Are You A Rip-Off Artist?

Rip-Off Artist Feature image

By Johnny Dwinell

Rip-Off Artist alert image

Are you a rip-off artist?


Yeah, man, John Lennon wasn’t the first to say, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

Beethoven took from:

  • Mozart (they arguably met and Mozart arguably gave Beethoven lessons)

Tom Petty took from:

  • Bob Dylan – this one’s obvious, right??Rip-Off Artist Tom petty image
  • The Continentals (feat. Don Felder [Eagles])
  • The Beatles

Bob Dylan took from:

David Lee Roth took from:

The Beatles took from:

  • Little Richard
  • Elvis
  • Chuck Berry

Elvis took from (his live show was so based on this vibe):

Chuck Berry took from:

  • T-Bone Walker
  • The Fiddlin’ Powers Family -  Maybellene (his 1st #1 circa 1955) was inspired by “Ida Red” circa 1924 (this was covered and used quite often with many artists btw.)

Rip-Off Artist Willie Dixon image

Led Zeppelin literally PLAGIARIZED (and settled out of court…we DON’T recommend this BTW):

Willie Dixon took from:

Little Brother Montgomery took from:

Rip-Off Artist Little Brother Montgomery image


Eric Clapton took from:


Muddy Waters took from:


Robert Johnson took from:


Joan Baez took from:

Rip-Off Artist Pete Seeger image

Pete Seeger took from:



You get it?

Anyone who is talking about how another artist “ripped off” this artist or that artist … is right. Something had to inspire the artist. Most artists try to emulate something that resonates with them. As a result, they end up with their own style.

So what? Shut up and own up to it!

Make good music. Grow from your influences! USE your influences as a muse!

I submit to all you writers and artists that you are unique. So aside from actually plagiarizing (again, we DON’T condone this behavior), setting out to write your favorite artist’s song will lead you to your own twisted version that is quite exceptional and distinctive. Not for nothing, but it’s a pretty good writing exercise!

Rick Rubin loves to hand out writing assignments to his artists, typically right before they are about toRip-Off Artist Pour some sugar image begin recording, so the pressure is really on. Rick told Rivers Cuomo from Weezer to write a song with the beat from Def Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar On Me and that assignment ended up being the inspiration for Beverly Hills. Rick also told Tom Petty to do the same exact thing and that was the inspiration for It’s Good To Be King.



Now go play pretty for the world.

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4 replies
  1. Carey Keavy
    Carey Keavy says:

    Thanks again, Johnny! Keep nailing these awesome blogs! I have sometimes felt guilty when I pull Inspiration from other artists! My theory: listen to what you love, write songs, the songs will sound like 10% of your influence and 90% you. I call that the Song Machine. Put something in…get a blended product exiting. You’re bomb diggity and other overly used hip terms. 🙂

    • Johnnydwinell
      Johnnydwinell says:

      LOL Bomb Diggity? I LOVE THAT! Thanks Carey! I am so happy that these are helping you! You are ONLY a product of the input you receive! Ya know I remember trying to write a song that was exactly like the Beatles’ “Don’t Bring Me Down” b/c it had that same chord change in the beginning (Which I LOVE) and it ended being this twisted, crazy, cool song that sounded NOTHING like “Don’t Bring Me Down” but it was def one of my best songs. 🙂

  2. willa thompson
    willa thompson says:

    As I lyricist I’m always conscious of what other artists have to say. I often use that as inspiration to write. I hear something and react to it, either positively or negatively. It still ends up being me because nobody has my exact voice just as I have nobody else’s voice.


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