10 Led Zeppelin Songs That Are Actually Rip-Offs

June 23, 2016

With both the prosecution and the defense resting their arguments in the court case against Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" for allegedly stealing the guitar melody to Spirit's song "Taurus," the fate of one of the most popular rock songs to ever exist rests on the shoulders of the jury. But regardless if "Stairway to Heaven" was stolen or not, Led Zeppelin has built a reputation of "borrowing" songs from other artists and then crediting them when called out.

Below are 10 examples of songs that Led Zeppelin did not initially credit the authors, let alone ask for permission.

  1. "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" by Joan Baez

    Written by Anne Bredon and performed by Joan Baez, the song became a staple in Led Zeppelin's debut album. But Bredon did not even know that Led Zeppelin had covered her song until the '80s, to which she agreed to split the royalties with the band and has been listed as a co-author.
  2. "Dazed and Confused" by Jake Holmes

    Even though it was also covered by Jimmy Page and The Yardbirds, the song's original author is Jake Holmes, who performed the song on his 1967 album The Above Ground Sound. Page denied ever stealing the song, even though the melodies are practically the same and some of the lyrics have been rewritten. Holmes went decades without filing a lawsuit against the band, fully knowing his song was lifted. "What the hell, let him have it," Holmes said. It wasn't until 2010 when Holmes finally filed a lawsuit against the band, and was settled out of court. In 2012, the Led Zeppelin live album Celebration Day credits Holmes to the song as written by "Page; inspired by Holmes."
  3. "You Need Love/Whole Lotta Love" by Muddy Waters

    One of the first times that Plant was credited for attributing lyrics to Jimmy Page's guitar riff, he quoted a song titled "You Need Love" by Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters. "I just thought, 'Well, what am I going to sing?' That was it, a nick. Now happily paid for. At the time, there was a lot of conversation about what to do. It was intended that it was so far away in time and influence that... Well, you only get caught when you're successful. That's the game," said Plant. Interestingly enough, "Whole Lotta Love" and "You Need Love" are only seven years apart.
  4. "Killing Floor/The Lemon Song" by Howling' Wolf

    One of Zeppelin's more novelty songs drew a lawsuit by Howlin' Wolf (real name Chester Burnett), after the band had been playing "Killing Floor" live. On some of the records of Led Zeppelin ||, "The Lemon Song" is actually labeled as "Killing Floor." The band has since credited Burnett as a co-author of the song.
  5. "Bring It Home" by Sonny Boy Williamson

    Led Zeppelin caught some flack after covering Sonny Boy WIlliamson's "Bring It Home" on their Led Zeppelin || album. Page vented his frustration over the ordeal, saying, "The thing with 'Bring It on Home,' Christ, there's only a tiny bit taken from Sonny Boy Williamson's version and we threw that in as a tribute to him. People say, 'Oh, 'Bring It on Home' is stolen.' Well, there's only a little bit in the song that relates to anything that had gone before it."
  6. "Never/Since I've Been Loving You" by Moby Grape

    Two years after Moby Grape released "Never," Led Zeppelin lifted some of the lyrics word-for-word in their song "Since I've Been Loving You." They changed "Working 11 to 7 every night/Out to make life a drag" to "Working from 7 to 11 every night/ It really makes life a drag."
  7. "The Waggoner's Lad/Brob-Y-Aur Stomp" by Bert Jansch

  8. "Shake 'Em On Down/Hats Off to (Roy) Harper" by Booker (Bukka) White

    Led Zeppelin's tribute to Roy Harper drew parts from blues songs written by Bukka White.
  9. "Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed/In My Time of Dying" by Blind Willie Johnson

    Although the song lasts 11 minutes on the Physical Graffiti album, many consider it the work of blues/gospel singer Blind Willie Johnson in 1927. Bob Dylan also covered the song in 1962, calling it "In My Time of Dyin'" and made never officially claimed to be the song's author, leaving it in the public domain.
  10. "Ooh! My Head/Boogie With Stu" by Ritchie Valens

    Crediting themselves, pianist Ian Stewart, and "Mrs. Valens," the mother of the original song's author Ritchie Valens, Jimmy Page described the whole ordeal that started as a result of the cover. "Robert did lean on that lyric a bit," said Page. "So what happens? They try to sue us for all the song! - We could not believe it."

(source: Rolling Stone)