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Should 'Greta Van Fleet' Be Given A Pass On The 'Led Zeppelin' Comparisons?

Updated on July 12, 2020

It is clear in recent times a debate has risen from the deepest depths of rock-fan-fury. Formed in Michigan, United States, young rock band 'Greta Van Fleet' have been under fire as they express their sound in which some argue to be borrowed from the notorious 'Led Zeppelin'. From similar lyrical yells powered by singer 'Josh Kiszka' to nostalgic, roaring guitar tones from guitarist and brother 'Jake Kiszka', it is undeniable that there is a large influence on their style by singer 'Robert Plant' and gutiarist 'Jimmy Page'. If we take the song in which got 'Greta Van Fleet' their spark of publicity, 'Highway Tune', we can immediately tell that it has been inspired by 'The Rover' created by 'Led Zeppelin'. The majestic riff used in 'Highway Tune' leaves fragments of nostalgia to the riff of 'The Rover' in its path and the whining-like-tone of 'Josh Kiszka' echoes the lyrical screams 'Robert Plant'. Even the muffled rhythm of the drums from 'Danny Wagner' resembles the coordination that 'John Bonham' once grooved into the foundations of classic rock'n'roll.


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"Beautiful little singer, I hate him! He borrowed [his voice] from somebody I know very well, but what are you going to do? At least he's got a bit of style, because he’s said he based his whole style on Aerosmith [eye roll]." -Robert Plant in an interview with 'Loudwire'

With the evident shadow of 'Led Zeppelin' over newcomers 'Greta Van Fleet', we are lead to question 'should they be allowed a pass on the comparisons or should they be held accountable for carrying a sound so similar to the legendary originals?'. Many rock fans are split in their views. On one side of the argument, it is unfair for any band to have their sound mimicked in a new fashion, however, with the music industry rapidly adjusting to new tastes, it is clear that rock music needs fresh faces to keep interest. In the 40 years it has been since 'Led Zeppelin' have played as a full band, no musicians or artists have come close to being able to carry such a large and stylised sound; that is until 'Greta Van Fleet' were born. Ripe with extreme passion, incredible knowledge and furious energy, is it time we allow the band to part from the comparisons and take over the reigns of rock'n'roll which a lot of fans are so afraid to give up?

“That big riff style that [Jimmy] Page pioneered is something that always excited me. I think it’s a little sad that huge rock riffs are lacking in a lot of today’s music. Maybe if people see what we’re doing and how cool it is, we can help make it come back.” -'Greta Van Fleet' Guitarist 'Jake Kiszka' to 'Guitar World'

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Looking into the history of music as a whole, it is uncanny we see influences of musicians from other musicians particularly those which came and went before them. For instance, 'Oasis', the largest Britpop band in the world have an array of material that mimes work from bands such as 'The Beatles'. Classic hit 'Don't look back in anger' follows a similar piano introduction to 'Imagine' by 'John Lennon'. Further, the lyric 'So I start a revolution from my bed' is a direct reference to the peaceful protest 'John Lennon' and 'Yoko Ono' in their bed upon the Vietnam War. Arguably even the haircuts 'Liam' and 'Noel Gallagher' have had have been inspired by the style in which 'Ian Brown' from 'The Stone Roses' wore. Throughout the history of music, there will always be musicians and fans arguing over whether an influence should be classed as 'ripping off'. A good example of where musicians have taken legal action over this matter is 'The Rolling Stones' suing of 'The Verves' 'Bitter Sweet Symphony'. The strings element in the powerful track was argued to be taken from 'The Andrew Oldham Orchestras' version of 'The Last Time' by 'The Rolling Stones' in which the same strings sample was used by 'The Verve' in 'Bitter Sweet Symphony'. The band lost all royalties from their biggest hit and could not directly earn any money from it. They also had no control over what their song could be used for; this meant their song could be used in commercials which is one thing they did not want.

With the line between 'influence' and 'copying' being somewhat unclear, it is up to fans of music to decide whether 'Greta Van Fleet' should be allowed a pass on the comparisons to 'Led Zeppelin'. However, with rock music slowly loosing interest from the youth and its position in the genre hierarchy slowly deteriorating, it is clear that new faces should be accepted into the industry just as much as the old faces were. Whether or not you feel the presentation of the 'Led Zeppelin' influence is too bold in the sound of 'Greta Van Fleet', 'Greta Van Fleet' will always be able to fully carry the reigns of rock'n'roll and introduce waves of people into the genre itself.

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