Led Zeppelin Reportedly “Ripped Off” A Fleetwood Mac Song
via Led Zeppelin / Youtube
In the late 1960s, Led Zeppelin emerged with a unique sound rooted in blues, akin to bands like The Yardbirds. Their onstage synergy created a powerful sonic blend, bridging the gap between hard rock and heavy metal. Despite their groundbreaking presence, the band never claimed to be the epitome of originality.
Led Zeppelin, known for crafting remarkable riffs, didn’t shy away from borrowing from others. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant often experimented with old blues standards, reworking them into their own style. For instance, they transformed the standard “Killing Floor” into “The Lemon Song” on their second album.
By their fourth album, the untitled masterpiece, Led Zeppelin had become a rock and roll force. The album featured classics like “Rock and Roll” and “Stairway to Heaven.” While “When the Levee Breaks” reflected a blues influence, “Black Dog” showcased John Paul Jones’s intricate riff, creating an unusual structure for a rock song.
While acknowledging Jones’s credit for the riff, Page made reference to shared inspirations. Page realized that “Black Dog” resembled Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac compositions at the time it was written. Fleetwood Mac was already a rock institution because of Green’s unorthodox blues style.
Led Zeppelin’s Unique Take
“I guess if you want to say that we leaned on something as far as the structure of it, you remember ‘Oh Well’ by Fleetwood Mac, where it stops and there’s the vocal? So there you are…now they’ll sue us.”
Despite the unconscious inspiration, Led Zeppelin made the song their own by incorporating a deceptive sense of timing.
In “Black Dog,” the band played with time, altering the rhythm when the riff changed key, creating a unique syncopation. This technique, later adopted by bands like Soundgarden in “Spoonman,” showcased Led Zeppelin’s influence on rock. While the band had a reputation for borrowing, turning “Black Dog” from “Oh Well” demonstrated the skill of seasoned rock veterans.