Led Zeppelin in Legal Dispute over “Stairway to Heaven”

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When most people think of the classic rock band Led Zeppelin, they think of their 1971 classic, “Stairway to Heaven.” A song that is eight minutes and three seconds in length, it is considered a timeless classic and number 31 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

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Left: “Stairway to Heaven” single               Right: “Taurus” Single

Now Led Zeppelin is being accused of plagiarizing. A band that goes by the name Spirit, is bringing them to court; saying that they plagiarized a portion of one of their songs to put in the beginning of “Stairway to Heaven.” According to NPR, this lawsuit was actually filed two years ago by the estate of the late Randy Wolfe who was the guitarist for Spirit.

In 2014, Led Zeppelin re-released a number of their classic albums. That was how this case was able to be brought forward.

The song that Spirit believes Zeppelin ripped from them was a 1967 tune titled “Taurus.” As we now know, “Stairway to Heaven” was not released for another four years.

On April 8, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner found enough evidence for this case to stand trial. The trial is expected to begin on May 10.

Klausner wrote the following in a 20-page opinion paper:

“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,”

“The descending bass line is played at the same pitch, repeated twice, and separated by a short bridge in both songs.”

There are court documents on record having Wolfe give permission to the members of Zeppelin to use parts of “Taurus” for their song, but apparently Wolfe did try most of his life to receive credit for “Stairway to Heaven.”

How will the band members be effected by this? Well, Klausner removed Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones from the suit. As well as two music publishers. That now leaves lead singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page, to be defendants on this case. As for their late drummer John Bonham, who passed in 1980, there is no word on if this case will affect him or his family.

Here is a link where you can listen to the two songs and make a comparison. Do they sound the same? Let us know in the comments.

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