For Led Zeppelin that emerged from the heady ’60s music scene, there were countless groups that fell by the wayside.
Some argue that those groups nevertheless helped make bands like Zeppelin what they were. And now, one band is making that case literally.
The last living member of the band Spirit, as well as the estates of some of its deceased members, plan to sue Led Zeppelin for stealing the main riff from “Stairway To Heaven,” BloombergBusinessweek’s Vernon Silver reports.
And there’s a decent chance they will win. Zeppelin has previously settled with black blues musicians and their estates who say the band ripped off their licks, and in a recent interview with the New York Times Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page acknowledged the debt the band owed to other musicians’ works.
According to a 2008 Conde Nast Portfolio story quoted by Silver, royalties from “Stairway” have earned rightsholders more than half a billion dollars since the track was released in 1971. It’s not clear what is prompting the suit now, but Zeppelin is planning a massive re-release of all its albums, and a lawyer who is currently suing the singer Usher for infringement plans to file an injunction on behalf of Spirit members.
Below is “Taurus,” released in 1968. It’s got a 45-second proggy intro before you hear deceased guitarist Randy California softly picking through a melody that distinctly resembles that of “Stairway”, although it quickly meanders into something with less “Led”-ish rock and more “Love”-like orchestration. Check it out:
And here’s “Stairway”:
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