Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lawsuit alleges Jimmy Page infringed copyright on 'Dazed and Confused'

A lawsuit claiming Jimmy Page copied a 1967 song called "Dazed and Confused" on Led Zeppelin's debut album seeks reimbursement from the author of the original work under that title.

Jake Holmes confirms to Lemon Squeezings the authenticity of an eight-page document appearing on the blog Miss Tila OMG in which he claims Page "copied" his song "without authorization or permission."

Holmes's song called "Dazed and Confused" appears on his album The Above Ground Sound of Jake Holmes, released more than a year before Led Zeppelin's first album contained a song of the same name. Both songs received separate copyright entries from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Attorneys for the New York-based singer and guitarist filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Monday.

Holmes declined to offer any additional comments to Lemon Squeezings about the suit. In past interviews, he has explained that Page would have heard him play "Dazed and Confused" at a 1967 concert date in New York when Holmes closed his set with the tune. Page's band at that time, the Yardbirds, was headlining the concert.



Two other members of the Yardbirds, Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty, have said in interviews that both McCarty and Page liked the song so much when they heard Holmes perform it that, separately, both purchased copies of Holmes's album the following day. An adaptation of "Dazed and Confused" was added to the Yardbirds' live sets in 1968, the year that Page's new Yardbirds lineup became Led Zeppelin.

It was not until January 1969 that Atlantic Records released Led Zeppelin's first album, which contained a song called "Dazed and Confused" whose copyright was granted solely to Page.

Representatives for Page's management have so far not commented to Lemon Squeezings on the litigation. In the past, Page has denied any knowledge of having heard of the Holmes recording. This includes an interview published in the November 1990 issue of Musician magazine, in which Page denies any connection between his song and Holmes's.
MUSICIAN: I understand "Dazed and 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?
The lawsuit claims Holmes is entitled to statutory damages of $150,000 per infringement as well as other actual damages to be determined. Holmes cites only versions of "Dazed and Confused" that have appeared on official Led Zeppelin albums releasd in the past three years. The Led Zeppelin song appears on the upgraded DVD and soundtrack releases of The Song Remains the Same released in 2007, the Mothership compilation, and on a DVD included in special editions of Mothership.

The lawsuit names Page as a defendant alongside Super Hype Publishing Inc., Atlantic Recording Corporation, and Rhino Entertainment Company.

Attorneys for Holmes declined to comment to Lemon Squeezings, citing a policy of not commenting on pending litigation.

The existence of an older song called "Dazed and Confused" by Jake Holmes has not been any kind of secret from authors of books about Led Zeppelin. In speaking with Ritchie Yorke for his "Definitive Biography of Led Zeppelin," Holmes said he had become aware of Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused" only several years after the first Zeppelin album. At the time, he said he had no intention to file a suit.

More recently, former Classic Rock magazine editor Mick Wall interviewed Holmes for the unauthorized Led Zeppelin biography "When Giants Walked the Earth." Since then, Wall commented in an interview for Carol Miller's "Get the Led Out":
"If you listen to Jake's original version of 'Dazed and Confused,' it's the same tune. It's the same striding bassline. The lyrics to the verses are different, but the title is the same. The arrangement is essentially the same, and the melody [is the same]. And what Jimmy did was appropriate it. ... Jimmy took all that and stuck his name down as the songwriter and essentially stole the song. He rewrote the lyrics, so really it should have been music Holmes, lyrics and arrangement Page, but he didn't do that.

"... This doesn't forgive Zeppelin. I think it's actually unforgivable. What ["When Giants Walked the Earth"] tries to explain is where he's coming from, how this happened. In those days, going to America, if you lived in England, you may as well be talking about a mission to Mars. I mean, it was so far away in most people's minds, it really was another planet. The idea that this weird folk song by this completely unknown artist would be something that we would be discussing 40 years later and saying, 'He stole it, he took it, how could he?' wouldn't have even crossed his mind. It was for the first album, they were short of material, he came up with this thing.

"According to Jake, and I agree with him, he feels that the kicker is that 'Dazed and Confused' is now so synonymous with Jimmy Page -- it was always the big showcase for Jimmy in the Zeppelin performance -- but for him after all this time to come out and say, 'Well, you know what, actually Jake Holmes wrote this song' -- it's just not gonna happen. And I can understand how embarrassing and sensitive it must be for Jimmy to be put on the spot about it."
Wall says it's clear that "Jimmy stole the song" simply from comparing the versions recorded by Holmes and Led Zeppelin. He said a version performed by the Yardbirds for a 1968 radio session, which appears on the Yardbirds compilation album Cumular Limit released in 2000.

Former Melody Maker journalist Chris Welch, whose books on Led Zeppelin include one titled "Dazed and Confused: The Story Behind Every Led Zeppelin Song," has also been candid in discussing Holmes. In an interview for Carol Miller's "Get the Led Out," Welch said:
"'Dazed and Confused' is one of the sort of centerpiece numbers of Led Zeppelin and one of the numbers everybody associates with Jimmy, all the showmanship, the violin bow and the lasers, and the tremendous arrangement. But the actual roots of the piece, I think, go back in music history quite a way. It goes back to the singer-songwriter Jake Holmes, who -- I think he recorded an album called 'The Above Ground Sound of Jake Holmes,' so how Jimmy got to hear about that, I'm not too sure. He must have heard it back in the '60s or sometime. But I think a lot of people like to rearrange what they think are traditional, classic songs from the past, so that was the case with this. But, yeah, it's an extraordinary history, really, the evolution of that number, but I hope Jake wasn't too upset about it."

Asked if he knew about the song by Holmes, Jones said, "I didn't know that then. I knew it was a Yardbirds number. But basically, we didn't have many songs, but we had to do some shows. So Page came in with a bunch of Yardbirds [songs]." Asked when he became aware of the Holmes song, Jones said, "Much later."

Jones said that during the Led Zeppelin days, "People were suing us that I'd never even heard of. A name would come in -- 'Who's this?' 'Oh, really, great!'"

Interview with Chris Welch on "Dazed and Confused," recorded for Carol Miller's "Get the Led Out":

Interview with Mick Wall on "Dazed and Confused," recorded for Carol Miller's "Get the Led Out":

16 comments:

  1. Why didn't this guy sue them in the 70's? I bet he was afraid Peter Grant would punch him in the face.

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  2. Much of this late grab-and-go mentality of long lost musicians is really due to musical jealousy and age related fears of non-relevance. Led Zeppelin are legends, and re-working of a song as done then, is not unheard off even today - granted one needs to credit source and ask permissions. But, really, would we know or still be listen to Holmes version today if it were not for Jimmy's D & C? Zep's version is allowing Holmes to be remembered in my opinion! Comparing Holmes to Zeppelin is like comparing a Airbust A380 to a 1937 Piper Cub! Jealousy of Zep's fame and fortune is driving this one. Are others to come? Dont' give in Jimmy!

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    1. If it were not for Jake Homes, There would have been no Dazed and Confused by Led Zeppelin. It is against the law to steal someone's musical property. Jake Homes sees a multi-millionaire who benefited from his work and did not pay.
      It is expensive to live in Brooklyn, Ny where Homes lives. It makes sense to get what rightfully belongs to him.

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  3. I have Jake's albums and love them far more than I do anything by Zeppelin. On the other hand, I do like Page's work with the Yardbirds.

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  4. Anonymous wrote, "Led Zeppelin are legends, and re-working of a song as done then, is not unheard off even today - granted one needs to credit source and ask permissions."

    Exactly - one DOES need to credit the source (in this case, Jake Holmes, the composer of "Dazed and Confused", which LZ/JP/Peter Grant failed to do), ask permission (as in contacting the music publisher in charge of the copyright of a song to ask permission to use it, which LZ/JP/PG failed to do), AND pay royalties to publisher/composer (which, again, LZ/JP/PG failed to do for over four decades). Many of the allegations of plagiarism that have been hurled at LZ over the years are unworthy of discussion, but "Dazed and Confused" was outright theft, plain and simple, irrespective of the fact that lyrics were changed and an entirely new arrangement created. No one is doubting the greatness of LZ and JP, but that is no excuse whatsoever for intellectual property theft of this magnitude.

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  5. This lawsuit will end up like most other lawsuits concerning copyright infringement: settled out of court with a co-credit given, in this instance to Holmes in future Led Zeppelin/Jimmy Page releases. Holmes is not living in poverty. He owns a million dollar jingle business writing commercials for multi-national corporations. As Scott Swanson has said elsewhere - there are reasons why Holmes did not launch legal action earlier and it may have to do with a previous agreement between Page, Holmes, and ASCAP which has not been made public yet. Anyone who is involved in music publishing and royalties knows that you don't need to ask permission to record someone elses song. If it's a straight cover you give credit to the original composer when you lodge your song with a copyrighting authority. If a part of the song has been re-arranged, altered, or added to you give a co-credit. Composers can only really object to a song after it's been recorded and released and then ask for it's withdrawl. The only thing Page did wrong is fail to give Holmes a co-credit on Led Zeppelin's recording. The world will still turn tomorrow, no need to act indignant.

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  6. Dear "fourth person to sign Anonymous in this thread":

    Thanks for clearing up in these comments that you don't need permission to do a straight cover of a song. I was certain this was the case but hadn't spoken up about it.

    Also, thanks for not characterizing Jake Holmes as broke. Lots of people arrive at that conclusion right away. On the contrary, I think it's a realistic assumption that broke people generally can't afford to take Jimmy Page to court. And nobody can tell me this is an open-and-shut case. For Jake, it's still a gamble, not a guaranteed grand slam.

    If some arrangement between Page, Holmes and ASCAP has existed previously, it sure would be nice to see some evidence of it. I was surprised Holmes's suit didn't include a longer recitation of facts. I think people may be reading into the absence of a longer recitation of facts, unless said people actually do have evidence of a previous arrangement that is purposefully and strategically hidden from the public view.

    Hmmm, I wonder, is there a situation in which either party could benefit from such an agreement being publicly disclosed, or is it in everybody's best interests that such a preexisting agreement remain hidden?

    Thanks for the level-headed discussion. Maybe be proud of your name and actually sign it next time...?

    Now that you've got me thinking about "Dazed and Confused," how about this? Open to anybody to comment on, of course.

    I was just listening to the version Led Zeppelin played in Seattle '73. And you can too. Here's part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liC2JAOU89w

    It's roughly 35 minutes long. Jake Holmes can't be determined to have written more than about two minutes' worth of what they played, max, and even that has largely different lyrics although some of the instrumentation and the melody is similar.

    Basically, what I'm trying to say is this. You know that the original section of "Bring It On Home" was retitled in recent years as a band composition called "Bring It On Back" so that "Bring It On Home" could refer only to the beginning and end sections. (If you didn't know that, just look at the back cover of How the West Was Won, or the credits feature on Led Zeppelin DVD.)

    I think "Dazed and Confused" could follow this model too. Only the sections near the beginning and end are anything like the Jake Holmes composition. There's so much more in the Led Zeppelin version that's original and ought to be credited as such to Jimmy Page, if not also Robert Plant and/or John Paul Jones and/or John Bonham -- and perhaps ought to be credit under a different title a la "Bring It On Back." Help me think of a new title encompassing all of the original sections that have nothing to do with Jake Holmes? Perhaps "Days of Confusion"?

    Finally, let me quote from Anonymous #4: "If it's a straight cover you give credit to the original composer when you lodge your song with a copyrighting authority. If a part of the song has been re-arranged, altered, or added to you give a co-credit." I do think the Jake Holmes parts of the song were altered. Obviously, the lyrics were not the same apart from the words "Been dazed and confused," which is the biggest difference. So, whoever provided those lyrics for Led Zeppelin (be it Jimmy or Robert) ought to be co-credited along with Holmes in the Holmes section of the song. And then all the new releases would reflect this in print. Does that sound fair?

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  7. I do like Steve's veiw, but after hearing both versions,I fail to see how Jimmy could be guilty of any copying. knowing the nature of artist & how they all borrow including mr Holmes. Its very possible Jimmy being a session player, and on hearing much music passing threw the mind, its easy to come a tiny little bit close to some one eals's idea with out meaning to or even knowing Holms. Jimmy page him self has been riped of by many Artist, I dont see Jimmy Sueing anybody. Hect.. Why did'nt John Lee Hooker sue Bill haily for his big rip off. I think Holms Copyright contract is coming to a end, and his chaseing money or attention, or both. Of cause its just my assumption about mr Holms,and I know I'm wrong which brings me to my piont, Mr Holms is guilty of big assumptions about Mr Page, over a long ago of 42 years off assumption characterizing Jimmy Page of copying from him when its nothing alike

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  8. I met Jake Holmes about 2 years ago.He came to see my band at a club.He specifically asked if we were a Led Zeppelinn tribute which we were.Don't know what was up his sleeve,but he seemed kind of creepy!

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  9. Plant changed the lyrics a bit more, but the Yardbirds' version has the same lyrics. Keith Relf sings, "give me a clue as to where I am at, feel like a mouse and you act like a cat." That's straight from Holmes's version. How could that happen? I continue to love Zeppelin and Page and Plant, but they are guilty on this one and/or they got bad management advice from someone hoping to profit from this and other songs. Because they did this with other songs too. Bottom line: 9 times out of 10 Zeppelin's version is great--usually much better--but they should have credited all of the songwriters they borrowed from. They should have known better, but I still love them.

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  10. So we come to the final conclussion, . . its the Yardbirds who a guilty, . . not Jimmy, . . . since Keith Relf knew the lyrics, .he must have introdused the Idea, leaveing Jimmy to be telling the truth when he said I never heard of Jake Holmes.

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  11. The original one is so basic and boring and sounds terrible. Excuse Jimmy for having the talent and knowledge to make it a godlike song. Holmes never said anything because he thought his song was crap. Jimmy created something good out of it, and NOW he wants his money? Make up your mind!

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    1. You are some ball licking groupie of Page to think in such a distorted manner. Dumb POS.

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  12. jimmy page took a song he heard a guy play to close his set, went out the next day bought the record, learned the song then his band at the time began to play it live, page later took that song recorded with a slightly different arrangement and some different lyrics, put it on LZ1 and said it was all his idea therefore the single writing credit to himself. These are the facts so regardless of what spin on it you put weather page made it better or whatever it still does not change the facts, if i took "black dog" changed it a bit with a few new lyrics and said i wrote it how do you think people would react?

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  13. I am a huge fan of Led Zeppelin.
    But, I am also realistic about the band, and what they did with many traditional blues songs as well as with jake Holmes. They took songs, did a little rearrangemnet, and put their names on it.
    Holmes, when he was first made aware of the Dazed and Confused track on Zeppelin 1, assumed it was a protected right at the time for artists to consume songs in that way.
    He pretty much had forgotten about it. It was brought back to his attention in more recent years with the re-release of the song by Zeppelin.
    Page, failed to mentionthat the yardbirds performed the song live, and used Holmes' lyrics word for word.
    Page should settle, and give the man his due. His other works stand out for themself.

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  14. The Led Zeppelin song does not use Jake Holmes's lyrics word for word. One thing I haven't mentioned is that the "Celebration Day" release from 2012 now acknowledges Jake Holmes at least "inspired" Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused." The lawsuit discussed on this page appears to have been settled.

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