Monday, 4 August 2014

REWIND: Muddy Waters - 'You Need Love'

A little while ago, you may have heard news reports of the 60s band Spirit launching a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin after it was claimed that 'Stairway To Heaven' used an element from their song 'Taurus'. I decided to take a listen to the Spirit track, and do agree that its acoustic notes are pretty much identical to those that open Led Zep's all-time classic. But since then, it has dawned on me that Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham had been "borrowing" from other songs a lot more often than many realise. Take, for instance, this 1962 track by Muddy Waters, which was written by Willie Dixon and originally released on the Chess label. While 'Whole Lotta Love' is defined by its unmistakable riff, a large portion of the lyrics appear to have been lifted from 'You Need Love'. In 1966, The Small Faces released a cover of the song entitled 'You Need Loving', which appears to have further influenced the Led Zep song.

The website Turn Me On Dead Man writes that "When a lawsuit was filed in the 1980s, a lawyer for the Led Zeppelin’s record company, Atlantic Records, offered only the weak defense, “It’s strange that someone would wait all that time [to file a suit].” The case was settled out of court and recent Led Zeppelin releases have given songwriting credit for “Whole Lotta Love” to Willie Dixon along with all four members of Led Zeppelin. Willie Dixon used the money received from this settlement for the Blues Heaven Foundation, which he founded in 1984. The mission of the Blues Heaven Foundation is to “to help artists and musicians obtain what is rightfully theirs, and to educate both adults and children on the history of the Blues and the business of music.” Until his death in 1992, Dixon worked on behalf of other artists to ensure that they received the royalties they were due for their music..."

1 comment:

  1. As a massive lifelong LZ fan, it is disheartening to see just how much Page (in particular) pinched in the early years (1968 to, say, 1971). It's a shame because if they'd just been upfront about it, they probably could have and would have avoided a lot of the headaches and accusations that have dogged them since.

    Muddy was great, though, wasn't he? The albums he did with Johnny Winter, in particular, are favorites of mine. Now with Johnny's sudden passing last month, they can jam together again up in the sky.