Graham Reid | | 1 min read
From the moment of its release, the Led Zeppelin debut album in '69 gathered as much controversy as it did praise -- and indifference from many American reviewers who just heard the bombastic crunch.
Those who knew their blues were angered that after decades of being denied their rightful place, many black artists were once more ripped off and went uncredited on this album which drew heavily and sometimes quite directly from the likes of Willie Dixon and J.B. Lenoir.
But to be fair to the band, they equally ripped off white artists too: Black Mountain Side bears an uncanny resemblance to Down by Blackwaterside by Bert Jansch of three year previous, and their Dazed and Confused -- despite the free form guitar part in the middle and modified lyrics -- owes a huge debt to Jake Holmes' song of exactly the same title of two years before.
Holmes had opened for the Yardbirds in their closing days when Page was a member of the band, and acknowledged he adapted Holmes' song.
But in all these cases the members of Led Zeppelin took the songwriting credits and only later did they co-credit the original artists. But not for Dazed and Confused despite Holmes' belated efforts in the past decade.
Holmes started his musical life as a folkie parody artist with his wife but later moved on to writing lyrics with Bob Gaudio for Frank Sinatra, some of their songs later covered by Nina Simone. But after a couple of solo albms in the Sixties which ran parallel to his other career, Holmes moved into writing advertising jingles with great success.
While a fair hearing would say Jimmy Page substantially overhauled Dazed and Confused it must also be conceded the raw material for it came from the pen of the rather less known Jake Holmes.
Let's watch with interest the Stairway to Heaven courtcase.
For more one-off or unusual songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults.