Connect with us

The Led Zeppelin riff that Jimmy Page compared to a Voodoo ritual

Jimmy Page


The Led Zeppelin riff that Jimmy Page compared to a Voodoo ritual

The power of a great guitar riff is really something incredible, it can give you energy, strength and even be something hypnotic. The great guitar heroes certainly know the secret recipe for that and the Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page is certainly one of those.


He was a really accomplished session guitarist during his youth and played with many incredible artists before joining The Yardbirds and then forming Led Zeppelin. Alongside Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham he created some of the biggest anthems in Rock and Roll. Over the decades he talked a lot about the band’s catalog and once compared a guitar riff to a Voodoo ritual.

The Led Zeppelin riff that Jimmy Page compared to a Voodoo ritual

One of the most hypnotic Led Zeppelin guitar riffs is certainly “Whole Lotta Love” from their second album “Led Zeppelin II” released in 1969. That’s the riff that Page compared to a Voodoo ritual when he talked about the song in an interview with The Quietus in 2014.

“Well, I’d really accessed the hypnotic elements of music from the Chicago blues with stuff like Howling Wolf. But as far as riffs and trance goes, I find that stuff fascinating. If you listen to the version of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ on the companion disc of Led Zeppelin II, that side of things takes on a whole different character. It’s like a voodoo ritual going on.”

He continued:

“The good thing about the albums out in that point of the 70s was that there wasn’t any sort of visual imagery to go with it like videos. So people came up with their own pictures of whatever they wanted. So they made a connection with Led Zeppelin and that was really cool,” Jimmy Page said.

Curiously, the American Blues musician Willie Dixon is credited alongside the band as one of the songwriters in the track. Part of the lyrics were adapted from his song “You Need Love”, originally recorded by Muddy Waters in 1962. He wasn’t credited by Zeppelin at the time and a lawsuit in 1985 was settled with a payment to Dixon. Then of course, he was then credited in the next releases of the song.

The song was a big hit in 1969, peaking at number one on the charts in several countries like Australia and West Germany. It also peaked at number 4 on the United States Billboard Hot 100.

Page said he wanted to bring a smile to people’s faces with that riff

Back in 2014, radio listeners voted “Whole Lotta Love” as the greatest guitar riff of all time. So BBC Radio 2 talked with Jimmy Page about the song at the time. He said that once he presented the basic ideas for the song to the band and they played together, “it went into overdrive”. Page also revealed that when composing that riff, he was thinking about something that would bring a smile to people’s faces.

“(Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) I didn’t expect that to happen. There been so many wonderful riffs along the way.” The musician then continued recalling how the song was composed. “I had the riff and the sort of framework of the song that became ‘Whole Lotta Love’. I wanted a riff that really moved, you know. That people would really get and that would bring a smile to their faces.”

Page continued:

“But when I played it with the band, I mean, it really just went into overdrive. I used the Gibson Les Paul on that (recording). It was relatively recently acquired for me. I only had it for a few months but it was such a user-friendly guitar. It sounded so huge, anyway.” The amps that I had were vintage (…) I knew where I was going to be honest. This riff, this movement of it. It was sort of menacing as well, as quite sort of caressing,” Jimmy Page said.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

To Top