I was a big LZ fan when I was young. But learning how much (and how shamelessly) they ripped off dead (or sometimes enfeebled) blues musicians ranks alongside founding out there’s no Easter Bunny.
The first copy I ever had of “LZ4/Zoso” does credit Memphis Minnie for “When the Levee Breaks” - she was living in a nursing home, but still probably could’ve kicked their asses.
And to be fair, I think their rendition of WTLB is a great track, and meets the threshold of ‘new composition’, rather than just stealing the riff from Willie Dixon’s “You Need Love” (“Whole Lotta Love”) or Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor” (“The Lemon Song”).
Ehh, good artists borrow, great artists steal. As noted above by the different covers by the same guy, Led Zeppelin changed the arrangement, at least. Blind Willie Johnson is my favorite early (pre-1950) blues guitarist. Corpus Christi and Texas (my home state) both did him wrong. Led Zeppelin doing the same is just par for the course. They could have at least credited him, but they usually credited no-one. It wasn’t personally against him, credit was scarce back then. On the other hand, lots of people know who to credit the original to, and who would they pay?
Similarly, Eric Clapton’s version of Motherless Children owes much to Blind Willie Johnson’s version. It’d be nice to give credit where credit is due, but who would he pay? Plus, they all put enough work into arranging their versions to call them their own, IMHO. Blind Willie Johnson was a transcendent guitarist and songwriter (hell, there’s humor in his version of motherless children, and it makes me both laugh and cry), but he was writing for and working with two people, at most.
Damn you people, I wasn’t ready to cry that much today. I’m going to bed.
I absolutely don’t care that artists steal. In fact, I wish they would do it more. A good riff might be more fun with a different arrangement and different lyrics. If so, I hope the artist would go for it. It would give me another good song. Unfortunately, outside of Oasis and Led Zeppelin, they rarely do. Give me Cigarettes and Alcohol.
Covering a song isn’t stealing. Taking credit for someone else’s work, on the other hand, is an awful lot like stealing. And I forget what Led Zeppelin’s explanation for this behavior was, but other artists from the same time period were more scrupulous about crediting the people who wrote the blues songs they covered.
Yes, but I think there are more people who don’t give credit than do. Clapton didn’t credit Blind Willie Johnson when he covered him, either. Also, both were really substantially borrowing from Johnson, neither are straight covers of the songs.