Musical coincidence # 223

April 22, 2012

I was listening a “rock’n’roll” radio program the other day (i.e., “We play all the hits from the 50’s, the 50’s, and the 50’s!”) when a song called “Pistol Packin’ Mama” came on. I’d never heard it before, but as soon as it started…

Gene Vincent and The Beat Boys – “Pistol Packin’ Mama (1960) (excerpt)

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…I thought, “Hmm – it looks like a rather famous drummer may have unconsciously lifted that for a rather famous rock song“:

Led Zeppelin – “Rock And Roll (1971) (excerpt)

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I sauntered on over to Wikipedia’s entry for the Led Zeppelin song to see if anyone noticed that coincidence / theft / homage (pick one), and was surprised to read this:

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has said that this song came to be written as a spontaneous jam session, whilst the band were trying (and failing) to finish the track “Four Sticks“. Drummer John Bonham played the introduction to Little Richard‘s “Keep a Knockin’” and Page added a guitar riff. The tapes were rolling and fifteen minutes later the basis of the song was down.

Here’s the start of “Keep A-Knockin'”:

Little Richard – “Keep A-Knockin’ (1957) (excerpt)

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Even knowing what I know now (I didn’t know any of that stuff before), I reckon the start of “Rock And Roll” still sounds more like “Pistol Packin’ Mama” than “Keep A-Knockin'”.

Update: Commenter Frank (Hi, Frank!) said this:

You can add one more to the list – Eddie Cochran’s “Somethin’ Else”

I certainly can, young man.

Eddie Cochran – “Somethin’ Else (1959) (excerpt)

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Here are the full versions:

Led Zeppelin – “Rock And Roll (1971)

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Gene Vincent and The Beat Boys – “Pistol Packin’ Mama (1960)

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Little Richard – “Keep A-Knockin’ (1957)

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Eddie Cochran – “Somethin’ Else (1959)

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In the interests of completeness (and because I like it a lot), here’s the original version of “Pistol Packin’ Mama”:

Al Dexter and His Troopers – “Pistol Packin’ Mama (1943)

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And I don’t know if this brings this post round full circle, but Led Zeppelin recorded a version of Eddie Cochran’s “Somethin’ Else”:

Led Zeppelin – “Somethin’ Else (1969)

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