Did Led Zeppelin Rip Off Spirit???? The Story of Spirit Continued…


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So my Spirit posting last week brought out some great comments from my faithful readers.  First my brother brought up the story that Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin ripped off the guitar intro to “Stairway to Heaven” from Spirits song “Taurus”.  I had left this story out because I could not find the song and hear it myself.  My brother sent me the song by Dropbox so I’ll share it with you now and let you decide for yourself.


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So what do you think? Pretty obvious isn’t it?

Next I received a comment from a reader who goes by the name realgreecer.  He is circulating an on-line petition to get Spirit inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I think this is long over due so I signed the petition immediately and I am posting the link to the petition below.  Please sign it and tell others you know to do so as well.  Let’s get this terrible oversight corrected as soon as possible.


Wouldn’t be funny to have Neil Young be the inductor for Spirit.  He and Randy California used to be friends.  There is a famous story about one of the reunion tours of Spirit where Neil Young tried to walk out on stage to sing “Like a Rolling Stone” with the band.  The keyboard player John Locke had invited Neil to join the band for the encore but Randy didn’t know anything about it.  Randy felt Neil was trying to upstage him on his comeback tour so he punched out Neil Young and pushed him off the stage!  John Locke got so angry about it that he stood up and announced that he was leaving the band and walked off stage.  That ended the 1975 come back tour of Spirit.  Last is the synthesizer that Randy California introduced to Jimmy Page called the Theremin.  Several readers weren’t sure what I was talking about so I am posting a photo of a Theremin below.

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Thanks for all the great comments and keep ’em comin’!

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About John

I taught myself how to play the piano and read music when I was 9 years old. I've been been consumed by music ever since. I majored in Piano performance in College and I still play, although not as well as when I had time to practice 4 -6 hours per day. This blog is about music. Music is the sound track of our lives. All it take is one song, one composition; and we are transported across time and space. I think it was Beethoven that said: "Music is the landscape of the soul."
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13 Responses to Did Led Zeppelin Rip Off Spirit???? The Story of Spirit Continued…

  1. Douglas Lowenthsl says:

    I was a big fan of Spirit from their first album on. I listened to that album a million times. I saw Spirit at the Ark in Boston and sat in the speaker on the stage right in front of Randy C. who actually played with Hendrix before Jimmy came to the US and shook things up.

    I was and am a big fan of Zep. When my son told me tonight that Stairway was a ripoff of Taurus, I knew it was bullcrap. A few bars of a common chord progression in otherwise different songs is not plagiarism. I had asked my son to watch Celebration Day, Zep’s last live concert, which was amazing. The lad is a musician and an expert on all things musical. Page is clearly one of the most interesting and original guitarists in rock history so I guess he makes a big target. I’m listening to “Spirit” as I write. I did a lot of tripping on that band. I was shocked and saddened when Randy C. died.

    • John says:

      Great Comments. There are many other examples of songs like “Stairway” and “Tarus”. I have a tendency to agree with you. Most of the time even if a certain lick is “borrowed” it is unconscious not intentional. I wish I had seen Spirit. I did get to see Zeppelin in 1977 at the Dallas convention center. They have always been one of my all time favorites. I also agree the Page is one of the best ever. Have you seen the movie: “It Might Get Loud”? Jimmy Page, Jack White, and The Edge. Play together and talk about music and the guitar. It is a fantastic documentary. Thank you for your comments and keep them coming…

  2. Brian says:

    LOL! Seriously guys? The Stairway riff is clearly a blatant rip off from “Taurus”. It’s far more than a few chords. It’s an entire melody and chord progression and is the “hook” (if you will) in both songs. However, I only call it a rip off because neither Page nor LZ has ever been willing to at least admit that they “borrowed” the riff.

    • John says:

      George Harrison got sued by the Supreme’s because they felt that he ripped off “She’s So Fine” when he wrote “My Sweet Lord”. George always claimed that he had no intention of copying their song, even after he lost the law suit. Keith Richards, in his Bio, said that he constantly had to show Mick Jagger that he had subliminally ripped off some other musicians song. Jimmy Page and Randy California were close friends. I’m just saying it is possible that the Stairway riff was unintentional. You are right though in that it is much more similar than a borrowed riff. LZ had a lot of other “Rip off” issues. They ended up having to pay Willie Dixon A LOT OF MONEY!!

  3. Douglas Lowenthal says:

    To me these songs are so different that it’s academic. In fact, I always considered Stairway to Heaven to be a pop song. I listened to the Spirit vinyl quite a bit, like for three years, before Zep IV came out. When it did, I didn’t have any revelations – like – HEY, That’s Spirit!

    There may be legal and personalty aspects of this but I don’t care about them. I didn’t write Taurus. I’m sure some rock stars are jerks. But for me, music is only about playing and listening.

    • John says:

      rip off or not, Led Zeppelin are not now nor have they ever been “jerks”. Also, Jimmy Page is on the cover of “Rolling Stone” and the featured interview. Check it out…

  4. Douglas Lowenthsl says:

    I don’t think they’re jerks. I think my son did. I read the Page interview in RS as I was watching Celebration Day. He has always been one of my favorite rock guitarists.

    • John says:

      I knew you didn’t think they were jerks. What can you say about young people and their taste today? The future belongs to them, but they should probably move forward with a little more appreciation of the past…

  5. Douglas Lowenthsl says:

    I have found that newer is worser in many respects. Possibly moreso with music but I don’t listen to enough new music to say. Aside from a new Mark Knopfler or Neil Young album, I’m mostly stuck in the past. And why not? I don’t see anyone knocking off Hendrix, the Beatles, folk music, or Beethoven, for that matter.

  6. Josh says:

    The late great Randy California is my uncle (mothers brother)
    He was truly a wonderful soul, kind generous and always humble.
    He always felt that led zeppelin had lifted his intro to Taurus and used it for stairway but even though he felt like he could win the lawsuit he never felt the need to take it there, it just wasn’t the kind of person he was. Randy would have just appreciated a nod from the led zeppelin guys but unfortunately never lived to see the day. I think it’s a wonderful idea to circulate a petition for induction to the rock and roll hall of fame it’s a huge over site the fact that they are not currently in it. rolling stone mag has had the top 100 guitarist of all times issue a couple of times over the past 10-15 years or so and to my surprise Randy was never included WTF!! He was a pioneer of the electric guitar and is the creator of so many techniques used today by guitarist. You can ask all the greats from Clapton to Krieger to Santana and they will all tell you just how incredible Randy was. Rolling Stone even put John Mayer in the top 100 which is an absolute smack in the Face considering he doesn’t have a fraction of the chops Randy had. Randy was hand picked by Jimmy Hendrix to play in his band Jimmy James and the blue flames and was asked by Jimmy to play in the experience and record in London but Randy was only sixteen and my grandmother would not let him go. If that isn’t enough to get the recognition he deserves on its own I think I want off this planet! Thanks for showing Randy all the love!!!

    • John says:

      Thank you for your post of 5/21/2013. I think your uncle was very gifted and has not received the accolades he richly deserves. I was listening to my iPod in shuffle mode the other day when “Taurus” came on. I thought it was “Stairway” at first. The source is so obvious. Promote the link to get Spirit inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. This oversight really needs to be corrected.

      Warm Personal Regards,

    • GG Allin says:

      Unfortunately, your uncle will never be recognized in Rolling Stone Rag – or its incestuous relative, the R&R-HOF. RS goes for what sells, and Randy C. simply doesn’t pull in readers like other names do. I mean, look at the list as it stands now. Pretty disgusting if you ask me. Be proud that people who truly know music love Spirit and Randy’s guitar playing.

      I just purchased Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus on vinyl and it simply blows me away.

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