The Only Rule Led Zeppelin Had To Allow Ben Affleck To Use ‘When The Levee Breaks’ In ‘Argo’

Ben Affleck worked on directing and starring in the film ‘Argo‘ in 2012. The science fiction film portrays an American agent, Mendez on a mission to rescue six American diplomats under hostage in Tehran. The film is categorized as a historical thriller drama that harbors real historical events that took place in history. It portrays 1979-1981 Iran and has won several prominent awards.

The film received seven Oscar nominations in the 85th Academy Awards and won three of them being Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing. The director Ben Affleck worked on the film very well and got the price in the end. During a specific scene, one of the hostages is playing a record on his last day in Iran before attempting their escape. He puts the needle on the recording, and Led Zeppelin’s ‘When The Levee Breaks’ starts to play.

How Did Ben Affleck Get Led Zeppelin’s Permission To Use Their Song?

‘When The Levee Breaks’ was originally a Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie song written in 1929, and Led Zeppelin reworked it for their fourth album in 1971. Led Zeppelin is not known for easily allowing their songs to be played in movies, and Affleck had a hard time trying to get them to approve the song. But eventually, they agreed on one condition.

They demanded a huge amount of money for the song, and they also put their word on the scene it was going to be used. The band’s attention to detail was shocking. Apparently, the actor was putting the pickup needle to the wrong song in their 1971 record beginning. The band asked Affleck to correct that mistake and to put the needle on the song.

It seems like a minor change, but Affleck made sure the band was happy because he admired them very much. For Affleck, the greatest rock and roll band in history is not The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, it is Led Zeppelin, and he was specifically delighted they agreed to the song.

Here is what he stated in LA Times about the band in 2012:

“Zeppelin, to me, is the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band. People say, ‘The Beatles, the Stones.’ No. It’s Zeppelin… So not only did we have to pay for the song, we had to pay for an effects shot. You have to appreciate their attention to detail, though.”

You can watch the scene and listen to the song below.