The Small Faces song Led Zeppelin ripped off on ‘Whole Lotta Love’

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If an alien landed on Earth right now and asked who Led Zeppelin was, what would you tell them? Simply saying they’re a band doesn’t do justice to their legacy, nor does it capture the controversy surrounding them. Let’s explore both aspects.

Firstly, the positive. Led Zeppelin was an incredibly talented group, so much so that when people list their favorite guitarist, drummer, bassist, and vocalist, they often name the members of Led Zeppelin.

Jimmy Page’s guitar work is renowned for its complexity and innovation, partly due to his extensive session work early in his career. Robert Plant’s vocals could range from calm to electrifying in an instant. John Bonham revolutionized drumming, exploring diverse styles and sounds. Meanwhile, John Paul Jones anchored the band, providing a solid rhythm that held everything together.

Because of their musical prowess, many consider Led Zeppelin one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Their songs continue to resonate just as powerfully today as when they were first released. However, not everyone agrees. Many listeners and fellow musicians criticize Led Zeppelin for allegedly plagiarizing other artists.

Jimi Hendrix once admitted he didn’t “think much” of Led Zeppelin. Vanilla Fudge drummer Carmine Appice elaborated on this, saying, “Jimi Hendrix personally told me that he didn’t like Zeppelin because they were like excess baggage and they stole from everybody.

This sentiment is echoed by others. For instance, Bert Jansch once said in an interview about the Led Zeppelin song ‘Black Mountain Side’, “Jimmy [Page] can’t look me in the eye…he ripped me off, didn’t he? Or let’s just say he learned from me. I wouldn’t want to sound impolite.

Artists are often frustrated by the belief that Led Zeppelin borrowed heavily from them without acknowledgment. However, the band has sometimes been open about their inspirations. Regarding ‘Whole Lotta Love,’ Robert Plant admitted to borrowing lyrics from the Small Faces’ song ‘You Need Love,’ itself a cover of a Muddy Waters tune.

Page’s riff was Page’s riff. It was there before anything else. I just thought, ‘Well, what am I going to sing?’” Plant said, discussing the song. “That was it, a nick. Now happily paid for. At the time, there was a lot of conversation about what to do. It was decided that it was so far away in time and influence that… well, you only get caught when you’re successful. That’s the game.

Whether upfront or not, the accusations of plagiarism have haunted Led Zeppelin throughout their career. Their adaptation of the blues has incorporated elements from many artists, some argue, a bit too liberally.

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