“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.
The song was a vehicle for arranger/producer Dixon to launch Rush and Cobra Records, as it was the first single for both. In this regard, it was a success, reaching number six on Billboard’s Rhythm & Blues Records chart in 1956. In his autobiography, Willie Dixon explained that “I Can’t Quit You Baby” was written about a relationship Rush was preoccupied with at the time. Dixon used this statement to draw out an impassioned performance by Rush.
The song, a slow twelve-bar blues, has been recorded by various artists, including Led Zeppelin, who included it on their debut album.
English rock band Led Zeppelin recorded “I Can’t Quit You Baby” for their 1969 debut album Led Zeppelin. According to music journalist Cub Koda, their rendition is “a note-for-note copy of Otis Rush’s” 1966 Vanguard version, although 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”.
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 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).
n 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.
In a contemporary review for the Coda album, Kurt Loder of Rolling Stone found the Coda version of “I Can’t Quit You Baby”, “tossed off a sound check [in 1970]”, “perfectly captures the bluesmania of the period, complete with a classically overwrought guitar solo.” Source