I was 15 years old when I discovered Led Zeppelin. For the next three to four years, they were pretty much the only band I listened to. I had their entire discography memorized, freaked out when new live recordings were released (BBC Sessions kinda sucked, but How the West Was Won was the sh*t) and would spend hours upon hours dreaming about how awesome it would have been to possess the musical talent and creativity that they did.
Now Zep had a certain amount of technical acumen, but that wasn’t the real draw of their music: it was the songwriting. I mean tracks like Kashmir, In My Time Of Dying, Gallows Pole, and of course, the crowning jewel of rock: Stairway to Heaven. I mean, it’s the f*cking best song ever and Led Zeppelin’s the best for writing it.
But it turns out that they might have totally stolen the track.
Decades ago, Zep and a little band called Spirit played and toured around the same time. There’s no proof that they played the same stage on the same night, so we don’t know if Zep ever heard their music. But if you listen to Spirit’s track, Taurus, written by guitarist Randy Wolfe in 1966 or ’67, you can hear some similarities in their riffs.
Here’s Zep’s Stairway To Heaven, in case you needed a reference. Not in case you haven’t heard the song, because…wow…if that’s the case, then, I don’t even…
So why a lawsuit some 40 years later? Well, Wolfe’s trustee, Michael Skidmore was able to sue Zeppelin for the copyright once the statute of limitations ended on Stairway to Heaven when it was remastered and re-released two years ago.
Skidmore and Zep frontman and guitarist, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page (but you already know that, these dudes are Gods) are headed to trial on May 10th where a jury will decide whether or not there’s grounds for copyright infringement. John Paul Jones wasn’t named in the case, most likely because “Stairway” was penned as being written by Plant and Page.
Now it’s not like Zep ripped the entire song off, it seems like the famous opening Stairway riff is derivative of the music in Taurus. But I admit as a die-hard Zep fanboy I’m super biased in this case. It’s a good thing I’m not on that jury because I’d spend hours talking about how amazing and under looked Jones’ Bass playing is on that track. And do I even need to go into Bonham’s drums? Come on, bro.
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