We were unable to load Disqus. If you are a moderator please see our troubleshooting guide.

contemporaneous squid • 5 years ago

it really makes me wonder

Tony Montana • 5 years ago

Artists are inspired by other people's material. That's all this is and not even a note for note lift of the few bars in question. (I'm listening to The Twelve Dreams of Doctor Sardonicus on You Tube as we speak, great stuff!) Someone's looking for a pay day, that's all. This is America.

Running Dog • 5 years ago

I love that LP! Street Worm and Nature's Way.

Pops Parker • 5 years ago

´cause you know sometimes Words have two meanings....´ C, D, Fmaj7
I heard them live in 1971

Randy´s song is nowhere near Jimmys; nowhere.
There´s a faint resemblance, 10 seconds, but it´s not a parephrase, even. Just a coincedence.
The two guitarists probably have it from Works of JS Bach.
Jimmy Page really levitates the senses and delivers a stunning performance, eight miles higher than Randys..
But why wait fourtysome years to challenge a copyright, and aren´t there deadlines?

NPR once Again missed the big Picture.
Plus they got it wrong on the headline. It shoul have read BEING sued.

Peter Coffin • 5 years ago

There was a recent case about the Raging Bull screenplay that told me that there's no deadline for claiming copyright violation so long as the copyright is still in force, but the penalties can only be assessed on the three prior years. Which, admittedly, probably isn't chump change, but it's a lot less than if they'd filed in 1974...

smithcf • 5 years ago

A jazz teacher once said to me that the mediocre musicians don't steal, good musicians steal a little, and the best musicians steal from everyone. Led Zeppelin stole from everyone, and they created great original music with it. The descending chromatic bass line from i to V has been used in music for hundreds of years, and other than that there is nothing in common between the two songs.

Paul D • 5 years ago

I have to agree.. that descending IV line is ubiquitous in folk music going back hundreds of years. A variation of it pops up in Bojangles by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.. about 4-5 years before Stairway or Spirit.. Perhaps they should be party to the suite.

Gretsch • 5 years ago

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's version of "Mr. Bojangles" was released a couple of years after Spirit's first album, (not that it settles any argument).

Running Dog • 5 years ago

It's okay to beg, borrow, or steal musical ideas but to profit from them as LZ has done ($562 million for Stairway) and not give credit or compensation is for courts to decide.

smithcf • 5 years ago

Normally, I would completely agree. However, in this instance the only two things in common are the descending bass line and the rhythm. Everything else is different. Maybe the rhythm was stolen, but that could be coincidence. I don't know; I wasn't there. The descending bass line should not be copyrighted because it has been used by hundreds of people and cannot be credited to any one person. Purcell, J.S. Bach, Ray Charles, and even Green Day have used the same progression. Led Zeppelin used almost the same progression in "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" and in the solo to "Tangerine" (They don't use the G# in these songs). I suppose I just don't think there is enough evidence.
All apologies for my rambling. Sorry to subject you to that.

Double A • 5 years ago

I copyrighted the G chord, but alas, I've never seen a dime.

Brad Davis • 5 years ago

Wait. I thought I copyrighted the G chord! ..... "but ya know if you want to make a dollar, with the right attorney, we could split the damages".

Copyright laws to preserve some rights.. ok,
Patent laws to preserve some rights... maybe ok ..?

Wait. How is our past, or anyone's influence in our past, against the law, for simply recalling it, or imitating it?

Ok, I have the D.. copyrighted... the particular way I play it.."without any skill at all". But a lot of others try without any skill at all.. now that's against the law?

Why isn't any memory device, recorder or anything even allowed in such a law abiding nation?

El Stone • 5 years ago

No, no, no- you've got it all wrong. Those same notes were first played on the lute by the Minstrel Monfarius in 1273 AD.

Fleabase • 5 years ago

Dang, now there's a bustle in my hedgerow!

Jack Squat • 5 years ago

Don't be alarmed, now.

Pterodactyl111 • 5 years ago

It's just a spring clean for the May queen.

Victor Tennyson • 5 years ago

Would we have even heard of "Taurus" without "Stairway"? A rip-off is a rip off....but the idea that a similar chord progression from a marginal instrumental can be transformed into an anthem? Music theory only allows us so much wiggle room! Led Zeppelin may have taken influence from Spirit....but really? No dice Dead Guy. You sound more like the Moody Blues from 1968.
We have 12 notes in western music and variations on 12 chords.
Building a Mystery to When I come Around? Wild Thing to Louie Louie? Every 12 bar blues EVER?
Then again....it would be difficult to be one of the Spirit guys listening to his friends for 43 years....saying..."Dude They totally ripped you off!. You should sue." Maybe they convinced themselves that Taurus would have been Stairway to Heaven if only there was no Stairway to Heaven ,,,ahem...3 years after Taurus was forgotten!
Gonna go listen to Appalachian Spring. Oh wait. I mean Simple Gifts.

RyanAull • 5 years ago

In the case Spirit vs Led Zeppelin the winner is...

Davy Graham-"Cry Me A River" 1958??


Brian4000 • 5 years ago

Heck, I am pretty sure this was in use in the baroque era or earlier.

RyanAull • 5 years ago

I wouldn't doubt it...I would love to find an ancient piece of sheet music with that progression and mail it to Francis Alexander Malofiy.

Running Dog • 5 years ago

That is one charming video. You changed my mind. I guess it is just a chord progression.

The video came from a 1959 BBC documentary by noted director Ken Russell called "Hound Dogs and Bach Addicts: The Guitar Craze"

A3Kr0n • 5 years ago

If copyright was like patents, as it should be, this wouldn't even be an issue. Also, you shouldn't be able to sue 40 years after the fact.

JSimon Davies • 5 years ago

What are you going to copyright in this case, the lament bass progression in A minor? I'm sure the Pachabel, Vivaldi or Purcell estates would want to contest that.

Harry PPP • 5 years ago

It was slightly over 30 years when Rooftop Singers ripped off Gus Cannon's "Walk Right In", Cannon sued for royalties and won. Justice was served.

Oxford Dillingsworth • 5 years ago

That was like a bar song for my parents when I was a kid. Actually, my parents owned a bar and that song played all the time. I don't think the drunks really understood the lyrics either.

Brian4000 • 5 years ago

This is not plagiarism. They are talking about a stock chord progression. Anyone who plays guitar knows this is an obvious and easy progression and it is truly unlikely that taurus was the first instance of use. Claiming ownership of that progression is a writer suing because someone else used the lines "and another thing".

vanpollack • 5 years ago

Someone should be listening to Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle" then too....almost exactly the same descending guitar line in D minor.

Serafin Garcia • 5 years ago

The same observation crossed my mind.

Running Dog • 5 years ago

This story has been going on for quite some time. Spirit was one of the best LA bands and Randy Wolf was an exceptionally creative guitarist. He tragically drowned trying to rescue his son from the surf in Hawaii. Of course Stairway borrowed from Taurus and Randy's family should receive some credit.

Borrowing is common in the music business. Compare George Harrison's My Sweet Lord and the Chiffon's He's So Fine. He paid for that one. It was termed "subconscious plagarism".

Hector Cepeda • 5 years ago

Evidence of LZ's alleged plagiarism has been floating around for awhile, so that part of the story isn't as interesting to me as the reason why the guys are holding geodes. That's what I wanna know.

Running Dog • 5 years ago

They stole the geodes from the Rolling Stones!

Brian4000 • 5 years ago

It is just a stock chord progression. Its been in use for hundreds of years.

Ash Messenger • 5 years ago

The minor descending line by half-steps is present in hundreds of musical pieces. So, there's no viable lawsuit. Moreover, the spirit line is the prosaic run-of-the-mill one. Led Zeppelin resolved it much more cleverly by going to Dm then Fmaj 7 then an open Gmajor hammered to Am, as well as having the high voice on the guitar intro ascend as the bottom voice descended. The MELODY of the Led Zeppelin song is nothing like the Spirit guitar intro. Nothing like Spirit. But the main point is that the descending line is common and not copyrightable. Moreover the law rarely adjudicates instrumental licks, but almost exclusively melodies and words. I'm a music pro with fifty years of experience. I know what I'm saying. Spirit should be embarrassed.

rimas1 • 5 years ago

The root chords for both songs (instrumental on the part of the Spirit song "Taurus"), are the same for the 3-4 descending riffs / chords ONLY!! Everything else, every other progression, melodic line, stanzas, etc are so different from one another. These are 2 completely different songs....I do not understand this lawsuit; why aren't blues musicians suing each other more often for composing 12-bar rifts in the key of E

Chris M • 5 years ago

I have been playing the piano for about 30 years and studied at the conservatory. I've listened and compared both songs many times and I must say that this was NOT a rip-off, Led Zepplin did not steal their track.
Zepplin may have had heard this song and got inspired by it to write Stairway to Heaven as many other artists do listen to other tracks to help them creatively to write their own music. Led Zepplin is a one-of-a-kind band and has a very unique sound. Their writing skills were above and beyond many other bands in that era (in my opinion).
Even the way Zepplin plays and performs with all their instruments is amazing and unique.
Stairway to Heaven can never be compared to the Spirit Song as a knock-off.

whenyoudream • 5 years ago

Oh, dear. While that stretch of chords is pretty much the same, the songs have no other notable similarities. Spirit's song doesn't have the same structure, doesn't have that intense bridge section, no vocals. Led Zeppelin used the four chords as a starting point and then wrote a masterpiece from there. This child of the 70's votes no on the lawsuit.

JSimon Davies • 5 years ago

Two things to consider - given Led Zep's plagiarizing of old Blues players and the close association they had with Spirit back in the day makes the plagiarism claim plausible.

But, the lament bass descension in the Am-AmM7-AM7-D/F# progression is a pretty common musical statement and shows up in different keys in a wide range of songs and styles in Western music. It's been around for centuries. Also, Randy California's chord progression in Taurus doesn't resolve itself in the same way that Stairway to Heaven does.

Given that Led Zep and Spirit were hanging out for a time Page/Plant were probably influenced by California's use of the riff, but personally, I don't hear it as a ripoff. Page used the minor tetrachord with a more satisfying resolution and incorporated it into a better song.

todd • 5 years ago

It's called a minor line cliche (bass descends root, maj 7,min7, 6th..) and it was ages old when Spirit used it. It's in many songs. Go to 50 sec with Frank. http://www.youtube.com/watc...

David Moyer • 5 years ago

Nice find.

Paul D • 5 years ago

What was the quote from Woody Guthrie when asked about someone stealing one of his songs.. "Hell they stole it from me.. but I steal from EVERYBODY.

damnsalvation • 5 years ago

Well, I listened. Its not the same.
Sorry forgotten band, The Mighty Zepp is not in your debt.

Keith NFlorida • 5 years ago

Here's the difference: Stairway is one of the greatest rock songs of all times. The Sprit song is not. If JP pinched a few notes, he should give credit, pay them an appropriate royalty, and "wind on down the road". Its just not worth fighting over. Nothing Spirit created came remotely close to the success of Zeppelin. Frankly, I can't imagine how a musician wouldn't be influenced by his/her peers. Thats the way humans learn. But that doesn't mean one shouldn't give credit where its due, especially if its someone else's IP.

MyrddinWilt • 5 years ago

What an utterly stupid suit.

The lawyer is wasting his time because you can't come back forty years after the event and claim damages. And the record label lawyers see dozens of these suits every week and are very good at disposing of them.

Courts don't recognize the 'I didn't have the money to sue for 40 years' excuse.

At this point there would be no chance of success even if the songs were identical.

Scott Moe • 5 years ago

Imaginary Property is a surge on creativity, everything is derivative, it is not possible to write a popular song that does not have two or three notes that could seem similar to another song. While I'm sure somebody thinks that 'Taurus' is a good song you can't argue that it is in the same league as 'Stairway to Heaven'.

If the talent behind the band Spirit was at all capable of producing something comparable to 'Stairway to Heaven' they would need to sue anybody.

e m • 5 years ago

wow,,,,if this is indeed true, just about every pop artist doing top 40 hits (yuk) should be suing other (bad) pop artists---the music all sounds the SAME. crappy.

charles labry • 5 years ago

Huge fan of both bands in my younger days. But Led Zeppelin was accused of stealing music as far back as the 70s. .

I was fortunate enough to see both bands live. Both were great but Randy California was incredible. One of the best musicians I've ever seen on stage.

Dwight Perkins • 5 years ago


"These 2 songs, based on a commonly used A minor descending chromatic walk are vastly different in composition and complexity. Only an amateur would confuse them for the same song." - GuitareTab

I love Spirit and glad they're getting some attention. Taurus is a stunning composition - maybe this will result in a few sales for them at the very leaf.

Joe Adams • 5 years ago

This is insanity! Most of the songs on the radio are the same four chords - by this lawsuit's thinking they should all file lawsuits. https://www.youtube.com/wat... It is what you do with the chords, how you sing, the emotion ... just listen to all the amazing renditions of "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen - yes, he wrote the song, but when someone nails it, they "own" it as far as I'm concerned. Music was invented by people playing it for free to make life a better place to be and as a way to express yourself. Money and labels ruined that notion and they have not been around nearly as long as music itself, this lawsuit is just a silly way for someone to make money and that is quite American - but all of this has nothing to do with music. True music has no ownership. We all interpret it differently, hear it differently, experience it differently. Music is a subjective art form - to treat it differently is a fool's errand.

Travis Love • 5 years ago

Jimmy Page could have been inspired by the couple of bars with the descending scale, but it is only slightly similar. Similarity in musical phrases that have no actual connection together is fairly common. When an artistic, soulful songwriter writes from the heart they just do what feels and sounds good. This will be an amalgam from many different experiences and thoughts from their life. It is usually in retrospect that someone else will say, "Hey that part of your song sounds just like the intro to Lowrider!"

You have to understand that when a songwriter sits down and creates music, they are using experiences that they love and create it subconsciously. They generally don't say, "I like this song, let me make something like it but turn it into my own." (I'm talking about real songwriter's here, not DJ's.) Instead you start playing and see what happens. Sure, Jimmy Page liked their stuff. They covered it on tour. He obviously was inspired and may have really liked that intro and started playing around with it. When you find something you like you start playing it and seeing where it takes you. At that point you may wander down the road and end up with Stairway to Heaven. But this isn't a rip off. That tiny little part of the song does not define it. Sure it's the intro so people will recognize it as the song, but it isn't one of the best parts of the song. If Jimmy did consciously use the style, what he did with it was far beyond what Spirit did, no offense intended. When he comes back up with the C, D, F, Am it creates so much more depth that just isn't present in the Spirit song.

This is an age old argument that is seldomly proven. With a limited scale and using the 4/4 time signature with a folk/rock chord progreession, it isn't uncommon to find similarities.

alansky • 5 years ago

I was playing this chord progression on the guitar long before I ever heard of Led Zeppelin. So were hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of other budding guitar players. The plaintiff's claim is totally ridiculous imho.