“While it is true that a descending chromatic four-chord progression is a common convention that abounds in the music industry, the similarities here transcend this core structure”
With those words, a Judge is taking Led Zeppelin to court! That’s right, rock’s most famous song, “Stairway To Heaven”, has a date in a courtroom due to a long-standing lawsuit over charges that the band stole the song!
And It’s OVER! Led Zeppelin has been cleared!
The jury has ruled that Led Zeppelin DID NOT plagiarize the Spirit song!
Here is the entire story:
Here’s how it all came together – after years of court dates looming, it finally went to court last week in LA.
Lawyers for Led Zeppelin tried to throw the case out, but the Judge ruled otherwise. Here’s how it all began:
“Stairway To Heave” sounds a lot like the song “Taurus” — by a band called Spirit who – allegedly performed it while touring with a young Led Zeppelin in the late 1960s.
As the Judge noted:
“For example, the descending bass line in both Taurus and Stairway to Heaven appears at the beginning of both songs, arguably the most recognizable and important segments. … Additionally, the descending bass line is played at the same pitch, repeated twice, and separated by a short bridge in both songs.”
Listen for yourself here:
As The Washington Post reports:
“Michael Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin et al. was brought by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for Randy Wolfe of Spirit, who died in 1997. Wolfe, a.k.a. Randy California, wrote “Taurus” in 1967, the suit said; the two sides can’t agree on whether Page and Plant, before they wrote “Stairway,” heard Spirit play “Taurus” while playing at music festivals in the late 1960s.”
On June 16, Jimmy Page took the stand and held up well under the onslaught!
Page was asked about the lawsuit, and admitted he didn’t even know what “Taurus” was until his son downloaded the song on a computer for him!
“I don’t do the Internet, so he played it for me,” Page said, referring to his son-in-law, according to Rolling Stone. “I was confused by the comparison … [I thought] ‘What’s this got to do with “Stairway”?’”
Page acknowledged that several Spirit records were included in his sizable music collection — over 10,000 LPs, he said — but maintained that he wasn’t familiar with the tune he allegedly stole from until long after “Stairway to Heaven” was written.
The world’s greatest Guitarist then had a quip that made the entire courtroom laugh, according to The Washington Post:
“When the plaintiff’s attorney asked about Led Zeppelin’s cover of Spirit’s “Fresh-Garbage” — exactly how long did the band play those borrowed riffs during a live performance — Page replied with dry sarcasm: “I don’t know — I don’t have a stopwatch.”
Read more about the day’s testimony, and the entire case, here at The Washington Post, who has done a great job covering the story:
Here Is The Backstory!
“Stairway To Heaven” is, without a doubt, one of the greatest songs in rock history….
Led Zeppelin is considered the great hard rock band of all time, and the album that “Stairway To Heaven” is on, “IV” ( Or “Zoso”, you call!) is widely considered a masterpiece…
So the trial is underway, with the potential that Robert Plant and Jimmy Page may be found guilty of plagiarizing the song…
Here is a compilation posted on YouTube of several instances when a Led Zeppelin song has had noticeable similarities to other, earlier songs…
Led Zepplein’s albums have undergone massive remastering project, with deluxe box sets overseen by Jimmy Page:
Read all about those efforts here, including lots of great videos of the band:
The band was also known for their raucous off-stage behavior, captured in the greatest book ever written about the sordid world of a rock band:
Read all about the “Hammer Of The Gods” here:
Let me know what you think of this lawsuit!