By Popular Demand: “Fuck Led Zeppelin and Here’s Why”

We do aim to please here at Bollocks!, so when a few friends asked to hear my “Fuck Led Zeppelin and Here’s Why” lecture, I decided to put my “Everyone Should Stop Covering Jimi Hendrix and Here’s Why” post on hold to bring you, by popular demand, my argument against Led Zeppelin.

But first, in this season of giving, let’s be charitable and talk about some things that were good about Led Zeppelin. I like one or two Zep tunes myself and I like to give credit where credit is due. For one thing, Led Zeppelin arguably had one of the best (next to the Who) rhythm sections in all of rock music. John Paul Jones and John Bonham don’t always get the media love that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant get, but those dudes could lay some shit down, musically speaking. So I honor the bassist and drummer of Led Zeppelin, but I don’t honor a whole lot else.

Why?

For starters, they stole a shitload of songs. From the (by now) well-documented theft of Willie Dixon’s “You Need Love” to their uncredited recording of Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” Led Zeppelin never met a black dude’s song that they didn’t like. And by “like”, I mean “steal without giving the dude credit.” So it’s not just the theft of these songs that bothers me, it’s who they were stolen from – mostly poor, black musicians; guys who ran around the country singing their songs and shagging the wives of white men, only to make enough money to get to the next town and do it all again. And, as a fan of early blues music, I find Zeppelin’s versions of these songs pretty inferior to the originals. Take “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” – Blind Willie Johnson’s version has exponentially more soul than the Zep version and the sad thing here is that the Led Zeppelin version is one of their songs that I like. Check out the audio of Blind Willie Johnson here. You might disagree with me about this song, in which case you are quite possibly Robert Plant.

Which brings me to another reason Led Zeppelin sucks: Robert Plant and his banshee-wailing bullshit. I know I’m gonna get a lot of flack for this, but I have never understood why people think Plant is such a great singer. He spent most of his time in Led Zeppelin singing like a hysterical teenage girl from a B-grade horror flick (the rest of his time was spent finding black guys to steal from and trying figure out subtle ways to musically suck off J.R.R. Tolkien). You know what’s missing from all of my favorite Zep tunes? Plant’s banshee-wailing bullshit. He wasn’t bad when he just sang like a normal person, but even then, I don’t see what all the fuss was about. He was adequate at best and extra annoying at worst.

And as for Jimmy Page? Totally overrated. So he played with a bow on one song. Big fucking deal. You know which Jimi Hendrix solos are better than everything Jimmy Page ever played? All of them! Page also loses points for his continued denial, despite mountains of evidence (including lawsuits from original artists), that Led Zeppelin stole songs from people. And claiming that you’re paying “tribute” to an artist when you don’t give them credit for writing the song isn’t homage – it’s being an asshole. Page couldn’t even credit the correct songwriters when defending Zeppelin’s theft to an interviewer in 1977 – he said of “Bring It On Home” that there was “only a tiny bit taken from Sonny Boy Williamson’s version and we threw that in as a tribute to him.” I’m sorry, Mr. Page, the answer we’re looking for is Willie Dixon, who wrote “Bring It On Home.” And “Whole Lotta Love” for you too. If this were final Jeopardy, Jimmy Page, the answer would be, “A black blues musician upon whose back Led Zeppelin built their career.” And the question, in all caps, would be “WHO IS WILLIE DIXON, YOU THIEVING FUCK?” Incidentally, I’d like to tattoo that on Jimmy Page’s forehead.

Led Zeppelin is often credited with “inventing heavy metal.” Now, if you wanna have a really satisfying argument, argue with people about who invented heavy metal (I sometimes offer the two Gustavs, Mahler and Holst, as the godfathers of heavy metal, which ends arguments fast because precious few metal-heads know who Mahler and Holst were). A lot of people will say Led Zeppelin, a few will say Black Sabbath and some might suggest the Stooges or even Jimi Hendrix. But let’s not equivocate – Led Zeppelin did not “invent” heavy metal. Yes, they got their debut on the streets a few months before Black Sabbath and the Stooges, but Sabbath was the heavier band by far and I’m goddamn sick of Tony Iommi having to live in Jimmy Page’s shadow, despite the fact that he is a vastly superior guitarist. Also, Black Sabbath has credibility on their side – they wrote the songs on Black Sabbath, with the exception of two credited cover songs. The correct answer is that Sabbath invented heavy metal (though they, like almost all of us, owe a debt of gratitude to Jimi Hendrix), the Stooges invented punk (a decade ahead of its time!), and Led Zeppelin, sorry to say, invented cock rock. So the next time Warrant comes by your state fair, remember to thank Led Zeppelin.

Of all the reasons that I hate Led Zeppelin, the theft still weighs most heavily on my mind. Or rather, it’s what the theft means. Led Zeppelin made a lot of songs famous that they didn’t write and they’ve enabled generations of middle class white kids to avoid learning true history – kids who love “Dazed and Confused” aren’t going to seek out the original version. I actually got in an argument when I was in college over “Whole Lotta Love” and the kid I was arguing with, who had never heard the original, dismissed Willie Dixon by saying, “Led Zeppelin made it better.” It might be tempting to say that “it’s just music” and it doesn’t matter, but we’re talking about intellectual dishonesty here – the idea that you don’t have to acknowledge the truth if the lie is more comfortable. That philosophy, such as it isn’t, is dominant in our culture right now and if we can’t defeat it in our entertainment, what hope do we have of defeating it anywhere else? I’m not saying that it’s unethical to like Led Zeppelin – remember, I even like some of their tunes – but I am saying that the pedestal upon which their fans have placed them is built on the graves of talented black men and if you can’t admit that when you’re defending them, you’re showing me that you are susceptible to all kinds of (perhaps more dangerous) deception.

35 thoughts on “By Popular Demand: “Fuck Led Zeppelin and Here’s Why”

  1. WOW that sounds like u know ur shit gives me a hole different prception on led zeppelin lol i like ur comment about warrent bein part of cock rock lots of hair bands are like that

  2. You’re a complete and utter fucktard with a tin ear!

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  4. Jimmy Page will be 67 years old this year. Enough is enough! “How Many More Times” are we going to have to listen to “Kashmir” and “All Of My Love” on jurassic rock radio stations anyway? Puke! Vomit! Kak! Get a life! Sraighten up! Start taking square corners! Center yourself in the hatch! Who is that knocking at my palace door? Sound off like you got a pair! Stop shooting heroin, snorting cocaine and popping pills you dumb hippie! Get a haircut too!

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  6. You mentioned Mahler. Now THAT guy was/is TOTALLY overrated. Have you actually listened to his crap? Co-inventor of Heavy Metal perhaps, but he still sucks.

    • I have actually listened to Mahler and I actually like him. That’s why, you know, I mentioned him favorably in this post.

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  8. fuck you dude, you arrogant asshole. there not stealing the songs. they changed the songs a lot. listen to this– Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFNpKaxzNMo —joan baez
    and
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-dBRc1BU1c&feature=fvst—led zeppelin
    people that say that Led Zeppelin ripped this off don’t quite get how much they really changed it. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant both admire Joan Baez and give testament to this song because of how much they liked it. It’s a totally different song that they made in most ways but simply calling it the exact same name should have been enough recognition for her. If they wanted to steal this song they could’ve just named it something else and it probably would’ve been seen as different.
    yeah they did changed the names of some songs that artists did but they change the song itself a hole lot. like since i’ve been loving you. also look at the song bring it on home. written by willie dixon, made famous by Sonny Boy Williamson II. Led Zeppelin’s version from Led Zeppelin II featured an intro and outro that were deliberate homages to the original. However, Willie Dixon was not given any writing credit for the track anyway. ALSO look at the song In My Time of Dying. this is a traditional blues song that has been covered by a LOT of musicians since the early ’60s when Bob Dylan covered it on his debut album. you see? many artists covered or what you call “stole” songs from everybody. they were inspired by the song soo much when they wrote songs they put bits of they favorites into them. who do you think inspired willie dixon for other old artists? they weren’t doing all that stuff on purpose. listen to oldies and motown. everything is the same. as things get older they begin to get more complex and people dont notice. listen to the original and then led zeppelin. the originals bow down to LZ in all forms. and they never took action because the original artist knew that they were rock gods. give it up. they are kings. oh yeah i got 1 more song to talk about to. the song dazed and confused of their 1st album. the song was originally credited as “written by Jimmy Page, he probally should of given some credit to jake holmes who wrote it. but page saw him perform before a yardbirds show one night . Jimmy arranged a version of the song for The Yardbirds but didn’t record a studio version until 1969 with Led Zeppelin. “Dazed And Confused” went on to become the highlight of Zeppelin shows for their entire career, Jake Holmes never sought any manner of legal action. yeah no why he didnt? cause he liked the song that page did and didnt care. and who is to say jake holmes didnt “steal” the song from someone else?
    you cant say that zeppelin didnt create heavy metal. many artists created it. sabbath and zeppelin deserve the same amount of credit. Tony Iommi doesnt live in pages shadow?
    like “Swansong” said:
    “You’re a complete and utter fucktard with a tin ear!”
    i like how i gave him credit and didnt steal it:)
    by the way who gives a shit if they stole the logo from someone. they liked the fucking logo so they used it for their record company!
    man i enjoyed writing this:)
    i think i am going to go listen to some zeppelin now.

    • I wish you had stolen a program that checks grammar and spelling. Yikes.

    • dude….just accept that.
      that’s no excuse – “They changed it alot”
      If I saw Leonardo Davinnci Painting Mona Lisa and painted a new painting with Blonde hair, green eyes, and differnent clothes and took the credit still doesn’t make it ok.
      Go listen to John Entwistle, asshole.
      The artists being stolen from did not sue (most of the time)
      BECAUSE IT WAS BLACK MEN IN A WHITE COURT IN THE LATE SIXTIES AND THEY COULD’NT AFFORD IT, JESUS CHRIST.
      NOT BECAUSE THEY WERE “ROCK GODS”
      FUCK YOU!

  9. yo jimmy page gets more pussy in his flare jeans than you do on a tuesday night at margaritas, you cant even get a phone number during happy hour you scurvy fuck

  10. Your mother was a whore and your father was a hampster. Have fun listening to sting and touching yourself to re-runs of “Will and Grace” for the rest of your life in your fedora while wishing that you had half the talent Jimmy Paige has in the bottom 1/16th of his left testicle.

  11. Freedom of speech motherfucker what is this communist China.

    • Your comments make no sense. You misspelled Jimmy Page’s name and then you acted as though your freedom of speech was somehow being attacked but didn’t say how or why. If you’re such a big fan of freedom of speech, I find it hard to understand why you would give a shit about whether or not I like Led Zeppelin. Also, Mom says hi. And, she wanted me to quote her on this, “Heath should get that looked at immediately.”

  12. I agree with some of this, however must remember the age they were when music was made, or reformed, and who their manager was. Peter Grant told them how to deal with those things.
    As for what people think of Plant and Page, they have no control over that. I know of only one song that I myself would actually question as to it’s origins, and that would be Stairway – because it sounds same as beginning of ”Taurus” by Spirit, but “Spirit” denied that it was stolen. I can go on and on about groups that have, and still do this.
    The fact remains that without Zeppelin a lot of blues musicians would be a whole lotta poorer !! They gave credits to original artists where needed, as for “Yardbirds” – never heard Relf or Beck complain so just take it with a grain dude. Sounds like you are a frustrated musician who may play as good as Jimmy – ”I’ve seen quite a few” – but lack the rest of the magic. Meaning the band!

    Sorry that you felt the need to post this in the first fucking place.

    All your questions can be answered at Royalorleans – Google it!!!

    Chillax man

    • Deep purple really dude. Obviously not a musician. LMFAO !!!
      Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

      • You’re bad-mouthing DEEP PURPLE, and defending Zeppelin? I actually play a dozen instruments…..

        http://www.soundcloud.com/jonoftheshred

        ….and with my learned ears of a musician, I can guarantee you every single Mark of Deep Purple are leagues ahead of Zeppelin in terms of composition, live performance, and overall talent.

        If Led Zeppelin ever tried to play “April” live they would shit their pants.

        Blackmore > Page
        Bolin > Page
        Satriani > Page
        Morse > Page

        Ian Gillan > Plant
        Glenn Hughes > Plant
        David Coverdale > Plant
        Joe Lynn Turner > Plant

        I like John Paul Jones. And Bonham was pretty good too. But Plant and Page were hacks, and that’s why their career has gone absolutely NO WHERE since their shitty band thankfully ended before they stole even more music. Meanwhile, Purple is releasing “NOW What?!” this month, and it’s an amazing album, far superior to anything Zeppelin has ever put out.

        Zeppelin have maybe a handful of good songs, and they aren’t exactly musically dynamic enough to warrant all the praise they get. They are my least favorite band of all time, and don’t deserve any credit. Maybe Jimmy Page sold his soul to Satan for the undeserved success when he was sucking Aleister Crowleys dick every weekend.

      • Deep purple could kick Paiges ass

  13. u can’t say a band sucks when they have sold hundreds of millions of albums in just one country…. just saying. You may not like them but say they suck is just ridiculous.

    • I absolutely CAN say that Led Zeppelin sucks. I believe I just did and, wouldn’t you know it, I’m about to again:

      Led Zeppelin sucks.

      You seem to be equating popularity with talent, which is something a lot of people do. But when I say that Led Zeppelin sucks, it has nothing to do with how many albums they’ve sold and everything to do with how much I think they suck. Which is, as I hope I’ve made clear, quite a bit.

      And be careful equating popularity with goodness – that kind of thinking, at one time, would have led you to endorse slavery.

      • Fuck off – done with this game – too old for kids bullshit – page must have fucked your mom to get U so enraged! LMFAO!!!
        Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

  14. Screw you man, led zeppelin rules

  15. While I agree with your criticisms of the band and their music, musically Bring It On Home–excluding, of course, the beginning and the end–and Whole Lotta Love were original. Most of the plagiarism in these songs was lyrical. I especially love Plant’s comments on the matter here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_Lotta_Love#Influence

    I do admit that my respect for the band diminished greatly when I discovered the sheer volume of plagiarism in their discography. Here’s a fairly comprehensive list: http://www.warr.org/zep.html

    Here’s one most people don’t know about: Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp off III is a rip-off of The Waggoner’s Lad by Bert Jansch, from whom Page also “borrowed” Black Mountain Side.

    @bvogs: Since when have record sales equaled quality?

  16. And I do like Zep overall but goddamn–so many of their fans are idiots.

  17. Dixon songs (You Shook Me, I Can’t Quit You) were credited to Dixon. Dixon was not credited for WLL cause (Muddy)Waters’ publishing refused to release the rights in spite of Dixon’s legal ownership. In 1998, B.B. King stated, “I don’t think anybody steals anything; all of us borrow.” Though not “virtuous,” many have done it. The fact is Led Zeppelin (finally) made Dixon, et. al., a lot more money than they ever had previously! Do you think Dixon, Howling Wolf, etc., ever used any lines or riffs they had heard before? Some date back before they were born. If the process is so simple to make a lot of money, or big hits by lifting a few lines or cords, or doing a complete cover, then you or anyone else should jump some LZ tracks, (or Dixons) and make a few million of your own. BTW, the Baez song was rewritten by at least three different people.

  18. Right on, brother!

    Plant: Dissonant, non-musical falsetto screeching–even on studio tracks. Much better in his 70s than he ever was in the 1970s. Quite possibly the worst rock vocalist of all time. Honestly, who is worse? I can’t think of anyone–even Axl Rose.

    Page: Arthritic playing and monumentally terrible picking. Seriously, his picking was so bad he sounded like a first-year guitar student–whose has had just been smacked with a hammer. I’m shocked that anyone would worship this hack….especially after the torturous, droning, repetitive turd that is ‘Kashmir’.

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  20. All music sucks, didn’t you know? Led zeppelins music just sucks more.

  21. That is the greatest music article i have ever read! Thank you, sir! Thank you!

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