LED ZEPPELIN – Is it all just stolen?
Malicious gossip has it that Led Zeppelin was the best “cover band” in the world. There is something true in it as the band who owes their name to the legendary “Who” drummer Keith Moon („Jimmy Page plays his guitar like a Led Zeppelin“) must be considered to have been previously convicted as they have mercilessly copied from all giants of black blues namely from Howlin‘ Wolf to Willie Dixon at least in their early days not caring to mention the real authors of the hits such as „Whole lotta love“. Thereby, Robert Plant and pool members already had to pay large sums in order to end copyright lawsuits extrajudicially from time to time.
However, new hardship is waiting: even „Stairway to heaven“ – which is just THE Heavy Metal Ballade of all times – stands under suspicion of not having been written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant but to be traced back to the composition “Taurus” developed by the guitarist and singer of the U.S. band “Spirit” namely Randy California who died in 1997.
In particular, it is about the world-famous intro that accompanied generations of music fans and that they still enjoy even today:
Indeed: When listening to „Taurus“ from the debut-album dated 1968, you note that there are indeed some tone sequences which are suspiciously similar. It remains to be seen if this is sufficient in regard of the copyright dispute that is leaded by California’s heirs in Los Angeles. The threshold of originality should, however, be low as arpeggios of similar nature in A minor have been known since Renaissance. Anyways, it is about much money: Lep Zeppelin’s „IV“ which is to be found at “Stairway to heaven” made about 550 MUS$ since 1970 and in regard of future rights further 40 MUS$ are in discussion. It goes without saying that the plaintiffs expect a significant share of that – allegedly in order to support a music project for children from lower social classes.
Such a copyright dispute can get really expensive in the USA as the right is not squeamish here, Pharell Williams can literally sing a song about that: For the self-service at „Got to give it up“ which he used together with his mate Robin Thicks as blueprint for „Blurred Lines“, the two had to pay 7,4 MUS$ to Marvin Gaye’s heirs in 2015.
Accordingly, Plant and Page took the case seriously as they declared their appearance in person. According to them, the tone sequence was taken from medieval music. Spirit’s music would not have been consciously known to them – although sometimes together performed on stage. This seems to have convinced the jury. After the two sequences taking 15 seconds each have been played, they got to the point that the musical pieces were not remarkably similar. The two rock veterans listened to the judgement in a relaxed manner as if they would not have expected anything else.