Monday, May 26, 2014

Was "Stairway To Heaven" Stolen?

Led Zeppelin is being sued for stealing parts of "Stairway To Heaven" from a song by Spirit called "Taurus" more than 44 years after the song was written. The estate of Spirit guitarist Randy California is preparing an injunction ahead of Zep's upcoming Led Zeppelin IV reissue.

All this stems from the fact that Zep opened for Spirit several times during their first tour of the States during which Spirit performed "Taurus" as part of their set, but why wait 40+ years to sue?

If you listen to the Spirit song below you'll hear some similarities to the intro of the song, but it's of a rather generic guitar pattern and nothing of the song's melody. I'd bet that this suit goes nowhere, but it does serve one purpose in that it got us talking about Spirit again, who were a great and very underrated band from way back when.

It's been estimated that "Stairway" has made the group $540 million over the years, so the 36 year old attorney for the plaintiff (who's younger than the song) is obviously hoping for a reasonable out of court settlement. The problem is that Zep obviously has deep pockets and it might not be as easy for that to happen as he believes.

So songwriters beware, there's nothing new under the sun given the 12 note scale that we use, so you're probably copying a previous song without even knowing it. That's enough to get you sued, but it's another story when it comes to actually winning in court.



Jef Knight said...

The songs are both totally different and in no way the same...except for that descending chromatic bass line again a minor chord.
Funny, but that specific riff in question for outdates either of these songs. Many jazz songs used it in the 30's and 40's notabley, My Funny Valentine who's entire chord cycle is the predecesor to Stairway.
I think they owe Rogers & Hart the dosh, not Spirit.

Paul S said...

Given their propensity to steal from others, or not give credit for 'borrowed' material, I would have to side against LZ. At very least they swiped the whole intro.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...