Led Zeppelin are often criticized for ripping off the blues and it is weird hearing Robert Plant sing, “A-you need coolin’ / Baby, I’m not foolin'” but they also ripped off white music.
Led Zeppelin are often criticized for ripping off the blues and it is weird hearing Robert Plant sing, “A-you need coolin’ / Baby, I’m not foolin'” but they also ripped off white music. Bert Jansch is a Glaswegian guitarist who died last month and I highly reccommend his musical meanderings on a Sunday afternoon. One thing you’ll notice when you listen to Jansch is how shamelessly he was ripped off by Jimmy Page. I don’t mean Page was loosely trying to sound like someone else. I mean he lifted Jansch songs note-for-note. Take this ditty for example.
Page stole the entire intro for his song and even had the audacity to name it “Black Mountainside.”
When Jansch heard the song he was pissed and said, “The accompaniment was nicked by a well-known member of one of the most famous rock bands, who used it, unchanged, on one of their records.” He tried to take it to court but British law said he’d have to handle at least half the lawyer’s fees himself and he simply didn’t have the money. Though the original song is traditional, the Page version hijacked the licks Jansch had added himself. This was as clear to anyone who heard it as it was expensive to pursue. Eventually Jansch said, “he ripped me off, didn’t he? Or let’s just say he learned from me” and gave up the fight. Today, Google-image-ing “Scottish Jimmy Page” brings up dozens of Jansch photos.
Led Zeppelin were well aware of how expensive it was to sue them and regularly “sampled” other artists without so much as a liner note. They were basically a mash up cover band as documented nicely here. Fuck those guys.