This week, for Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams has asked us to find songs that never made it to Number One. We all know of some that fall into this category but in my search for a favorite of mine, “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin, I remembered why they never really had any number 1 singles. They just didn’t cut any. They were strictly an album and live performance group. Enjoy reading about it below.
How Did Led Zeppelin Never Have a No. 1 Single?
There are only a few bands that have sold more records than Led Zeppelin. The list starts with The Beatles (183 million albums in the U.S.) and continues with heavyweights like Elvis (No. 3) and the Eagles (No. 4). Garth Brooks (No. 2) is also on this list.
After that comes Zeppelin at No. 5 with a certified 111 million records sold in America. Whatever way you want to measure the band’s popularity, you’ll find plenty of data backing up Zeppelin.
Going by No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 chart, you’ll find the band with seven. Led Zeppelin II, the band’s biggest chart hit, hung around for 117 weeks after spending the better part of two months at No. 1. Then there’s Led Zeppelin IV, which sold over 23 million copies.
In fact, there’s only one milestone the band didn’t claim over the years: a No. 1 hit single on the Billboard Hot 100. Here’s how Zeppelin never made its way there.
When you look at a band like The Beatles, you see a group built for the Hot 100 charts — especially early on in the Fab Four’s time together. Their songs were short and catchy, simple and bright. Maybe “she loves you,” but either they’d “wanna hold your hand” so you might “love me do.”
Led Zeppelin’s debut album kicked off with the riotous “Good Times Bad Times” and built up to haunting “Dazed and Confused” on Side One. These songs weren’t built for a pop marketplace. Though Atlantic released “Good Times Bad Times” as a single in 1969, no one knew Zeppelin at the time.
From early on, the band considered itself a band that sold albums, not singles. When “Whole Lotta Love” became a centerpiece of the band’s live shows, the record company wanted to release it as a single. The only problem? It was over five-and-a-half minutes long.
Meanwhile, its psychedelic middle section scared AM radio stations enough to warrant an edit of the song. (FM stations played it in its entirety.) But the band hated the edited version, turning them off singles further.
While “Whole Lotta Love” sold over 900,000 copies and peaked at No. 4, the band refused to release it in the UK.
While conventional wisdom said you needed singles and constant TV appearances, Jimmy Page and Zeppelin manager Peter Grant decided to go the opposite route. If you wanted to buy “Dazed and Confused” or “Stairway to Heaven,” you had to buy the whole album.
For those who wanted a taste of Zeppelin’s epic live performances, you had to buy a ticket. What started as a technique to build mystique and sell more albums became an absolute cash-cow for the band.
By the time it released Led Zeppelin IV, the band’s records were so in demand it stayed on the Billboard 200 charts for over five years (281 weeks). After Houses of the Holy, there was only one thing to do: Bring the record label in-house. Thus Swan Song was born.
Physical Graffiti, Zeppelin’s first release on its own label, became the fastest album to ever reach No. 1 (two weeks) when it shot there in 1975. That answered the question: Why sell a $0.99 single when you can sell an album for $11.98?
Considering Physical Graffiti sold more than 16 million copies over the years, that strategy speaks for itself. Zeppelin never wanted a single and never needed one. The band almost begrudgingly had a No. 1 hit but it didn’t matter.
Courtesy of cheatsheet.com
You need cooling Baby I'm not fooling I'm gonna send ya Back to schooling Way down inside A-honey you need it I'm gonna give you my love I'm gonna give you my love, yeah Wanna whole lotta love Wanna whole lotta love Wanna whole lotta love Wanna whole lotta love You've been learning Um baby I been learning All them good times baby, baby I've been year-yearning A-way, way down inside A-honey you need-ah I'm gonna give you my love, ah I'm gonna give you my love, ah oh Whole lotta love Wanna whole lotta love Wanna whole lotta love Wanna whole lotta love (I don't want more) You've got to bleed on me, yeah Ah ah Ah ah ah Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah (No no no no) Ah, love Love love love love love You've been cooling And baby I've been drooling All the good times, baby I've been misusing A-way, way down inside I'm gonna give ya my love I'm gonna give ya every inch of my love I'm gonna give ya my love Yeah Alright Let's go Wanna whole lotta love Wanna whole lotta love Wanna whole lotta love Wanna whole lotta love Way down inside Woman, you need it Love My, my, my, my My, my, my, my Lord Shake for me girl I wanna be your backdoor man Hey, oh, hey, oh, hey, oh Ooh yeah Oh, oh, oh, oh Cool, my, my baby Keep it cooling baby A-keep it cooling baby A-keep it cooling baby Ah, keep it cooling baby Ah, ah ha, oh Writer/s: James Patrick Page, John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Robert Anthony Plant Publisher: Warner Chappell Music, Inc. Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind
good morning happy Friday how are you
Learned something new today. Great song! Thanks for sharing it 🙂
Thanks Jilly. It’s interesting stuff ☺️💕
I didn’t know that about Led Zeppelin – the lack of No 1’s. I learned something new today.
It was new to me too! Its amazing what you learn much later on. At the time it was just all about the music🎶☺️🎶
It’s amazing to me, even more than “Whole Lotta Love,” that “Stairway to Heaven,” often cited as one of the greatest rock songs of all time, never hit the top of the charts as a single. Great choice, Christine.
Yes isn’t it amazing. Learned a lot today. Thanks Fan
Great band, great song, great choice and a great post Christine.
Thanks so much Jim. It was a really great prompt! ☺️
A great choice which you couldn’t have made if you were from the UK! You mention that Led Zep refused to release this as a single – they stuck to that and never released any physical singles in the UK. It is only since the digital age came along that any of their songs have featured in our singles charts, purely on downloads. Still for me one of the greatest bands of all time, and I have all of their albums going right back to the beginning. I managed to see them play live, too.
Ah but I am from the UK originally! ☺️. I saw them too many, many years ago. They found the right formula for success didn’t they? Happy you liked it Clive. ☺️
Hi Christine great choice as ever and you answered a lot of questions I had pondered on , on and off for years about the Zeppelin 💜💜
Thanks Willow ☺️❤️ I learned a lot too this week. At the time we just enjoy the music and as we get older we want to understand the vision thought process behind it.
Yes indeed the Zeppelin’s had their heads screwed on where money was concerned!