Wait, Was Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway To Heaven' Ripped Off From Another Band?

Led Zeppelin may be facing court as legal papers are in the process of being filed by a US lawyer who claims the opening was directly influenced by the band Spirit’s track ‘Taurus’.

Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant.

Led Zeppelin are in legal hot water as a US lawyer is preparing paperwork which claims they ripped off the opening of their 1971 classic ballad ‘Stairway to Heaven’. The lawyer is filing an injunction against the reissue of their album Led Zeppelin IV on behalf of the later guitarist Randy California, who was a member of the band Spirit. If the injunction is filed, Led Zeppelin may end up in court having to defend their creative rights and ownership of the song.

Read more: Jimmy Page: 'I'm Fed Up Of Robert Plant Playing Games'

The case rests on one line of the song and the similar instrumental, which attorney Francis Malofiy claims was stolen from another band, namely Spirit. Molofiy claims Led Zeppelin heard the line whilst they were supporting Spirit in the late 1960s. The song from which Led Zepplin allegedly stole the line and instrumental from was 'Taurus' which appeared on Spirit’s 1968 debut album.

So, 43 years after the song was even released, why hasn’t this injunction been filed before? Malofiy claimed “It’s been a long time coming.” This certainly makes sense as, in 1997, California complained about the track to a music magazine. He said "I'd say it was a rip-off, they [Led Zeppelin] made millions of bucks on it and never said thank you; never said, 'Can we pay you some money for it?'" Yet California never filed suit which his manager has recently claimed was because they simply didn’t have enough money to pay for appropriate legal reputations and the band believed the statute of limitations would prevent them. The suit appears to have been prompted by California’s tragic death in 1997 at the age of 45. The Spirit singer was attempted to save his son when he was swept away by a strong current.

John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones at an event celebrating Led Zeppelin in 2012.

Read more: Jimmy Page Receives Honorary Doctorate At Berklee Music College

The injunction could block the reissue of Lep Zepplin’s IV album until the issue of copyright infringement is addressed. This would simply mean California’s name would be added to the writing credit of Stairway to Heaven and as such California’s family would profit from the royalties of recent sales (from the past three years) and any future sales should the issue be brought to court. According to Business Week, this could be more than $10 million annually.

The important of 'Stairway to Heaven' cannot be underestimated both in terms of becoming one of the best known rock ballads and for Led Zeppelin as a band. Led Zepplin consisted of lead singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, drummer Jon Bonham, and keyboardist John Paul Jones. As Business Week reports, Plant claimed the song was a “milestone” for the band, stating “Every musician wants to do something of lasting quality, something which will hold up for a long time, and I guess we did it with Stairway.”

What do you think – is ‘Stairway to Heaven’ a rip off of Spirit’s ‘Taurus’?

Listen to Led Zepplin's 'Stairway to Heaven:

Listen to Spirit's 'Taurus':


Contactmusic

Tags: Led Zeppelin - Robert Plant - Jimmy Page - John Paul Jones


Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

Beyonce and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Tease Us With Tantalising 15 Second Teaser Clip [Video]

Beyonce teased us all over the weekend, when she shared a 15 second...

Beyonce and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Tease Us With Tantalising 15 Second Teaser Clip [Video]

Robert Downey Jr Crowned King of the Box Office

With an estimated income of $75 million between June 2013 and June 2014, Downey Jr...

Robert Downey Jr Crowned King of the Box Office

George Clooney On Getting That Tabloid Apology And Why He Had To

Ahead of his wedding to Amal Alamuddin, George Clooney has...

George Clooney On Getting That Tabloid Apology And Why He Had To

A Short History of Forgotten Destiny’s Child Member Farrah Franklin

Farrah Franklin, the forgotten fourth member of Destiny’s Child, found herself...

A Short History of Forgotten Destiny’s Child Member Farrah Franklin

Sons of Anarchy Final Season: Charlie Hunnam Spills Details

Speaking at the Television Critics Association preview night on Monday, lead actor...

Sons of Anarchy Final Season: Charlie Hunnam Spills Details

Vin Diesel Talks This Summer's Weirdest Bromance

Yet in conversation with Access Hollywood, Diesel summed up the relationship between...

Vin Diesel Talks This Summer's Weirdest Bromance
Advertisement

Rixton - Me and My Broken Heart Single Review

There's a new boyband on the UK pop scene who have somehow managed to storm single charts...

Rixton - Me and My Broken Heart Single Review

RIP Krusty the Clown? His 10 Best Moments

Krusty the Clown may have chucked his last chuckle and played his last Itchy and Scratchy...

RIP Krusty the Clown? His 10 Best Moments

Bachelorette No Longer: Ashley And JP Rosenbaum Find Out Sex Of Baby On Live TV

After being on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, some people like to retire...

Bachelorette No Longer: Ashley And JP Rosenbaum Find Out Sex Of Baby On Live TV


More recommendations

Advertisement

Comments

louisdeay's picture

louisdeay

Sounds nothing like it, this lots lawyer is trying to make some money for himself, release Zep 1V & lets get on with it, some story, they didn't have the money, if they were that sure it was theirs they would have won the case & not needed to pay any costs & been very rich guys.

2 months 3 days ago
Report
View Comments

dball's picture

dball

Paul Rosenbery...HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Good one, I didn't catch it until I went back up and looked again!! And you're 100% right sir!!!

2 months 3 days ago
Report
View Comments

Clement Aye's picture

Clement Aye

Absolutely nothing like it. What were they smoking???

2 months 3 days ago
Report
View Comments

dball's picture

dball

There are similarities, but to say they ripped the WHOLE song off is rubbish. And if every artist that borrowed from another sued the courts would be filled with suits with no end. This is a frivolous lawsuit, IMHO.

2 months 3 days ago
Report
View Comments

Paul Rosenberg At Blowfish's picture

Paul Rosenberg ...

Wow, every day Robert Plant is looking more and more like Jimmy page and as for John Paul Jones....Contact Music should really know the difference. Bet they wouldn't confuse Justin Belieber with Miley Cyrus.

2 months 3 days ago
Report
View Comments

Led Zeppelin Newsletter

Subscribe to this news alert service to receive news and reviews on Led Zeppelin

Unsubscribe | Unsubscribe All