You be the judge: did Led Zeppelin rip-off another band?

You be the judge: did Led Zeppelin rip-off another band?

Right at the moment when Led Zeppelin’s star seems to be rising again (as the first round of reissues come out June 3rd) the band has been hit with a plagiarism lawsuit. This time, the song that that’s being scrutinized is the classic “Stairway To Heaven.”

Mark Andes, founding bassist of the group Spirit has filed the suit, claiming that the introduction to “Stairway” is very similar to their song, “Taurus.”  Andes wants former bandmate Randy California, who wrote it, to get a co-writing credit on the Zeppelin song. California died in 1997, but not before telling a reporter, “I’d say it was a rip-off.  And the guys made millions of bucks on it and never said ‘Thank you.’  Maybe someday their conscience will make them do something about it.”

Led Zeppelin’s first concert in America was as Spirit’s opening act in 1968, the year in which “Taurus” was released on Spirit’s debut album.

Led Zeppelin has a long history of copyright infringement.  Previous lawsuits have forced them to give co-writing credit on “Whole Lotta Love,” “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” “The Lemon Song” and “Dazed and Confused.”

You should judge for yourself.  Pay close attention at the 45 second mark of the Spirit song below.

— Mike Anthony

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