Led Zeppelin covers and tributes
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Led Zeppelin songs have been the subject of cover versions on occasion; American band Dread Zeppelin have made a career out of covering and parodying Zeppelin tunes. However, other serious and authentic-sounding tribute bands have also emerged, striving to keep the true essence of a Led Zeppelin live show experience alive such as the Brazilian Led Brazil and Swan Song - A Tribute to Led Zeppelin, In the Light, and the British band Fred Zeppelin, who are based in the Black Country homeland of Plant and Bonham and have been seen by Robert Plant several times. Lez Zeppelin is also an all-female tribute act, performing the work of Led Zeppelin.
- 1 Early years
- 2 Celebrity tributes
- 3 Lawful dispute
- 4 Led Zeppelin licensing
- 5 Led Zeppelin cover goes mainstream
- 6 Famous bands and their tributes/covers
- 7 American Idol Covers
- 8 Tributes to Led Zeppelin
- 9 List of Led Zeppelin cover song performances and recordings
- 10 Led Zeppelin tribute bands
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Beginning in the 1980s, the iconic nature of many Zeppelin riffs made them a popular target for sampling, initially unauthorised but later sanctioned by the surviving band members, to mixed reactions from fans. Hip-hop group the Beastie Boys sampled Bonham's crushing beat from "When the Levee Breaks", and also borrowed parts of "The Ocean" for "She's Crafty". For the movie Godzilla, guitarist Jimmy Page collaborated with P. Diddy, reworking the famous riff from "Kashmir" in the song "Come With Me"—Page also has a brief vocal part in this song. Tool has covered "No Quarter" and a riff from the song can be found in Sublime's "Smoke Two Joints". Another band featuring Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan, A Perfect Circle, cut When the Levee Breaks for their eMOTIVe album in 2004. The rock/comedy duo Tenacious D strategically used pieces of "Stairway to Heaven" in the original version of their song "Tribute". In 2005 Coheed and Cambria released an album titled "Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Vol 1: From Fear Through The Eyes of Madness" which included a hidden song entitled "Bron-Y-Aur" after Zeppelin's famous "Bron-Yr-aur" and "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp".
A cover version of "Whole Lotta Love", by Alexis Korner, was, for many years, used as the theme music for the BBC's chart show Top of the Pops. Saxophone legend King Curtis also did "Whole Lotta Love" (with an uptempo R&B arrangement) on his 1971 Live at Fillmore West album. Tina Turner covered Led Zeppelin II 's "Whole Lotta Love" (as did the a cappella group The Bobs) and the London Philharmonic Orchestra released an orchestral tribute to Led Zeppelin that includes versions of "Stairway to Heaven", "When The Levee Breaks", and "Kashmir". Rolf Harris recorded a cover version of Stairway to Heaven in 1993 which reached No.7 in the UK charts . Not long after an album "Stairways To Heaven" was released, featuring Australian artists' interpretations of the classic song. In 1995 a tribute album entitled Encomium: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin was released featuring covers performed by modern rock acts, notably a hit version of "Dancing Days" performed by Stone Temple Pilots. Robert Plant actually sang on this album, duetting with Tori Amos on "Down by the Seaside," because she wanted to sing a descant to it.
In 1978, a band from Davis, California called Little Roger and the Goosebumps put out a single called "Stairway To Gilligan's Island" (by putting the words to the theme of the 1960s US television show Gilligan's Island to an adapted and condensed Stairway to Heaven). This song became popular especially through heavy play (and many listener requests) on the Dr. Demento Radio Show. Legal action by representatives of Led Zeppelin soon followed and the single was withdrawn from sale. Comedian Mark Silverman made a parody of the song "Stairway to Heaven" with a song titled, "Stairway to the house on the rising smoke on the water."
Led Zeppelin licensing
Unlike many of their contemporaries, the band has been very protective of its catalogue of songs and has seldom allowed them to be licensed for other uses. For example, it was not until 2007 that the band licensed their songs to any online music stores. In recent years this position has softened somewhat and Led Zeppelin songs can be heard in movies such as One Day in September, Almost Famous and School of Rock, On the DVD release of the latter movie, a special feature shows star Jack Black and an auditorium full of extras videotaping a plea to Led Zeppelin for permission to use Immigrant Song in the film. In a singular concession for commercial use, the Led Zeppelin song Rock and Roll was heard in Cadillac television and radio ads.
Led Zeppelin cover goes mainstream
One of the first mainstream bands to release a live Led Zeppelin cover was the US band Heart. A live version of "Rock & Roll" appeared on the band's 1980 compilation "Heart Greatest Hits: Live". It is no small coincidence that Nancy Wilson, one of the band's founders, later married Cameron Crowe, the famous Rolling Stone journalist who covered Led Zeppelin during the band's peak years. He was also the writer and director of the semi-autobiographical movie Almost Famous.
The US band Great White has covered Led Zeppelin frequently throughout its career, both live and on tribute CD's. One of the earliest covers was an acoustic rendition of "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" for the MTV Unplugged Series recorded March 30, 1990 at Hollywood Center Studios, Los Angeles, CA. The show was aired on May 6, 1990 and later released on DVD. The track can also be found on several of the band's greatest hits compilations. Great White has also released two full tribute CDs: Great Zeppelin: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin (1999) and Great White Salutes Led Zeppelin (2005).
Famous bands and their tributes/covers
Arguably the most appropriate tribute CD ever recorded was by Jason Bonham, the son of legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. In 1997 Jason Bonham's band released a tribute CD entitled In the Name of My Father: The Zepset Live from Electric Ladyland. Featuring ten Led Zeppelin tracks recorded live at the studio Jimi Hendrix made famous it is called "a warm, loving tribute to one of the giants of hard rock" by editors at allmusic.com.
On November 7, 2003, Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) put together a one-off cover band to perform at the 2003 Montreal Drum Festival. The one-time cover line-up titled "Hammer of the Gods" included Portnoy (drums), Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big) on guitar, Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs) on bass and Daniel Gildenlow (Pain of Salvation, The Flower Kings) on Vocals. All members dressed in proper attire to imitate the original members. This performance is scheduled for release on both CD and DVD in 2006 through Portnoy's website .
A tribute can also be heard in Dream Theater's album A Change of Seasons. In this live performance, "The Rover", "Achilles Last Stand" and "The Song Remains The Same" are put together in a medley. These tracks were performed and recorded in the "Uncovered" Show at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, England on January 31, 1995.
Switzerland Rockers "Gotthard" have arguably recorded one of the best live versions of "Immigrant Song" on their 2006 Made In Switzerland release.
The British Heavy Metal Band Iron Maiden recorded a cover of the song "Communication Breakdown" on their single Bring Your Daughter... To the Slaughter.
Frank Zappa covered "Stairway To Heaven" during live performances. One version can be found on the 1991 live album The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life. This remarkable cover features a note-for-note copy of Page's guitar solo played by the horn section.
The Minnesota Orchestra performed with a cover band by the name of "The Music of Led Zeppelin" on January 21, 2006 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN. This performance combined electric guitar, singing, and drums with a full-blown orchestra and rock concert-style lighting for the entire duration of the show. The Minnesota Public Radio website features an article with more details at this address: . The Target Center website also features an article at this address: .
The metal band Demons and Wizards has also covered "Immigrant Song". So have Los Angeles thrash metal/speed metal legends Dark Angel on their 1989 album Leave Scars. Guitarist Eric Meyer admits the band covered the song to get on the radio. An electro-charged version of "Immigrant Song" can be found on 2004's Electric Samurai by Japanese guitar wizard Tomoyasu Hotei. Canadian band "Kashmir" perform live Led Zeppelin covers since 2001.
Jeff Buckley, in the 2003 extended release of his Live at Sin-é cafe recording, covered and transformed the song "Night Flight", from Zep's "Physical Graffiti". He also performed a rather abbreviated version of "Kashmir" on 2001's Live á l'Olympia (though definitely not at original speed). In a promotional b-side to their Drops of Jupiter album, the band Train recorded an acoustic cover of "Ramble On". Missouri Metalcore band Coalesce's album, There is Nothing New Under the Sun, which is composed solely of Led Zeppelin covers. On October 31, 2007 the jam band Gov't Mule covered the entire Houses of the Holy album. This album is called "Haunted Holy House" and can be purchased on their website. An early cover of "Heartbreaker" by Nirvana can be found on the boxed set "With the Lights Out".
American Idol Covers
Until the 8th season of the reality television singing competition American Idol, in 2009, no contestant had ever played a song of Zeppelin. Adam Lambert sang "Whole Lotta Love" on that year's Top 4.
Tributes to Led Zeppelin
Beginning in the 1980s, the iconic nature of many Led Zeppelin riffs made them a popular target for sampling, initially unauthorised, but later sanctioned by the surviving band members, to mixed reactions from fans. Hip-hop group the Beastie Boys sampled two Led Zeppelin songs for their Licensed to Ill album; they used Bonham's drum introduction from "When the Levee Breaks" (which was also used by Mike Oldfield and Erasure) for the song "Rhymin' and Stealin'", and parts of "The Ocean" for "She's Crafty".
List of Led Zeppelin cover song performances and recordings
- Sandie Shaw covered "Your Time Is Gonna Come" in 1969 for her controversial album Reviewing the Situation, and she also covered songs originally by The Rolling Stones, Donovan, and Bob Dylan to name a few.
- An instrumental version of "Whole Lotta Love" by C. C. S. reached the UK singles chart in 1970, and was used as the theme music for the BBC's chart show Top of the Pops for most of the 1970s, and, in a remixed version, between 1998 and 2003.
- Tina Turner released "Whole Lotta Love" as a single in 1975.
- Beginning in 1985, American stand-up comedian Wayne Federman included the main riff plus the solo from "Whole Lotta Love" and "Heartbreaker" in a medley of hard rock tunes played on his ukulele (through a Marshall amplifier). A version can be seen on Comedy Central.
- Jeff Buckley has performed "Kashmir" Live at L'Olympia.
- Little Roger and the Goosebumps released a single called "Stairway to Gilligan's Island" in 1978. The song puts the words to the theme of the television show Gilligan's Island to an adapted and condensed "Stairway to Heaven". This song became popular, especially through heavy play (and many listener requests) on the Dr. Demento Radio Show. Legal action by representatives of Led Zeppelin soon followed, and the single was withdrawn from sale. Many Led Zeppelin tribute bands perform the song.
- Nirvana performed a sloppy rendition of "Heartbreaker" in 1987 during the first live performance under the Nirvana name.
- Soundgarden covered hits such as "Stairway to Heaven" and "Communication Breakdown" during tours in the early 1990s.
- Iron Maiden released a cover of the song "Communication Breakdown" on their single "Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter", released on December 24, 1990.
- A cappella group The Bobs included "Whole Lotta Love" on their 1991 album 'The Bobs Sing the Songs Of...
- Frank Zappa covered "Stairway to Heaven" during live performances. One version, featuring a note-for-note copy of Page's guitar solo played by the horn section, can be found on the 1991 live album The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life.
- The New York hardcore/metalcore band Judge recorded a version of "When the Levee breaks", originally released on the CD version of their 1991 EP, There Will Be Quiet.
- A riff from "No Quarter" is used in Sublime's version of The Toyes' "Smoke Two Joints", on Sublime's 1992 album, 40 Oz. to Freedom.
- In 1993, Rolf Harris recorded a cover version of "Stairway to Heaven" which reached No.7 in the UK charts. Not long afterwards, an album called Stairways to Heaven was released, featuring Australian artists' interpretations of the classic song.
- "Immigrant Song" was covered by Infectious Grooves (a funk metal side project of Suicidal Tendencies) in 1993.
- Louisiana's Crowbar covered "No Quarter" on their second album, also called Crowbar, released on October 12, 1993.
- Ofra Haza recorded a version of "Kashmir", which appeared on her 1994 single, "Mata Hari".
- Dream Theater recorded a live performance (at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, England, on January 31, 1995) of "The Rover", "Achilles Last Stand" and "The Song Remains the Same", combined into a medley. The recording features on their album A Change of Seasons.
- In 1995, a tribute album entitled Encomium: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin was released. The album featured covers performed by modern rock acts, including a hit version of "Dancing Days" by Stone Temple Pilots. Robert Plant sang on the album, duetting with Tori Amos on "Down by the Seaside".
- In 1997, the London Philharmonic Orchestra released Kashmir: Symphonic Led Zeppelin, an orchestral tribute to Led Zeppelin scored and arranged by Jaz Coleman and Youth of Killing Joke, including versions of "When the Levee Breaks", "Kashmir" and "Stairway to Heaven".
- In 1999, Great White released a tribute album called Great Zeppelin: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin which they recorded live in December 1996 at the Galaxy in Santa Ana, California. The album contains fourteen tracks, including "Stairway to Heaven".
- Incubus performed a cover of "Immigrant Song" live on The Howard Stern Show on October 24, 2001, with Howard Stern trying to emulate Robert Plant's signature high note.
- The rock/comedy duo Tenacious D used pieces of "Stairway to Heaven" in the original version of their song "Tribute".
- Tool covered "No Quarter" for the soundtrack of the 1997 film Private Parts, but withdrew from the project. Their version was released in 2000, on the Salival box set.
- Fuel covered "Going to California" as a bonus track on the 2003 reissue of the album, Something Like Human.
- On November 7, 2003, Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy put together a one-off cover band to perform at the Montreal Drum Festival. The band, called "Hammer of the Gods", included Portnoy on drums, Mr. Big's Paul Gilbert on guitar, Dixie Dregs' Dave LaRue on bass and Pain of Salvation's Daniel Gildenlöw on vocals. All members dressed in attire imitating Led Zeppelin's members. A recording of the performance is available on both CD and DVD through Portnoy's website.
- A Perfect Circle, recorded "When the Levee Breaks" for their eMOTIVe album in 2004. However, this version was a cover version of Memphis Minnie/Kansas Joe McCoy's song, not Led Zeppelin's altered version.
- Coheed and Cambria's 2005 album Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness included a hidden track called "Bron-Y-Aur" after Led Zeppelin's song of the same name from Physical Graffiti.
- Muse have sampled the riff from "Heartbreaker" when playing live.
- 2pac sampled the riff from "Ten Years Gone" on the unreleased original version of "Life's So Hard" which was recorded in 1994 during the making of his album Me Against The World.
- The 2CD edition of the W.A.S.P. concept album The Crimson Idol contains a live version of "When the levee Breaks".
- Prince often plays "Whole Lotta Love" with his band on tour, and his 1985 hit "Raspberry Beret" contains the line "she walked in through the out door, out door..."
- Heart covered "Rock & Roll" in their 1980 album Greatest Hits Live. They also released a live version of "Stairway to Heaven" on one of their remastered CD albums.
- Phish has performed covers of "Good Times, Bad Times," "Dazed and Confused," "Communication Breakdown," "Misty Mountain Hop," "Moby Dick," and "Ramble On."
- "Weird Al" Yankovic used the guitar part from "Black Dog" in his parody of R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet" called "Trapped in the Drive-Thru".
- Wolfmother performed a cover of "Communication Breakdown" at the 2006 UK Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.
Led Zeppelin tribute bands
TALZTOP: The Acoustic Led Zeppelin Tribute Orchestra Project, based out of Boston, MA, perform acoustic-only, using no microphones, amplifiers or electricity of any kind. Founder Steve Marchena, 43, said he started the group after having a dream in early 2013 about a group of musicians gathered at a park and jamming to a Led Zeppelin song.
Whole Lotta Led originate from Gloucestershire, UK and are the longest running full-time professional tribute to Led Zeppelin. Originally formed as ‘No Quarter’ in 1993, the band changed their name to Whole Lotta Led in 1996. Original band members Nick Ferris (guitar), and Geoff Hunt (bass, mandolin) were joined by Lee Pryor (vocals), David Wykeham-George (keyboards), and Charlie Hart (drums) in 2012. Whole Lotta Led have always avoided using wigs and costumes. During their eighteen year career they performed 9 UK tours, and performed the albums Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin IV and Houses Of The Holy in their entirety. Since then numerous bands have followed this format. The band have also been active in raising funds for The ABC Trust, a charity founded by Jimmy Page's wife to help underprivileged children in Brazil.
Bustle in your hedgerow is an instrumental quartet performing Led Zeppelin music based out of New York City. The band includes Dave Dreiwitz of Ween, Marco Benevento and Joe Russo of The Benevento/Russo Duo and Scott Metzger of RANA.
Fred Zeppelin is a tribute band to Led Zeppelin based in the original band's heartland of the West Midlands of England. Drummer Steve 'Blackie' Black also heads Midland talent agency and music organisation Moby Music- named after Led Zeppelin's drum solo "Moby Dick". Formed in 1993 by drummer Steve Black, bassist Kevin Brown, and guitarist Keith Jenkins, the aim of the band was to reproduce, note-for-note the music of the original band. Originally employing vocalist Rob Bloomer the band generated a loyal Midlands following. After Bloomer's departure in 1995, Steven Gale was hired to fill vocal duties. Bassist Kevin Brown left the group in 2010, and was replaced by Elliot Gavin. In October 2013, Keith Jenkins left the band, Elliot Gavin switched to being lead guitarist, with Mark Cresswell being recruited as the new bass guitarist. The band play numbers from every Zeppelin album, and include an acoustic set in their repertoire.
Other Led Zeppelin tribute bands include Swan Song - A Tribute to Led Zeppelin, Led Zepplica and Dread Zeppelin, a band that performs Led Zeppelin covers in a reggae style with an Elvis Presley impersonator on vocals. Robert Plant has publicly stated that Dread Zeppelin is his favorite Led Zeppelin cover band.
- Dread Zeppelin Biography. Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-02-02
- Fred Zeppelin At The Public. Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council. Retrieved 2009-02-02
- Concert Review: Lez Zeppelin - Denver, CO. Blogcritics. Retrieved 2009-02-02
- Led Zeppelin coming to online retailers. MacWorld. Retrieved 2011-12-06
- Rolf Harris' Stairway to Heaven
- Mike Portnoy.com
- Dread Zeppelin
- Austin, Macauley. (April 5, 2002) The Sentinel (Staffordshire) Drawing tribute from masters Steven Gale from Fred Zeppelin Tribute band Fred Zeppelin have more reason than most to believe they are doing their heroes justice. Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant has been to see them not just once, but three times, even. Page 73.
- Derby Evening Telegraph (September 30, 2005) Plant pays tribute to the freds. Page 40.
- Fred zeppelin? We whole lotta loved it. Page 54. Tamworth Herald. March 29, 2007.
- Fred Zeppelin At The Public. Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council. Retrieved 2009-02-02