It’s common to hear artists talk about their work as being an homage to the work of another artist they admire or someone they once worked with, but sometimes the line between being influenced by an artist and stealing from that artist can get pretty blurry.
Randy Wolfe was a songwriter and member of the rock band Spirit. He wrote the band’s song “Taurus,” the opening chords of which sounded remarkably similar to the opening of the Led Zeppelin’s legendary song, “Stairway to Heaven.” Led Zeppelin and Spirit played some shows when they were touring together, which allegedly gave Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, who wrote the seminal “Stairway to Heaven,” access to the Spirit’s song, “Taurus,” which was released three years before “Stairway to Heaven.”
Wolfe had complained on multiple occasions about the similarities between his song and “Stairway to Heaven,” saying he felt ripped off, but he never filed a copyright lawsuit against Led Zeppelin. When Wolfe died in an accident in 1997, Michael Skidmore became the trustee of Wolfe’s songs. Skidmore initially thought suing Led Zeppelin would be like David taking on Goliath, so he didn’t pursue the matter until Francis Malofiy, an American attorney, convinced Skidmore he had a case. Continue reading ›