Relive Prince’s Iconic Cover Of “Whole Lotta Love”
via Prince / Youtube
Covering Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” is a daunting task. In this hard rock classic, the formidable talents of John Bonham, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and Jimmy Page converge to create one of the most magnificent and iconic pieces of rock ‘n’ roll ever crafted.
Taking on “Whole Lotta Love” requires considerable bravery as a musician. A small mistake can easily lead to appearing more like a Led Zeppelin tribute act than an original artist, a pitfall avoided successfully by Greta Van Fleet.
It demands an enviable degree of audacity to attempt reshaping the Led Zep hit into a new form, rather than merely following the well-trodden path that Led Zeppelin blazed to establish their rock behemoth.
However, if there was anyone up to the challenge of reinventing this certified classic, it was Prince. Relive The Purple One’s magic with his rendition of “Whole Lotta Love” below:
Prince’s admiration for Led Zeppelin
Despite belonging to different musical eras, and with Prince’s rise to prominence occurring after Led Zeppelin had disbanded following Bonham’s passing, Prince held the legendary rock group in high esteem.
What captivated the late American artist the most was Led Zeppelin’s remarkable ability to diversify their sound and evolve with each album.
Much like Prince, Led Zeppelin steadfastly refused to churn out the same song repeatedly, instead opting to take creative risks at every turn.
In both instances, their adventurous approaches paid off more often than not, propelling them to the pinnacle of the music industry and establishing their status as influential forces in the field.
Led Zeppelin on stage, 1977. Photo by Neal Preston. pic.twitter.com/Du3oTy83s6
— Classic Rock In Pics (@crockpics) September 23, 2023
The feeling is mutual
While Prince openly expressed his admiration for Led Zeppelin – he once declared “Led Zeppelin, for example, would make you feel differently on each song” – the British hard rock pioneers also see the Purple One as an impressive individual.
Robert Plant even admitted that he found Prince intimidating, a feat that very few can do to the iconic Led Zep frontman.
“Prince is probably the most impressive single person … he’s incredibly inventive, but he’s using a lot of old … he’s coming from all sorts of areas of the past, and he’s really pushing them all through a blender. So they come out oozing and dripping with honey – sex,” Plant revealed.
While a formal collaboration never materialized, Prince performed his rendition of “Whole Lotta Love” over 50 times in his live shows, indicating his potential openness to the idea of collaborating with Plant.
Furthermore, when his 1985 album Around the World in a Day was described as “psychedelic”, he embraced it as a flattering remark and cited Led Zeppelin as an example of a band that consistently broadened their musical horizons.
Prince performing on stage with his guitar. pic.twitter.com/phcY0xdYh9
— Pauldiddy (@MonthlyAlbums) July 13, 2022
A head-banging perfection
“Whole Lotta Love” is undeniably a defining moment in the career of Led Zeppelin, encapsulating all the spectacular elements of rock within five-and-a-half electrifying minutes. This hard rock masterpiece is one head-banging perfection.
Every facet of the song crackles with electricity. Page’s thunderous opening riff melds seamlessly with Plant’s scorching vocals, complemented by Jonesy’ subtle genius. All of this is anchored by the raw power of the unparalleled John Bonham.
“For the song to work as this panoramic audio experience, I needed Bonzo to really stand out, so that every stick stroke sounded clear and you could really feel them. If the drums were recorded just right, we could lay in everything else,” Page revealed in a Wall Street Journal interview.
In 2009, Jones revealed to Uncut how making “Whole Lotta Love” became a pivotal moment for the band and a powerful display of Page’s evolution as a producer. He explained, “The backwards echo stuff. A lot of the microphone techniques were just inspired. Using distance-miking… and small amplifiers.”
The song achieved legendary status and collected distinctions such as being one of Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and VH1’s third greatest hard rock song of all time. In 2014, BBC Radio 2 listeners voted the riff in “Whole Lotta Love” as the greatest ever.