Edit, 05/21/2014 - This post has become popular again, but it is dated. The update is that Holmes settled out of court and received a credit for "inspiring" Dazed and Confused (at least on the Celebration Day release). It's not generally known whether money changed hands. Videos have also been relinked. Here is my post on the current Spirit case.
In 2010, folkie Jake Holmes sued Jimmy Page and various publishing companies on the grounds that the song Dazed and Confused was his work. He had a copyright on it in 1967 and according to reports he renewed it in 1995. I don't know why he waited forty years or more to act on his copyright, but the delay probably didn't help his case much. The verdict* came out last month.
And here's the Yardbirds, featuring Jimmy Page on guitar:
Have to say that really hits the spot, unlike Holmes' song. Or at least it does until Keith Relf starts singing. Love the man, but one-lung Relfy isn't Robert Plant. I once saw him described as "the weakest singer this side of the Downliners Sect" and I have to say that's without doubt the most obscure put-down I've ever read. What's most fascinating about this version is the Jimmy Page noise-bow solo, fully developed all those months before we saw it in Zeppelin action. At least it's incredible until Keith Relf's harmonica comes in...he does tend to sound a bit like he's about to drop out with Peter Scott on duck call. And yet the famously Gregorian-chant influenced vocals in this section sound wonderful against the guitar's evil insistence.
Jimmy tried again with Led Zeppelin. This is the version is from the BBC Sessions, as there's invariably something odd about YouTube album rips, whereas the live and BBC sessions videos seem to be left alone.
That's better, isn't it? The sinister guitar and the combined power of Jones and Bonham, fronted by that voice, that mad Elric of Melnibone howl... that's how to play to Dazed and Confused.
But it's still obviously the same sort of thing as Jake Holmes wrote, so how did his court case go?
Dismissed with prejudice on January 17th, 2012. There's a view of the court document here, signed by the wonderfully-named Judge Dolly Gee. Golly gee, Judge Dolly Gee!
It's short, but mysteriously refers to an action that took place on November 7th, 2011 which doesn't appear to have been properly recorded at the time, and is just now being set down. It seems likely that this was an out-of-court settlement.
I wonder how much Jake got? (Frankly, I wonder how much Jimmy Page has left?)
* Edit to add: Verdict is the wrong word, isn't it? Dismissal is better. Since this post seems to have been picked up by search engines I should try to be accurate.