“I Can’t Quit You Baby” is a song included in Led Zeppelin III is the eponymous third studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released in October 1970. It showed a progression from straightforward rock towards folk and acoustic music.
The acoustic material developed from a songwriting session between band members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant at Bron-Yr-Aur cottage in Wales, which influenced the musical direction. The songs were recorded using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, Headley Grange, Island Studios, and Olympic Studios in London. While hard rock influences were still present, such as “Immigrant Song”, acoustic-based songs such as “Gallows Pole” and “That’s The Way” showed Led Zeppelin were capable of playing different styles successfully.
The album was one of the most anticipated of 1970, and its shipping date was held up by the intricate sleeve design based around a volvelle. It was an immediate commercial success upon release and topped the UK and US charts. Although critics were initially confused over the change in musical style and gave the album a mixed response, Led Zeppelin III has since been acknowledged as representing an important milestone in the band’s history, and a turning point in their music.
“I Can’t Quit You Baby” is a blues standard written by Willie Dixon and first recorded by Chicago blues artist Otis Rush in 1956. It was Rush’s first recording and became a record chart hit. The song, a slow twelve-bar blues, has been recorded by various artists, including Led Zeppelin, who included it on their debut album.
Led Zeppelin regularly performed “I Can’t Quit You Baby” in concert from 1968 to early 1970. Two live versions from 1969 are included on the 1997 Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions. A performance of the song on January 9, 1970, at Royal Albert Hall is included on the 2003 Led Zeppelin DVD (an edited version of this performance was released on the 1982 Coda album). In 1970, the song was dropped from Led Zeppelin’s typical concert lineup as they incorporated material from Led Zeppelin III into their shows, with “I Can’t Quit You Baby” essentially being replaced by “Since I’ve Been Loving You“. It was however revived as part of the “Whole Lotta Love” medley during some Led Zeppelin concerts in 1972 and 1973. The song was rehearsed by the surviving members of Led Zeppelin for the May 14, 1988, Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary Celebration, but was not performed during the event.
English rock band Led Zeppelin recorded “I Can’t Quit You Baby” for their 1969 debut album Led Zeppelin. Their rendition generally follows Otis Rush’s 1966 Vanguard version, but with different instrumentation and dynamics. It also incorporates a break during the guitar solo where Jimmy Page plays a four-bar unaccompanied set-up before relaunching into the solo. Although biographer Keith Shadwick notes Page’s fluff on the turnaround coming out of the solo, he concludes the song “ends up as one of the most successful pieces on the first album, with no flat spots and a perfectly symmetrical form, all within the classic blues tradition”.