The Late Movies: Where Led Zeppelin Music Came From
The group Led Zeppelin has copyrights on quite a few songs that were recorded much earlier. Other songs they never filed for copyright, but credited to themselves instead of the composer. And still others were properly credited, but you may not know about the original. You might recognize these.
When the Levee Breaks
"When the Levee Breaks" was written by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie, recorded by them in 1929. It was about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.
Traveling Riverside Blues
Written by Robert Johnson, "Traveling Riverside Blues" was first recorded in 1937. Not only did Led Zeppelin record this song, but they used some of the lyrics for "The Lemon Song" as well.
Whole Lotta Love
This song was originally named "You Need Love," as written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Muddy Waters in 1962. Dixon sued over Zep's "Whole Lotta Love" in 1985, and won an out-of-court settlement.
Dazed and Confused
Written and recorded by Jake Holmes in 1967. He later sued Jimmy Page over the rights to the song... in 2010!
You Shook Me
This song was written by Willie Dixon and J.B. Lenior. It was recorded as an instrumental by Earl Hooker, and Muddy Waters added vocals to that recording in 1962.
I Can't Quit You Baby
"I Can't Quit You Baby" was written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Otis Rush in 1956.
This is a folk song that goes back hundreds of years, originally called "The Maid Freed from the Gallows." When Ledbelly reorded it in the 1930s, it was called "Gallis Pole."
In My Time of Dying
The title of this tune was "Jesus, Make Up My Dying Bed" when Blind Willie Johnson recorded it in 1927. "In My Time of Dying" is a very old gospel song, which was acknowledged by Bob Dylan when he recorded the tune in 1962. Led Zeppelin took their own writing credit.
Stairway to Heaven
The Song "Taurus" by the group Spirit was written by Randy California in 1967. The group went on tour with Led Zeppelin as their opening act in 1968. Sound familiar?
I realize that to some of you, music from the 1920s and music from the 1970s are both ancient art forms, but when I found out (in the 1970s) that Led Zeppelin mainly updated old blues songs, it opened me up to enjoyment of a much wider range of music than I had ever experienced before.