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One of the most successful groups of all time, Led Zeppelin has often been taken to task for using the work of other artists without citing the source, particularly blues artists.Critics have also drawn attention to Zep’s use of the work of folk and rock artists, as well.The column on the right on the table above shows the number of years between the original recording and Led Zeppelin’s release.In most cases, Led Zeppelin was drawing on recent music, and that includes many of their blues influences.My main purpose in writing “Led Zeppelin: Plagiarism?
Led Zeppelin did, in fact, give credit where credit was due for some tracks (“You Shook Me”, “I Can’t Quit You Baby”, “When the Levee Breaks”, and a half-hearted attempt with “Boogie with Stu”), but not in all cases.
The list below contains the instances where songwriting credits should be changed, and those that have already been changed on recent Led Zeppelin reissues are marked with an asterisk.
The cover story for the April/May, 2010, issue of Blues Matters magazine showed a picture of Led Zeppelin above the Jimmy Page quote, “It was always the blues.” In a magazine devoted to the blues, I was expecting to find an article about Led Zeppelin’s debt to the blues, particularly after reading the teaser on the table of contents page next to a graphic that reads “The Roots of Led Zeppelin,” The article by Richard Thomas, however, was just a brief overview of Led Zeppelin’s career with little information about their influences.
This raises an interesting question: when is an artist’s work original and when it is plagiarism?
Opinion is divided on Led Zeppelin’s relationship to their influences.According to Short, that Led Zeppelin released these records without proper songwriting credits amounts to outright theft.