Thursday, April 14, 2016

Stairway to Heaven, Plagiarized?

Ever since it's release in 1971, "Stairway to Heaven," has remained at the top of the list for the greatest rock songs of all time. Over time the success of the song became Led Zeppelin's legacy. Chances are if you're not familiar with any other song of Zeppelin's, you've probably at least heard "Stairway to Heaven."  
The idea that these heavy metal legends may have plagiarized elements in, their most popular song, is shocking to the entire rock community. 

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:

Only Page and Plant are being sued, as the judge dismissed the case against John Paul Jones and Warner Music.

Michael Skidmore is a trustee for the late Spirt guitarist Randy Wolfe, and the man responsible for the lawsuit. He claims that Wolfe should receive song writing credit for the track. This claim is based on the notion that Zeppelin 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.”

Although there is no word on what exactly the damages could end up being for Zeppelin if the judge rules in favor of Wolfe, it will be interesting to see how fans react. 

Led Zeppelin fans are amongst the most loyal and dedicated fans in the world, so it seems unlikely that this lawsuit could ruin the bands reputation. 

Any musician knows that inspiration come from what you have experienced, whether it be conscious or subconscious. Even though it seems unlikely that Zeppelin intentionally ripped of Spirit, if enough evidence is presented it could end up costing Plant and Page a lot of money. 

This is the first high-profile copyright case since last year when judge ruled that Robin Thicke and Pharell had to pay the estate of Marvin Gaye $7.4 million after claiming the track "Blurred Lines" plagiarized Gaye's "Got To Give It Up.”

No matter what the verdict ends up being, the truth remains that "Stairway to Heaven" will always be a defining aspect of Led Zeppelin's legacy. 

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