6 thoughts on “Did Zepplin plagiarize “Stairway”?

  1. I think they may have a case. The idea that Zeppelin never listened to Spirit’s music is hard to believe, given the times and their appetite for all music, AND because Spirit was so influential AND Plant and Page really admired similar bands like Love. That said, “plagiarize” in music, particularly at the time Zeppelin created Stairway to Heaven, is far different than how we would view it, say, in literature. There are so many other factors involved, intonation, interpretation, and as cailynlloyd notes above, it’s a common progression (not to mention the fact that all those bands repurposed blues licks that went back a half century or more, a repurposing that was itself common in the blues community). The history of this claim is a long one — I think I first heard about it in the 1980s or maybe early 1990s, and Randy California’s uneven career post-Spirit and tragic death make him a sympathetic character. My guess is that they settle, but who knows….

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  2. I really liked Randy California and Spirit but having just re-listened to “Taurus” this case seems a little overblown to me. Sure, it sounds like the intro to “Stairway” but it is not an exact copy by any means. And besides, “Taurus” is a pleasant 2 and-a-half-minute instrumental while “Stairway” is an iconic and intricately arranged 8-minute rock epic with evocative and poetic lyrics that R.C. had nothing to do with. I hope his estate is not suing for any more than a small share of royalties. I agree with Craig, a settlement would be for the best.

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  3. Erik Heter

    Honestly, even if they have a case (and I think it’s very weak at best), how much do they think they are entitled to for damages? It’s not as if they were going to come up with a song having anywhere near the popularity of Stairway to Heaven. On the other hand, Led Zeppelin did that numerous times. Given the thin (at best) resemblance of the respective riffs, this case seems pretty frivolous to me.

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