Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones had quite a bit of shared history. Outside of being two of the biggest British rock bands, both acts also shared producers (Glyn Johns), mobile recording studios, and an affinity for reinterpreting the classic work American blues artists. John Paul Jones even arranged the strings for the Stones’ ‘She’s a Rainbow’, giving them some direct interaction, albeit before Zeppelin formed.
Despite their shared popularity, none of the Stones or members of Zeppelin ever appeared on each other’s records. The Stones were a famously open outfit, bringing in session musicians like Nicky Hopkins and Billy Preston along with just about anyone else who wanted to play on their records. Zeppelin were more insulated, with Jimmy Page refusing to even hire an outside producer to help guide the band.
The only exception to the rule came when Stones founder Ian Stewart delivered the band’s mobile recording studio to Headley Grange in 1971, where Led Zeppelin were working on their untitled fourth studio album. Stewart was a skilled piano player with a particular fondness for boogie-woogie, but when his image didn’t fit in with what manager Andrew Loog-Oldham envisioned for the band, Stewart was relegated to road manager duties.
Still, Stewart continued to contribute to the band musically, mostly in the form of session work and live performances. When Stewart arrived, Zeppelin were attempting to record ‘Four Sticks’ when frustration began to take over. Discussions quickly turned to old-school rock and roll figures, with John Bonham recreating the opening drum rhythms from Little Richards’ ‘Keep A-Knockin’. The results soon morphed into ‘Rock and Roll’, but the band’s throwback attitudes weren’t satiated quite yet.
Talks turned from Little Richard to Ritchie Valens, the doomed teenage rock hero who tragically died at the age of 17 in the same plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper. The band had heard that Valens’ mother had never received any royalties for her son’s songs, so Zeppelin riffed on ‘Ooh My Head’ with the help of Stewart on keys. The final product was eventually titled ‘Boogie with Stu’ and was included on the band’s sixth studio album Physical Graffiti.
Check out ‘Boogie with Stu’ down below.