Ritchie Blackmore’s Confrontation With John Bonham About The ‘Stolen’ Led Zeppelin Song

In rock music history, many bands have accused each other of ripping off their lyrics, riffs, song, or style. While some of these quarrels end up in year-long feuds, others resolve in legal battles. In the end, stealing is considered a severe and disgraceful crime in the music business since it proves one lacks creativity or uniqueness.

In 1995, Ritchie Blackmore gave an interview to Rolling Stone’s Neil Jeffries and shared his recollections throughout his music career. In this long-lost interview, there was one interesting detail; Blackmore recalled an encounter with John Bonham where he accused Led Zeppelin of stealing a Rainbow song.

Ritchie Blackmore Complained About Stolen Zeppelin Song While Chatting With John Bonham

In a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone, Ritchie Blackmore revealed that he and John Bonham were close friends. According to the guitarist, Bonham was depressed and drunk while they were hanging out at the Rainbow Bar one night. Then, the drummer told him that playing the Deep Purple song ‘Smoke On The Water’ must be challenging, and he mimiced the song’s rhythm using his mouth.

After that, Ritchie Blackmore told him it’s as tricky as playing ‘Whole Lotta Love,’ and at least they didn’t copy any other artist like Zeppelin. Upon hearing this, Bonham was surprised. Then Blackmore explained his stance by saying they created ‘Whole Lotta Love’ by ripping off Hendrix’s ‘Hey Joe’ and putting it to a rhythm.

Blackmore then recalled that he told Bonham Zeppelin also stole ‘Immigrant Song’ from Hendrix’s ‘Little Miss Lover.’ This conversation upset Bonham, so he asked the guitarist if he meant these while they were both in the toilet. As Blackmore said, he told Bonham he was joking around, and they continued drinking together.

Speaking to Rolling Stone in 1995, Ritchie Blackmore recalled the following:

“I used to be very friendly with Bonzo from Led Zeppelin. We’d be sitting drinking in the Rainbow bar in LA – and he’d be really up and drunk or really depressed. So he’d be looking at the table. And he used to say to me: ‘It must be really hard to stand there and go:’ der-der-derr, der-der, de-derr’ [‘Smoke On The Water’]. ‘Yeah, it’s nearly as difficult as going: ‘duh-der duh-der dum’ [Whole Lotta Love]. At least we don’t copy anybody!’ He goes: ‘What are you talking about? That’s bullshit!’

‘I know exactly where you got ‘duh-der duh-der dum’ from; you got it from ‘Hey Joe,’ you just put it to a rhythm.’ And he’s thinking. ‘And ‘Immigrant Song’ was ‘Little Miss Lover.’ ‘What are you talking about?’ ‘Bom-bobba-did ba-bom bobbadidom…’ He was not a happy man, but he started it.”

He then continued:

“We then went upstairs to the toilet. We’re both there, weeing away, and he says: ‘Rich, did you mean all that?’ I said: ‘No, not really, I was just having a go back at you.’ He says: ‘Oh. I didn’t mean it either. There’s room at the top for everybody.’ So we carried on weeing, then went downstairs and started drinking again.

But he loved it. He was the kind of guy who liked confrontation, and I would always give it to him. But I always remember when he said how we’d taken bits and pieces from people, so I told him where he got his stuff from. It was interesting to see how his mind was going: ‘Pagey, you bastard. Now I know!'”

Apparently, Blackmore believed that John Bonham enjoyed confrontation. So, as his friend, he would joke around and give Bonham a hard time just for fun. It seems like this incident was nothing but a friendly joke that Blackmore used to piss off Bonham.