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

Hats Off To (Roy) Harper

 
 
 

All Killer, No Filler

All Killer, No Filler

The greatest music geek I’ve ever known turned me onto the whole underground british folk scene back in early ’70’s, and one of the albums he used to seal the deal was Roy Harper’s HQ. Within seconds I was sold on “The Game”. “This is folk music?”, I asked. Well, folk rock, anyway.

It was pretty hard to find until it’s US release as When An Old Cricketeer Leaves The Crease. This was yet another album my dorm roomate had to embrace, because I played it all the time. It wasn’t easy finding the cd. For years, this was one of a handful of albums I looked for everytime I walked into a cd shop. When I tried to order it at my home store, they couldn’t get it. I finally found it at the Virgin Megastore at Times Square, as they were going out of business.
The band on “The Game” is a supergroup worth noting. John Paul Jones on bass, David Gilmour on guitar, and Bill Bruford behind the drum kit. All were at the top of their game (!). The guitar solo was played by Chris Spedding as Gilmour couldn’t get one together for whatever reason. Word was Spedding came in like a gunslinger with a white Strat and a black Les Paul and did it in one take. At over 13 minutes long, it’s really an epic suite of five related parts, rather than just a song. It nearly made Roy a rock star.
Also included are two other favorites, “Don’t You Grieve” from Flat Baroque and Beserk, and “One For All” from Fokejokeopus.

Flat Baroque and Beserk

Flat Baroque and Beserk

An idiosyncratic British singer/songwriter acclaimed for his deeply personal, poetic lyrics and unique guitar work, Roy Harper was born June 12, 1941, in Manchester, England. As a teen he tenured with De Boys, his brothers’ skiffle band, before leaving home at the age of 15 to enter the Royal Air Force; he subsequently secured a discharge by claiming insanity, resulting in a long period marked by frequent stays in mental institutions (where he was the subject of ECT treatments) and prison. Harper later drifted throughout Europe, and by 1965 was a mainstay of London’s Les Cousins folk club, performing alongside the likes of Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and Nick Drake.

Everybody's got something to hide except for me and my monkey

Everybody's got something to hide except for me and my monkey

In 1966 the tiny indie label Strike issued Harper’s debut LP, The Sophisticated Beggar; the record brought him to the attention of Columbia, which released his sophomore effort, Come Out Fighting Genghis Smith, the following year. In 1968, Harper mounted a series of free concerts in London’s Hyde Park, which greatly expanded his fan base in preparation for the release of 1969’s Folkjokeopus, which included “McGoohan’s Blues,” the first of his many extended compositions.

What a Bill!

What a Bill!

After meeting Pink Floyd manager Peter Jenner, Harper was signed to EMI’s Harvest subsidiary, and in 1970 he issued Flat Baroque and Berserk, recorded with contributions from members of the Nice; that same year marked the appearance of Led Zeppelin III and its track “Hats Off to Harper,” a tribute penned by longtime friend Jimmy Page. According to Jimmy Page, the band admired the way Harper stood by his principles and did not sell out to commercial pressures. In a mutual appreciation of their work, Harper would often attend live performances by Led Zeppelin over the subsequent decade as well as contribute sleeve photography to the album Physical Graffiti. He also appears, uncredited, in the 1976 film, The Song Remains the Same.
Upon relocating to the Big Sur area of California, Harper began writing 1971’s Stormcock, regarded by many as his finest record, featuring Jimmy Page on guitar (credited as ‘S. Flavius Mercurius’) and David Bedford’s orchestral arrangements. David Bedford would collaborate on future releases. In 1972, Harper made his acting debut playing Mike Preston alongside Carol White in the John Mackenzie film Made. The soundtrack for this film appeared in the following year with the title Lifemask. His next album ‘Valentine’, was released on Valentine’s Day, 14 February 1974 and featured backing by Led Zeppelin. A concert to mark its release was held at London’s Rainbow Theatre with Page, Bedford, Ronnie Lane on bass and Keith Moon on drums. The live album Flashes From The Archives Of Oblivion soon followed.

Between 1975 and 1978, Harper spent considerable time in the United States. Pink Floyd’s 1975 release Wish You Were Here saw Harper as lead vocalist on the song ‘Have a Cigar’. Floyd’s David Gilmour returned the favour by appearing on Harper’s next album, HQ, along with Harper’s occasional backing band called Trigger (Chris Spedding on guitar, Dave Cochran on bass guitar, and Bill Bruford on drums) along with Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones. The single ‘When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease’, taken from the album, is Harper’s biggest selling and best known solo record to date. Harper also co-wrote the song, ‘Short and Sweet’ with Gilmour for Gilmour’s first solo record released in 1978. He performed the song live with Gilmour at least once in the 80s singing the lead vocal.

Controversy followed the release of 1977’s Bullinamingvase, with Watford Gap service station objecting to the lyrics in the song ‘Watford Gap’, which criticised their food (“Watford Gap, Watford Gap / A plate of grease and a load of crap…”). Harper was forced under duress to drop it from future UK copies of the album, though it reappeared on a later CD reissue and remained on the U.S. LP. Bullinamingvase also featured ‘One of Those Days in England’, with backing vocals by Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney, which became a Top 40 hit. Flat Baroque And Berserk, Lifemask, Valentine, Flashes from the Archives Of Oblivion, HQ and Bullinamingvase were all top 20 albums (in England-Ed).

Roy is apparently alive, well, and still fighting the good fight.

The Game (parts1-5)
Don’t You Grieve
One For All