So the other day my wife comes home from work and says “My boss says her brother wrote the Zeppelin song ‘Dazed and Confused’ and never got any royalties from it.” She and her boss must have been discussing the recent Zeppelin reunion show (I also know we got our nephew the new Mothership best-of Led Zeppelin collection for Christmas this year), and out of the blue the boss dropped this interesting bombshell.
My wife didn’t have many details and I was skeptical. Later that night I looked up the song on Wikipedia and sure enough there seems to be some controversy regarding the composer of this tune.
Jake Holmes was a folk singer type in the ’60s and wrote and recorded the song on his debut album in 1967. Later that same year he opened for The Yardbirds, who liked the tune and decided to work up their own version of the song. From the Wikipedia entry:
“It was never officially recorded by the band, although an unauthorized live version was included on the semi-legitimate Live Yardbirds: Featuring Jimmy Page album under the alternate title ‘I’m Confused’.”
Later, Jimmy Page worked up an arrangement for Led Zeppelin, and it was recorded and released on their self-titled debut in 1969.
Holmes eventually sent a letter to Page essentially asking him to do the right thing and acknowledge “co-authorship” of the song, but he never heard back. Apparently Holmes has decided not to pursue legal action. Since the ’70s Holmes has been a successful jingle writer, penning such gems as “Be A Pepper” for Dr. Pepper, “Be All That You Can Be” for the U.S. Army, and my favorite, “Raise your hand if you’re sure!” for Sure Deodorant! Here is an interesting interview with Holmes from 2001 on the Perfect Sound Forever online music magazine.
So my fellow Townspeople, what do you think? Should Mr. Page acknowledge that Mr. Holmes did in fact contribute a fair portion to the writing of a tune that has now become clearly associated with the Led Zeppelin songbook?
[For more on Jimmy Page’s songwriting abilities, check out the two part article “THE THIEVING MAGPIES: Jimmy Page’s Dubious Recording Legacy” written by Will Shade on the Perfect Sound Forever online music magazine website. Part One | Part Two]