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"Heartbreaker" is a song from English rock band Led Zeppelin's 1969 album, Led Zeppelin II. It was credited to all four members of the band, recorded at A&R Recording and Atlantic Studios in New York City during the band's second concert tour of North America, and engineered by Eddie Kramer.[4][5]

Heartbreaker single cover.jpeg
Italian single picture sleeve
Single by Led Zeppelin
from the album Led Zeppelin II
Released22 October 1969 (1969-10-22)
StudioA&R, New York City
Producer(s)Jimmy Page

"Heartbreaker" opens the second side of the album and features a guitar riff by Jimmy Page. It also includes a spontaneous unaccompanied solo, using a pull-off technique, which was voted the 16th-greatest guitar solo of all time by Guitar World magazine.[5] "Heartbreaker" was ranked number 328 in 2004 by Rolling Stone magazine, in their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[6]


In a 1998 interview with Guitar World, Page commented that the guitar solo was recorded in a different studio, thereby giving a different sound than the rest of the song.[7] He added that this was the first recorded instance of his Gibson Les Paul/Marshall Stack combination.[7]

Live historyEdit

The song was a crowd favourite at Led Zeppelin concerts, and the band opened many of their live shows in 1971 and 1972 with "Immigrant Song" followed by a segue right into "Heartbreaker". On later concert tours it was often played as an encore. "Heartbreaker" and "Communication Breakdown" were the only songs to be played live during every year that the band toured.

During live performances Page would frequently improvise the playing in his solo, and was also known to include parts of Bach's "Bourrée in E minor" from his Lute Suites (this can be heard on the live albums Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions and How the West Was Won), as well as Simon & Garfunkel's "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)", though on official releases this section has been cut. Sometimes the solo would also be stretched out to incorporate sections of the traditional English folk song, "Greensleeves".

A live, filmed version of the song from 1973 at Madison Square Garden, New York City, is included in the Led Zeppelin concert film, The Song Remains the Same, although it is only shown in parts. For many years, this recorded version was left off the film's accompanying soundtrack album, until the album was remastered and re-released in 2007, with the full performance of the song included.

Led Zeppelin's last performance ever of the song was on 29 June 1980, in Zürich. Following Bonham's death, the surviving members of Led Zeppelin performed "Heartbreaker" at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert in 1988, at Madison Square Garden, with John's son Jason Bonham on drums. Jimmy Page also performed this song on his tour with the Black Crowes in 1999. A version of "Heartbreaker" performed by Page and the Black Crowes can be found on the album Live at the Greek.


"Heartbreaker" is one of the songs featured in Nick Hornby's book 31 Songs. Record producer Rick Rubin has remarked, "One of the greatest riffs in rock. It ["Heartbreaker"] starts, and it's like they don't really know where the "one" is. Magical in its awkwardness."[8] Eddie Van Halen once claimed the "Heartbreaker" solo as the origin behind the tapping technique. In one review with Guitar World, he said:

I think I got the idea of tapping watching Jimmy Page do his "Heartbreaker" solo back in 1971. He was doing a pull-off to an open string, and I thought wait a minute, open string ... pull off. I can do that, but what if I use my finger as the nut and move it around? I just kind of took it and ran with it.[9]

Steve Vai has also commented about it in a September 1998 Guitar World interview: "This one [Heartbreaker] had the biggest impact on me as a youth. It was defiant, bold, and edgier than hell. It really is the definitive rock guitar solo."[10] American band Nirvana covered the song during their first show on 7 March 1987 in Raymond Washington. The cover was only released on the box set With the Lights Out. Led Zeppelin parody/tribute band Dread Zeppelin recorded a reggae-influenced cover of the song with the lyrics from Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel".

Cover versionsEdit


  1. ^ "Led Zeppelin Biography". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Archived from the original on 29 June 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2014. their blues-rock approach on such tracks as "Whole Lotta Love," "Heartbreaker" and "Ramble On."
  2. ^ Williamson, Nigel (2007). The Rough Guide to Led Zeppelin. Rough Guides UK. p. 164. ISBN 978-1-8435-3841-7.
  3. ^ Rooksby, Rikky (2010). Riffs: How to Create and Play Great Guitar Riffs Revised and Updated Edition (1st ed.). Backbeat Books. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-4768-5547-9.
  4. ^ Lewis, Dave (6 December 2016). "Led Zeppelin: The Story Behind Led Zeppelin II". Classic Rock. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b "100 Greatest Guitar Solos: No. 16 "Heartbreaker" (Jimmy Page)". Guitar World. 21 October 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  6. ^ "328. Led Zeppelin, 'Heartbreaker'". Rolling Stone. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  7. ^ a b Tolinski, Brad; Di Bendetto, Greg (January 1998). ""Light and Shade"". Guitar World.
  8. ^ "Fifty Artists Pick Their Personal Top 10s – Rick Rubin: Led Zeppelin". Archived from the original on 11 December 2010.. Rolling Stone.
  9. ^ Bosso, Joe (20 November 2008). "Van Halen: VH1". Archived from the original on 15 January 2011.. Guitar World.
  10. ^ Kitts, Jeff; Tolinski, Brad (2002). Guitar World Presents the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time!. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-6340-4619-3.

External linksEdit