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Led Zep honored as songwriters?

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       Robert Plant and Jimmy Page have been nominated into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, if you can believe that. Honoring these two for songwriting is like inducting Ronnie Biggs into the Society of Bankers Hall of Fame. These two are the biggest thieves in Rock and Roll history. What an absolute disgrace to songwriters. 

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Hi K

 

   Hmmmm.... I think if you were looking at it from the point of view of a blues purest, you might have a point. But even Zep did some blues covers on their first album to pay homage. If you look at their body of work, it isnt totally steeped in the blues. In fact they went more classic rock and even some acoustic folk depending what genre they wanted to explore. Quite frankly they gave the blues a huge kick in the arse and drug it out of the swamp and shot it out of a bazooka for the public to give the blues a second look or take blues as a relevant art form anymore.

     They probably gave the blues an extended life since blues music was only having a hey day in England in the 60s while it was dying out to pop music on the air waves in the states. The Brits really kept it alive through hybrids like Ten Years After and Robin Trower to name a few.

     But yeah, Page and Plant were probably better known for heavier songs with creative arrangements that didnt depend on a formula or cookie cutter. Pioneers in album rock? So, as writers, I think some of their material was breaking new ground if you're not fixated on the blues hybrid side of their writing.

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Kashmir, the rain song, 10 years gone, Battle of evermore, Achilles last stand, No Quarter

 

Yes they ripped things off big time in the early days, maybe they even ripped off "stairway to heaven", but they wrote some songs which I absolutely love with no apparent stealing from others

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     They stole songs from blues guys still living st the time --without identifying these bluesmen as the authors of the songs and thus the proper recipients of the millions of dollars of royalties. Homage my ass! They were thieves. 

       The Stones and Clapton's bands were among the ones doing homage. They identified the song authors for both recogniition and compensation. They toured with the blues acts. Compare that with  Led Zap claiming other people's songs as their own so they could steal the royalties. Homage my ass! 

         Fab I agree they wrote a few of their own, but to nominate the most well-documented of song thieves into a songwriters HOF is disgraceful. Willie Dixon Howlin Wolf and Muddy Waters are rolling over in their graves. 

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Hi

 

 Hmmmm...I knew about the "Stairway to Heaven" awhile back and it is what it is. No argument there. Only three really stuck out in my mind from Alistairs post as obvious rips. Custard Pie, Dazed and Confused and the Lemon Song. Other than that, the other cases seemed kinda iffy. (and two of Willie Dixons songs are credited on the first album).

    As was mentioned, Zep was taken to court on a couple songs. I guess what could be argued would be that there are only so many blues patterns out there and not to write something in a similar vein is almost impossible. There probably wouldnt be a Stevie Ray Vaughn if he couldn't use a blues pattern to write with.

 

 

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1 hour ago, R-N-R Jim said:

I guess what could be argued would be that there are only so many blues patterns out there and not to write something in a similar vein is almost impossible.

There is nothing accidental about Led Zeppelin's usage of others' material.  I hope @Lazz makes an appearance because he has offered extensive comments on this subject that make the matter cut and dried.  Zep are thieves.  Talented thieves who wrote plenty of their own material, but thieves nonetheless.

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I just dug through the archives and found a couple posts that warrant inclusion in this thread.

 

Lazz #1

 

Quote

t seems to been a long standing tradition for UK “blues” guys of the ‘60s to claim authorship to which they were not entitled. It is symptomatic of the pop music business being driven essentially by commerce – by the desire to make money. And they generally figured they could get away with it. Especially if those from whom they had stolen were largely unheard of by the mainstream music consumer and general public, were black, preferably deceased, and estimated to have few resources available for mounting a copyright challenge. Greed made it worth taking a chance. And remember that the commercial music business has always had theft as a cornerstone of its corrupt heart.

Although later revised, the disc label on the first UK Rolling Stones LP pressings, for example, credited Jagger/Richards with Robert Johnson’s “Love In Vain”. And the flip-side of an early Rod Stewart single, titled “Rock My Plimsoles”, ‘though credited to Stewart, was in truth a complete lift of B B King’s “Rock Me Baby” (save for the word “plimsoles”). Rod the Mod understood that a B-side collected the same royalty as an A-side and figured that a B-side credit stood more chance of sliding by unnoticed. He was right.

 

At least Page and Plant were even-handed enough to steal from white folk too. History had taught them that if they had the balls to go for it then they had a good chance of getting away with it. And they pretty much have.

Here are a few illustrations:

 

“Dazed And Confused”, it says on their first album, was written by Jimmy Page. But it can be found on a ’67 LP recorded and written by the forgotten Jake Holmes. After settlement in 2010, the song credit from 2012 on became “Jimmy Page, inspired by Jake Holmes”. So, however much Holes was paid-off with, sticky-fingers Page is still collecting on a song he didn’t write.

 

Bert Jansch’s 1968 LP “ Jack Orion” contains the old scots/english folk-song “Blackwaterside” which is credited quite openly and honestly as “trad., arr. Jansch”. Page renamed this old tune of unknown authorship as “Black Mountain Side” and asserted songwriting credit and royalty income.

 

“Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” was written by Anne Bredon in the late ‘50s and became popular after its release on Joan Baez’s 1962 LP “In Concert, Part 1”. This number was subsequently claimed as “trad., arr. Page” and then, some time in the ‘90s, a settlement was reached by which the new credit is given by ASCAP as Bredon/Page/Plant. This means the real writer gets only a third share while Page and plant muscled in for equal dibs on a tune they had absolutely nothing to do with.

 

Howlin’ Wolf (Chester Burnett) wrote “How Many More Years” in 1951. In some sneaky side-deal, the publishers originally gave credit to Carl Germany. But it should have been Chester Burnett. “How Many More Times” took the Burnett number, mixed it in with Albert King & Booker T’s “The Hunter” and a couple of other songs from Alan Lomax field recordings which Plant was already familiar with from working with Alexis Korner. Even on the 2014 remaster of “Led Zeppelin”, it still remains credited to Page/Jones/Bonham.

 

“Whole Lotta Love” was written by Willie Dixon but credited to Page/Plant/Jones/Bonham. After settlement with Dixon in ’85 the song is now credited to Page/Plant/Jones/Bonham/Dixon – so they are still getting paid for what they didn’t write.

 

“The Lemon Song” is stolen from Chester Burnett’s “Killing Floor”. Originally given as Page/Plant/Jones/Bonham, the credit now says Page/Plant/Jones/Bonham/Burnett – so, again, your boys are still getting paid for what they didn’t write while Howlin' Wolf gets only 20% of what he should be getting paid.

 

“Bring It On Home” is another Willie Dixon song claimed as Page/Plant. After another lawsuit, the song is now given Dixon as sole author. Hooray.

 

“Hats Off To Harper” is a direct rip-off of Bukka White’s “Shake Em On Down” from 1937. White died in 1977, having received doodley-squat, and the track retains its credit as “trad., arr. Charles Obscure”. Charles Obscure is a publishing pseudonym of Jimmy Page.

 

“Since I’ve Been Loving You” is stolen from “Never”, written by Bob Mosley and recorded by Moby Grape’s 19888 “Grape Jam”. Mosley accepted an out-of-court settlement, but Page/Plant/Jones still retain the credit. And, of course, the continuing royalty stream.

 

“Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” comes from another traditional song “The Waggoner’s Lad” – also on the Jansch LP “Jack Orion”, where it is given as “trad., arr. Jansch/Renbourne. It is still credited to Page/Plant/Jones.

 

“When The Levee Breaks” was written by Memphis Minnie and Joe McCoy in 1929. By some mysterious oversight, Minnie is given equal credit alongside Page/Plant/Jones/Bonham. Actual co-writer McCoy is completely cut-out of the equation and the Memphis Minnie estate (she died in 1973) consequently ends up with only 20% of what it should.

 

While musicians and writers undoubtedly "borrow from" and are "inspired by" numerous others, Led Zeppelin are particularly blatant about it and demonstrably keen to keep authorial credit and the ensuing royalty streams for themselves - and much to the detriment of the actual real composers.

This is all incontrovertible fact – not opinion.

 

If you need more examples, we’ve got ‘em for you.

The business is all about money.

Integrity has fuck-all to do with it.

Plus, they can afford heavyweight lawyers.

It is indisputable that Led Zeppelin have committed plagiarism.

Again and again.

Lazz #2

 

Quote

Copyright disputes aren't criminal affairs - I mean, you can't call the cops as you could for robbery or violence. The fight has to take place under processes of civil law, not those of the criminal variety, and the winner is normally the one who can afford to pay the most in legal fees. The little guys trying to get what's right on principle often face the sort of crippling costs that mean settling for something - anything - rather than nothing - becomes a good-looking option. And once they settle, they are obliged to keep their mouths shut as part of the deal. So we know little of actual verifiable detail outside of industry network gossip and rumour, and our own knowledge and experience.

 

I don't believe they set out to be complete bastards about it. I just think that once a line is crossed in any behavious, testing the limits a little, and you find you can get away with it, that it becomes a little easier each time. Like murder. It seems quite credible to me, for example, when he first heard Joan Baez singing "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You", that Jimmy Page presumed the song was traditional - Joan Baez was a folk-singer, after all, so traditional material was what she did, right? Dammit – even Joan Baez herself had originally thought it was a folk song. No blame. But remember too that at the time they were pretty scuffling pop musos, short of a few bob, who had become hip to the ways publishing worked, and who had learned from the Bert Jansch example that with traditional repertoire that was presumably in the public domain, one could claim income for the arrangement. The UK's Performing Rights Society (PRS) and Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS) are co-operative that way. Depending on how significant they consider the arrangement, you can carve yourself a piece of that “trad” pie. And that potentially explains the credit that Page claimed for "traditional, arranged by Page". Maybe, at the start, like this, there was no motive of malice, just hungry opportunism.

Right, so now we have Bredon, who wrote the song whilst a young bright eyed folk-singing student at the U of California in Berkeley, blithely unaware of Led Zeppelin’s use of it until sometime in the ‘80s, by which time your boys had become big-time rich and famous and had staff and all kinds of special people to deal with stuff . The Led Zep legal people, in response to a letter from small-time Bredon’s people, say to Led Zep, “Don’t worry about this, boys. We’ll take care of everything and send you a bill”.

 

Several years later, in the late ‘90s, with the matter still not brought before a court due to lawyerly tricks of the trade – procedural tactics, delaying strategies, costly and time-consuming negotiations back-and-forth – Bredon, emotionally and financially exhausted, eventually caves-in and accepts an out-of-court settlement. So it never got to court. It’s all so firkin expensive. Their lawyers likely pointed out that revenue only exists because of Led Zep’s ability to sell loads of pieces of plastic. So they offer her a third share in the song with royalties back-dated. It’s still a big number. She is tired. Worn-out. Fatigued by the battle. And they are ready to cut her a cheque immediately. So she settles for one third of her own song. It still adds up to a lot.

 

That’s how I imagine it going down and, from what I know, it’s the way it makes easiest best sense. I mean, I don’t believe they initially set outto rub a poor songwriter’s face in the dirt with their overwhelming force majeure – but those music-biz legal-people just love to get all macho and muscular on silly white powder, it’s what they’re in business for, they do the face-grinding quite gleefully on the client’s behalf and on the client’s dime.

That’s predominantly how the other cases shake out as far as I can see – via out-of-court settlements, buttoned-up with confidentiality clauses, in which the claimant gets as much as they think they can at that moment, while the offender coughs-up as little as they figure they can get away with. Some people like Jake Holmes maybe are beaten down enough so they sign-off completely on ownership and future royalties in exchange for a large one-off cash payment and their solemn vow to keep a tight lip.

 

After the bitter pill of his “Whole Lotta Love” settlement, Willie Dixon resolved to persevere to a judgement over “Bring It On Home”.

There was only ever one decision the court could make, given the prima facie open-and-shut nature of the matter before it.

My opinion is that even if we take the most extreme charitable view - that these things all unfolded innocently and accidentally through mistakes over what is and what is not "traditional" i.e. "public domain" and up-for-grabs - then given their accumulated history of previous and the years and years they take to settle, it becomes impossible for me to imagine they have no idea what their lawyers are doing on their behalf. But going further, being even more charitable, and insisting that it only really happened if your boys put their hands up and admit to it, whatever the facts and circumstance, I think we have to be obstinately naïve to adopt and maintain such a position. Rock’n’Roll has always been a highly larcenous business. There is oodles of dosh zipping about. What else do we expect? A good job we haven’t been doing it for a living ourselves, I say. We’d be scrap by now.

Jim, note that the crediting of Willie Dixon was not at all the conscientious act you implied in your earlier post.

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Hi

 

   Great research guys! Granted it didnt surprise me that they plagiarized some blues riffs or progressions or even some lines. It's funny only when the money starts coming in by the barrels full that someone takes notice.  Do you think the remaining blues legends or their publishers now go through every blues release for plagiarism? I would think some of the songs would or most could say adaption of blues traditional chord progression in "E" or "A" etc. How does a person today write a blues song without getting sued?

   Anyways...as far as Page/Plant, I can't fault them for putting their own spin on the blues especially citing just a couple songs. Their renditions or arrangements are far more electrifying. For the most part the blues scene or music was a dying or dead art form until the Brits of the 60s brought it back to life. Guitars weren't flying off the shelves because of BB King either. The Beatles made that industry explode with their music and sound. If it wasnt for the Brits discovering this music in the 60s, alot of that music would have just collected dust or maybe found it's way being played at pool halls in the south.

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4 minutes ago, R-N-R Jim said:

Do you think the remaining blues legends or their publishers now go through every blues release for plagiarism? I would think some of the songs would or most could say adaption of blues traditional chord progression in "E" or "A" etc. How does a person today write a blues song without getting sued?

Something similar happened to Colin Hay with "Down Under", but that's the reason that decision was such a travesty.  Zep wasn't merely guilty of using a common progression or inadvertently lifting a snippet from a prior song, so that concern is tangential.  

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Lazz was only citing a small number of examples of theivery as I'm sure Lazz thought his own time too valuable and the effort too redundant to go through Led Zep's entire catalog for example after example. It would be a shorter list to narrow down which Zep songs have no obvious parentage outside the band. [weren't stolen]

          The internet has numerous web pages devoted strictly to Led Zep's thievery citing many other examples. I take the more cynical view  that it was deliberate and calculated. What's amazing is that no matter how many examples you show a Zep fan they still try to defend those guys. 

           

 

 

 

 

 

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Your probably right, most Zep fans could care less how the songs were created. The average music listener wouldn't even know or care how the songs were lifted or inspired. The end result was some pretty good rocken songs that the masses could bob their heads to. I mean, nobody worries about how The Levee Breaks became a song (though I found it interesting) other than its a great track and Im glad those guys found it regardless of the circumstances because without them finding it, it probably would have never seen the light of day and lost forever to 1929.

  Granted, Im not a staunch Zep fan or would say they influenced me in any way, but I do enjoy some of their music. Again, because I am not a blues purist, I have no skin in the game.

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I’m not the biggest Zep fan out there. However I’ve always thought of them as the greatest rock band in history. When I think of a Rock and Roll front man. I think Robert Plant. The way he looked, the way he sounded. I feel the same way about Jimmy Page as a rock guitarists. More like a guitar god. Again. The way he looked and the way he sounded. Of course throw in the multi talented John Paul Jones and the heavy hitting John Bonham on drums. I call that the perfect recipe for the perfect band. Anyway  

 I hate seeing how much these guys ripped off. I can’t believe it. All these classic songs. Obviously these songs would be nothing without Zep. But come on. How could they do it so  blatantly?

 I’m not sure how the money thing usually works  for bands selling a lot of songs they recorded but didn’t write. In this case. 20% of a ton of money is much better than 100% of zero money.  But not sure how that all works. 

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