LED ZEPPELIN Heading To Court Over Claims "Stairway To Heaven" Plagiarized Another Song
Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" is widely considered the greatest rock song of all time. Anytime, my local classic rock radio station does a countdown of the greatest songs ever, it easily gets the #1 spot. But, could it be plagiarizing another tune? Looks like the courts will decide that.
The band Spirit claims that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant ripped off their 1968 track "Taurus" to record 1971's "Stairway to Heaven" and a Los Angeles district judge seems to agree with them. The trial is set for May 10th. A Youtube user created this comparison video, showing that Spirit certainly has a case:
The suit was brought forth by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe, who feels Wolfe should get songwriting credit on the track, claiming Zep got the inspiration for the track while touring with Spirit in the late 60s.
"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," Judge Klausner ruled. "What remains is a subjective assessment of the 'concept and feel' of two works… a task no more suitable for a judge than for a jury."
The judge also ruled Skidmore could only collect half of any damages due to a 1967 contract Wolfe signed. No word on what the damages could end up being. Only Page and Plant are being sued, as the judge dismissed the case against John Paul Jones and Warner Music.
The last high-profile copyright case happened last year when a judge ruled that Robin Thicke and Pharell had to pay the estate of Marvin Gaye $7.4 million after claiming the track "Blurred Lines" plagiarised Gaye's "Got To Give It Up."