Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Did Led Zeppelin plagiarise Spirit? Hear the full tracks and decide!

One of my all-time favourite records is Led Zeppelin's fourth album which contains one of the most beautiful numbers ever written, Stairway to Heaven. Imagine my surprise after all these years to hear on the news this morning that the writers of the song, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page have been sued for plagiarism.

Now I freely admit to never having heard of Spirit and until this evening have never listened to their track Taurus. So who is suing and why now?

The lawsuit has not been launched by the guitarist and composer Randy Wolfe (who tragically drowned in 1997) but his estates Trustee, Michael Skidmore.

This isn't the first time Led Zeppelin have faced controversy over their material, having been previously been criticised for not acknowledging that one of their more popular tracks Dazed and Confused was originally written and performed by Jake Holmes on his 1967 album The Above Ground Sound. 

Rearranged by the band this was not acknowledged by the until 2012.

According to the Independent Page and Plant argue that:

...the chord progressions used in “Stairway to Heaven” are too widely known to be protected by copyright, which Wolfe had no claim to as he was a songwriter for hire.

Of course Wolfe never sued Led Zeppelin during his lifetime despite being bitter telling the now defunct Listener magazine that:

“The guys made millions of bucks on it and never said ‘Thank You’, never said ‘Can we pay you some money for it?’” he said. “It’s a sore point with me. Maybe someday their conscience will make them do something about it.”

There are chords that sound similar in the earlier song, but one has to wonder why the lawsuit has been launched now.

The estates manager is obviously just after cash ......

Still here's the two tracks in their full original album form to listen to so you can make your mind up.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Howie. This particular story has been knocking around, on and off, for donkey's years. Page has often been accused of plagiarism, sometimes with huge justification, but this is a weak claim. Sure, there are similarities in the chord sequence, but there it ends. Of course, you and I are old enough to remember Harrison being successfully sued for My Sweet Lord being a rip off of She's So Fine. The Stairway case is nowhere near as convincing.