12 Artists Who Ripped Off Led Zeppelin
Ann and Nancy Wilson have worn their affinity for Led Zeppelin on their frilly sleeves ever since Heart began; several of their hits (like 1977’s “Barracuda”) have featured Zeppelin-esque guitar riffs; they’ve covered several of the band’s songs on stage (including a mind-blowing rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” at the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors concert); and they even called upon John Paul Jones to produce their 1995 acoustic live album, The Road Home. Ann wouldn’t even be averse to stepping in for Plant, should a Zep reunion require it. “Hypothetically, if they ever needed a lead singer and Heart was not active at the moment, then, sure, I would [audition for Led Zeppelin],” Ann said in 2014. “I would go and play with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones any day of the week.” While many bands have successfully aped Zep’s priapic blues-stomp, Heart’s mandolin-driven “Dream of the Archer” (from 1977’s Little Queen) is the closest anyone’s ever come to replicating the spooky Brit-folk vibe of “The Battle of Evermore.”
With his brash vocals, clanging guitar riffs and arena-shaking beats, Squier ably filled the immediate hard-rock void left by Led Zeppelin, who’d disbanded following John Bonham’s death in September 1980. Don’t Say No, Squier’s breakthrough 1981 album, went triple platinum partly because of “Lonely Is the Night,” which sounded like a more radio-friendly reinterpretation of the 1976 Zep track “Nobody’s Fault but Mine.” “I was very humbled by the ‘one-man Led Zeppelin’ comparisons,” Squier reflected in a 2006 interview. “They were a band of staggering proportion and incredible vision.” As the impressive push-and-pull dynamics (and Bonham-esque drum punctuations) of “Lonely Is the Night” attest, Squier spent many hours painstakingly dissecting that vision.
“Love Removal Machine,” the first single from 1987’s Electric – the Cult’s Rick Rubin-produced hard-rock makeover – is often tagged as an AC/DC rip-off, but more than a little Zeppelin thievery can be found in there, as well. Ian Astbury’s “Baby, baby, baby, baby” wail makes him sound like a dead ringer for Robert Plant, while the furious Billy Duffy guitar flurry that follows the song’s “Misty Mountain Hop” boogie riff could have been lifted wholesale from Jimmy Page’s “Communication Breakdown” solo. Ironically, the band had recorded their previous album, 1985’s Love, at London’s Olympic Studios, specifically because Zep had worked there on their first two records. “Everybody [at the time] wanted the most modern, technologically advanced gear,” Duffy recalled in a 2012 interview. “And we’re going, ‘Led Zeppelin!’ and we’re talking to the house engineer – ‘Tell us about Jimmy Page, what did he use?'” But it wasn’t until Electric that their Zeppelin-y tendencies truly came to the fore.
Soundgarden were the most Zep-influenced of Seattle’s grunge acts – a fact that was initially obvious to everyone but themselves. “When we first got together, we were listening to a lot of post-punk and progressive hardcore, stuff like Bauhaus and Black Flag, after practice,” guitarist Kim Thayil explained to Rolling Stone in 2015. “Yet our friends are pointing out how our music has elements that remind them of Sabbath, Zeppelin and the Doors, and we started getting that a lot: ‘Zeppelin, Zeppelin, Zeppelin,’ and we were like, ‘OK, let’s check some of this out. …’ Eventually, after practice we’d be like, ‘Let’s check out Led Zeppelin IV. Let’s listen to Houses of the Holy.’ Like, ‘Yeah, I guess I can kind of see that a little bit.'” One listen to the roiling “Hands All Over,” from their 1989 album Louder Than Love, and you’ll see it too.
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