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From Lead Belly To Led Zeppelin

On today's show, we examine the family tree of rock 'n' roll; tracing Led Zeppelin's amp-busting anthems to their roots in the blues of the American South. Each of Jimmy Page's guitar riffs or Robert Plant's soulful wails is an homage to the great blues musicians from Biloxi to Nashville.

But sometimes seeing is believing.

So check out these videos of the real thing.

Do you think the blues is dead? Is there a modern equivalent? What other black musicians do you think are underrated or forgotten about? If you could go back in time and catch any artist's performance, whose would it be?

Lead Belly (You may also remember his song re-envisioned by Nirvana for MTV Unplugged in 1994.)

Led Zeppelin's "How Many More Times"

Muddy Waters "Got My Mojo Workin'"



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Let me start by saying that I love News & Notes, and Farai's abilities as host and interviewer. I was looking forward to hearing this particular show, as Zeppelin has been my favourite band for 30+ years. I was a little apprehensive when I found out it was going to be Stephen Davis talking about the band (Hammer Of The Gods is generally regarded as ultra-sensationalistic tripe), but I figured Farai's normal tendency towards balance and fairness would overcome his shortcomings. Sadly, I was wrong - in the interest of brevity I'll just say that not only did Mr. Davis essentially bring nothing to the table as an interview subject (vague pat descriptions of the band's history and music), but he actually got his facts wrong (i.e. You Shook Me *was* credited to Willie Dixon right from the get go on LZ I). An opportunity missed as far as I'm concerned - this could've been so much better, because African American music *was* an important touchstone for Zeppelin's music. Not only the band's indebtedness to the blues (more to do with Robert Plant's ravenous appetite for it long before his LZ days, and not solely down to some minor Yardbirds role as backing band as Davis alleges), but also John Bonham's (the drummer) and John Paul Jones' (bassist) love of Motown, R&B and funk.

Any rational Zeppelin fan acknowledges the mistakes they made in not properly crediting certain people for certain songs, not unlike most other rock bands of the time, and just as many blues artists throughout it's history (try researching lesser known blues players as to their opinion of Willie Dixon's "originality", for example). I was hoping he wouldn't, but in my gut I knew Davis would take this approach, and I'm not thrilled to be right about that one. I think your sound clip comparison of the two When The Levee Breaks versions was a great example - besides the lyrics, can anyone with open ears *honestly* say those two versions sound the same?! And by the way, Memphis Minnie *did* receive a writing credit on that one right off the bat, although Mr. Davis didn't mention that. Nor did he mention their vast catalogue of original music - original not only in content, but in style and sound...and definitely *not* heavy metal, by the way!

Hey Farai, how about a redo? :)

Sent by Christopher | 7:05 AM | 3-1-2008

Rock was created by southern whites?!Thats
new to me.

Sent by dupi | 8:59 PM | 3-2-2008

While Led Zeppelin may have erred not properly crediting one of the sources for "Whole Lotta Love", and this was remedied decades ago, Davis overlooks the major point that Led Zeppelin's music has exposed countless of younger listeners to the blues. The band came at a time when the mid-1960s blues-rock boom had been dying out and revived it with their take on it. Blues is not dead, thanks in part to bands like Led Zeppelin. I should also mention that before copyright became widely known in the 20th century, adopting riffs and lyrics was part and parcel of being a travelling blues musician. I'm not excusing the behaviour of anyone who does know copyright law, but it's incorrect to suggest that any blues riffs and lyrics are wholly original to begin with.

Sent by Meg Ireland | 1:42 AM | 3-4-2008

Led Zeppelin is one of the most successful bands .Since its creation the band succeeded to be one of the great bands that tower over rock music. They???ve added a lot of things to music and their popularity is remarked while in a concert. As I???m one of their huge fans I sometimes find that some ticket prices are unaffordable. Lately, a friend has recommended me a site where to compare ticket prices before booking. This site gives the opportunity to see different ticket brokers and the prices offered.
Led Zeppelin Tickets

Sent by Santana | 5:08 AM | 3-29-2008