© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Under the thunder that opens Led Zeppelin's 'When the Levee Breaks'

Led Zeppelin performing at the Empire Pool in London.
Michael Putland
Getty Images
Led Zeppelin performing at the Empire Pool in London.

NPR turns 50 this year, and we're marking it by looking back on some other things that happened in 1971.

On this day fifty years ago, rock and roll fans lost their minds: It marks the release of Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album.

While "Stairway to Heaven" remains one of the most beloved anthems of all time, and other songs like "Black Dog" and "Rock and Roll" became staples of rock radio, there's a piece of the record that has become singularly iconic.

At the beginning of the last track, "When the Levee Breaks," drummer John Bonham pounded out a storming passage for the ages. The Beastie Boys used it; Beyonce borrowed the beat for Lemonade; it's on Sophie B. Hawkins' biggest hit; it's in Tarantino's Kill Bill — to date, that break has been sampled on more than 200 songs.

Veteran music writer Tom Moon joins Morning Edition to dig into the specifics of why this undeniably resonant moment went on to become an indelible part of music history.

You can listen to the broadcast version of this story in the audio player above.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.