I could say that Jake Holmes was a better jingle writer than a singer-songwriter, but in reality he was quite adept at both. As a folk singer, Holmes had a run in the 1960s, recording two acclaimed but overlooked albums, "The Above Ground Sound" of Jake Holmes (Tower, 1967) and "A Letter to Katherine December" (Tower, 1968)
Ironically, Jake Holmes started out playing with a folk singer who was dogged by charges of plagiarism. Before his solo career kicked off, Holmes was part of Tim Rose and The Thorns. One of the songs they played "Hey Joe" was allegedly written by Billy Roberts. Rose took credit claiming that his version of the song was a rearrangement of a traditional tune.
Lots of people talk and few of them know
There's no honor amongst thieves, on Aug. 25th. 1967, Jake Holmes opened at The Village Theatre, also on the bill were The Yardbirds and The Youngbloods. Keith Relf and Jimmy Page took in Holmes' show, they especially liked one of his songs "Dazed and Confused" (from "The Above Ground Sound" album) Jake had no inkling that he was about to be robbed.
"In 1990, Musician magazine quizzed Page on the subject, asking if Holmes was the original composer. "I don't know about all that," Page replied. "I'd rather not get into it because I don't know all the circumstances. What's he got – the riff or whatever? ... I haven't heard Jake Holmes so I don't know what it's all about anyway. Usually my riffs are pretty damn original."
There are several websites and forums that cover Led Zeppelin's past plagiarism "Thieving Magpies" and "The Led Zeppelin Plagiarism Compendium" are just two of many. Neither Page nor the band's management has ever owned up to any of the charges, with some rare exceptions.
"Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" was written by Anne Bredon in 1960, she first performed the song on KPFA that same year. Joan Baez would then record the most famous version of the song, up until Led Zeppelin recorded it. Their version credited the song as "Trad.,arr. Page" Bredon filed suit in 1990 and received a substantial back-payment from the band. Joan Baez's version of "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" is a little hard to stomach. I prefer The Plebs, a band from Surrey, who their recorded their version in 1964 and credited it as "trad arr. Dennis"
The Led Zeppelin Plagiarism Compendium
Babe I'm Gonna Leave You: Joan Baez - Babe I'm Gonna Leave You (Anne Brendon)
Dazed and Confused: Jake Holmes - Dazed and Confused
Black Mountain Side: Bert Jansch - Black Water Side
How Many More Times: Howlin Wolf - How Many More Years / Albert King - The Hunter / Jeff Beck - Bolero
Communication Breakdown: Eddie Cochran - Nervous Breakdown
Your Time Is Gonna Come: Traffic - Dear Mr. Fantasy
Led Zeppelin II
Whole lotta love: Muddy Waters (Willie Dixon) - You Need Love / Small Faces - You Need Loving
Lemon Song: Howlin' Wolf - Killing Floor / Robert Johnson - Travelling Riverside Blues
Moby Dick: Bobby Parker - Watch Your Step
Bring it on Home: Sonny Boy Williamson - Bring it on Back
Led Zeppelin III
Since I've Been Loving You: Moby Grape - Never
Hats Off: Bukka White - Shake 'em on Down
Led Zeppelin IV
Stairway to Heaven: Spirit - Taurus
Boogie with Stu- Oooh My Head- Ritchie Valens
Custard pie: Sleepy John Estes - Drop Down Mama
In my time of dying: Bob Dylan - In my time of dying (Blind Willie Johnson)
Nobody’s Fault But Mine: Blind Willie Johnson - Nobody’s Fault But Mine