Have you heard of a band called Spirit? Well they're making headlines now that they're suing Led Zeppelin for lifting what could arguably be one of the most famous riffs ever: the opening notes to "Stairway to Heaven."
Fans have called out the similarities for years. A passage from Spirit's "Taurus" has been analyzed and, even to the untrained ear, it sounds as though there's some validity to the argument. Zeppelin toured with Spirit in 1968, and that's when Spirit released "Taurus." Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page reportedly wrote “Stairway to Heaven” in 1970.
"It’s been a long time coming," attorney Francis Alexander Malofiy told Bloomberg Businessweek. Malofiy is representing a trust for Randy California, who was a guitarist for Spirit and wrote "Taurus."
Led Zeppelin is going to release "remastered deluxe versions" of their albums, so that's why California’s trust is submitting a copyright-infringement suit that is going to block Led Zeppelin IV’s reissue (which contains "Stairway to Heaven").
"The idea behind this is to make sure that Randy California is given a writing credit on 'Stairway to Heaven,'" Malofiy said. In very not shocking news, they will probably seek monetary reparations too. Businessweek had an estimate that by 2008, “Stairway to Heaven” had earned a ridiculous $562 million.
Enough legal talk. Listen to both of these and make the decision for yourself!
"Stairway to Heaven":
Can't really deny that they sound alike, can you?
Also keep in mind that Zep has fought plagiarism charges before, and they have paid settlements to Willie Dixon and Ritchie Valens's publisher for "Bring It On Home," "The Lemon Song," and "Boogie With Stu."
Who knows where this latest suit will take them. California passed away in 1997, so if Zeppelin did indeed, subconsciously or consciously, plagiarize, let's hope that his family and legacy will be honored in the proper way. Still, you can't help but shake your head at the fact that this expensive legal mess is being brought up over a song that was released over 40 years ago ...
Do you think Led Zeppelin plagiarized "Stairway to Heaven"?
Image via p_a_h/Flickr