Led Zeppelin’s 10 Boldest Rip-Offs
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6. “Since I’ve Been Loving You”
Another track with uncredited elements on loan from another song: In this case, some of the lyrics came from “Never,” released just two years earlier by one of Plant’s favorite bands, Moby Grape: “Working from 11 to 7 every night/Ought to make life a drag” became “Working from 7 to 11 every night/It really makes life a drag.”
7. “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”
Jimmy Page often cited Scottish folk musician Bert Jansch as an influence. So much so that two Zeppelin tracks bear strong similarities to recordings Jansch made: “Black Mountain Side” borrows heavily from “Down by Blackwaterside,” while “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” is clearly a reworking of Jansch’s “The Waggoner’s Lad.” Jansch never sued: Although Page gave himself writing credits, the original material is based on folk melodies. But one of Jansch’s bandmates in Pentangle, Jacqui McShee complained, “It’s a very rude thing to do. Pinch somebody else’s thing and credit it to yourself.”
8. “Hats Off to (Roy) Harper”
The last track on Led Zeppelin III, named in tribute to the band’s chum Roy Harper, throws together bits and pieces of various blues songs, most prominently Bukka White’s “Shake ‘Em on Down,” released in 1937. The band listed the author as “Traditional” and the arrangement as being by “Charles Obscure” (a pseudonym for Page).
9. “In My Time of Dying”
This 11-minute Physical Graffiti track is credited to Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham, but it’s clearly the traditional gospel song that was recorded by many other people, starting with Blind Willie Johnson in 1927 (his version was called “Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed”) and including Bob Dylan in 1962 (he called it “In My Time of Dyin'” and made no claim on authorship). No lawsuit resulted: The song is in the public domain.
10. “Boogie With Stu”
This excellent cover of Ritchie Valens’ song “Ooh My Head” was originally intended for Zeppelin’s fourth album with a title of “Sloppy Drunk.” Eventually released on Physical Graffiti, the song was credited to the four members of Led Zeppelin, plus titular pianist Ian Stewart, and “Mrs. Valens,” in an effort to get some royalties directly to the mother of the original singer, who had died in a 1959 plane crash. “Robert did lean on that lyric a bit,” Page conceded. “So what happens? They try to sue us for all the song!” he said indignantly, as if the band hadn’t borrowed the song’s melody wholesale. “We could not believe it.”
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