12 Artists Who Ripped Off Led Zeppelin
As the “Stairway to Heaven” trial reminds us, Led Zeppelin‘s business practices – especially when it came to giving proper songwriting credit for songs that were partly or wholly lifted from other sources – were often as suspect as their dalliances with groupies.
But that (in through the out) door has also swung both ways. One of the most influential bands of their era, Led Zeppelin have inspired countless copycats during the past four decades – some of whom have taken their Zep worship to brazen (and borderline actionable) extremes. Call it karmic payback, or call it the natural evolution of rock & roll, but as long as there are new generations of listeners discovering Led Zeppelin for the first time, there will be new bands striving to conjure up some Zoso-style magik.
Here, then, are a dozen examples of (mostly) well-known artists who have drunk deeply from the Zeppelin well. Some of them incorporate lessons learned from the masters into their own style; some could pass for actual Led Zep recordings; and most actually sound more like Zeppelin than any of Page or Plant’s post-Zep projects. So if Zeppelin lose the “Stairway to Heaven” case, perhaps they can make some of that money back by suing a few of these folks.
Formed by Ronnie Montrose – a brilliant session guitarist with a flair for bluesy hard rock – and fronted by Sammy Hagar, a previously unknown singer with blond curls and powerful pipes, the original Montrose lineup was certainly cut from Zeppelin-esque cloth. “We could have been the American Led Zeppelin,” Hagar (who was fired by the guitarist after two albums) lamented in 2011, and “I Got the Fire,” a smoking track from 1974’s Paper Money amply backs up his claim. Montrose’s cascading blues licks, Hagar’s slap-back-drenched wail, Denny Carmassi’s thundering drums and the song’s cocky rock & roll thrust could convince any unsuspecting listener that the song is really an outtake from Led Zeppelin IV.
Though they were often touted (and occasionally derided) as “the American Stones,” Aerosmith actually felt a much deeper artistic kinship with Led Zeppelin. “We learned the arena-rock sound from their records,” guitarist Joe Perry told Rolling Stone in 2007. “Jimmy Page was so young when they made their first record, but he’d spent so much time in the studio, he had the whole thing mapped out in his head. He was like Eisenhower looking at Normandy Beach.” The band’s way with a swaggering groove was clearly Zeppelin-derived as well; recorded just weeks after the release of Physical Graffiti, “Sweet Emotion” could easily be the slinky second cousin of that album’s “Trampled Under Foot.”