Heavy Metal

by (@BHSmithNYC)

The Case Against Led Zeppelin: Is Hard Rock’s Greatest Band Guilty Of Musical Plagiarism?

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As the old adage goes, good artists copy, great artists steal. The victims of such artistic theft, however, might contest the veracity of such a statement. And while the musical greatness and innovations of classic rockers Led Zeppelin are an uncontestable fact, so too is it true that they have more than once used other artists riffs and lyrics and failed to properly credit or compensate them. On Monday a Pennsylvania judge ruled that relatives of deceased guitarist Randy California, nee Randy Craig Wolfe, could move forward with a lawsuit claiming Led Zeppelin stole the music from their career-defining 1971 epic “Stairway To Heaven” from his band Spirit’s 1968 recording “Taurus.” The intros of both songs are startlingly familiar, and the band’s were familiar with each other, however actually proving copyright infringement is a harder task.

Generally speaking, in order to prove a musical plagiarism lawsuit, one must prove that the lyrics or main vocal melody were copied. Chord progressions, instrumental riffs, and song titles do not typically receive a copyright. In addition, there is a long musical tradition of players borrowing ideas from each other and incorporating them into new compositions. This was especially true in the blues, on songs such as “Walking Blues” for example, which has been credited to both Robert Johnson and Son House. While Led Zeppelin are far from the only rock band that has claimed a blues lyric or borrowed riff as their own, there are unfortunately some rather egregious examples of the band’s liberal idea of original compositions that demand review in light of current events.


Led Zeppelin “Stairway To Heaven” (1971)
Everyone knows this 8-minute classic rock epic, which regularly tops lists of the greatest rock songs of all time and in many ways is the original power ballad. According to Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, the song was composed in 1970, during writing sessions in the Welsh countryside for the band’s fourth album.


Spirit “Taurus” (1968)
Members of this Los Angeles psychedelic rock group claim this instrumental, which is under 3 minutes long, was the basis for Zeppelin’s most famous song. The intros do sound exactly the same, however after that, the similarities between them end. Bolstering their argument though is the fact that the two bands toured together in the late ‘60s and Led Zeppelin was known to jam on Spirit’s “Fresh Garbage” live in concert.


Eric Clapton “Let It Grow” (1974)
For historic note, and also to illustrate the way songwriters sometimes unintentionally copy each other, in his 2006 autobiography, Eric Clapton acknowledges this song off his landmark 461 Ocean Boulevard album “totally ripped off” the Zeppelin classic in the verse.

by (@BHSmithNYC)

Find Out About Heavy Metal’s Latino Heritage In Honor Of National Hispanic Heritage Month

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National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15th to October 15th and finished up a couple days ago, pays tribute to Hispanic Americans’ rich contribution to the history and culture of the United States. One thing that most metalheads know, is Hispanic Americans have also made huge contributions to the history and culture of heavy metal music. Some of metal’s biggest acts include members from a variety of Hispanic backgrounds, from Chilean-born Slayer frontman Tom Araya to journeyman bassist Rudy Sarzo who lived in Havana, Cuba until the age of 11. It’s a story that doesn’t get told much and surprises those ignorant of the genre and we thought it was time to set the record straight. Read more…

by (@BHSmithNYC)

For Those About To Rank: Count Down Every AC/DC Song With The Word “Rock” In The Title

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It has been said that AC/DC only sings about four things; f**king, rocking, Hell and balls.  And while most of their songs are in one way or another about sex, a not insubstantial amount of their catalog deals with rock n’ roll music and the act of rocking itself. Funnily enough, the actual term “rock n’ roll” is also a euphemism for having sex, so I guess in the end they really are all about f**king. Besides the ones about Hell and balls that is, but I digress. The point is, AC/DC are if not the greatest rock band of all time, certainly the most rocking and the one that has sung the most times about rock n’ roll. Like, on almost every album. Hell, three of their albums even have the word “Rock” in their title, including their latest, Rock Or Bust, which is due out next month and contains another three songs about rock and / or rocking. So the time has now come to rank every AC/DC song with the word “rock” in the title, from the most rocking to the not-quite-as-rocking-as-the-preceding-songs-but-still-pretty-goddamn-rocking-next-to-most-things. There’s 18 of them in all, so let’s get rockin.’ Read more…

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15 Breakthrough Classic Rock Albums That Made The Bands Superstars

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Not every band can be Led Zeppelin or The Beatles or The Jimi Hendrix Experience and immediately make rock history and find fame with their debut album. Many groups we now consider legendary toiled away for years in relative obscurity or achieved cult success, gradually building their fan-bases until one gold album launched them into the stratosphere. Several of the following artists even considered breaking up before finally breaking big; after all, when you put as much work as these bands did into promoting, touring and crafting your own signature style, there’s a point where you just don’t know where it’s all going. But, oh did it go somewhere, to say the least. Whether it’s U2’s The Unforgettable Fire, Rush’s Moving Pictures or Queen’s A Night at the Opera, these groups reached superstar status with one single album – breakthrough successes that contained their biggest hits to date and solidified them as rock legends. Here are 15 historic rock albums that broke the band.

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by (@BHSmithNYC)

6 Times David Lee Roth Dominated The Internet In Honor Of His 60th Birthday

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60 years ago today, one of the greatest frontmen in the history of rock n’ roll let out his first cry and he’s been making noise ever since. David Lee Roth made his bones as a member of legendary Southern California band Van Halen who forever changed hard rock with their boisterous party anthems and the over the top personalities. Only an exhibitionist of epic proportions could share the stage with Eddie Van Halen, whose technique and tone revolutionized electric guitar playing, and DLR perfectly fit the bill with his mane of bleach blonde hair, shirt agape, loud screams and absolutely hilarious on stage banter.

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by (@BHSmithNYC)

Rock’s 15 Most Face Melting Bass Solos In Honor Of John Entwistle’s Birthday

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Today would have been the 70th birthday of John Entwistle, the groundbreaking bass guitarist for legendary classic rockers The Who who died in 2002. Entwistle redefined the role of the bass in rock music and changed the way the instrument sounded and was played. His lead breaks on the band’s 1965 anthem “My Generation” may or may not be the first bass solo on a rock n’ roll record, however it is the most well known and possibly the best. And though it took a couple years to catch up, others soon followed suit, inspired by “The Ox”’s aggressive playing style and impressive musicianship. From fellow travellers like Jack Bruce and Tim Bogart through to present day bass ragers Billy Sheehan and Les Claypool, thanks to Entwistle’s innovations the bass guitar is no longer banished to the back of the bandstand. Celebrate John Entwistle’s birthday today and check 15 of the greatest bass guitar solos in rock history.

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by (@BHSmithNYC)

A History Of The Umlaut In Popular Music (You Know, Those Two Little Dots Above A Letter That All The Metal Bands Use)

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We often ponder the origins of famous band names, whether they be boy bands, metal bands or even just really offensive ones. It’s less often that we ponder the diacritical marks some bands use to make their monikers extra special. What’s a diacritical mark you ask? They’re the little doodads you often see above words in other languages that connote how it should be pronounced. The coolest of all diacritical marks is obviously the “umlaut,” which you see used by many heavy metal bands, such as Motörhead and Mötley Crüe. We started wondering, when did bands first start adding it to their logos and what does it mean anyway?  Read more…

by (@BHSmithNYC)

10 Bands That Kept It In The Family When Replacing A Member

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Rock n’ roll fans the world over were saddened last week by the news that founding AC/DC rhythm guitar great Malcolm Young was leaving the band due to ongoing health problems. If there was any solace to be taken, it was that the band was keeping it in the family in replacing him with nephew Stevie Young, who had previously filled in for Mal on AC/DC’s 1988 tour. They are hardly the first group to fill an open lineup spot with a band member’s kith and kin. Read more…

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The $10,000 Led Zeppelin Shirt And More Of The Most Expensive Vintage Rock Tees Of All Time

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Kiss’ Gene Simmons might think that rock is dead but he would be wise to invest in the mementoes of its glory years (though knowing him, he probably already has). Not only are classic rock bands still filling arenas to the tune of over $300,000,000 so far this year, but original concert tees from their heyday can fetch up to $10,000 and sometimes more. Whether on super models or super fans, the market for vintage rock t-shirts has exploded in recent years. Read more…

by (@BHSmithNYC)

INTERVIEW: Motörhead’s Lemmy Recalls Life Before Rock N’ Roll On Eve Of Concert Cruise

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The idea is almost too perfect to be true; rock n’ roll brigand Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead and a rogues gallery of hard rock heavies take to the high seas for a four-day high-decibal concert cruise dubbed Motörhead’s Motörboat. Embarking from Miami, Fl. this Monday and making its way to Cozumel, Mexico, the floating fiesta grande will feature performances from Motörhead, Anthrax, and Down among others and promises to bring chaos to the Caribbean, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Blackbeard flew the Jolly Roger. On the eve of his departure, the consummate hard rock outlaw was kind enough to take our call and talk to us about a lifetime of rock n’ roll memories, and some that even precede rock n’ roll itself. Read more…