Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rock Covers

Last post I told you about album collection wish list. On this post I will discuss Rock covers.

As I look at my rock collection I'm constantly reminded at how musicians inspire one another to make rock covers. I bet every single rock musician in my rock collection has had a rock idol who has been a source of inspiration in their quest for rock glory, most likely inspired through rock covers.

Often, people forget that musicians are people just like us who get inspired, often by the same music we do. This is most obvious when rock bands do a cover of another rock artist's song, this is the ultimate tribute that a band can pay another. The thing with cover songs is that there is rarely a musician who thinks that their version will be better than the original, it's not often about competition but about paying homage to the original artist. Occasionally though, something great happens and the cover song ends up sounding better than the original. This can often be a double edged sword for the artist doing the rock cover, because although the song itself may be a source of fame for the artist, it will also awaken the so-called music critics who tend to come out of the wood work specifically to trash the rock cover. As the saying goes, everyone's a critic.

The key to doing a rock cover and not awaken the dead is to cover a song that isn't well known, so that most people will think the artist doing the cover is also the writer. This may sound terrible, but it's just the way things work in the real world, and many bands have propelled their own music careers with rock covers.

I have gathered a list of rock covers that I think are great, and in many cases have helped the rock artist gain fame. You may be surprised how many rock greats existed almost elusively on the music of others. Does that mean that they did not have talent? Of course not, often, their version was much more popular than the original. For example, let's take Rock Great Eric Clapton as an example. Many of Clapton's greatest hits, the songs that people know him by, were written by other artists. Here's a list of well known Eric Clapton Hits:

After Midnight Eric Clapton (1970) written by J. J. Cale (1970)
Cocaine Eric Clapton (1977) written by J. J. Cale (1976)
I Shot the Sheriff Eric Clapton (1974) written by Bob Marley (1973)

But Clapton wasn't the only big name who made a lot of money doing Rock Covers, take Jimi Hendrix, for example:

Come On (let the good times roll) Jimi Hendrix (1968) written by Earl King (1960)
Hey Joe Jimi Hendrix (1966) written by Performed by The Leaves (1965) Written by Billy Roberts (1962)
All Along The Watchtower Jimi Hendrix (1968) written by Bob Dylan (1967)

Still not convinced? Let's take the kings of the Back beat, The Beatles. Early in their careers, the Beatles borrowed extensively from other artists, for example:

Dizzy Miss Lizzy Beatles (1965) written by Larry Williams (1958)
Honey Don't Beatles (1964) written by Carl Perkins (1956)
Long Tall Sally Beatles (1964) written by Little Richard (1956)
Please Mr. Postman Beatles (1963) written by The Marvelettes (1961)
Roll Over Beethoven Beatles (1963) written by Chuck Berry (1956)
Twist And Shout Beatles (1963) written by Top Notes (1961)
You Really Got A Hold On Me Beatles (1963) written by The Miracles (1963)

The Beatles were a virtual cover band early on, before they found their own musical paths. Most if not all Rock n Roll giants covered other people's music. Some bands became rock stars by covering other rock band's music, take for example the following:

Blinded By The Light Manfred Mann's Earth Band (1976) written by Bruce Springsteen (1973)
Black Magic Woman Santana (1970) written by Fleetwood Mac (1968)
Blueberry Hill Fats Domino (1956) written by Gene Autry (1941)
Cum On Feel The Noize Quiet Riot (1983) written by Slade (1973)
Drift Away Uncle Kracker (2003) written by Doby Gray (1973)
Hard To Handle Black Crows (1989) written by Otis Redding (1968)
If You Don't Know Me By Now Simply Red (1989) written by Harold Melvin & Blue Notes (1972)
Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood The Animals (1965) written by Nina Simone (1964)

And the list goes on and on and on. I'm sure that most people would not consider any of the bands that I've listed as mediocre. Lets face it, some of those mentioned above are considered the kings of rock n roll, but there they are, getting famous doing rock covers. So the next time you see a new band covering an old tune, give them some space and appreciate the fact that they are doing something that has been done from day one, good old rock covers.


  1. Great infos you collected here. Such a pity people seem to not care anymore. Who knows for example that "Without you" is a Badfinger song, made famous by Nilsson? Kids don't know either. One word to some of the people who got famous for covering songs: I adore their ability to see the great potential in the originals, e. g. in Without You, Blinded By The Light or in several songs by Bob Dylan which sounded not too important. Of course many of the original songs were great from the beginning.

  2. Hey Anonymous,

    I agree completely, it is a shame that kids today have lost a sense of history of the music. One can only hope that as these kids grow up, their sense of curiosity will expand enough to allow them to journey back in time to the originals, but as often happens, even back during the age of rock n roll, most people just don't know and don't care where the music comes from.

    Hey, thanks for your comments... :-)