"I think John Bonham is so responsible for a lot of Zeppelin’s songwriting on III": Why I ❤️ Led Zeppelin III, by Michael Schenker

Michael Schenker and the cover of Led Zeppelin III
(Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

After setting a new benchmark for red-blooded, bare-chested rock’n’roll with their first two albums, the pastoral sounds of Led Zeppelin III – much of which was written at Bron-Y-Aur, a remote cottage in Wales – confounded critics at the time. But its visionary, ambitious music influenced a whole new generation of artists, including former Scorpions and UFO guitar legend Michael Schenker. 


“I was lying in bed one morning, aged fifteen, alone in my room, listening to our family’s old vintage radio. Led Zeppelin III had just come out, and it was being introduced on a programme that I always listened to. 

When I heard the drums of Immigrant Song I just went, ‘Oh, this is life...’ Then I’d hear it in clubs. I’d hear it everywhere. There was something about III that was more snappy than the first two albums." 

"I learnt the whole guitar part from Since I’ve Been Loving You, because [Scorpions singer] Klaus Meine and I performed it. It was a fantastic melody and the note structure was unbelievable. And the way Robert Plant sang – he sounded like he was just jamming.

“I think John Bonham is so responsible for a lot of Zeppelin’s songwriting on III. On Immigrant Song, I realised immediately that his drums were leading, and all Jimmy Page had to do was follow. 

"What I loved about songs like Gallows Pole was the way the drums made the acoustic guitar work. They were so heavy and grooving, so it didn’t matter if it was accompanied by acoustic guitar, it still rocked.”

Michael Schenker was speaking with Henry Yates.

Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.