One of the most important voices of Rock and Roll music, Robert Plant first achieved fame as the vocalist of Led Zeppelin and since the band came to an end in 1980, the musician embarked on a successful solo career. Over the decades the songs he made became the favorite ones from millions of fans around the world and on BBC Radio 6 in 2022 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), he listed 32 songs that are some of his favorites of all time and explained why they are so important to him.
The 32 songs that Robert Plant listed as some of his favorites of all time
Jeff Beck “I Ain’t Superstitious (feat. Rod Stewart)”
“What a difference a few years makes. That’s 1968, Jeff Beck Group featuring Rod Stewart. It’s that great Howlin’ Wolf track, pleased to say that at that time I very happily town to town leapfrog with Led Zeppelin and Jeff Beck just whizzing through the spheres. (So) what a remarkable time it was. (Also) I think that’s Micky Waller on drums,” Robert Plant said.
One of the most influential guitarists of all time, Jeff Beck first achieved fame as a member of The Yardbirds and later on as solo artist. This version of the classic Howlin’ Wolf track was first released on his solo debut album “Truth”. Besides Stewart on vocals and Waller on drums, also had Ronnie Wood on bass, who would later become the guitarist from The Faces and The Rolling Stones.
Peter Green “A Fool No More”
“Probably one of the most superlative, soulful singer/guitarists that Britain has been proud to call our own. This is from Peter Green, from his ‘In The Skies’ record, which was released in 1979. So this came out after Peter spent nearly a decade out there away from the music scene,” Robert Plant said.
One of the most praised and influential British guitarists in hsitory, Peter Green first achieved as a member of John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers and later on as the frontman of Fleetwood Mac. Alongside Mick Fleetwood and John McVie he also composed classic tracks like “Albatross”, “Black Magic Woman”, “Oh Well” and “The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)”.
The Animals “I’m Crying”
“According to the legend it was the driving sound of The Animals that influenced Bob Dylan‘s decision in 1965 to turn the folk world on it’s head and start working with Robbie and those guys in The Band there,” Robert Plant said.
Formed in Newcastle in the early 60s, The Animals became one of the most influential British bands in history. They also are known for hits like “House Of The Rising Sun”, “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”, “It’s My Life” and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”
John Lee Hooker “Crawlin’ King Snake”
“When I was a kid I had a couple of groups at the very beginning of stuff. So we were always leaning on the names of various Black Blues songs. My first band I was in was called the Black Snake Moan from Blind Lemon Jefferson’s famous piece of music. Then my second group was called The Crawling King Snakes and this is John Lee Hooker’s original single from 1949. But it wasn’t the original version of the song, that goes back much further with Sunnyland Slim,” Robert Plant said.
Often considered by specialized magazines as one of the greatest guitarists in history, John Lee Hooker developed his own driving-rhythm boogie style. He also is known for songs like “Boom, Boom” are “Boogie Chillen’” (1948)and “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” (1966).
The Spencer Davis Group “Stevie’s Blues”
“So many fantastic groups in the West Midlands, in Birgmingham, there was an incredible group called The Spencer Davis Group. This is a track that really brings and highlights the great gift that Steve Winwood has, continues to have and can actually exercise whenever he feels like it. So this is ‘Stevie’s Blues’,” Robert Plant said.
Formed in Birmingham in 1963, The Spencer Davis Group became one of the most influential bands from the 60s, known for their powerful sound and the incredible voice of Steve Winwood. They also are best-known for hits like “Keep On Running”, “I’m A Man” and “Gimme Some Lovin'”.
John Prine “Caravan of Fools”
“The guy who’s writing over the years had great humor, great irony and echoed the thoughts of many, many Americans. Incredible entertainer and wordsmith. So this is John Prine from his final album ‘The Tree Of Forgiveness’,” Robert Plant said.
One of the most praised American Country-Folk musicians, John Prine was known for his lyrics that mixed comedy, protest and social commentary. He died in 2020 at the age of 73 and received during his career several Grammy Awards.
Shane Fenton & The Fentones “I’m A Moody Guy”
“This little section I would call it, early Brit. I suppose you’d call it psych beat pop. Shane Fenton actually was a guy called Johnny Theakston. Sadly, he died and was replaced by Bernard Jewry, who assumed the same identity. Later on in time that very same Shane Fenton would find fame as Alvin Stardust,” Robert Plant said.
Shane Fenton and The Fentones were active only from 1960 until 1964 and had four top 40 hits with Jewry as their lead singer. Later on as a solo artist, Jewry also became Alvin Stardust and achieved fame in the 70s and 80s with songs like “Jealous Mind”, “Pretend” and “I Feel Like Buddy Holly”.
Jimmy Powell and the 5 Dimensions “Sugar Baby”
“When I was a kid playing around in the midlands I saw this group called Jimmy Powell and the 5 Dimensions. This is taken from Beat, Beat, Beat Vol.5, “Sugar Baby”. What a sound and what a singer, 1962 on Decca,” Robert Plant said.
The London-based group was formed in 1962 and is also known for briefly having Rod Stewart as a member in the early 60s. In the mid 60s, Powell also recorded a solo single that was a reworked version of “Sugar Babe” and it had session musicians Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones performing in the track.
The Poets “Now We’re Thru'”
“The Poets from 1964. Yet again on the Decca Record Label. At that time they had a remarkable in-house producer who was fishing some great bands from the great web of British early rock beats,” Robert Plant said.
Poets were a Scottish Blues band that also mixed their sound with Psychedelic Rock. The song chosen by Robert Plant was a hit on the United Kingdom Single Charts but they didn’t manage to chart with other singles later on.
Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers “I Can’t Stand It”
“Mayhem, Mayhem. Cliff Bennett and The Rebel Rousers. A Joe Meek production. As a matter of fact the Blue Rondos, prior to that, was another Joe Meek production. Just ridiculous stuff,” Robert Plant said.
The British group from the 60s also had two Top 10 hits in the United Kingdom with the song “One Way Love” and “Got To Get You Into My Life”.
Phosphorescent “Ride On / Right On”
“From 2013, the ‘Muchacho’ album released on the Dead Oceans label, that was Phosphorescent. Spectacular to watch on stage. I remember quite often coming across him in America. Maybe 10 years ago, something like that,” Robert Plant said.
Active since 2001, Phosphorescent is an Alternative Rock American band based in Athens, Georgia that mixes Indie, Pop and Folk. Some other famous songs of the group are: “Song For Zula”, “Sugaree” and “Wolves”.
Moby Grape “Horse Out In The Rain”
“A zone that inspired me beyond all belief. Also a group that went through so many changes that even lost the rights to use their own name for 40 years. Moby Grape from the ’20 Granite Creek’ album from 1971, ‘Horse Out In The Rain’, with Peter Lewis on vocals. The quite, often obscure, weird passage of Moby Grape,” Robert Plant said.
Formed in San Francisco, California in 1966, Moby Grape had a sound that mixed Folk, Blues, Country, Jazz and Psychedelic Rock. They also are remembered by songs like “8:05”, “Mr. Blues” and “Sweet Ride (Never Again)”.
Scott Matthews “12 Harps” (feat. Robert Plant)
“From his second album titled ‘Elsewhere’, which was released in 2009. I was very pleased to be able to join him on that track. So I kind of joined him evvery other saturday somewhere on the outskirts of Wolverhampton at the Golden Temple. Well done, Scott. Great singing and congratulations on the new record,” Robert Plant said.
Scott Matthews is an English artist from Wolverhampton, England and has released 8 studio albums since 2006. Some of his most famous songs are “Eyes Wider Than Before”, “Elusive” and “Myself Again”
Lucinda Williams “Fruits Of My Labor”
“A great friend of mine, Lucinda Williams with all her eloquence. She really cooked some great songs up, especially more recently. So this is from the 2003 album ‘World Without Tears’,” Robert Plant said.
Born in Lake Charles, Lousiana, United States back in 1978, Lucinda Williams recorded her first album in the late 70s and he commercial breakthrough happened with the 1988 album “Car Wheels On a Gravel Road” that had a fused Rock, Blues, Country and Americana approach.
The album was certified Gold by the RIAA the following year, and earned her a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
“Yeah, well it’s a pretty trippy sound. Slightly reminscent of that 13th Floor Elevators album with all that kind of otherworldly stuff going on. So that’s a pretty obscure cut. Somehow I found the entire record by mystery. But I don’t know how. It’s from an album that was recorded in 1969 called ‘A Lovely Sight’. It was never released at the time. It came out more recently on the numero group. So I don’t know how I got, I just got it, there it is. Great mood to that, great atmosphere,” Robert Plant said.
Formed in Rockford, Illinois, Pisces only lasted from 1967 to 1970. During their active years they recorded two singles and an album’s worth of unreleased material before they split-up.
The Barr Brothers “Never Been A Captain”
“They are from Montreal, Canada. (This is) from an EP called “Alta Falls” in 2015 on Secret City Records. Great singing, really good voices. Also a really good catalog to be honest,” Robert Plant said.
Formed in Montreal, Canada in 2006, The Barr Brothers are a band that mixes Delta Blues and Folk Rock. They are have the two brothers Andrew Barr (Drums, vocals, keyboards) and Brad Barr (Guitar, vocals). Also accompanied by Morgan Moore (Bass), Brett Lanier (Pedal steel guitarist) and Eveline Gregoire-Rousseau (Harpist).
Justin Townes Earle “Champagne Corolla”
“I’ve done a lot of moving around over the years singing with different people and spending time with people that have really inspired me without whom I don’t know where I would be now. This is one such guy, he and his father, very special people. Sadly no long with us,” Robert Plant said.
The late son of Alternative Country artist Steve Earle, Justin Townes released 8 studio albums during his career until his death at the age of 38 in 2020. He is also remembered by tracks like “Graceland”, “Ain’t Got No Money” and “Frightned By The Sound”.
The Velvets “Spring Fever”
“Well, how smooth is that? That is the The Velvets ‘Spring Fever’, which is the flip side of ‘Tonight (Could Be The Night)’, which I actually had on London American. The similarity between the sound of the band and the orchestra is very, very similar and no doubt, the same musicians as those used by Roy Orbinson on those classic weepy amazing ballads,” Robert Plant said.
A short-lived American Doo-Wop group, The Velvets were active from 1959 until 1962 and they were signed to Monument Records by Roy Orbinson after he heard them. The hit ‘Tonight Could Be The Night’, pointed by Robert Plant, peaked on the United States Billboard Hot 100 chart back in 1961.
Richie Barrett “Some Other Guy”
“Richard Barrett cut this track in 1962 on Atlantic in America. It was covered by The Big Three, I remember,” Robert Plant said.
Born in Philadelphia in 1933, Richie Barrett helped to shape the New York Rhythm and Blues sound, discovering and promoting several groups of the music genre. During his career he released several singles with The Valentines and solo singles.
Don Covay “Can’t Fight It Baby”
“From the 1964 album ‘Mercy’, again on Atlantic Records. I do recall at various points in time that Jimi Hendrix was playing with him. He was just a pretty far-out character. He was also in his early days, like so many people, an opening act for Little Richard,” Robert Plant said.
More active from the 50s until the 70s, Don Covay was an American R&B, Soul and Rock and Roll singer. Some of his most successful recordings are “Mercy, Mercy”, “See-Saw” and “It’s Better To Have (and Don’t Need). He also was the writer of “Pony Time”, recorded by Chubby Checker and “Chain Of Fools” by Aretha Franklin.
Dick & Dee Dee “The Mountain’s High”
“Something that when I was at school, I just could not get this lyric, this vocal thing and the way these people presented this. So much so, that I was able to record this and sing with them. Patty Griffin when we had a band in Austin, Texas, 10 years back but this is Dick & Dee Dee from 1962,” Robert Plant said.
The duo Dick & Dee Dee was formed by the classmates Dick St. John and Dee Dee Sperling and was active from 1960 until 1969. After they released the hit “The Mountain’s High”, the musicians had the opportunity to tour with The Beach Boys and be The Rolling Stones opening act in the 60s.
The Contours “It Must Be Love”
“Another track from 1962. But it’s the black side of pop. That was The Contours, released on the Gordy Label, which was subsidiary of Motown. I managed to get a copy of that when I was at school on the Oriele American Label,” Robert Plant said.
Formed in Detroit, Michigan back in 1959, The Countours was one of the countless talented Soul singing groups signed to Motown Records. They also are best known for the hit “Do You Love Me” that sold more than 1 million copies at the time.
Betty Harris “Ride Your Pony”
“A track from 1968, the b-side was ‘Trouble With My Lover’, which most recently saw Alison Krauss doing a spectacular job. This is Betty Harris, ‘Ride Your Pony’ from 1968. The great song written by Allen Toussaint,” Robert Plant said.
Born in Orlando, Florida back in 1939, Betty Harris is an American Soul singer active since the early 60s and during the first decade of her career, she had three charting hit singles: “Cry To Me”, “His Kiss” and “Nearer To You”.
Big Joe Williams “Baby Please Don’t Go”
“From the 1935 single on Bluebird Record. Interesting, isn’t? I mean, ‘The Crawlin’ King Snake’ covered by so many bands, like The Doors, more recently by The Black Keys and ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’, I mean, how many versions do we hear. Such an evocative and ridiculous piece of music that’s come all the way down through time,” Robert Plant said.
Big Joe Williams was an American Delta Blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. An influential musician known for “Baby Pleast Don’t Go”, “Crawlin’ King Snake and “Peach Orchard Mama”, he was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame back in 1992, ten years after his death in 1982 at the age of 79.
Jerry McCain and His Upstarts “My Next Door Neighbor”
“Going all the way through time and out through the back door, instead in through the outdoor. That’s cheesy. But what you gonna do? (Laughs). So a great rousing track by Jerry McCain often played by The Fabulous Thunderbirds and The Big Town Playboys here in England, ‘My Next Door Neughbor’ from 1957,” Robert Plant said.
The Marauders “That’s What I Want”
“That”s a record I’ve been carrying around with me from place to place since it came out in 1963. The Marauders from Stoke-On-Trent. That beat group sound then, the whole deal of that kind of really rhythm section and stuff, it was another world. It’s funny that three or four years later came a whole R&B movement in the United Kingdom. So that was kind along with The Animals,” Robert Plant said.
The Blue Rondos “Little Baby”
“On the early Rock Beats sound, The Blue Rondos with ‘Little Baby’, from Pye Records, 1964,” Robert Plant said.
The short-lived British group is also often recalled by the song “Baby I Go For You”.
The Soul Sisters “I Can’t Stand It”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. The Soul Sisters who recorded that track in New York in 1964. It was on the original American Sue Records label and later to be released by Spencer Davis as a single with Steve Winwood,” Robert Plant said.
Amen Corner “Gin House Blues”
A short-lived Welsh Rock group, Amen Corner was active from 1966 until 1969. They also are best known for hits like “Bend Me Shape Me, “High In The Sky” and the chart-topper “(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice”.
The Lone Bellow “Green Eyes and A Heart Of Gold”
Created in Brooklyn, New York in 2011, The Lone Bellow has released four albums. They are formed by Zack Williams (Guitar, vocals), Kanene Donehey Pipkin (Mandolin, bass, keyboards, vocals) and “Brian Elmquist (Guitar, vocals). Some of their most famous songs are “Good Times”, “Count On Me” and “Dried Up River”.
The Decemberists “Down By The Water”
Formed in Portland, Oregon back in 2000, The Decemberists is an Indie Rock group that has Colin Meloy (Vocals, guitar), Chris Funk (Guitar), Jenny Conlee (Piano, keyboards), Nate Query (Bass) and John Moen (Drums). Some of their most famous songs are “Don’t Carry IT All”, “Sons & Daughters” and “The Crane Wife 3”. They already released 9 studio albums.