Led Zeppelin is being accused of plagiarism again and this time it’s another official lawsuit instead of just accusations in barroom conversations between armchair music historians while the jukebox plays.
The claims are nothing new — People have noted the similarities between Jimmy Page’s riff at the beginning of “Stairway to Heaven” and Spirit’s “Taurus” ever since “Stairway” was released in 1971…
Spirit’s “Taurus” was written in 1967 and released the next year. Then Led Zeppelin opened for Spirit the year after that on their first American tour. They were certainly familiar with Spirit’s repertoire, even including a cover of one Spirit song in their set.
So when “Stairway” was released in 1971, there was little doubt in the minds of the members of Spirit that they’d been ripped off. In 1997, the year he died, Randy California, who wrote “Taurus,” said,
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.
And now, Mark Andes, Spirit’s bassist, has filed a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin hoping to keep them from releasing an upcoming reissue of the song until it includes credit for the late California.
And maybe California deserves a writing credit…but if he does, Davy Graham probably does, too.
Davy Graham was a pioneering fingerstyle acoustic guitar player in the British Folk Revival. As a 19-year-old, he came to the public’s attention through an instrumental performance of “Cry Me a River” featured in the 1959 BBC documentary “The Guitar Craze.”
Give that song a listen and you’ll find several strangely familiar arpeggios…
Read more at Businessweek.