The ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ Track the Band Barely Played Live Because It Was Too Difficult

The ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ Track the Band Barely Played Live Because It Was Too Difficult

There were plenty of songs Led Zeppelin rarely, or never, played live, including “Down By the Seaside,” “D’yer Mak’er,” their Houses of the Holy reggae song that was a cross between Rickey Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool” and Ben E. King, according to Page, “Living Loving Maid”—covered by Great White in the late ’90s and again by Train in 2016—”In the Light,” and “Night Flight.” Within their live setlists, the band had no problem omitting songs they weren’t too fond of or didn’t enjoy playing, including one from their fourth, pivotal album Led Zeppelin IV.

Produced by Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin IV includes their classic “Stairway to Heaven,” and was the band’s best-selling album, and one of the best-selling albums of all time in the U.S. The album topped the UK Albums chart and reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200.

Along with “Stairway to Heaven” were other Zeppelin classics like “When the Levee Breaks,” “Black Dog,” and “Rock and Roll,” on IV. Page and Robert Plant also wrote “Four Sticks,” which featured late drummer John Bonham (1948-1980) playing with four drumsticks instead of two.

Flanked between “Misty Mountain Hop” and “Going to California,” “Four Sticks” was a harder deliverance that moves in a trance-like state between 5/4 and 6/8. The song was difficult to record and required more takes than usual. Bonham, in particular, had difficulty keeping up with the song during the band’s sessions, according to bassist John Paul Jones, and was nearly cut from the album.

“It took him [Bonham] ages to get ‘Four Sticks,’” revealed Jones in the 2001 book John Bonham: A Thunder of Drums. “I seemed to be the only one who could actually count things in. Page would play something and [John would] say, ‘That’s great. Where’s the first beat? You know it, but you gotta tell us…’ He couldn’t actually count what he was playing.”

[RELATED: 5 Led Zeppelin Songs the Band Members Disliked]

Jones added, “It would be a great phrase, but you couldn’t relate it to a count. If you think of ‘one’ being in the wrong place, you are completely screwed.”

Though Bonham managed to lay down the track for the album, Led Zeppelin barely performed it live because of its technical difficulty but did give it a go once during their concert on May 3, 1971, at the K.B. Hallen arena in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Jimmy Plant and Robert Plant Revisit “Four Strings”

In 1994, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page reunited to record No Quarter: Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Unledded. Playing along with the Egyptian Ensemble and the London Metropolitan Orchestra, the duo performed “Kashmir,” “Gallows Pole,” “The Battle of Evermore,” and four new songs, including “Wonderful One” and “Yallah.”

Plant and Page also added “Four Sticks” to the set and dedicated it to Bonham.

“This is dedicated to the first man who had four sticks in his hands,” said Plant, “and played the drums.”

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images