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The "Stairway to Heaven" lawsuit, is it really a ripoff of "Taurus"?

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posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 02:33 PM
These days Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, of Led Zeppelin, are in court over the alleged plagiarization in the "Stairway to Heaven" melody.
Surviving members of the band Spirit claim the intro was copied from their song "Taurus".
Randy California, Spirit's guitarist who played the notes in "Taurus", died in 1997. And it's his estate that is suing.

What do you think?

'Stairway to Heaven' suit: What you need to know - CNN article

Jimmy Page Testifies as Led Zeppelin 'Stairway to Heaven' Trial Heats Up - The Guardian

From movietvtechgeeks:

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page testified Wednesday that until a few years ago, he’d never heard a song that the megastar band is accused of ripping off for “Stairway to Heaven.”
“Something like that would stick in my mind. It was totally alien to me,” Page said of the instrumental song, “Taurus,” by the band Spirit.
A lawyer for the estate of Spirit’s late guitarist, Randy California, contends that the famous descending-chord guitar riff that begins 1971’s “Stairway” was lifted from the Spirit tune, which was released a few years earlier.
An eight-member jury is hearing the copyright infringement case in federal court. Jurors must decide whether the two sequences are substantially similar.
Earlier in the day, former Spirit member Mark Andes testified that riffs from both songs, played by an acoustic guitarist on a video aired in court, were the same.

Musical experts not involved in the case have said the sequence is common and has appeared in other pieces from decades and even centuries ago.

Page acknowledged that Led Zeppelin used a riff from another Spirit song in a medley during their first tour in Scandinavia, but Page said he’d heard it on the radio — and never heard “Taurus.”

In his testimony, Andes said Spirit played “Taurus” in 1968 at a Denver show where Zeppelin was the opening act, and that in 1970 he and Zeppelin singer Robert Plant drank beer and played the billiards-like game snooker after a Spirit show in Birmingham, England.

“Yeah, we hung out. We had a blast,” Andes said.

Personally I can see a few similarities, but also a few differences.
Either way, does it diminish in any way the fact that Stairway is one of the most beautiful rock songs ever recorded?
And what does it say about artistic expression in the music industry nowadays, if you run the risk of getting a lawsuit if your 12 note melody is somehow reminiscing of a previous song?

Edit: I hope Plant doesn't get too tired by all this, as I'm gonna see him play in a few weeks time!! excited

edit on 16/6/16 by athousandlives because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 02:45 PM
Is it in the UK? Most likely, don't worry I will take you there or maybe not. It takes a lot of water to wash away a little bit of blood.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 03:00 PM

Musical experts not involved in the case have said the sequence is common and has appeared in other pieces from decades and even centuries ago.

Anyone who has spent time practicing music knows that scales are scales are scales. Up and down, down and up, repeat repeat repeat. Keys, likewise are common. Chords are chords are chords. Sounds like somebody from one band whose 'scales' didn't make it to the top of the charts forever and ever amen, is jealous of the money made by those who's scales did.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 03:02 PM
It's a bit of a cheap shot over a well used descending progression riff in more or less the same form. David Gates's riff in 'If' is similar through the verses, the opening of 'Michelle' The Beatles is similar, (not the same) but up tempo so as to give a different nuance to the passage. Other progression riffs like Buddy Holly used in, 'Raining in my Heart' (heard first at the start) have been used in identical fashion, not just similar over the years, while the song structures are completely different.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 03:13 PM

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 03:28 PM
It's similar, yet different enough that it is different. Noticeably different.
edit on 16-6-2016 by snowspirit because: Spelling

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 03:28 PM
a reply to: athousandlives

I see a lot of similarity's but I seem to remember a mathematical study of music that showed all music has a set of shared mathematical principle's and so deliberately or not the same tune or tune section is often reinvented independantly.

It does sound near identical to me but Led Zep did it far better, did they copy it though?.

Of course since Taurus was out first it could have subconsciously influenced Stairway to heaven or like many song's it could have been a deliberate rip off or indeed pure coincidence, either way I do prefer Led Zep's rendition of that part of the tune but does a part of a tune really constitute copyright infringement of that I am far less certain I could even support a verdict either way in this case.

The only person whom really know's for certain is denying the accusation and I do not feel qualified to judge him either way but I most certainly do understand the grievance that spirit feel over the matter especially given the time frame between the release of the two song's and after release sale's as this may have actually cost them a lot of sale's on there own song especially over time.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 03:54 PM
Randy California himself decided not to sue while he was alive, so I think for his "estate" to sue all these years later seems rather odd. Even if Zeppelin was in some way influenced by the Taurus song, it's possible they were peers at the time...the arrangement is uniquely different.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 03:55 PM
Just the intro.

Clapton used the opening "Blue Moon" verse for a solo in "Sunshine of your Love".

Who cares, their song is still pale in comparison

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 04:32 PM
As a professional musician myself, I'd say they have no case. Music is supposed to borrow from what came before, as all art does. Borrowing ideas can also be called 'influenced by" or 'inspired by', and suddenly that's OK, but borrowing or, God forbid, 'copying' is not ok.

The only time I would say that musical copyright infringement is legitimate is when a melody or lyrics are lifted directly from another piece of music, note for note, or when an actual recording of another piece of music is used without permission. Otherwise, forget it.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 04:43 PM
a reply to: athousandlives

Hang on Sloopy-McCoys
Louie, Louie-Kingsmen
La Bamba-Richie Valens

All the same chord progression.

Copyrighted Songwriter, Musician

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 04:59 PM
my view: the music has always existed, and will always exist.

Like someone mentioned; so one persons scales made it, another didn't. There's no such thing as "original music". the very notion is preposterous.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 05:18 PM

originally posted by: athousandlives
What do you think?

Well, it's a speculative money grab. Probably "no win, no fee" for the lawyers.

In fact this type of thing is a joke. Soon musicians will be sued for using a drum, because someone used it before.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 05:37 PM
Someone should patent the chord conversion of pi as a song. THen you would own the intellectual property rights to every song ever written.

Infinitely long, unrepeating means that every iteration possible is in there. Express the numbers as notes, and you have infinite music. Even the bad music, like chamber music.

Point being: what, really, is intellectual property? How can you be sure you didn't have exposure to something weeks prior that bubbled to the top in a moment of what you end up calling "divine inspiration"?

We stand here, today, on the shoulders of 2mil years of human evolution. Of at least 30 millenia of human (including our non sapient cousins) music and art. Countless generations of people sitting around fires sharing stories.

What, exactly, is unique and original?

The labor you put into creating your art? Thats one thing. But to claim the actual idea and inspiration as your own? Pure hubris.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 06:00 PM
a reply to: LABTECH767

I see a lot of similarity's but I seem to remember a mathematical study of music that showed all music has a set of shared mathematical principle's and so deliberately or not the same tune or tune section is often reinvented independantly.

As a guitarist I can attest to this. Every time you write something you think is original, it's not.

posted on Jun, 17 2016 @ 11:37 AM
Maybe they both want to use the riff over some occult rituals?

Nothing good ever does out of Kidderminster, that’s for sure.

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