“Stairway To Heaven” Vs. “Taurus”…Again

Led Zeppelin

It’s been a long-running legal argument between Led Zeppelin and a band called Spirit, who claims that the mighty Zep ripped off their 1968 song “Taurus” for the opening riff to 1971’s “Stairway to Heaven.”  In 2016, and after many court cases, a jury finally ruled that there was no theft.  However, the band –and the song — is back in the legal spotlight since another judge determined that there had been flaws in the jury instruction process in 2016.  And so, one of classic rock’s great anthems finds itself in the docket…again.

CultureSonar tapped one of our friends, professional musician Vinnie DeMasi, for his view on this contentious legal back and forth.  Listen– and see what you think.

Photo: Led Zeppelin 1975 Earls Court Robert Plant and Jimmy Page (Photo by Chris Walter/Getty Images)


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9 comments on ““Stairway To Heaven” Vs. “Taurus”…Again

  1. Right on Vin! And could you imagine if Page turned around and sued all the bands that sound like Zeppelin?

  2. The problem here is that Led Zeppelin DID steal a lot of old blues songs and never gave credit, so they have a history of this. (Check Youtube for this, there are many examples). You also don’t bring up the fact that Spirit opened for Led Zeppelin on a tour and Paige could have just heard it many times. You can say he changed it enough to make it his own, but ask George Harrison, The Rolling Stones, etc… how that argument holds up.

    I understand what you are saying and I was kinda with you until you said, “One of the greatest song of all time” and that shows you are a Zeppelin fan and therefore kinda kills your credibility.

  3. Walter Borys

    Concise, clear explanation. Well Done!

    And don’t forget: “Summer Rain” by Johnny Rivers, “Cry Baby Cry” by what’s-their-name, even “Blue Skies” (written by Irving Berlin in 1926)

  4. ALL music borrows from other music.
    How come Louie Louie never sued Wild Thing? Wild Thing never sued Hang On Sloopy? Hang on Sloopy never sued Twist and Shout? Twist and Shout never sued La Bamba? Et Cetera.

  5. What’s Vinnie’s analysis of George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord vs. The Chiffons’ He’s So Fine? Did the Court get it right?

  6. Rick Savino

    I may not be a “professional” musician, but I do have a music degree. Zep ripped off the riff. Get your nose out their behind and admit they’re not the Jesus, Mary and Joseph of Rock. Pfft.

  7. Christopher V. Hill

    “A band called Spirit” was one of the most innovative bands of the late sixties. Led Zeppelin opened for Spirit on Zep’s first US tour. Just sayin’.

  8. Bruce Kline

    There are a limited amount of combinations of notes. It is inevitable that a new piece of music will sound similar to an older piece of music. Even if the new piece is influenced by another deliberately it is not necessarily plagiarism. As far as the old blues tunes reference, try and find any rock band from the sixties that didn’t use basic blues chord progressions for some of their music.

  9. Marc Klink

    Just one thing…Spirit was much more than just another band. They would never have gotten lost in the crowd, had there not been such an abundance of great bands and music, unlike today.

    People may not know the band by name, but people as unlikely as you might expect nod approvingly when you play “I Got a Line on You” or Dark Eyed Woman”, later saying they knew of these songs. People into rock during that time knew of them and thought of Randy California as a very good guitarist [he is credited with writing Taurus].

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