The band Led Zeppelin is considered by many the greatest Rock and Roll band of all time.

One of their biggest hits was “Stairway to Heaven,” considered by many to be the best Rock and Roll song of all time.

Problem is, it turns out they may have stolen it.

Attorneys representing the estate of the late Randy California, guitarist for a 1960’s and 70’s band called ‘Spirit’ are suing Led Zeppelin.

California once said Zeppelin’s song was a “rip-off and the guys made millions of bucks on it and never said thank you.”

While the youngsters were shocked, people of a certain age are not surprised, at all.

Zeppelin has been accused of plagiarizing and stealing many of their hits from other performers; mostly black, R & B and Blues acts like Muddy Waters.

Muddy Waters was the first to perform this 1962 song by a black songwriter named Willie Dixon.

A few years later Zeppelin recorded something similar.

Zeppelin never gave Waters credit.

Waters sued and it was settled out of court.

They were accused of doing the same thing with Blues performers like Howlin Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson and Blind Willie Johnson, to name a few.

But Zeppelin was not alone.

There was Chuck Berry versus the Beatles, The Rolling Stones versus Blues performer Robert Johnson, Elvis Presley versus Little Walter Jacobs, and on and on and on.

So remember late last year when Marvin Gaye’s family sued Robin Thicke over the song “Blurred Lines” which sounds remarkably like Marvin’s “Got to Give It Up?”

A lot of older African Americans like my mother were outraged because it brought back memories of a time when the music they listened to was all of a sudden being recorded by other bands who got all the credit and the money while their favorite performers fell into obscurity and died poor.


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6 thoughts on “DON LEMON: How Many Black Artists Died Broke While White Musicians Got Paid Off Their Music?

  1. Mary Helen on said:

    And then some justify the ripping off early R & B such as Pat Boone ding Fats Domains songs, by saying they brought the music out to ALL /white people, so if it wasn’t for them, the music would not be know! What a bunch of BULL …

  2. cate on said:

    please don’t forget about the bobby parker song watch your step” being “incorporated” into songs credited to the beatles. and john lennon admitted it in several interviews. when bobby passed away last year, he didn’t even have enough to be buried. dc area musicians held a fundraiser to pay for his funeral. needless to say, yoko did not step up.

  3. Linda on said:

    Black artists need to learn to read the fine print when negoiating contracts with record companies.

    Never allow anyone to simply shove the contract in your face and demand you to sign it–because you could be signing your right to future royalties away.

    White executives count on us not reading the fine print and only seeing the $$$ signs!!!!

    Secondly, learn to copyright your music lyrics–then they only belong to you!

    So sad all of the folks that have wound up broke because of shady deals and shady business people!

  4. Timekeeeper on said:

    It reminds me of the old “Grandfather Clause” that was used to Rob blacks from owning land back in the 19th century. Now its voting righs being stripped, civil rights laws being rolled back. They always think of something, dont they?

  5. Tammy on said:

    What else is new? WHites have been stealing stuff from all racial groups for 100’s of years and then they want to turn around as act like you are doing something wrong in talking about it. This is why I do not understand why some folks are upset with Katherine Jackson and MJ Estate for making money off of MJ’s new music. WHy are so folks upset over MJ’s Estate making money while Elvis PResley has been making money off him for years and no one is upset over Priscilla Presley and her crew making money?

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