Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway to Heaven' Accused as a Rip-Off
Led Zeppelin may soon face a long-overdue trial over the originality of their 1971 hit "Stairway to Heaven". Rock band Spirit accused the Jimmy Page band of ripping their 1968 song "Taurus" and using it as the intro to their most famous song.
A lawyer representing late Spirit guitarist Randy California is preparing an injunction against the upcoming reissue of "Led Zeppelin IV". Per Business Week, attorney Francis Alexander Molofiy said, "The idea behind this is to make sure that Randy California is given a writing credit on 'Stairway to Heaven'. It's been a long time coming."
Spirit was Led Zeppelin's opening act in 1968 at the Denver Auditorium Arena. "Taurus" was one of the songs that Spirit played that night. "It was such a pretty moment, and it would typically come after a big forceful number and always got a good response," Spirit co-founder Mark Andes said.
They played three more gigs together in 1968 and 1969. Led Zeppelin had even played a medley of songs that included Spirit's "Fresh-Garbage", a song that appeared on the same LP side as "Taurus".
Page had always claimed that he wrote "Stairway to Heaven" in 1970 at a cottage in Wales. Before his death, California gave an interview to Listener magazine, saying, "The guys made millions of bucks on it and never said 'Thank you,' never said, 'Can we pay you some money for it?' It's kind of a sore point with me. Maybe someday their conscience will make them do something about it."
It is only now that California's friends and family could sue for writing credit because they did not have the money for attorney fee. California had a rather tragic life outside Spirit. He would play at restaurants in exchange for food in the '90s. He died at the age of 45 in 1997, drowning while trying to rescue his son from a sea current.
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