Friday, June 29, 2012

Dread Zeppelin


There would be no Dread Zeppelin without two bands, the first of course is Led Zeppelin. It's highly likely that no more than a handful of music fans have heard of the second band, The Prime Movers. Before Dread Zeppelin started performing the songs of Led Zeppelin in a reggae style, Gary Putman, Curt Lichter & Joe Severs Ramsey were involved in a rather ordinary indie rock band from Pasadena, Ca.

The Prime Movers signed with Island Records in 1986, though virtually unkown in the U.S., they scored two Top Forty hits in the U.K., "On the Trail" and "Dark Western Night" Stuart Adamson (rip) guitarist for Big Country played on "Dark Western Night" and "Strong as I Am" (which was featured on the soundtrack of the Michael Mann movie "Manhunter") Big Country being a good example of what the band sounded like. 
In 1987 for reasons not quite clear, The Prime Movers fell out of favor with Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records. The release of "Strong as I am" as a single on MCA records, was said to have caused the rift. Whatever it was, Island Records shut the band down and then refused to release them from their contract, even when other labels expressed interest in signing the band.

It wasn't until 1996 that Ramsey, who owns and operates Birdcage Records, secured the rights to The Prime Movers' music thanks to some subtle arm twisting. Ramsey was co-manager of The Christians, a highly popular British soul/pop group, who had signed with Island. They held up their debut album until Island released The Prime Movers from their old contract. (That album "The Christians" went on to sell over 1 million copies)

Unable to record or put out new material as The Prime Movers, the trio of musicians found themselves stuck in musical purgatory, Sierra Madre, Ca.  Putman, Ramsey & Lichter weighed their options, the most obvious one being that they should regroup under a different name. Putman & Ramsey came up with Dread Zeppelin, which one music writer described as "the musical equivalent of the witness protection program"

In order to avoid any legal problems, Putman & Ramsey played it tongue in cheek. The idea of infusing Led Zeppelin songs with reggae was probably something they accidentally stumbled upon, as was their chance meeting with Elvis impersonator Tortelvis (real name Greg Tortell)  Dread Zeppelin quickly incorporated the sumo sized vocalist (he's nowhere near that big, he augments his girth with padding) into their stage show.

Legend has it that the band was cruising around Sierra Madre in their car, when Tortell, who was driving a home delivery truck for a local dairy, rear ended them. That's their story and they're sticking by it, it was even immortalized in one of the band's videos. The truth is that Greg Tortell was a delivery driver for a Sierra Madre dairy  (he still works there, although he was promoted to sales years ago)

Showstopping guitarist Carl Haasis (Carl Jah) and conga player Bryant Fernandez (Ed Zeppelin) joined Tortelvis, guitarist  Severs Ramsey (Jah Paul Jo) bassist Gary Putnam (Put-Mon, also known as Butt-Boy) and drummer Carl Lichter (Cheese) in rounding out the band. Now all that remained to be seen was if Dread Zeppelin's singular schtick of mashing up Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley and Elvis Presley would pay off.

Dread Zeppelin's first  single release was Immigrant Song/ Hey Hey What Can I Do (1989) followed by Whole Lotta Love/Tour- Telvis: A Bad Trip (1989) both on Birdcage Records. "Kom Gib Mir Deine Zeppelin" a six song cassette only ep released in 1989  (The title was a take off on the German version of  The Beatles' "I wanna hold your hand") A growing local buzz led to the band being signed by Miles Copeland's IRS Records.

Started as a joke, Dread Zeppelin was now channeling a cheeky  rock/reggae hybrid to the hungry masses. No doubt the band came around at just the right time. The thing about Led Zeppelin is that they always took themselves too seriously, their fans and music critics also took them too seriously. Dread Zeppelin, while paying tribute was the pie in the face of all that seriousness.

Led Zeppelin's music was hardly what you could call a joyous noise. But, when mixed with a springy reggae beat and the cheese ball smarm of Elvis Presley,  it changed into something totally new, different and most of all... fun! For example,  Led Zeppelin's anguish inducing "Heartbreaker" was gene-spliced with Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" giving it an appeal that Page & Plant never could have imagined.

In all truth, the marriage of Led Zeppelin's music and reggae wasn't all that far fetched. Sir Jimmy and Co. had themselves dabbled in reggae rhythms (Dyer 'Maker, which was meant as Brit slang for Jamaica)  Who can really say, but if not for Bonzo's untimely passing, maybe Led Zeppelin would have gone in that direction, the way Rod Stewart & David Bowie went with disco and soul music

Sure and if my aunt had balls, she'd be my.... aunt with balls or something of that nature. Dread Zeppelin's first album Un-led-Ed (1990) surprised everyone by selling over a million copies. They even earned praise from Robert Plant himself, who admitted that he preferred their version of "Your Time is Gonna Come" to Led Zep's original. They were quickly tagged as "The Ultimate Tribute Band", but they were so much more than just that.

Dread Zeppelin's live show was as visual as it was musical, "Innertaining" as Tortelvis so eloquently put it, called for cheesy repartee between band members and the audience plus a healthy dose of picture perfect Jimmy Page guitar licks from Carl Jah and Bonzo-rific drumming from Cheese. Man servant Charlie Haj, would stalk the stage, wiping sweat from Tortelvis' brow and handing out towels, all while admonishing Carl Jah & Jah Paul Jo for hogging the spotlight.

What followed after the success of Un-Led-Ed was a grueling three years of non-stop touring, that saw the band play over 250 days out of the year. Original drummer Cheese (Curt Lichter) was the first casualty of the relentless pace, leaving the band in 1990. He was replaced by Fresh Cheese (Paul Maselli) just in time to record Dread Zeppelin's second album "5,000,000 Tortelvis Fans Can't Be Wrong"

The band broke slightly from the all Led Zeppelin format to include Bob Marley's "Stir it Up" as well as three original songs.  The biggest fear for any novelty act, is what to do once the novelty wears off.  That moment was now upon Dread Zeppelin, Gary Putman's plan was to release a rock opera  called "Albert" based on critic Albert Goldman, who had famously flambeed Elvis Presley with his controversial  1981 biography "Elvis"  

That project amounted to nothing. A flurry of personnel changes followed, new drummer Fresh Cheese  left the band, followed by Ed Zeppelin (Bryant Fernandez) who was replaced by his identical twin brother, Bruce.  And then, the band was dealt a crushing blow when Tortelvis quit in disgust. Out of desperation, the band released their third album "It's Not Unusual" with Gary Putman taking over the lead vocals (as Gary B.I.B.B.) 

"It's Not Unusual" was an album of  humorless disco covers. Records sales were to say the least underwhelming, IRS Records immediately dropped the band. At that point for all intents and purposes, Dread Zeppelin was kaput. It would've stayed that way if not for INXS, and their late lead singer Michael Hutchence (who was a big Dread Zeppelin fan) requesting that Dread Zeppelin open for them during their 1993 U.S. tour.

Both Tortelvis and Ed Zeppelin were presuaded to return to the fold, and this reunion resulted in the band's fourth album "Hot & Spicy Beanburger" which was a return to the tried and true formula of Led Zeppelin + reggae + Elvis = happy fans. However, with the band still without a major label contract, Tortelvis held on to his day job at the dairy. Another grueling round of tour stops followed including several in Albuquerque. 

In 1994, the band appeared in National Lampoon's Last Resort and contributed a couple of songs to the soundtrack. Guitar wizard  Carl Jah (Carl Haasis) and Ed Zeppelin (Bruce Fernandez, I think?) left the band shortly after the movie experience.  And that should have been the end of the story, but it wasn't.  Somehow, Dread Zeppelin kept the joke alive and they're still active both in the studio and on stage to this day. 

Dread Zeppelin never signed with another major label, but they kept pumping out albums, The First No-Elvis (1994, a Christmas special) No Quarter Pounder (1995) Ruins (1996) The Fun Sessions (a one shot deal with Imago) Spam Bake (1998 which consisted of all originals) De-jah Voodoo (2000) Presents (2002) Bar Coda (2007) and their most recent SoSo in 2011.  Tortelvis still sneers while doing karate moves, Charlie still waits on him hand & foot. Gary Putnam, who was once lauded as an outstanding guitarist, has rediscovered his gift for riffs.

Selected Quotes from Tortelvis:

“A lot of the same people have been coming [to our shows] for years now, but there are new people as well,” Tort says. “It’s obviously the concept that draws people, but once they’re there, it’s the musicianship that makes it kind of cool. These guys are masters of their instruments — other than myself. I’m kind of a hack.” He chuckles. “But I do the best I can.”

“Between 1990 and ’93 was when we were touring 250 shows a year,” he recalls. “It was pretty nonstop.  At this point, we’re playing weekends and whenever we can, we’ll go off to some part of the country and play a few shows. We’re not really killing ourselves anymore. It’s a fun thing now — hang out with the guys and have fun.”

 “We’ve done a few different things through the years,” he says, citing their original album,  “Spam-Bake,” and non-Zeppelin covers they’ve recorded like “Free Bird.” “Basically, we don’t do anything exactly like before, but there always has to be that hint of Elvis and reggae in it somehow.

Dread Zeppelin's success playing Led Zeppelin songs in a reggae style, has helped spawn a cottage industry  of Led Zeppelin cover bands. Almost without exception every last one of them plays it straight, reproducing, note for note the music of the original band.

There's more U.S. Led Zeppelin Tribute bands than you can shake a stick at, Get The Led Out, Swan Song, Led Zepplica, Heartbreaker, Fem Zeppelin, Lady Zep, Zedd... ad nauseum!  Lez Zeppelin, the best of the all-female tribute acts performing Led Zeppelin music, stands out from the mangy pack. They're based out of New York City and in 2007, they even released an album "Lez Zeppelin" produced by legendary rock producer, Eddie Kramer.

Bustle in Your Hedgerow is an exceptional Zep tribute band. They're an instrumental quartet that performs Led Zeppelin music sans vocals. The band includes several prominent NYC musicians, Dave Dreiwitz (of Ween), Marco Benevento, Joe Russo and Scott Metzger.  Black Dog calls itself "the definitive Led Zeppelin tribute band, the closest thing to the live sound of the legendary group" their website carries this disclaimer " All-pro musicians make up this awsome band" their spelling error, not mine.

Chicago Led Zeppelin tribute band, Kashmir (not to be confused with Canadian Led Zeppelin tribute band, Kashmir) cryptically declares  "It is important to look the part, but way too often tribute bands seem to forget that without the sound, the look does nothing" In the world of cover bands that means they sound just like Led Zeppelin, but they look like Bachman Turner Overdrive.

Fred Zeppelin (who like Led Zeppelin hail from the West Midlands) declare their intent "not to dress up in any manner or turn the music into an embarrassing cabaret act"  It's worked for Fred Zeppelin, Jason Bonham joined them for a one-off encore appearance and Robert Plant gave them his cheeky stamp of approval by declaring "Accept no Substitute" after watching them play on several occasions.

That should do it for Led Zeppelin month here at Dirt City Chronicles, and in all honesty I hope I never have to write about them again.  We truly learned nothing this month, the least of which is that Robert Plant likes to watch other musicians imitate his old band, which is kind of creepy.  But, I'll take any Led Zeppelin tribute band over  that Billy Joel tribute act that I saw in Laughlin, Nv.  now that was fucked up!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

John Eric Johnson

It is with a tinge of sadness that I write of John Eric Johnson's passing.  Eric was an extraordinary musician, songwriter and singer.  He will certainly leave his mark on  Albuquerque's local music scene, having been an integral player since the mid-1980s. 

Eric Johnson first gained notice as the front man for iconic Albuquerque country rock/cow punk outfit The Gutterleaves. In the mid- 90s he formed Mumble, an indie rock band that remains one of Albuquerque's best kept little secrets.

Most recently Eric had been involved with The Rivet Gang, a traditional music group that plays that ol' timey music that we all yearn for and love dearly. This return to roots music also allowed Eric to showcase his outstanding banjo picking skills. 

There is regret in the passing of someone so talented, but the music itself didn't die. That's the beauty of recorded music, we'll always have it. Just as we'll always have the memory of a musician's  musician and a dear friend to so many, John Eric Johnson.



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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Death By Misadventure- John Bonham

John Henry Bonham & The Biggest Band in the World

By late 1966 the hits had stopped coming for The Yardbirds, and despite an incessant touring schedule they were not financially solvent.  At the insistence of then manager Simon Napier-Bell (who was eager to bail on them) Peter Grant was brought in to take over management for the band. Grant was assigned the difficult task of salvaging whatever chart momentum the band had left and whipping their finances into shape.

Peter Grant cut an imposing figure, standing 6-5 and weighing in at 300 lbs., he pulled no punches when it came to dealing with club owners.  A former pro wrestler, Grant was notorious for using his girth and muscle to get what he wanted from promoters. But, no amount of intimidation could get The Yardbirds another hit single. On the heels of Jeff Beck's departure from the band, they recorded one album "Little Games" it didn't do well.

 Grant had built a reputation as a man who worked tirelessly for the artists he managed and thanks to his business acumen and sharp eye for details, the band was now making money from their concerts.  Grant toured with the band and dealt directly with promoters to ensure that The Yardbirds were actually paid what they  were owed. It was a business model that he would work to perfection as manager for Led Zeppelin.

Peter Grant was also a music visionary, who saw an immediate opportunity for The Yardbirds, not as hit makers, but on the American underground scene. Hard rock was the new style and he steered the band in that direction. As Led Zeppelin's representative, Grant negotiated an unheard of, five year contract with Atlantic Records, convincing the label that albums & live performances were the big moneymakers, not hit singles. 

As 1968 dawned on The British Empire (or what was left of it) The Yardbirds were starting to unravel.  Lead vocalist Keith Relf and drummer Jim McCarty were unhappy with Jimmy Page's increasingly dominant position within the group. The were also dissatisfied with the direction the music was taking. Both would soon leave to form an acoustic rock group called Together, followed by Renaissance, a mildly successful folk rock band.

This left Jimmy Page and bassist Chris Dreja as the remaining members. With contracts already signed for a series of Scandinavian concert dates, Relf & McCarty granted Page permission to put together a band in order to honor the contracts and avoid any legal fallout. Page first approached up & coming, singer/guitarist Terry Reid (who was also managed by Peter Grant), but Reid turned him down.

Procol Harum's B.J. Wilson & Clem Cattini, formerly of The Tornados,  were considered as drummers, though neither was ever offered the job. Terry Reid, however did suggest Robert Plant from The Band of Joy as vocalist. Once on board, Plant recommended former Band of Joy drummer John Bonham to Page and he was also hired.  As the band prepared for the upcoming tour, Chris Dreja dropped out and John Paul Jones was added as bass player.

Prior to their tour of Scandinavia, "The New Yardbirds" as they were now known, landed work as the studio band for PJ Proby's album "Three Week Hero" This album is often touted as being worthwhile because it was Led Zeppelin's unofficial recording debut.  Although, Proby wasn't at his peak anymore and the band's influence is hardly felt or heard in a way that's recognizable as Led Zeppelin.

"Three Week Hero" is a rambling stylistic wreck that lacks direction and range. There's also that unfortunate medley: "It's So Hard To Be A Nigger/Jim's Blues/George Wallace Is Rollin' In This Mornin"  that leaves you second guessing PJ Proby's state of mind and intentions. Jimmy Page had a long & fruitful career as a session guitarist before, during and after The Yardbirds, but this is one turd that he has rightfully disowned.

The Yardbirds officially dissolved upon the completion of the Scandinavian tour, the final impetus being a cease and desist order from Chris Dreja that nixed the use of "The New Yardbirds" name. Unfazed, and with Peter Grant still on board as manager, the group went into the studio to continue working on the album they would eventually release as "Led Zeppelin" They also met at a pub, to brainstorm some ideas for a new band name.

The origins of the name "Led Zeppelin" went back to 1966 and the Jeff Beck/Bolero sessions that included  Beck, Jimmy Page, Keith Moon, Nicky Hopkins & John Paul Jones. Then, Page had announced his intentions to form a super group that would include himself, Keith Moon, & John Entwistle of The Who or possibly Stevie Winwood (Traffic) and Steve Marriott (The Small Faces)  Page scrapped his plans once Peter Grant took charge of The Yardbirds.

When John Entwistle first heard of the proposed venture, he dryly remarked "This will take to the air like a lead balloon" (a colloquial British idiom for disastrous results) Keith Moon then jokingly suggested to Jimmy Page that the supergroup should be called "The Lead Balloon"  Two years later the phrase came up again as Page, Plant, Bonham, Jones and Peter Grant kicked around different names for the band.

Balloon quickly became Zeppelin (Page felt that it conjured up graceful images of a lighter than air behemoth) and Peter Grant in an act of pure genius,  dropped the "a" from lead (he was afraid fans would pronounce it as "leed") Newly launched Led Zeppelin released their eponymous debut album in January of 1969. Structured around twelve bar blues, rapid guitar riffs, moaning vocals and lumbering rhythms, it was an immediate hit. 

John Bonham, known as Bonzo was the key or as John Paul Jones remarked "As Soon as I heard John play, I knew this was going to be great, we locked together as a team immediately." By the time Bonzo joined "The New Yardbirds" he had built up a reputation as the strongest & loudest drummer around. Known for his power, Bonham would line his bass drum with aluminum to give it a cannon-like sound. 

In fact, John was too loud, many clubs wouldn't book the bands he was in due to his high volume approach.  Bonzo was undaunted, but his style did lead to his departure from several bands. In 1964 while playing drums with The Senators, Bonham enjoyed his first taste of success when the band's single "She's A Mod" made it onto the U.K. pop charts. It was the highlight of what was shaping up as a journeyman career.

After the Senators, Bonzo met up with Robert Plant for the first time, when he joined The Crawling King Snakes. However, his lack of transportation and subsequent inability to make band rehearsals led to his being canned. Then, while recording a demo with A Way of Life, one of the many pre-Zeppelin bands he played with, the studio engineer took him aside and told him he was too loud for the studio's equipment.

Bonham soon found himself working with Robert Plant again, this time with The Band of Joy. In 1968, the group was hired to back up American folksinger Tim Rose on his UK tour. Bonham was grateful for the chance, he later stated "I think my first real break was backing up Tim Rose"  That gig was not a success, but, two months later when Rose returned to England,  he requested Bonham as his drummer, giving him some badly needed income. 

Bonzo's musical career was going nowhere fast, his Band of Joy gig was over "Robert and I lost contact for two or three months" Bonham would say. But, better days were just around the corner, first John received offers from Joe Cocker and Chris Farlowe, who were both in need of a drummer. Then, he started getting telegrams from Peter Grant, asking him to join The New Yardbirds, (who had just added John's old mate Robert Plant as lead vocalist)

After carefully weighing his options, Bonham chose The New Yardbirds, perhaps persuaded by Peter Grant's 40 telegrams or as he put it "I decided I liked their music better than Cocker's or Farlowe's"  a wise choice, as it turned out. John who used the longest and heaviest sticks available (he called them "trees") was the perfect match for Page & Grant's musical vision.  Later, Bonham would recall  "Before, I played too loud and now I can't play loud enough"

Of course Entwistle was wrong, Led Zeppelin was a smashing success. They stormed the rock music scene like a bizarro version of The Fab Four. Led Zeppelin was Jimmy Page's baby, he was the mysterious dabbler, a follower of the dark arts, an unparalleled rock guitarist. Everything he touched turned to gold and everything he stole turned to double platinum. Jimmy was a living, breathing rock and roll god.

Robert Plant was the front man, the swinging dick. Plant wrote all the band's lyrics, a hippie at heart, his fertile imagination was planted firmly in England's Medieval period. Fancying himself as a new age bard, Plant spun his tales of modern day warriors. He also looked the part, complete with golden locks and an a well positioned bulge to woo the ladies. To the contrary, John Paul Jones was your typical bass player, quiet, unassuming armed with a dry sense of humor.

John Bonham was an average bloke, who lived a conventional lifestyle. He was troubled by the most mundane of circumstances. (marriage, insufficient income, no car, rent payments) Nonetheless, Bonzo held on to his dreams with steadfast determination. He was a rather conservative sort, who could play the ruffian if need be. Alcohol was his drug of choice and by the time he joined up with Grant & the boys, he was probably already in the early stages of alcoholism.

But, it all rested in the huge hands (and fists) of Peter Grant, without him Led Zeppelin would have withered away after the first album. Grant was the unmovable object. He did all the dirty work while his boys basked in the adulation. He got rich of course, but he was also fiercly loyal and dependable. From the time The Yardbirds broke up until the demise of Led Zeppelin, Peter was bound to the band by a mere handshake agreement and nothing else.

One smash album followed by another, nothing less than gold or platinum records would suffice, Led Zeppelin was indeed "the biggest band in world"  Peter Grant's insistence that album sales would trump singles was paying off handsomely for Atlantic Records. So much so, that the band received its own vanity label, Swan Song Records. Their live shows became legendary, selling out venues where ever they went.

Led Zeppelin, now touted as "the heaviest band of all time" toured like barbarians. They became famous for their excessive behavior and legendary appetite for destruction. Trashing hotel rooms (or entire floors for that matter) became the band's trademark. In retrospect, some critics claimed that is was all exaggerated myth making. But of course, only the innkeepers and Zep's accountants known the real truth. 

As Led Zeppelin toured across American in 1977, they were at the very zenith of their loutish and arrogant glory. The band arrived in Oakland, Ca. for a July 23rd. show at The Days on the Green festival at the Oakland Coliseum. For years Peter Grant had relished his role as the bully who made promoters squirm, now he faced a worthy adversary. The Days on the Green was a Bill Graham promotion and you could cut the tension in the air from the moment Led Zeppelin and crew arrived.

Robert Plant later recalled that "It was one empire-builder and marauder moving into an area where there was already an empire with some kind of Tatar head" It was a classic case of immoveable force meets immoveable object. Almost immediately Led Zeppelin's entourage roughed up one of Graham's roadies.  Another roadie caught Peter Grant's son, pulling nameplates off dressing room doors, he admonished the boy and took them back.

This led to Peter Grant and John Bonham tracking down the roadie (Jim Matzorkis) They accused him of roughing up Peter's son and then knocked him around a bit.  Graham eager to quell the hostilities (there was an estimated crowd of 70,000 plus expected) tried to broker a deal with Peter Grant and the band members. He suggested a face to face with  Matzorkis to clear up any misunderstandings.

Grant agreed and accompanied by John Bindon and Bill Graham went to a Winnebago where Jim Matzorkis was waiting. As they entered the vehicle, Graham was grabbed by several Led Zeppelin crewmen and pushed out the door. Graham would later say that "Grant took his fist with the fingers all covered with rings and smashed Jim in the face" Grant and Bidon then proceeded to deliver a brutal beating to Matzorkis, which ended only when he managed to escape by smashing the door open and running for his life.

Graham's staff was up in arms and ready to take revenge. Bill on the other hand, was unwilling to take any risks that could lead to either of Led Zeppelin's two shows being cancelled. He urged them to be patient. Graham decided to press charges and told his staffers that if he was unsuccessful,  he would send 25 of his own men to New Orleans (the next stop on the Zeppelin tour) to even the score with the band.

Charges were filed after the second show against Peter Grant, John Bidon and John Bonham, all would avoid going to trial by pleading no contest, a settlement was reached in civil court. It wasn't the payback that Graham's roadies had wanted, but Bill declared it a victory anyway saying "It was like Nazi Germany, where people believed that might made right"  Except that in this case, the Nazis didn't really get their  comeuppance.

After departing from the Bay Area, Led Zeppelin arrived in New Orleans, to the tragic news that Robert Plant's son Karac had succumbed to a stomach virus. The rest of the tour was immediately cancelled. The worm had turned, bad luck and trouble seemed to dog the band after that. (Plant suffered a serious car accident that left him hobbled, Page became addicted to heroin, Bonham's alcoholism continued unchecked)

Three years after its predecessor "Presence", "In Through the Out Door" was released in 1979. It sold well, but it was becoming obvious that Led Zeppelin had peaked. Punk rock and New Wave were all the rage, bands like Zeppelin were now ridiculed for their ponderous musical style and rock star posturing. Led Zeppelin, like the dinosaurs they were being compared to, was in danger of becoming extinct.

All that was about to change, a North American tour, the first since 1977 was scheduled for the fall of 1980. In preparation for the grueling task, the band was rehearsing at Bray Studios. On Sept. 24th. John Bonham was picked up by one of the band's assistants. They stopped for breakfast, which (for Bonzo) consisted of four quadruple vodkas and one bite of a ham roll. At the studio, Bonham continued to drink heavily throughout the day's rehearsal.

Sometime before midnight, the band called it a day and retreated to Jimmy Page's home in Windsor. After several more drinks, Bonham either fell asleep or passed out. He was taken to a bedroom and placed on his side. At about 2 p.m. the following day, John Paul Jones and the band's tour manager checked in on him.  John was on his back and unresponsive, John Paul Jones checked and discovered he was dead.

The cause of death was asphyxiation, which means he simply choked on his own vomit, having rolled onto his back sometime during the 24 hours he was left unattended. A coroner's inquest declared it was an accidental death, no other drugs were found in his system. The report theorized that John Bonham had consumed over 40 shots of vodka during the final day of his life.  John Henry Bonham, aka Bonzo was just 32 years old at the time of his death.

After John Bonham's death, there were rumors that either Cozy Powell (Blackmore's Rainbow, Jeff Beck Group, he later played on Robert Plant's Pictures at Eleven album) Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Cactus) or Simon Kirke (Free, Bad Company) would stand in for Bonham. Ultimately, the decision was made by the band not to continue without Bonzo. Although, Bonham considered Ginger Baker to be the very best, the general consensus of rock music fans, is that John Bonham was the greatest rock drummer of all time. It's hard to argue with that. 

Peter Grant

Thursday, June 21, 2012

C.W. Ayon- Lohmador

C.W. Ayon (pronounced I-Own) is a New Mexico delta blues trailblazer. I know that sounds crazy, but thanks to Cooper Ayon the stark hill country blues of the Mississippi Delta have found a home in New Mexico. For C.W. this isn't an affected style worn simply for fashion, Coop is the genuine article, he's literally a one man crusader out to spread the gospel of blues.

In the past CW Ayon has been compared to the White Stripes or the Black Keys, that's no longer the case. With his latest album "Lohmador" Coop has gracefully come into his own style. The most pleasant surprise about CW's new album is that his vocals, often buried in the thump & growl of his previous albums, are in full effect. 

 In terms of studio production, "Lohmador" really hits the bull's eye.  The mix on "Lohmador" really favors Coop's strengths while, mitigating the  repetitive tendencies so common in the "one man band" genre.  The result is a sublimely textured musical document that flows with a fluidity rarely found in the aforementioned musical tradition.

The album takes its name from that treacherous spot in Las Cruces, where Lohman, Amador & Main St. (the main arterial roads through Coop's hometown) insidiously come together with Amador and Lohman forming  a two way thoroughfare that connects I-10 with I-25. In essence, it also connects Southwestern New Mexico with the Northern half of the state. 

It's hardly the modern equivalent of the crossroads where Robert Johnson found his love in vain. Nor is it picturesque or quaint, and if you're not paying attention you could find yourself in the wrong lane going the wrong way.  However, in the city of the crosses, Lohmador is the heart,  everything flows through it.

 The growth and span of Coop's talent over the past year is awe inspiring.  CW has grown by leaps and bounds with each successive album he's released (this is his fourth) And yet....  "Lohmador" is a great leap forward, a musical document that exceeds all expectations. CW accomplishes the task of changing direction while still continuing down his chosen path.

"Lohmador" follows on the heels of a successful barnstorming  tour of Australia (as part of the blues duo, Old Gray Mule, w/ guitarist extraordinaire, C.R. Humphrey) and a series of juke joint gigs and jam sessions with the likes of Lightning Malcolm, David and Kinney Kimbrough (who declared him an honorary Kimbrough after playing with him in Austin, Tx.)

My Favorite Tracks:
"Make me Wanna" rolls out with a forceful swagger "when you call my name you make it sound so sweet" while the next track  "Where I'm From" strolls on with quiet determination "well I think that I'll just go on home, back to that land that you know I'm from" Coop softly and deftly, brings it on home. 

 "I got a woman and she treats me right, I wanna love her every day and night" As "Well, Well, Well" spins on the turntable, you may ask  "I thought you said he didn't sound like Jack White anymore?" please allow me to stick a fork in my thoughts,  Sure... this could be an outtake from a White Stripes album, but since when is that such a bad thing?

Coop channels Eric Clapton on "Been Waiting" which is a departure from what we've come to expect from Coop, in that it leans more to the British blues rock tradition than the Delta blues. "Baby we've been waiting.... girl we've been waiting on this for so long"  Like a slow, hanging curve ball, it's a nice change-up from the customary fastball. 

"End of my Rope" deftly mixes the two styles "girl you got me hanging on down by the end of my rope"  with a healthy dose of Lightning Malcolm style guitar thrown into the mix. "Let's Get Gone" is classic juke joint blues "the way you move just knocks me out" Coop finds the groove and clamps down like an angry gator.

"Broken Too" merges Native American and delta blues musical traditions into a mesmerizing song  that is drop dead fucking gorgeous.  A great concept seen to fruition by masterful execution.  "Broken Too" features some of CW's best guitar work ever. Coop's been soaking  in the influences and it really shows in his guitar playing throughout the album.

"I Need You Now" is juke joint blues in the style of Lightning Malcolm and Cedric Burnside. The thing that really blows my mind about this generation of hill country blues players, is how versatile they are.  CR Humphrey plays killer guitar, but he'll get behind the drum kit and bang.  Lightning Malcolm will do the same or step back and play bass if asked to.

Cedric Burnside will leave his drum set and pick up a guitar and play with the best of them. CW sits in with Old Gray Mule as the drummer, but on his own, he easily switches over to guitar and vocals, amazing!  "Solitary Man" is not the Neil Diamond song, it's a Coop original "Well girl when I try to make you understand, what it takes to be your solitary man" I can't add anything more to that.

There's a hundred banjo pickers in Santa Fe & Albuquerque,  don't get me wrong... I love the sweet sound of a dulcimer, mandolin or banjo as much as the next fella. But, in a land where you're far more likely to find buffalo grass than bluegrass, the music of Appalachia just can't match the seductive allure of the blues. 

Solitary Records, an underground/independent label based in Oak Forest, IL. ( founded by Jahshie P. of Outlaw Radio) is set to release "Lohmador" on July 31st., though you can pre-order from their website now or preview the album on CW's Bandcamp page. Don't be gauche and listen without buying, for $10 U.S. you get your money's worth.

If you're into the underground/outlaw country movement, check out Jahshie P's Outlaw Radio on the web. Solitary Records, with a small but powerful roster of cutting edge artists is also worth looking into. AND! (that's a big "and") If you haven't already, you need to get acquainted with Old Gray Mule and Mr. C.R. Humphrey, you won't be disappointed.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kingdom Clone

"Unconscious appropriation is utterly common; it is not plagiarism and is no crime; but conscious appropriation, i. e., plagiarism, is as rare as parricide. Of course there are plagiarists in the world--I am not disputing that--but bless you, they are few and far between"  Mark Twain

Formed in 1987, Kingdom Come was the brainchild of German metal singer/guitarist Lenny Wolf and PolyGram Records. Wolf, a moderately successful rocker had his sights set on bigger things. To this end,  he put together an American band consisting of lead guitarist Danny Stag, guitarist Rick Steier, drummer James Kottak and bass player Johnny B. Frank (how's that for a lame stage name, his real name is Kenny Brewer)

PolyGram hooked up Kingdom Come with producer Bob Rock (at the time best known for his work with Bon Jovi, Aerosmith & Loverboy) The pre-fab five then flew to Vancouver, B.C. to record an album, which was then mixed at Electric Ladyland in New York City. In the process a cassette copy of "Get it On" found its way to a Detroit rock station, where the program director instinctively added it to his playlist.

Within days, "Get it on" had blown up and other stations were recording the song right off the airwaves (the album wasn't released yet, and there was no demo single) and adding it to their playlists. Needless to say once the band's eponymous debut album was released it quickly went gold. (sold over 500,000 copies in the States alone) Kingdom Come followed up "Get it On" with the power ballad "What Love Can Be" with diminished returns.

The crux of the problem, for Lenny Wolf and Kingdom Come was that they sounded just like Led Zeppelin. A fact that rock music critics couldn't ignore, it wasn't long before the band found itself tagged with the derisive moniker of "Kingdom Clone"  The backlash from critics didn't derail the Kingdom Come express, at least not at first. In 1988 they signed on as openers for "The Monsters of Rock" tour featuring The Scorpions, Van Halen, Metallica & Dokken. As the music press continued to hound the band over their derivative "Led Zeppelin" style, the tour soured for them.

Lenny Wolf drew the ire of his fellow countrymen, The Scorpions, who took exception to his using parts of the stage reserved for them. Kingdom Come suddenly had all the appeal of a rotting corpse, they were dropped from the tour. PolyGram looking to hit again while the iron was still lukewarm, marched them back into the studio. The resulting album "In Your Face" went straight to the bargain bins and Kingdom Come went straight into the dustbin of history reserved for "one hit wonders" 

With their momentum stalled by persistent comparisons to Led Zeppelin, they called it quits. The American contingent would later state that "it's impossible to continue when all people want to do is compare us to Led Zeppelin" Lenny Wolf, returned to Germany, signed with  WEA Germany, then restocked Kingdom Come with German musicians and continues to pump out derivative heavy metal to this very day.

Here's a note of interest for 'Burque rock fans, Lenny's pre-Kingdom Come band, Stone Fury (formed in Los Angeles in 1983 and signed to MCA Records) included Albuquerque's own Randy Castillo on drums. Castillo who replaced Jody Cortez for touring purposes in 1984, played with Stone Fury until 1986. Lenny Wolf remarked "My favorite drummer, whom we had for only a short time, was Randy Castillo, who left us to play drums for Ozzy Osbourne. A much better paid gig for him, No bad feelings!"

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Song Remains Ingrained

By default (I didn't really have anything else to write about) June is Led Zeppelin month here at Dirt City Chronicles.  I've always been a big fan of Led Zeppelin, and until a few weeks ago, (due mostly to my own indifference) the whole Jimmy Page is a plagiarist thing meant nothing to me. But, it's such a polarizing topic  that I couldn't simply ignore it. 

Don't get me wrong, Jimmy Page is a great guitar player, a shitty human being,  a Satan worshiper, a recovering smack fiend, but a truly gifted musician, nonetheless.  Did he steal from a litany of musical sources? The evidence weighs heavily against him, but that doesn't diminish his greatest, though it could taint his legacy.

Like everything else that I write about, I dole out praise and dirt in equal portions. But, unlike some people, I'm not a Led Zeppelin hater. I celebrate their entire catalog, the band is one of the greatest rock bands ever.  Led Zeppelin changed the face of modern rock as much as the Beatles or Rolling Stones, their music is a testament to that fact.     

The Led Zeppelin Plagiarism Compendium is an online discussion board or forum, where rock music fans gather to slag, bag or nag about  Jimmy's alleged thievery. They've published a list of the songs in question. For no good reason whatsoever, I've decided to investigate the matter and post my highly opinionated and uninformed findings.

The Led Zeppelin Plagiarism Compendium

Album:  Led Zeppelin
Babe I'm Gonna Leave You,  Source:  Joan Baez - Babe I'm Gonna Leave You (Anne Brendon)
The lyrics are the only part of Joan Baez's grating version that resembles Led Zep's lumbering take on Anne Brendon's song. But, yes it's the same song and they were forced to admit that much in court and Brendon received a substantial back payment from the band and songwriting credit.  Verdict: Guilty, and forced to pay up!

Dazed and Confused,    Source:  Jake Holmes - Dazed and Confused
Beyond the shadow of a doubt Page ripped this from Holmes. Had Jake Holmes pursued the matter when Zep's version first came out, he probably would have forced an out of court settlement. Alas, Jake waited 41 years to file suit and he's still waiting for compensation or acknowledgment.     Verdict: Guilty, litigation still pending                                                                                                                             

Black Mountain Side,   Source:  Bert Jansch - Black Water Side  
From Jansch's "Jack Orion" album released in 1966  (with John Renbourn) very little difference between Bert's arrangement and Jimmy's. "Black Water Side" however, is  a traditional folk song.  It's quite obvious that Page drew his "inspiration" from Bert's version.  Jimmy didn't feel obligated to give Jansch songwriting credit, though he claims Jansch as one of his primary influences (which is Page speak for "fuck him")  Bert Jansch never raised a fuss about it, nor did he get his  well deserved credit.  Verdict: Guilty                                                                                                                                               
 How Many More Times,   Sources: Howlin Wolf - How Many More Years / Albert King - The Hunter / Jeff Beck - Bolero
First of all, let's eliminate "Beck's Bolero" Recorded in 1966, the session included (beside Beck) Jimmy Page on guitar, John Paul Jones on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano, and Keith Moon on drums.  In effect, we're asked to believe that Page plagiarized himself.  Jeff Beck drew his inspiration from Maurice Ravel's Boléro, so it comes down to who stole what and when.

Howlin Wolf scored a hit with "How Many More Years" in 1951, is Led Zeppelin's "How Many More Times" the same song?, not at all.  Zep's song is a bastardized mash up, with traces of Howlin Wolf's tune and a heaping dose of Albert King's "The Hunter" Jimmy Page ripped off Albert King, but he did in  such a clever fashion that it almost sounds like a tribute.                                 Verdict:  1 Guilty, 2 Not Guilty

Communication Breakdown,  Source:  Eddie Cochran - Nervous Breakdown
Anyone who sees any similarity between Led Zeppelin's classic rave-up and Cochran's is trying too fucking hard.  We're out to bag some big game and this dog don't hunt. This argument has no merit, or as Johnny Cochran would say "You ain't got shit"   Verdict: Not Guilty                                                                                                                                                        

Your Time Is Gonna Come,  Source:  Traffic - Dear Mr. Fantasy
From Traffic's  1967 album "Mr. Fantasy", Other than that rolling guitar riff, which is identical to Dave Mason's  riff on Traffic's "Dear Mr. Fantasy", this one doesn't really wash. That would be like saying that Kingdom Come was ripping off Led Zeppelin just because all their songs sounded exactly like Led Zeppelin.                                                                                                                                               Verdict: Not Guilty

Album:  Led Zeppelin II
Whole Lotta Love,     Sources:  Muddy Waters (Willie Dixon) - You Need Love / Small Faces - You Need Loving
Shamelessly brazen heist, made worse when you consider that this was the song that put Led Zeppelin over the top with American music fans. (the band's only top ten U.S. single) Muddy Waters recorded "You Need Love" in 1962, it was written by Willie Dixon specifically for Waters. The Small Faces' version (1966) sticks close to Muddy's original. Robert Plant aped Steve Marriott's vocal mannerisms for Led Zeppelin's version. Page, Plant, Bonham & Jones were credited as songwriters, Dixon received a belated credit after he threatened court action.      verdict: Whole Lotta Guilty

Lemon Song,    Sources:  Howlin' Wolf - Killing Floor / Robert Johnson - Traveling Riverside Blues
"Squeeze me baby, till the juice runs down my legs, the way you squeeze my lemon, I'm gonna fall right out of bed" are still the greatest lyrics ever written in any genre.  Problem is... Robert Plant didn't write them nor did Jimmy Page compose the music.  Wolf probably nicked the tune from Robert Johnson, who most likely learned it from the Devil himself.  Zep's version of "Traveling Riverside Blues" later turned up on the band's final album "Coda" credited to Robert Johnson, with Page & Plant listed as co-writers, cheeky bastards! "The Lemon Song" credits the entire band and Chester Burnett (Howlin Wolf) as songwriters (that wasn't the case when the album was first released)  Verdict: Guilty as Hell

Bring it on Home,    Source:  Sonny Boy Williamson (Willie Dixon) - Bring it on Back
Another Willie Dixon song that Led Zeppelin stole. Dixon got his song writing credit along with royalties (not sure if he received any back payments)  Led Zeppelin's version amounts to nothing more than a cover song, albeit lumbering and loud. They totally fail to capture the nuances that made Sonny Boy's version so good, but then being subtle wasn't in the works for The Lead Balloon.           Verdict: Guilty

Moby Dick,    Source:  Bobby Parker - Watch Your Step
I had never heard of Bobby Parker, but thirty seconds into "Watch Your Step" you realize that "Moby Dick" uses the instrumental bed from Parker's tune. Led Zeppelin's take was souped-up and beefy, but there's just too many nagging similarities with Parker's song (he may have stolen it from Ray Charles "What'd I Say" in the first place) No mention of Bobby Parker in the credits.  Verdict: Guilty

Album:  Led Zeppelin III
Since I've Been Loving You,  Source:  Moby Grape - Never
"Never" was the first track from "Grape Jam" the bonus "free" album that came with "Wow" Moby Grape's second album. The song was written by Moby Grape's bass player Bob Mosley. "Grape Jam" consisted of several improvisational jams, which was a radical departure from Moby Grape's much ballyhooed first album. Led Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Loving You" is superior in every way to "Never" thanks to some ungodly guitar work from Jimmy Page and killer vocals from Robert Plant. There's some similarities, but not enough to jump to the conclusion that Zep burned Moby. Verdict: Not Guilty

Hats Off,   Source:  Bukka White - Shake 'em on Down
Let's see if I've got this straight, Led Zeppelin pays tribute to Roy Harper by stealing a song from Bukka White?  I do love Zep's version though, that's some sweet slide work by Jimmy, in order to play like that a man would have to do unworldly things, like sell his soul to the devil... maybe? "Hats Off" also features some of Robert Plant's best vocals... ever! Having said all that, they did steal this from Bukka.       Verdict: Guilty

Album:  Led Zeppelin IV
Stairway to Heaven,   Source:  Spirit - Taurus
It would be difficult to argue that Jimmy Page didn't steal a few snippets from "Taurus" for the "Stairway to Heaven" intro.  Led Zeppelin and Spirit crossed paths during Zep's first U.S. tour in 1968. As Jake Holmes discovered, if Jimmy Page is in the house, prepare to get ripped off.  Just as was the case with Traffic's "Dear Mr. Fantasy" it's skirts a fine line, which as we've learned, was Jimmy's specialty.          Verdict: Not Guilty

Album: Physical Graffiti
Boogie with Stu,  Source:   Oooh My Head- Ritchie Valens
Ritchie Valens was notorious for not being able to finish his songs, when Bob Keane first signed him, all Valens had was a bunch of riffs and lyrics. Working together they constructed several 1950's rock & roll classics, including "Oooh My Head" which Zeppelin tried to pass off as "Boogie with Stu"

Bob Keane was no dummy and he lawyered up quick once Physical Graffiti was released. Keane persevered and eventually Led Zeppelin reluctantly agreed to give writing credit, not to Valens & Keane (the actual composers) but to a Mrs. Valens (Ritchie's mother Connie) 

Jimmy Page came up with some hogwash about how Connie had never received any money from any of his hits, so out of the kindness of their hearts, Led Zeppelin was granting her a songwriting credit (they didn't even have the fucking decency to use her actual name, Consuelo Valenzuela)   Verdict: Guilty

Custard pie,   Source:  Sleepy John Estes - Drop Down Mama
All efforts by Jimmy Page to make "Custard Pie" something other than "Drop Down Mama" fail miserably. I'm about to say something totally fucking crazy, Why not just call the song "Drop Down Mama" and give Estes his due?  That's what I don't get about Page, he would exert all that effort and creativity in order to take songwriting credits for songs that others had written! Page & Plant are still listed as the sole composers for this song.  Verdict: Guilty

In my time of dying,  Source:  Bob Dylan - In my time of dying (Blind Willie Johnson)
Bob Dylan didn't write "In My Time of Dying" nor did he take credit for it. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant didn't write it either, but they did take credit and still do to this day. My guess is that Jimmy Page reasoned that a Bob Dylan cover of a Blind Willie Johnson song, surely has to be considered public domain.                  Verdict: Not Guilty

Album:   Presence
Nobody’s Fault But Mine,  Source:  Blind Willie Johnson - Nobody’s Fault But Mine
Stealing from a blind man would be considered low for most folks, but once you've sold your soul to the devil  you don't quibble over such matters.  As had become customary, Page & Plant took the writing credit. Blind Willie Johnson had no say in the matter, having been dead since 1945.         Verdict: Guilty

Jimmy Page Speaks: 

He sorta, kinda admits to plagiarism,
"As far as my end of it goes, I always tried to bring something fresh to anything that I used. I always made sure to come up with some variation. In fact, I think that in most cases you would never know what the original source could be. Maybe not in every case, but in most cases"

He then proceeds to throw dear old Bob (Robert Plant) under the bus,

"So most of the comparisons rest on the lyrics and Robert was supposed to change the lyrics, and he didn't always do that, which is what brought on most of the grief. They couldn't get us on the guitar parts of the music, but they nailed us on the lyrics"

Lawyers are far more persuasive than a guilty conscience,

 "We did however take some liberties, I must say, but never mind, we did try to do the right thing" 
 Guitar World Magazine 1993

Thursday, June 7, 2012

For a Song: Dazed and Confused

 I could say that Jake Holmes was a better jingle writer than a singer-songwriter, but in reality he was quite adept at both.  As a folk singer, Holmes had a run in the 1960s, recording two acclaimed but overlooked albums, "The Above Ground Sound" of Jake Holmes (Tower, 1967) and "A Letter to Katherine December" (Tower, 1968)

His record label, Tower,  wasn't known for folk music. They were home to The Chocolate Watchband and had released a much maligned version of Pink Floyd's first album, "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" Commercially, all his albums (he turned to a country rock sound and recorded two albums for Polydor and one for Columbia) tanked miserably.

This led Jake to a career in advertising, that brought him more fame and fortune than his singer/songwriter efforts ever could. His talent for writing clever lyrics and melodies that stick like glue, served him well. He also wrote an entire album for Frank Sinatra in 1970. (Watertown, a commercial failure that is now viewed as one of Sinatra's better efforts)

Whether you know it or not you've heard Jake Holmes' work, he composed the iconic recruiting jingle for the U.S. Army ("be all that you can be") Jake ( Mr. Jingle) also wrote the infamous "Be a Pepper" jingle for Dr. Pepper. "Raise your hand if you're Sure" for Sure deodorant, "Best a Man Can Get" for Gillette, just to name a few of his classics.

Ironically, Jake Holmes started out playing with a folk singer who was dogged by charges of plagiarism.  Before his solo career kicked off, Holmes was part of Tim Rose and The Thorns. One of the songs they played "Hey Joe" was allegedly written by Billy Roberts.  Rose took credit claiming  that his version of the song was a rearrangement of a traditional tune.

Holmes sides with Rose, "Tim had this friend who had written this folk song called "Hey Joe" (i.e. Billy Roberts) "Tim took it and rearranged it for us to play. We were the first band to do it that way. A few other groups picked up on it later" (Both Tim Rose and Jimi Hendrix started playing "Hey Joe" at Club Wha? in NYC, after The Leaves' version hit the charts in 1965) 

Tim Rose deserved no credit for "Hey Joe" but he took it and even sued Marmalade, a U.K. group that recorded the song in 1968 for royalties. Holmes has a selective memory of the events "Hendrix heard Tim do it in England a few years later, that's where he got it and used it" (Jimi was playing a version of "Hey Joe" at Club Wha? long before he left for the U.K.)

 Holmes declared, "Just like "Dazed And Confused" happened to me. We were both ripped off" It's hard to paint a sympathetic picture of Tim Rose when you also factor in his sleazy history with another classic 60's song, Bonnie Dobson's "(Walk me out in the) Morning Dew" Rose brazenly took a songwriting credit and collected royalties meant for Dobson.

Lots of people talk and few of them know

There's no honor amongst thieves, on Aug. 25th. 1967, Jake Holmes opened at The Village Theatre, also on the bill were The Yardbirds and The Youngbloods.  Keith Relf and Jimmy Page took in Holmes' show, they especially liked one of his songs "Dazed and Confused" (from "The Above Ground Sound" album) Jake had no inkling that he was about to be robbed. 

In retrospect, Holmes remembered the show well, "Yes, that was the infamous moment of my life when "Dazed And Confused" fell into the loving arms and hands of Jimmy Page"  In 1968, The Yardbirds, now on their last legs, returned to New York City for a series of shows. They had added a version of "Dazed and Confused" to their set.

Yardbird's drummer Jim McCarty explained what happened after the 1967 show in Greenwich Village. "We decided to do a version" At the band's bequest, McCarty made a trip to a record shop to buy a copy of Holme's album.  "We worked it out together with Jimmy contributing the guitar riffs in the middle." McCarty added.

 It was not Page's finest hour, for his part he basically told Jake "fuck you very much" Page has maintained his audacity and refused to come clean... to this day.  He made the song his own, (Jimmy Page is credited as the track's sole songwriter)  even if it wasn't his in the first place. Jake Holmes took out a copyright on "Dazed & Confused" in 1967 and renewed it in 1995.

"In 1990, Musician magazine quizzed Page on the subject, asking if Holmes was the original composer. "I don't know about all that," Page replied. "I'd rather not get into it because I don't know all the circumstances. What's he got – the riff or whatever? ... I haven't heard Jake Holmes so I don't know what it's all about anyway. Usually my riffs are pretty damn original."

All one has to do is listen to both versions back to back to know that Jimmy Page is lying through his fucking teeth. In many ways Holmes' version is superior to Led Zeppelin's (nevermind the rather abysmal versions recorded by The Yardbirds) Holmes' track is stark, punctuated by a series of caesuras or dramatic silences (which Page also incorporated)

Led Zeppelin's version is a wailing wall of ruckus, during which faux-cocksman Robert Plant moans and groans his way to a climax. It's not pretty, but then again, Led Zeppelin by its very nature was never meant to be pretty or subtle.  Keith Relf, who had far more in common with Jake Holmes than he did with Robert Plant, sticks to more traditional blues vocals, complete with harmonica solo.

After The Yardbirds broke up, Page worked "Dazed & Confused" into the repertoire  of his new band, Led Zeppelin.  The track would appear on Led Zeppelin's debut album, credited to Jimmy Page. Jake Holmes took note, but did not take any immediate action. Several years later he did write Page a letter asking him for acknowledgment and recompense.

There are several websites and forums that cover Led Zeppelin's past plagiarism "Thieving Magpies" and "The Led Zeppelin Plagiarism Compendium" are just two of many. Neither Page nor the band's management has ever owned up to any of the charges, with some rare exceptions.

For Ritchie Valens' fans a track from "Physical Graffiti" sounded strangely familiar, that's because "Boogie with Stu" was a bold faced rip on Ritchie's "Oooh, My Head" a song he co-wrote with Bob Keane. When the album was released it did not credit  either Valens or Keane. A lawsuit was filed by Bob Keane on behalf of Ritchie's mother Connie.

A settlement was reached out of court and Connie given a song writing credit (as Mrs. Valens) Page later tried to softball the issue by stating "What we tried to do was give Ritchie's mother credit, because we heard she never received any royalties from any of her son's hits." In truth, Connie only received the credit after Bob Keane filed suit against Led Zeppelin.

Although it was obvious that "Boogie with Stu" was indeed "Oooh, My Head" for years Page denied it was the same song. He would also state, "Robert did lean on that lyric a bit. So what happens? They tried to sue us for all of the song!" (the exclamation point is his) Robert Plant leaned on the lyrics like a fucking 800 pound gorilla.

 "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" was written by Anne Bredon in 1960, she first performed the song on KPFA that same year. Joan Baez would then record the most famous version of the song, up until Led Zeppelin recorded it. Their version credited the song as "Trad.,arr. Page" Bredon filed suit in 1990 and received a substantial back-payment from the band. Joan Baez's version of "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" is a little hard to stomach. I prefer The Plebs, a band from Surrey, who their recorded their version in 1964 and credited it as "trad arr. Dennis"

The idea of taking an American song, and labeling it "traditional" was a dodgy British way of getting around having to pay the Yanks any royalties. Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin are no strangers to charges of plagiarism. It's something that's dogged the group, which is often ridiculed as "the world's greatest cover band" Led Zeppelin, much like the dinosaurs that they were compared to during their final days, have thick skins, it's all water off a duck's ass to them.

In 2010, Jake Holmes formally filed suit against Jimmy Page, charging him with plagiarizing "Dazed and Confused" However due to the statute of limitations, he can only put in a claim for damages done over the past three years. As we're now well aware, the real damage was done long ago, 41 years ago to be exact.

The Led Zeppelin Plagiarism Compendium

Led Zeppelin
Babe I'm Gonna Leave You: Joan Baez - Babe I'm Gonna Leave You (Anne Brendon)
Dazed and Confused: Jake Holmes - Dazed and Confused
Black Mountain Side: Bert Jansch - Black Water Side
How Many More Times: Howlin Wolf - How Many More Years / Albert King - The Hunter / Jeff Beck - Bolero
Communication Breakdown: Eddie Cochran - Nervous Breakdown
Your Time Is Gonna Come: Traffic - Dear Mr. Fantasy

Led Zeppelin II
Whole lotta love: Muddy Waters (Willie Dixon) - You Need Love / Small Faces - You Need Loving
Lemon Song: Howlin' Wolf - Killing Floor / Robert Johnson - Travelling Riverside Blues
Moby Dick: Bobby Parker - Watch Your Step
Bring it on Home: Sonny Boy Williamson - Bring it on Back

Led Zeppelin III
Since I've Been Loving You: Moby Grape - Never
Hats Off: Bukka White - Shake 'em on Down

Led Zeppelin IV
Stairway to Heaven: Spirit - Taurus

Physical Graffiti
Boogie with Stu-  Oooh My Head- Ritchie Valens
Custard pie: Sleepy John Estes - Drop Down Mama
In my time of dying: Bob Dylan - In my time of dying (Blind Willie Johnson)

Nobody’s Fault But Mine: Blind Willie Johnson - Nobody’s Fault But Mine