42 Years Later, Spirit Is Suing Led Zeppelin for Ripping Off the Opening of “Stairway to Heaven”
Over the years, a lot of people familiar with the Spirit song “Taurus” have accused Led Zepplin and Jimmy Page of lifting part of that song for the opening chords of “Stairway to Heaven”.
Even Spirit singer Randy California called it a “rip-off.” In 1997, he said, quote, “The guys made millions of bucks [off] 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.”
There’s probably something to that. Those portions of the songs do sound VERY similar…and Zeppelin even opened for Spirit back in the late-’60s, when “Taurus” was a regular part of their set-list.
And now, 42 years after “Stairway to Heaven” came out, and 17 years after the death of Randy California…Spirit has finally filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Zeppelin.
Zeppelin is in the process of re-releasing their albums, and the lawsuit wants to block them from reissuing the one with “Stairway to Heaven”.
A lawyer representing Randy California says, quote, “The idea behind this is to make sure that Randy is given a writing credit on ‘Stairway to Heaven’. It’s been a long time coming.”
As for why the LAWSUIT has been a long time coming, Spirit and Randy’s family claim they didn’t have the money to pursue it. At the end of his life, Randy was playing a sitar at an Indian restaurant in exchange for food.
Led Zeppelin has not commented.
You can hear “Taurus”, here: (You can skip to 45 seconds in.)
And here’s “Stairway to Heaven”:
Spirit’s biggest hit was “I Got A Line On You“.