When I first wrote about the question of Led Zeppelin ripping off Spirit’s song “Taurus” as the basis for “Stairway to Heaven”, I got a number of very heated comments. The opinions split right down the middle of pro and con. Now the question will be settled in court.
The heirs of Randy California (Lead Guitar and founding member of Spirit) are suing Led Zeppelin to gain co-song writing credit for the song “Stairway to Heaven:. The suit alleges that Jimmy Page copied the opening of the Spirit song “Taurus” and used it as the basis of “Stairway to Heaven”. The band’s original bass player has also joined the suit.
There is no doubt that Jimmy Page and Randy California were friends and that Page admired the music and performance ability of Spirit. The instrumental “Taurus” was a staple of Spirit’s live shows. There can be no doubt that Jimmy Page watched Spirit perform the song several times. Zeppelin opened for Spirit on Zep’s first American tour.
The stakes are very high. “Stairway to Heaven” has grossed at least $600 million dollars for the surviving members of Zeppelin.
“Stairway” also bears a striking resemblance to a song by The Chocolate Watch Factory. They had a song called “And She’s Lonely”. Page would have heard this song when “The Watch Factory” toured with his band “The Yardbirds”. The plot thickens… Now the courts will decide.
I’ll keep you posted. If you’d like to make your own comparison, check out my blog from 10/29/2011. You can hear the song “Taurus” and draw your own conclusion.