Led Zeppelin Sued for Plagiarizing Spirit Song in 'Stairway to Heaven'

Similarities are indeed striking, check out the "Taurus" song inside.

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For yet another time, rock gods Led Zeppelin are facing a copyright lawsuit for one of their classic tracks, this time around for the legendary "Stairway to Heaven."

As Business Week reports, founding bassist of Spirit, Mark Andes, is suing Zeppelin for stealing the guitar part of the band's 1968 track "Taurus."

Released on Spirit's self-titled debut in 1968, the two-and-a-half-minute instrumental was recorded in as early as 1967. And the similarities between one of the most iconic rock tunes of all time, released in 1971, are indeed striking.

Andres is hoping that the song's original author, Randy California, gets a part of the credits. Randy himself once addressed the matter in an interview, saying, "I'd say it was a ripoff. And the guys made millions of bucks on 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. Maybe someday their conscience will make them do something about it."

Back in 1968, Led Zeppelin have performed their first-ever US show as an opening act for Spirit and have also shared the stage with the band on several festivals in 1969.

Led Zeppelin were already ordered on several occasions to share their writing credits due to lawsuits. The list of their classics songs labeled as stolen includes "Whole Lotta Love," "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You," "The Lemon Song" and "Dazed and Confused."

You can check out "Taurus" and "Stairway to Heaven" below, the crucial part in "Taurus" comes at around 0:45. We've also embedded a video of other Led Zep plagiarism examples.

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56 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Jimmy Page has admitted to ripping off anyway. "You mean getting sued? Well, as far as my end of it goes, I always tried to bring some thing fresh to anything that I used. I always made sure to come up with some variation. In fact, I think in most cases, you would never know what the original source could be. Maybe not in every case -- but in most cases. So most of the comparisons rest on the lyrics. And Robert was supposed to change the lyrics, and he didn't always do that -- which is what brought on most of the grief. They couldn't get us on the guitar parts of the music, but they nailed us on the lyrics. We did, however, take some liberties, I must say [laughs]. But never mind; we did try to do the right thing, it blew up in our faces... When we were up at Headley Grange recording Physical Graffiti, Ian Stewart came by and we started to jam. The jam turned into Boogie With Stu, which was obviously a variation on "Ooh My Head" by the late Ritchie Valens, which itself was actually a variation of Little Richard's "Ooh My Soul". What we tried to do was give Ritchie's mother credit because we heard she never received any royalties from any of her son's hits, and Robert did lean on that lyric a bit. So what happens? They tried to sue us for all of the song!! We had to say bugger off. We could not believe it. So anyway, if there is any plagiarism, just blame Robert [laughs]."
    big muff pedal
    The thing is all music borrows from other music. And I think that's a good thing. I mean, there are a finite amount of notes on the guitar, but the possibilities are still limitless, even if you use the same ones in the same order as another song.
    big muff pedal
    So many songs use the same chords and progressions. You can trace everything back to cavemen banging shit on rocks if you want. It's pointless.
    The pretender by Foo Fighters has the same chord
    ...that's the difference between the past and modern music..today's music is complete and authentically creative and original...not...
    matteo cubano
    the same progression? no it doesnt. this and stairway go: a, g#, g, f#, f pretender is a, f#/, f
    True. And given that in this age putting out a record is so much easier than before, we'll be hearing a lot of "plagiarism" for sure.
    This just sounds like a cry for relevancy more than anything; like a big "Hey, notice us!"
    Around the blues era sharing was very common for that reason. Rock would have never happened without it since it was a combination of multiple things. We look back seeing widespread plagarism but the whole idea that every little progression and melody belongs to you is a pretty recent trend in music history, and one that arguably causes more harm than good.
    big muff pedal , you're the man, you just nailed the issue. now lets all go back to downloading all that music which originates from The Single Primal Sound...
    Alternate title: Songs use similar chords, inevitably sound similar
    Sounds exactly like "The Masterplan", by Oasis. But oh well, Noel Gallagher is well known for stealing some riffs here and there, so who cares.
    Jimmy Page has a pretty bad reputation for that too. I would be surprised if this wasn't plagiarised but I don't think it warrants a 43 year late lawsuit.
    This guy has to be kinda slow or something. It's been a ****ing long time since that was released.
    I don't believe too much in originality.
    This. Using your influences creatively is much more important than originality. I think Page did this well but he did leave himself open to these silly lawsuits.
    True, everything has been done before by somebody, down to the most obscure sounds, progressions, scales and mixing of there of.
    A lot of things sure, but everything I think is a stretch. When you really think of all the possible combinations of frequencies the number must be pretty gigantic.
    That descending chord progression is used in countless songs throughout the decades. Hell, even the Gilligan's Island theme song uses it. Everything else about Stairway is completely different. After 46 years, Spirit is just hoping to grab some quick cash in a settlement from Page while also getting some hits and the royalties because of all the renewed interest. I don't see this going further than Page throwing a couple million at them to end it.
    I'm tired of this "you copied this, you copied that" stuff going on... Music is bound to sound alike after a while it's just inevitable...
    From the film Pirates of Silicon Valley about Gates and Jobs: "We both live next door to a rich guy who is always gone, and you're mad at me because I thought of stealing his television first". The fragment that both songs use is in no way an exclusive idea first conceived by a forgotten prog-rock guy as recently as 1968. It's 3 bars of music in a 2 1/2 minute piece that will get some lawyers 30-40 billing hours of $500/hour work (mostly done by some unappreciated paralegal at $12 an hour) and nothing for Randy Idaho or South Dakota or whatever his stage name was. Page took a common thing and combined it in a unique way into a classic. these guys were lost in the cutout bin by 1974. Take a hike and go earn your own money.
    Definitely a similarity, but like others have already said, musicians have always 'borrowed' other peoples styles and ideas; it's just how music evolves!
    While I don't condone plagiarism, the whole "it's all been done" argument is a COP-OUT for people with no imagination, no creativity, and who are lazy.
    At 1:40 you can hear slight similarities but yea they don't sound the same other than that, throw this lawsuit out. ridiculous.
    Sounds more like the Masterplan by Oasis. But then again how many songs use a simple descending scale?
    silly stuff. Everyone borrowed and continues to borrow ideas from each other in music. It's just how it works. I read an article that it's literally impossible to come up with something that isn't at least derived from something else. My girlfriend showed me this song the other day that she had stuck in her head and I laughed. It was some indy/scene/pop band that had blatantly ripped off of The Trooper by Iron Maiden. It's turned into a money game and it's silly. What if Quentin Tarantino sued every movie maker that references Pulp Fiction? You'd think it was silly. That's the difference between music and any other art form and it's sickening. Any other art form, unless the entire work or a large portion of it is EXACTLY the same, no one bats an eye, but in music if you make money off of even something that's considered derivative, you're in a world of legal hurt.
    I doubt that Page was a victim of plagiarism, but there are many songs by some great bands that Jimmy Page played on in the studio recording, uncredited. In addition to playing with Beck and Clapton in the Yardbirds, Page was a very popular--and busy--session guitarist (source: Zeppelin biography on the Bio Channel). Therefore, there was some music used by Page that should have been credited to others, and there was music that Page helped record and he received no credit for it. It sounds like give-and-take,not deliberate theft
    How about when Killing Joke ripped off to the Damned and then they tried to sue Nirvana for ripping off their song that they ripped off from somebody else...Lol by the way... Nirvana's come as you are is far superior than the Damned and killing jokes songs
    I wouldn't exactly call the similarities "striking". It has a similar sounding guitar, but the chord structure is completely different. It's nothing like Coldplay's Viva La Vida sounding like Satch's If I Could Fly.
    I don't know what country this suit is being filed in, but after 46 years you'd think that the statute of limitations wouldn't even allow this to go to court.
    How Many More Times strangely sounds very similar to Money by Pink Floyd.
    Are you being facetious? They both have bass playing the main riff. Other than that, not even close!