Jimmy Plagiarist

 
Worth tracking downThis post began as a feature on the underrated, yet highly influential Davey Graham. I was blown away when I acquired his 1964 album Folk, Blues, & Beyond, and first heard his amazing rendition of “She Moved Through The Fair”.  I’ve been into the British Folkies since way before breakfast, and I’d heard of him, but never ran across any of his records.  I forget which of my favorite blogs first clued me in, but suddenly my whole understanding of the late ’60’s folk thing shifted.  The raga break in Fairport Convention’s “Nottamun Town” didn’t seem so brilliantly original.  That eastern flavor is Davey Graham’s contribution.  He developed the DADGAD tuning in order to play oud music on his guitar while travelling through Morocco. It’s also a sitar tuning.
Anyway “She Moved Through The Fair” sounded very familiar.  That’s because Jimmy Page, while a Yardbird, appropriated it, retitled it as “White Summer”, and has performed it as a showpiece and signature song without ever crediting Graham for the arrangement or the tuning making it possible.
I bought “Hammer Of The Gods” for $2 at a flea market in Woodstock last weekend, and according to it’s author, after touring Australia with the Yardbirds,
“Jimmy flew on to India, where he wanted to hear Carnatic Music.  He arrived alone, in Bombay on the Arabian Sea at three in the morning with a duffel bag over his shoulder, and spent days in the streets, listening to itinerant musicians.”
I don’t know about you, but that sounds a little like a fantasy.
Two pages later when describing “Little Games”, the subsequent , final, and only Yardbirds album featuring Jimmy Page he mentions one of the highlights being,
“”White Summer,” Jimmy’s Carnatic madrigal that was his solo showpiece in concert”
I figure since he’s a plagiarist he’s probably a liar, too.  I don’t know about his India story, but as long as he’s stealing a man’s music, why not some of his legend as well?
Here’s a little wikipedia on Davey Graham:
“Graham’s spontaneity made him unreliable and unpredictable, which did little to advance his fame or endear him to concert organisers and the more commercial elements of the music world. In the late 1960s he was booked for a tour of Australia but, when his plane stopped for an hour in Bombay, he changed his plans and spent the next six months wandering through India.”

Martin Carthy from the back of Folk, Blues, And Beyond
“Davy is one of the great originals on the folk scene; in fact I think he’s probably the great original. Davy’s discovery of DADGAD really was the great leap forward and his performance of “She Moved Through The Fair” in this tuning at the troubadour was mind blowing.”

Carnatic madrigal my arse.
Many of Led Zeppelin’s signature tunes are shameless rip-off’s of other artist’s ideas. All I can figure is that their manager, Peter Grant said something like, “They can go broke suing us.”

Jimmy bought this album in 1967

In a 1990 interview with Musician magazine, Jimmy Page quickly soured when questions veered into this territory. The Q and A exchange is quoted below.

Musician: I understand “Dazed & Confused” was originally a song by Jake Holmes. Is that true?

Page: [Sourly] I don’t know. I don’t know. [Inhaling] I don’t know about all that.

Musician: Do you remember the process of writing that song?

Page: Well, I did that with the Yardbirds originally… The Yardbirds were such a good band for a guitarist to play in that I came up with a lot of riffs and ideas out of that, and I employed quite a lot of those in the early Zeppelin stuff.

Musician: But Jake Holmes, a successful jingle writer in New York, claims on his 1967 record that he wrote the original song.

Page: Hmm. Well, I don’t know. I don’t know about that. I’d rather not get into it because I don’t know all the circumstances. What’s he got, The riff or whatever? Because Robert wrote some of the lyrics for that on the album. But he was only listening to… we extended it from the one that we were playing with the Yardbirds.

Musician: Did you bring it into the Yardbirds?

Page: No, I think we played it ’round a sort of melody line or something that Keith [Relf] had. So I don’t know. I haven’t heard Jake Holmes so I don’t know what it’s all about anyway. Usually my riffs are pretty damn original. [laughs] What can I say?

from wikipedia:

During a 1967 tour of the United States by English rock group The Yardbirds, Jake Holmes performed as the opener at the Village Theater in Greenwich Village on August 25, 1967. The Yardbirds were inspired by his performance and decided to work up their own arrangement. Their version featured long instrumental passages of bowed guitar courtesy of Jimmy Page, and dynamic instrumental flourishes. Page has stated that he obtained the idea of using a violin bow on his guitar from a violinist named David McCallum, Sr*., during his session days before joining the Yardbirds in 1966. At that time, it even had a little Eastern influence, as can be heard on some French television appearances. It quickly became a staple of The Yardbirds’ live performance during the last year of their act.
The song was never officially recorded by the band, although a live version recorded on 30 March 1968 is included on the album Live Yardbirds: Featuring Jimmy Page under the alternate title “I’m Confused”. Notably, it is the only track that has no songwriter credits on the release. Another live version of the song, recorded on the French TV series “Bouton Rouge” on 9 March 1968, was included on the CD Cumular Limit in 2000 and was credited “by Jake Holmes arr. Yardbirds.”

When the Yardbirds disbanded in 1968, Page planned to record the song yet again, this time with Led Zeppelin. According to Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, the first time he heard the song was at the band’s very first rehearsal session at Gerrard Street in London in 1968: “Jimmy played us the riffs at the first rehearsal and said, ‘This is a number I want us to do’.” Led Zeppelin recorded their version in October 1968 at Olympic Studios, London, and the song was included on their 1969 debut album Led Zeppelin.
The Led Zeppelin version was not credited to Holmes. Page used the title, penned a new set of lyrics, and changed enough of the melody to escape a plagiarism lawsuit from Holmes — the song’s arrangement, however, remained markedly similar to the version performed by The Yardbirds the previous year.While Holmes took no action at the time, he did later contact Page in regards to the matter. Page had not replied as of 2001. In June 2010 Holmes filed a lawsuit in United States District Court, alleging copyright infringement and naming Page as a co-defendant. The 2012 live album Celebration Day attributes the song to “Page; inspired by Jake Holmes”, although the writer’s credit with ASCAP remains unchanged.

Here is “Dazed And Confused” by Jake Holmes from his 1967 album, The Above Ground Sound of Jake Holmes. The Yardbirds saw Jake perform this and Jimmy Page bought the album at Bleeker Bob’s the next day.
 

*I believe the origin of the violin bow can be seen in this YouTube video of The Creation playing their excellent “Making Time” in 1966. (Eddie Phillips brings the bow out at 1:40)


“Hammer Of The Gods” repeatedly states Led Zeppelin’s affinity for the California sound (“Going To California”), especially San Francisco’s Spirit. Here is a brief instrumental by Randy California, from Spirit (1967)entitled “Taurus”. It’s quite lovely and the central theme is the basis for “Stairway To Heaven”.
 

Bert Jansch

“Black Mountain Side” from Led Zeppelin’s debut, and credited to Jimmy Page is really Bert Jansch’s arrangement of the traditional “Black Waterside” with a new title. Bert Jansch (11/03/43-10/05/11) was also influenced by Davy Graham, and like Martin Carthy, not adverse to giving credit. Here is “Black Waterside” from his 1966 album Jack Orion.
 
Led Zeppelin has been sued by and settled with bluesmen for several songs, “Whole Lotta Love”, for instance. I didn’t include them as the blues are slippery, the originals they copied were themselves built on other tunes. That’s blues. I didn’t mention that “Communication Breakdown” is a re-write of Eddie Cochran’s “Nervous Breakdown” because it isn’t as obvious. Most music is built out of other tunes. But you either render it unrecognizable, thus making it yours, or you give credit where credit is due.


Here are a couple Yardbirds tracks Jimmy would rather you didn’t hear:
“Knowing That I’m losing You” later turned up as “Tangerine” with Keith Relf’s uncredited lyrics intact.
 
The “original” “White Summer” from Little Games (1968)
 
“Usually my riffs are pretty damn original. [laughs] What can I say?”
Thanks to Willard for turning me onto “Taurus”. While the post was taking shape I ran across Will Shade’s fine article:
“THE THIEVING MAGPIES:
Jimmy Page’s Dubious Recording Legacy
Part 2

where I found a lot of information/inspiration.
She Moved Through The Fair
Dazed & Confused
Taurus
Black Waterside
Knowing That I’m Losing You
White Summer

38 thoughts on “Jimmy Plagiarist

  1. Very informative! Too bad the original artists are overlooked, uncredited and consequently obscure in comparison to Jimmy Page. I am glad I got to hear the music, stolen or not. Page has had a profound effect on the scene. The biggest ego won!

  2. Damn!

    I paid $3 for my copy of “Hammer of the Gods”. But rather than feel like the ripped-off jackass that I am, I’ve decided to do something about it.I’m starting an “Occupy Rockstars” protest. We’ll meet in front of the Physical Graffiti building, and camp out until Page gives us the Alistair Crowley spell for making creditors disappear. Thus armed, the rest will be a snap..

  3. This is an absolutely brilliant piece of research you’ve put together here. Other musical plagiarists should be quaking in their boots after seeing how your detective work has exposed Jimmy Page for the fraud that he is. Bravo and well-done.

    RF

  4. Thanks. I’ll mention here that your Davey and Shirley post, and comments section added fuel to the fire.

  5. I’m so glad to hear Davey Graham credited here. I have been his fan for years, and so when I eventually heard “White Summer” on a bootleg (never recorded officially by Zep) I recognized it immediately, and was appalled that noone else did.
    Search the net for the TVrip of a great 3part BBC series on the British folk revival “Folk Brittania”. It has a long clip of Graham playing “She Moved Through the Fair” live in concert. Actually I just found it on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwVsLcawHwQ

  6. The more I thought about Jimmy’s lifting Davey’s work and taking credit for “White Summer”, the more it bothered me and I had to say something.

  7. Jimmy should definitely have credited those guys. Didn’t Zeppelin give some credit to Mrs. Valens for Boggie With Stu because they lifted some of a Richie Valens song? Plagarism is never good but how many musicians have subconsiously thrown in other riffs into their own stuff because those riffs are deeply embedded into their brains? Still Jimmy has written some amazing songs that will live forever. That can’t be denied. He didn’t rip them all off!

  8. Really great stuff, though as a Zep lunatic, it’s hard to swallow. I’ve always let the boys slide, especially on things like “In My Time Of Dying,” which is clearly “Jesus Is Gonna Make Up My Dying Bed,” but has so much original content, i.e., riffs and arrangement, it might as well be a JP original. But the rest? Jeez.

  9. It was really his claiming Davey’s “She Moved Through The Fair”, which was an innovative, influential moment, and turning it into a circus trick that pushed me over the edge.

  10. Thanks for this enjoyable article. Used to listen to Spirit a lot
    back in the day :^) and Stairway/Taurus comes very close
    to a ripoff. Zep made something transcendent with it, so we’ll
    give them a pass. Call it creative theft rather than blatant theft.
    BTW Spirit was based in Los Angeles not San Francisco

  11. That’s very interesting – very well assembled – thanks!

    One thing that struck me on listening to Davy Graham’s version above is how close that central melody riff is to “Over the Mountains and Far Away”.

    While i completely agree that Page should have given props for the things he lifted (including those blues songs!) i think that the caveat you apply to blues also applies to folk to some degree – “She Moves Through the Fair” has a long history (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/She_Moved_Through_the_Fair for details).

    I thought this was at least tangentially relevant too, Richard Thompson responding to a fan’s question about plagiarism: http://www.richardthompson-music.com/catch_of_the_day.asp?id=1152

  12. Jimmy definitely found “Over The Hills And Far Away” in “She Moves Through The Fair”. You’re point about folk music is well taken. Davey Graham didn’t write it, but his arrangement and DADGAD tuning was original, and Jimmy shamelessly lifted it. All he had to do was give credit. Instead he changed the title and received royalties for a song and arrangement he didn’t create.

  13. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Page/Zep thefts.
    Mojo mag. did a nice feature several yrs. ago (of which I have) and there even more namechecked there.
    For instance the U.K. band Audience’s song “Maiden’s Cry” was nicked for “Stairway To Heaven” as well.

    Pretty much any of my period piece books mentioning Zep/ Page always reveals a story of what a thief he is and how he isn’t really all that respected among many of his peers for his steals (rightfully so imo).

  14. Several others off the top of my head Page ripped… oh “borrowed” from:

    Moby Grape ( Their song “Never” lyrics were stolen for “Since I’ve Been Lovin’ You” – lyrics are the same )
    Tempest (Their “Stargazer” predates the Zep tune “Trampled Under Foot”. Tempest leader Jon Hiseman said they performed it on BBC T.V. before Zep released “their” song and Page must’ve been “inspired”.
    It’s the same synth / guitar riff funky groove
    Little Richard (The beginning of “Rock and Roll” is the same as a little Richard tune.
    Vanilla Fudge (The ending of “Rock and Roll” is basically the same drum outro part from their cover of Jr. Walker’s “Shotgun”
    Steve Marriott (He orig. had a band called “The Firm”, Page offered him a gig in a then unnamed band he was putting together.
    Marriott turned Page down and Page responded by stealing Marriott’s band name!

    Their entire career has been as plagiarists !

  15. After I wrote this I remembered I have a vinyl copy of “Live Yardbirds”. On the record label “White Summer” aka “She Moves Through The Fair” is credited to J. Page, while “Dazed And Confused is listed as “I’m Confused” with no writing credit at all. You’re right about “Stargazer” (an earlier post features Ollie and Tempest). As I’ve said before it’s okay to be inspired by and borrow something, as long as you either change it and make it yours or give credit where credit is due.
    What a douche. Thanks for the comment. I have a couple Audience albums, but none with “Maiden’s Cry”. And I”m going to have to check out “Never”. What’s that from?

  16. “As I’ve said before it’s okay to be inspired by and borrow something, as long as you either change it and make it yours or give credit where credit is due.”

    Totally agree… I mean seriously Willie Dixon didn’t receive any credit from them whatsoever until a few yrs. before his death.
    They lived in huge mansions, he lived modestly.
    The criticism is for such a heralded talent surely he/they could come up with something of “their own”. lol

    Love Ollie Halsall 😀
    A far superior player imo than Page could ever hope to be.
    “Maiden’s Cry” is from their 1969 S/T “Audience”.

    Ya know one of the other things Page boats about is his numerous session work.
    Sure he did play on many sessions,but in many instances not in the capacity as “he” claims i.e. lead guitarist.
    John Paul Jones himself has said Page couldn’t read music back then and would be third guitarist strumming acoustic.
    In a feature Record Collector mag. did yrs. ago on Allan Holdsworth’s sessionography it claims Holdsworth is playing some lead on Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man”.

    Page claims it is he who plays lead on Them’s cover of “Baby Please Don’t Go”.
    Their guitarist has said “I may not have done a lot of high profile things but that was ME!” ( words to that effect, I forgot his actual statement, but you get the point).

    The earliest Page steal ( there’s that nasty word again he hates so much) ugh “borrow” was from Page’s rare 1969 single “She Just Satisfies” is a direct lift from a 1963 Ray Davies / Kinks tune “Revenge” .
    I read a feature on Ray Davies and he said Page was hanging around the studio while The Kinks were recording the track and voila he later issued “his” debut solo single. lol

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kdQugSkqfw

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGNbRpmkT4g

    Bottom line,there’s nothing totally orig. ~ but~ no other highly regarded artist has has so blatantly practiced plagiarism as often as Page/Zep (much to many fanboys dismay and denial).
    The proof is in the pudding.

  17. Almost forgot to answer your question.
    The Moby Grape track “Never” is from their “Grape Jam” album orig. part of their second album “Wow”.
    Zep were big fans of Moby Grape.
    So what better way to honor the group by stealing from them 😛

  18. Jimmy Page supposedly played rhythm on “You Really Got Me”, and encouraged a rumor that he played the lead. Consequently he never played on another Kinks session.
    As further evidence of his character, or lack of, according to “Hammer Of The Gods”, he had a thing for underage girls.

  19. I haven’t checked if this has been referenced above but have a listen to Davey Graham’s version of Cry Me A River recorded in 1959:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWeejHJxGjs
    I’d say there is a better than even chance that this is where the Stairway opening chord sequence originated.

  20. I hear it. You could be right about this. Terrific clip, by the way.

  21. A couple more interesting comparisons:

    “Thank You” vs Van der Graaf Generator’s “Afterwords”.

    “Whole Lotta Love” vs The Small Faces’ “You Need Loving”

    “Ramble On” vs Donovan’s “Season of the Witch”

    Also the opening of Page/Yardbirds’ “Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor vs. Page/Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains The Same”

  22. Obviously Page has some skeletons in his closet, but I doubt many composers work could stand for the same minute scrutiny without revealing some loans and some inspirations. Should a songwriter live completely in her/his own world and never allow himself to listen to others and borrow ideas from others?

    And blaming J.P. for stealing from his own old Yardbird tunes seems a bit far out. As for Wilie Dixon both “I Can’t Quit You” and “You Shook Me” on Led Zep.s first is credited to him so he must have got some royalties there.

    And one thing seems to be undeniable from the examples posted here. whatever J.P. lifted from others he took up to quite another stratosphere

  23. As I say in the post, “Most music is built out of other tunes. But you either render it unrecognizable, thus making it yours, or you give credit where credit is due.”
    I recently wrote some music where I challenged myself to steal from Davy Graham filtered through Page. The idea was to distill the sound down to its base and come up with something that was original, yet retained the original flavor. Page’s tendency to appropriate and not give credit shows weak character. In “It Might Get Loud” he discusses the origin of “Kashmir”, saying that he’d been playing around in DADGAD. A perfect opportunity to mention it’s originator, Davy Graham, but he can’t because it opens a can of worms. Willie Dixon received credit only after a lawsuit.

  24. The drum intro from ‘Rock & Roll is lifted from Little Richard’s ‘Keep On Knocking’ (incidentally Little Richard’s whole persona was ripped off of a dude called Esquerita).

    The credits for ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ were changed once the real author; Anne Bredon became aware of the lift.

  25. I see both my examples are laid out in the Will Shade article. Ooops I guess I should have read that first.

    A little side note that Eric Clapton’s “Let It Grow” has been criticised for its likeness to “Stairway To Heaven”

  26. I came across Will Shade’s article while I was conceiving the post. That was the nail in the coffin. I should have written : For more information go here and read Will Shade’s fine article
    “THE THIEVING MAGPIES:
    Jimmy Page’s Dubious Recording Legacy
    Part 2

    In fact I’m immediately going to make that change in the post. I’d thought about this for awhile and your comment is the tipping point. That I operate this way regularly is pretty obvious.

  27. I’m aware of Esquerita, and I almost bought a cd many times. So much music out there worth listening to.

  28. hey Baby J, that Jake Holmes cut is awesome—-how’s the rest of the album? Very reminiscent of several of the tracks which Duffy Power was recording in ’66 & 67

  29. I don’t have the album. The other track I’ve heard is even odder sounding, which is probably a good indication that the rest is at least interesting. Jimmy bought the album, maybe he stole other ideas we’d recognize as “original” to Led Zeppelin.
    For more info on Jake Holmes, check out my buddy Willard.

    HERE: http://www.willardswormholes.com/?p=13155

  30. Wow nice job! I just heard Davy Graham’s “she moved through the fair” in pandora and I googled and found your fabulous rip-off article. Nice job, and thanks to all the commenters for adding interesting stuff. I need some insight from you healthy skeptic/music historian types: the “false start” from Tangerine. Where was that stollen from because it sounds too good/tight to be a warm up mistake. Plant says a bit about it, but now I trust him even less. Who’s song is it? I feel teased and want to hear the whole thing!

  31. Nice video clip. The song in question is one of my examples. There are more, like the Small Faces “You Need Love”, and Moby Grape’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You” which I should probably add.

  32. Page wrote the music for Knowing that I’m losing you when he was with the Yardbirds. Measuring the summer days….. until …..bring me pain should have rightly been credited but the other verses on Tangerine have nothing to do with the other version. I love Page but credit should be given when credit is due.

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