Whole Lotta Love = You Need Love (written by Willie Dixon. sung by Muddy Waters)
Bring It On Home intro = Bring It On Home (written by Willie Dixon, sung by Sonny Boy Williamson II)
The Lemon Song = Killing Floor (written and sung by Howlin’ Wolf), lyrics nicked from Travelling Riverside Blues by Robert Johnson
How Many More Times = How Many More Years and No Place to Go (written and sung by Howlin’ Wolf)
When the Levee Breaks = written and sung by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie
Nobody’s Fault But Mine = written and sung by Blind Willie Johnson
There are quite a few more, but here are some good examples for starters. The issue I have is not that Led Zeppelin covered blues songs. The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac also covered blues songs - but, unlike Led Zeppelin, they were very diligent in giving proper credit where due. The issue I have is that Led Zeppelin had claimed these songs as their own without attributing proper credit.
Willie Dixon had even sued Led Zeppelin for Whole Lotta Love, and won! So, yeah, that’s what I mean about Led Zeppelin exploiting blues artists.
When The Levee Breaks, 1929. Led Zep’s version probably outnumbers this Kansas Joe McCoy & Memphis Minnie original by at least twenty to one on tumblr. It’s one of many Zep “borrowed” from old blues masters as they made their name in the 60s and 70s. Jimmy Page blamed Robert Plant for not reworking the lyrics, telling Guitar World in 1993 that Plant had thus caused the band “grief” with lawsuits, saying his guitar work was too original to be “nailed” on, but with many of the old blues song lyrics basically unchanged, that wasn’t the case with the words. Personally, I like both versions of this song–Memphis Minnie’s guitar work is great, as is Jimmy Page’s–although in some instances (i.e. “Bring It On Home”) I definitely prefer the old to the new.
All the same, it is fair to wonder why so many people get songwriting credits on Beyoncé’s new album. A closer look at just who gets them is revealing. Consider the song “Don’t Hurt Yourself.”
The list of writers includes Jack White of the White Stripes, the songwriter Wynter Gordon, Beyoncé, and a quartet of highly unlikely collaborators, including one, John Bonham, who died in 1980. Led Zeppelin obviously did not sit down with Beyoncé to write a song in 2016. They recorded “When the Levee Breaks” in 1971, and Beyoncé sampled a few seconds of it in “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” Led Zeppelin did not write the song either. Kansas Joe McCoy and his wife, Memphis Minnie, wrote it in 1929.
The reason that the members of Led Zeppelin—and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Animal Collective, and other bands—get a writing credit on the new Beyoncé album, even though that “credit” could be intended to cover a similar sounding line, has nothing to do with art and everything to do with intellectual-property law. In 1991, two lawsuits changed the course of hip-hop and re-wrote the definition of songwriter, so that the band Animal Collective gets a songwriting credit on Lemonade because one of the songwriters unconsciously borrowed(and modified) a single line from a song.
If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break When the levee breaks I’ll have no place to stay
Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan It’s got what it takes to make a mountain man leave his home Oh, well, oh, well, oh, well
When the Levee Breaks" is a blues song written and first recorded by husband and wife Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie in 1929. The song is in reaction to the upheaval caused by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.
It was re-worked Led Zeppelin as the last song on Led Zeppelin IV, released in 1971. The lyrics in Led Zeppelin’s version, credited to Memphis Minnie and the individual members of Led Zeppelin, were partially based on the original recording. Many other artists have also recorded versions of the song or played it live.