Led Zeppelin sued over “Stairway to Heaven”

uh, y'know, the sounds that sound good together... sometimes... and sometimes sounds like the disgusting "squish squish" sound Slicker's mom makes whenever she walks

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Led Zeppelin sued over “Stairway to Heaven”

Postby Diabolical » Sun May 18, 2014 7:50 am

From alternativenation.net
BusinessWeek reports that the defunct California band Spirit is working on building a case against Led Zeppelin to take them to court over “Stairway to Heaven,” claiming the mighty Zep ripped off a riff from their 1968 song “Tarus.” Randy Wolfe, who wrote the song, died in 1997, but his trust has been working with Spirit founding bassist Mark Andes on the case to get Wolfe the co-writer credit.
Andes, 66, says he was so wrapped up in his music back then that he only recently noticed how similar Stairway was to California’s song. “The clarity seems to be a present-day clarity, not at the time of infringement. I can’t explain it. It is fairly blatant, and note for note,” he says. “It would just be nice if the Led Zeppelin guys gave Randy a little nod. That would be lovely.”


Skip to about the 40 second mark.


Yeah, it definitely sounds like it.
Its only 43 years later, so why not?
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Re: Led Zeppelin sued over “Stairway to Heaven”

Postby anarky » Sun May 18, 2014 9:25 am

I could see him not knowing for 43 years if it were some obscure album track. But not Stairway. I smell some bovine feces.
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Re: Led Zeppelin sued over “Stairway to Heaven”

Postby Ran » Mon May 19, 2014 7:40 am

I heard about the Taurus/Stairway thing on the radio a couple years ago. I can't find the clip, but someone pointed the similarity out this youtube video in 2008.



Isn't there limits on when people can sue? There was a court case just a few years back where Men At Work got sued for the flute part in "Down Under", but the people who owned the rights could only sue back to a certain point because too much time had passed.

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Re: Led Zeppelin sued over “Stairway to Heaven”

Postby anarky » Mon May 19, 2014 1:42 pm

It's similar, no doubt about it. But not exact. I'm not going to defend Zeppelin for ripping off a ton of blues artists, but I'm going with coincidence on this one.
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Re: Led Zeppelin sued over “Stairway to Heaven”

Postby anarky » Tue Jan 13, 2015 12:14 pm

Let's just make this the official "soundalike" thread.

I used some of my Christmas gift card credit to get Blackjack's Anthology, which collects both of their "ain't nobody even heard of 'em, much less heard 'em" albums. It was a sort of supergroup of future stars, fronted by Michael Bolton (using his birth name) and Bruce Kulick. (If you're wondering, the first album has a very rough, demo-ish sound, even though it was put out by a major label and produced by Tom Dowd, but the second turned out to be quite good, a sort of "early 80s Whitesnake meets mid-80s KISS.")

There's a song on the second album called "Airwaves," which, unfortunately I cannot find online in a form that I can embed or link to here. (Jack Sparrow could probably get it pretty easily, though.) Other than Bolton's voice, it could almost be some forgotten Queen b-side.

Which is where it gets really weird. It pre-dates "Radio Ga Ga" by four years, but is also about the radio (though in a different manner than the nostalgia of "Radio Ga Ga"), has a couple of keyboard flourishes (unusual in a Blackjack track) that sound similar, and a harmony on the chorus (also unusual for Blackjack) that sounds almost exactly like the "radio, what's new?" part of the "Radio Ga Ga" chorus.

I'm not about to accuse Queen (or Roger Taylor, who wrote "Radio Ga Ga") of ripping off some obscure rock band. They don't need to rip off anyone because they're musical gods in every sense of the word. (Until Freddie died, that is.) At least not consciously. But Blackjack tended to steer toward the same sort of sound that Roger's solo stuff gravitates toward (that nebulous "a little hard for mainstream rock, definitely not metal, and with production that easily identifies it as being from the very early 80s" sound), and it was produced by a dude from Yes, that I can't help but wonder if Roger had heard it and had it stuck in the back of his mind a few years later.

Just a few elements, but definitely noticeable.
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Re: Led Zeppelin sued over “Stairway to Heaven”

Postby Jargo » Tue Jan 20, 2015 9:56 am

Trouble with cases like this is that they never take account of the process of osmosis. Something heard once can sit in the unconscious mind for years until resurfacing under the guise of a fresh thought. Lyrically it's easier to say 'oh that's ripped off' but musically there are limits to the note progression when so few chords are used. People are going to write similar or identical riffs frequently. It's just nonsense to allow anyone to lay claim to a musical phrase. Similarly, with the enormity of material out there it's nonsense to allow lyrical claim. Unless the entire track is a direct sound-a-like in the way Madonna rips people off. That woman is a trampy pirate of the worst kind.
If this Randy guy only wants 'a little nod' then fine, I'm sure the Zep would probably admit they may have absorbed other artists material in the melting pot of creativity. Most artists will freely admit to being influenced by others, but clearly Randy's desperate for a cut of royalties from one of, if not the, most played songs ever. It's sad and beggars belief. I hope someone points out to him that classical composers, were they alive today, would be suing the likes of him for plagiarism.
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Re: Led Zeppelin sued over “Stairway to Heaven”

Postby anarky » Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:15 pm

Zeppelin was sued by Willie Dixon because they simply took a couple of his songs (he's probably the most famous blues songwriter ever, and wrote most of Muddy Waters' tunes), recorded them, and credited themselves... less than ten years after the original songs were released and while Dixon was still alive. A pretty insane amount of their catalog is the same way, but the writers were dead and didn't sue.

Strangely, Memphis Minnie was the only blues musician they credited for writing one of their songs ("When the Levee Breaks") without being sued. I guess they had more respect for her or something.

Like I said earlier, though, in this case, I really doubt it was intentional.
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Re: Led Zeppelin sued over “Stairway to Heaven”

Postby Zaphod » Mon Feb 09, 2015 6:02 pm

this has nothing to do with led zeppelin.

rule 34 is a bitch.

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Re: Led Zeppelin sued over “Stairway to Heaven”

Postby unlimitedpudding » Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:22 pm

since they come from the land of ice and snow, i would have thought that the red head would have a bit more bush to keep warm.

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Re: Led Zeppelin sued over “Stairway to Heaven”

Postby Ran » Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:55 pm

This is an unreleased track that is coming out with the re-release of Coda. It was originally recorded in 1968, but they didn't put it on their first album. If you listen, you will see why. I skimmed through some of the comments. My favorite was "I like the part where he says 'Sugar Mama'".


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Re: Led Zeppelin sued over “Stairway to Heaven”

Postby Ran » Mon Mar 09, 2020 1:11 pm

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/led ... 46409.html

Led Zeppelin prevails in appeal over 'Stairway to Heaven' riff

(Reuters) - Led Zeppelin on Monday persuaded a U.S. appeals court to reinstate a jury verdict that it did not steal the opening guitar riff for "Stairway to Heaven" from an obscure song written four years earlier.

In a 9-2 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant's and guitarist Jimmy Page's 1971 rock anthem did not infringe "Taurus," a song written by guitarist Randy Wolfe of the band Spirit.

The case has been among the music industry's most closely watched copyright cases, potentially exposing Plant and Page to millions of dollars of damages.

Wolfe, who performed as Randy California, drowned in 1997, and the case was brought by a trustee for his estate.

Lawyers for the trustee and Led Zeppelin did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The trustee had argued that "Stairway" and "Taurus" had similar chord progressions, and that Page may have written "Stairway" after hearing "Taurus" while Led Zeppelin and Spirit were touring together.

In the June 2016 jury verdict, jurors found that while Plant and Page had access to "Taurus," its riff was not intrinsically similar to the opening of "Stairway."

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Re: Led Zeppelin sued over “Stairway to Heaven”

Postby Tom Foolery » Mon Mar 09, 2020 4:25 pm

Someone should subtly change a few notes of the riff and release a different song with the argument it’s not “intrinsically” Stairway.

Also, I had completely forgotten about Zaphod’s contribution to the discussion.
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