As widely acknowledged as Led Zeppelin‘s musical prowess and their ability to rock harder than most bands of any era is the fact that they sourced many of their tunes from artists that came before them. But they may have also “sourced” their most popular tune from a far more contemporary act.
As Bloomberg Businessweek reports, Mark Andes, founding bassist of ’70s rock outfit Spirit, is filing a suit against Led Zeppelin, claiming that the introduction to their song Stairway to Heaven plagiarises their 1968 song Taurus – a resemblance that has been repeatedly noted by many fans.
Andes is reportedly seeking an injunction to block the impending re-release of Zeppelin’s fourth album, on which Stairway features. Andes hopes that Spirit guitarist Randy California, who wrote Taurus, will receive a co-writing credit on what is arguably Led Zeppelin’s most enduring tune.
California died in 1997, but not before stating, “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.”
In order to prove copyright infringement in a US court, Andes will have to prove that the two songs are virtually identical and that the defendants had access to the source material, which in Andes’ case is quite plausible, as Zeppelin’s first US show was serving as Spirit’s opening act in 1968.
It’s important to note that this is not the first time that the hard rock legends have been slammed with copyright infringement suits, with previous efforts forcing them to give co-writing credit on classics like Whole Lotta Love, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, The Lemon Song, and Dazed and Confused.
Listen: Spirit – Taurus
Watch: Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven