more. Get the Muddy Waters ‘Live at Newport’ 1960 album to enjoy it as a live piece. Also I think that was James Cotton on harmonica there, could have even been Walter Jacobs, I’m not sure,” Robert Plant said.
Born in Issaquena County, Mississippi in 1913, Muddy Waters was one of the most influential Blues musicians in history.
Among Muddy’s most famous songs are “Mannish Boy”, “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man”, “Rollin’ Stone” and “Got My Mojo Working”. He also was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 1987 by Paul Butterfield.
The Temptations “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today)”
“Time to go to Detroit. The spectacular timeless Temptations, there coming out of Detroit, Michigan with ‘Ball Of Confusion’. The Temptations made their way from beauty and pop magnificence of songs like ‘My Girl’ and all that stuff. (They) moved along with so many of their contemporaries Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Marvin Gaye into actually stating the case for the circumstances that were existing in the United States and have resonated there 300 years before and so many years since.”
“I must say, most recently if you get a chance and you want to see what happened as a bit of a digression after Woodstock there was an amazing black festival held in Harlem. It was kind of overshadowed. The films were pulled away for a very long time and they’ve come out just recently. Spectacular performances by Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown. I mean some remarkable live magnificence. So it’s a beautiful program, if you get a chance to find it anywhere, somewhere out in the wonderland ‘Summer Of Soul’,” Robert Plant said.
One of the most influential groups that achieved fame in the 60s and 70s as part of the Motown Records, The Temptations released 4 Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles and 14 R&B number-one singles. Besides “Balls Of Confusion, some of their most famous songs are “My Girl” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”.
Jefferson Airplane “She Has Funny Cars”
“‘She Has Funny Cars’, taken from ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ (1967) on RCA Victor. One of my favorite bands of all time, Jefferson Airplane. I got a painting two months ago from Grace Slick. She sent me a magnificent painting of me holding a microphone. But sadly I was dressed as a white rabbit. She also put some very interesting comments on the back,” Robert Plant said.
Jefferson Airplane were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 by Mickey Hart and Phil Leash from the Grateful Dead. Marty Balin left the band in 1971. After 1972, Jefferson Airplane effectively split into two groups. Kaukonen and Casady moved on full-time to their own band, Hot Tuna. Slick, Kantner, and the remaining members of Jefferson Airplane recruited new members and regrouped as Jefferson Starship in 1974, with Marty Balin eventually joining them.
Starship had a successful career especially in the 80s with hits like “Sara”, “We Built This City” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”.
Dave Edmunds “I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock And Roll)”
“The pride of Rockfield studios down there in Monmouth. Written by Nick Lowe, guess what, he was on Led Zeppelin’s label Swan Song in 1977. Little story there, Dave was very prolific at that time, very busy and his record deal was up. So we had decided that it would be magnificent if he would join us on our label Swan Song, because I knew him a little bit.”
“The guy sent me down to Rockfield to seduce him and induce him into our little family. But Elton John‘s Rocket Records was already poking around. But by sheer deliberation and a lot of fortitude I stayed with him for a couple of days, it took for us to actually stand a couple of times, fall down a couple of times and make a deal. So thank you Dave for all the great music,” Robert Plant said.
Born in Cardiff, Wales back in 1944, Dave Edmunds scored many hits in the 70s and 80s with a 1950s-style Rock and Roll approach. Besides “I Knew The Bride”, some of his most famous tracks are “I Hear You Knocking” and “Girls Talk”.
Richard Berry & The Pharaohs “Louie, Louie”
“Richard Berry & The Pharaohs, you know that’s the most recorded ever Rock and Roll song. Up there in Portland, Oregon the Kingsmen had a huge hit with it and who didn’t. Even I recorded for ‘Porky’s Revenge’ and played the lead guitar solo. But don’t let anybody know about that. So Berry was a remarkable, he had such a great catalogue.”
“So many great songs, there’s a great album called ‘Get Out Of The Car’ which you mind find. He also wrote ‘Have Love Will Travel’ which I think is advertised nearly everything from kids diapers to probably soft drinks. But Richard Berry & The Pharoahs, that’s a groove. What a sound, what a feel,” Robert Plant said.
As Plant pointed, “Louie, Louie” is one of the most recorded songs in the history and some of the famous bands that covered the track were Motörhead, The Stooges, Iggy Pop, The Kinks, Joan Jett, The Beach Boys, Otis Redding and The Troggs.
Patty Griffin “Standing”
“Patty Griffin what a spectacular voice. The feel, the delivery and the whole deal of her songs are otherworldly. So she is one of the most remarkable and prolific songwriters in our time right now. I’m pleased to say that was taken from 2004 ‘Impossible Dream’ album. Now, in 2011 her album ‘Downtown Church’ won the Grammy award for ‘Best Traditional Gospel album’. It was produced by Buddy Miller.”
“She was always embarrassed sort of slightly coy about the idea of actually getting the Grammy for a gospel record. She is really good friends with Mavis Staples and with so many of those great singers. So I was very amazed to be in a band with her and Buddy after the ‘Raising Sand’ adventure with Alison. We went to record the Band of Joy record and spend a lot of playing and traveling. Even went far as Moscow as they call it over there. So Patty Griffin, remarkable performance and delivery,” Robert Plant said.
Born in Old Town, Maine back in 1964, Petty Griffin received in 2007 the Artist of The Year award from the Americana Music Association, also receiving the prize for best album, for “Children Running Through”.
Oumou Sangaré “Wayena”
“I was very lucky to go with Justin Adams, Skin Tyson and my boy Logan to the festival in the desert in Mali in January, 2003. We traveled up to Timbuktu and moved on to join Ali Farka Touré, Tinariwen and this remarkable woman Oumou Sangaré,” Robert Plant said.
Born in Bamako, Mali in 1968, Oumou Sangaré is a Grammy Award winning singer also referred as “The Songbird of Wassoulou”, that is a historical region of the south of the Niger River.
Chris Farlowe “Stormy Monday (Part 1 & 2)”
“I got that when it came out in 1963 on Sue Records. Sue was a record label in New York and there was an outlet over here. So if you were a mod you had a scooter and you stayed awake for about six days, that was the label that you would buy. Little Joe Cook is actually Chris Farlowe, what a singer. Also how remarkable the great guitarist Albert Lee, often know to be working with Emmylou and The Everly Brothers. Fantastic stuff, really, really great,” Robert Plant said.
The British singer Chris Farlowe, born in London back in 1940, is often recalled for the hit single “Out Of Time”, a Mick Jagger and Keith Richards song. Also is known for his work with the bands Atomic Rooster, The Thunderbirds and Colosseum.
The Tams “Untie Me”
“The sweet saccharine beauty with the magnificent The Tams and the song ‘Untie Me’. That was their big hit in 1962, written by Joe South, who wrote the great ‘Games People Play’,” Robert Plant said.
Formed in Atlanta, Georgia back in 1960, the vocal group The Tams achived fame in the 60s and continued to release tracks that apparead in the charts in the 70s and 80s. Some of their most famous songs are “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy”, “Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me” and “What Kind Of Fool (Do You Think I Am)”.
Roy Hamilton “You Can Have Her”
“This is a song (that) obviously goes back in time. Most of the things I’m playing you today sadly do. But you can hear there is black a guy singing virtually a church piece. The whole surroundings of the strings, the orchestra, the chorus is pretty white. So it’s very unusual and quite interesting observation,” Robert Plant said.
Born in Leesburg, Georgia back in 1929, Roy Hamilton is recalled for combining sem-classical technique with traditional gospel feeling. Besides “You Can Have Her”, his two most famous and influential recordings are “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “Unchained Melody” that reached number-one on the Billboard R&B chart in 1954 and 1955.
Johnny Lee Moore & 12 Mississippi Penitentiary Convicts “Eigheen Hammers”
“Where do you begin with that, you know. I’m pleased to tell you that lots of people have covered that in the world of Hard Rock and generally massacred it, that’s part of the job. But Johnny Lee Moore was a convict in Mississippi Penitentiary. Alan Lomax in 1959, he was traveling with a mobile recording machine. So he could ramp up and record as he passed through the southern states of the USA.”
“So the collection from which this is taken is some kind of combination of delta guitarists, fife and drum ensembles from up in the north Misssissippi in the hill country there. Also Sacred harp singers, Ozark and Appalachian singers and prison work songs. Something to behold if you wanna dig deep. It’s magnificent stuff,” Robert Plant said.
Alan Lomax, the resposible for the recording of the song collected material first with his father, the folklorist and collector John Lomax. Laten on, he recorded alone thousands of songs and interviews for the Archive of American Folk Song, that he directed at the time at the Library of Congress on aluminum and acetate discs.
Sturgill Simpson “You Can have The Crown”
“From his debut album ‘High Top Moutain’ in 2013, check these lyrics. That record, his original release, he paid for it, released it himself, he cut it in Nashville. It was produced by Dave Cobb. That was the beginning of what is now a really remarkable career for him, if you wanna call it a career. So he is always talking like it’s true what’s going on, there is not too much love and marriage in there,” Robert Plant said.
Born 1978 in Jackson, Kentucky, Sturgill Simpson have released seven albums as a solo artist and won several prizes over the years, including the Grammy Award. Some of his most famous songs are “Sam”, “You Can Have The Crown”, “I Don’t Mind” and “Turtles All The Way Down”.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe “Didn’t It Rain”
“Man, I mean that woman’s guitar playing was just something else altogether. She had a huge influence both the vocal style and the drive of her work over, you know, Chuck Berry, Elvis, Jerry Lee, Little Richard. So I remember in younger days I watched a program on Granada TV. The TV company had dressed up some old railway station in Manchester. There were a whole stream of these guys who were coming off that Blues festival train.”
“Down the platform walking down in a beautiful, what looked to me like a big fluffy white coat white a beautiful white semi-acoustic, I think it might have been a Guild, comes Sister Rosetta Tharpe playing out of her mind in a storm under the awnings of this railway station singing the heavens out of this piece of music. So nothing bettter I can imagine to stir the soul, Sister Rosetta Tharpe,” Robert Plant said.
One of the first and most influential female guitarists of all time, Sister Rosetta Tharpe was born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas in 1915. She achieved fame in the 30s and 40s with her Gospel recordings, that mixed the electric guitar and spiritual lyrics.
Besides “Dind’t It Rain, some of her most famous songs are”My Journey To The Sky”, “Strange Things Happening Every Day” and “Precious Memories”.
Etta James “Pushover”
“I bought this record when I was 15. I met her a couple of times with that guy Ahmet Ertegün. She just saw him and exploded and it wasn’t with love,” Robert Plant said.
Etta James started her career back in 1954 and made hits like “At Last”, “Tell Mama”, “I’d Rather Go Blind” and “Something’s Got a Hold On Me”. Her music mixed various genres like Blues, R&B, Soul, Rock and Roll, Gospel and Jazz.
In addition, she won 3 Grammy Awards for “Best Traditional Blues Album” in 2004, “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2003 and “Best Jazz Vocal Performance” back in 1994.