If you haven’t been following music lawsuit news or have a middle-aged Dad in your life who is really into both classic rock and plagiarism, then this will be new to you. Two years ago, a lawyer representing the estate of guitarist Randy Wolfe, formerly of a band called Spirit, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Led Zeppelin. In it, they alleged that the guitar intro to Led Zeppelin’s 1971 song “Stairway to Heaven” had been stolen from an instrumental song Spirit released in 1968 called “Taurus.” However, the Associated Press says a jury didn’t agree, and earlier today they decided Led Zeppelin didn’t steal shit.
According to Rolling Stone, the main argument of the lawsuit was that it couldn’t simply be an innocent coincidence that the two guitar parts sounded similar. Led Zeppelin had opened for Spirit early in Led Zeppelin’s career, and therefore had definitely heard the song “Taurus” long before they wrote “Stairway.” Aka those thieving rat bastards totally stole it on purpose! But a jury decided that the lawyer representing the estate of Randy Wolfe, the trustee of which is a dude named Michael Skidmore, wasn’t able to successfully argue that Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones didn’t deliberately plagiarize the song. Basically, the song sounds the same, but not enough to yank money out of Led Zeppelin’s bank accounts.
Not to mention the lawyer for Skidmore, Francis Malofiy, was apparently a cartoonish mess during the trial. He brought a briefcase shaped like a Fender amp to court every day, kept referring to Jimmy Page as the “alleged songwriter“, attempted to claim that “Stairway” was inspired by “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from Mary Poppins, and showed videos that were never admitted into evidence (the internet tells me that’s possibly grounds for a mistrial). All that bullshit probably drove the jury to pray every night to Jesus to replace the stairway to Heaven with an express elevator. “Dear Lord, kill me now, and take me fast.”
The jury wasn’t allowed to hear recordings of either “Stairway” or “Taurus” – only a live cover of them based on sheet music. So go ahead and listen for yourself to see if “Taurus” makes you want to awkwardly slow-dance like you’re at an 8th grade dance (the guitar part in question comes in at the 0:45 mark).
I guess it sounds similar? Then again, it sounds like every slow chord progression my guitar teacher ever made my clumsy 11-year-old fingers practice. All I really know is that of all the crazy shit that Francis Malofiy tried to pull during the trial, he didn’t once think to hold up the “No Stairway” sign from Wayne’s World? Come on Francis, that one was practically handed to you!
Pics: Wenn.com, YouTube