‘Music Business As Usual…’

“‘Led Zeppelin’s guitarist Jimmy Page has denied stealing the riff to “Stairway to Heaven”, as he took the stand at a copyright trial in the U.S.

Courtroom sketch of Jimmy Page (Reuters)

Courtroom sketch of Jimmy Page (Reuters)

“The rock band are accused of lifting the opening guitar line from “Taurus”, a 1967 track by the band ‘Spirit’.

{Guitar starts at 45 seconds in:

https://youtu.be/ye7hCIWwhGE }

“But Page testified that he had never heard the song until people started posting comparisons online a few years ago.

“I knew I had never heard that before,” he said. “It was totally alien to me.”

“He added:

“When it started, I was confused by the comparison… [I thought] ‘What’s this got to do with Stairway?'”

“Page admitted to owning several ‘Spirit’ albums, but only remembered buying two of them, neither of which contained “Taurus”.

“Under questioning, he conceded that he did own a copy of the band’s self-titled debut, on which the track appears, but could not recall how it came to be part of his collection — which amounts to 4,329 albums and 5,882 Cds…

“‘Led Zeppelin’ are being sued by the estate of ‘Spirit’s late guitarist, Randy Wolfe (who performed under the name Randy California).

“Michael Skidmore, who represents the estate, claims Page or singer Robert Plant heard “Taurus” during the late 1960s and copied it for “Stairway To Heaven”.

“During Wednesday’s hearing, Skidmore’s lawyer Francis Malofiy referred to Page as a “session musician” and “the alleged composer” of ‘Stairway’, and said the band had become famous by making other people’s music their own…

“A lot of the day’s testimony centred around ‘Led Zeppelin’s live debut in America, in December 1969, when they shared the bill with ‘Spirit’.

“According to Page, his band played first and had to leave immediately for Seattle, making it impossible for the band to have seen ‘Spirit’s performance.

“He also claimed he wasn’t even aware of ‘Spirit’s presence on the bill.

“I didn’t think I was opening for ‘Spirit’; I thought I was opening for ‘Vanilla Fudge’.”

“Earlier, Wolfe’s former bandmate Mark Andes told the court that ‘Spirit’ played “Taurus” at the concert; adding that the band had appeared at several festivals with ‘Led Zeppelin’ over the years.

“The musician also told the court that members of ‘Spirit’ played snooker with Robert Plant after a gig in Birmingham in 1970.

“However, under cross examination by ‘Led Zeppelin’s lawyer, he acknowledged he could not recall a particular show at which ‘Spirit’ definitely played “Taurus” and ‘Zeppelin’ were watching.

“Plant and bassist John Paul Jones are expected to testify at the trial, although Jones has been dismissed as a defendant in the case.

‘Led Zeppelin’ has settled several similar copyright disputes over songs such as “Whole Lotta Love” and “Dazed and Confused”, but the judge has barred Wolfe’s laywer from introducing evidence from those cases.

According to ‘Bloomberg Businessweek’, “Stairway To Heaven” had earned $562m (£334m) as of 2008. The plaintiff is reportedly seeking royalties and other compensation of around $40m (£28m).”

–‘Page denies stealing ‘Stairway’ riff’,
BBC News, June 16, 2016

Spirit Bio:


“When it was revealed yesterday that ‘Led Zeppelin’ was being sued by the band ‘Spirit’ for stealing the famous intro to “Stairway to Heaven” from its song “Taurus,” it came as no real surprise to anyone familiar with the history of Led Zeppelin, who has been accused of plagiarism many times before. Here are seven examples of songs that Led Zeppelin ripped off from other artists.

1. “Dazed & Confused” (1969)
Jake Holmes, an American folk singer“Though Led Zeppelin often based its music around songs by American bluesmen, the band’s first great song “Dazed & Confused” was actually taken from Jake Holmes, an American folk singer that Jimmy Page’s previous band the Yardbirds played with in 1967. Page originally adapted the song for the Yardbirds, altering the melody and the lyrics, but eventually recorded a version for Led Zeppelin’s first album, without crediting Holmes at all. Holmes finally sued Page for copyright infringement in 2010.

2. “How Many More Times” (1969)
How_Many_More_Years“My favorite song on Led Zeppelin’s first album is the closer “How Many More Times,” an eight-and-a-half-minute psychedelic blues jam with one of Zeppelin’s best riffs, originally credited to Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham. However, since 1993, the song has included a credit for Chester Burnett a.k.a. Howlin’ Wolf, whose song “How Many More Years” was allegedly the song’s inspiration. Listening to both songs side-by-side, I honestly can’t hear any similarities, other than the lyrical themes.

3. “Whole Lotta Love” (1969)
Written by Willie Dixon and originally performed by Muddy Waters, 'You Need Love'“Written by Willie Dixon and originally performed by Muddy Waters, “You Need Love” was actually stolen by two bands. The Small Faces recorded a song called “You Need Loving” in 1966 without giving credit to Dixon, while Led Zeppelin recorded the classic “Whole Lotta Love” in 1969, which takes some lyrics from Dixon’s song. Led Zeppelin would be sued over the song in 1985, though the Small Faces never faced any legal action.

4. “The Lemon Song” (1969)
Howlin-Wolf_Cover“Another song that Led Zeppelin allegedly took from Howlin’ Wolf was Led Zeppelin II’s “The Lemon Song.” Though I didn’t see the similarities between “How Many More Years” and “How Many More Times,” “The Lemon Song” does sound a whole lot like Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor,” with a similar riff and lyrics. The song’s titular “lemon” is also taken from another old blues song: Robert Johnson’s “Travelling Riverside Blues.”

5. “Bring It On Home” (1969)
sonny-boy-williamson-bring-it-on-home-1966-4“Led Zeppelin II’s closing track “Bring It On Home” is divided into two distinct sections. The extended intro, which comes back around at the end, is a tribute to “Bring It On Home” by Sonny Boy Williamson, written by Willie Dixon, while the song’s rocking middle section was written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. However, the entire song was credited to Page and Plant, but was corrected in 1972 to include Dixon.

6. “Since I’ve Been Loving You” (1970)
MobyGrapePoster“One of Jimmy Page’s greatest performances comes from Led Zeppelin III with the blues ballad “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” credited to Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones. However, the song’s mellow atmosphere is very reminiscent of Moby Grape’s “Never,” and even “shares” some lyrics with that song as well.

7. “In My Time of Dying” (1975)
DylanCover“One instance of blatant plagiarism that the members of Led Zeppelin were never sued over was Physical Graffiti’s epic “In My Time of Dying.” The song was credited to all four members of the band, despite the fact that it’s a well-known traditional gospel song that has been covered by many people, including Bob Dylan. Because it’s traditional, no one is able to claim ownership and sue Led Zeppelin over its supposed authorship.”

–‘7 Songs That Led Zeppelin Ripped Off’,
Joey DeGroot, Music Times, May 20, 2014


Photograph; Neal Preston, Corbis

Photograph; Neal Preston, Corbis

See also:


Pete Townshend on ‘Led Zeppelin’:


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