It’s a story that never gets old: the small-town attorney goes after the massive corporation. Only in this case, the massive corporation is the famous rock band Led Zeppelin. And the fight is over one of the most iconic songs of all time: Stairway to Heaven.
According to the recent lawsuit, filed in 2014 in Los Angeles, California, the writers of the famous song, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, allegedly missappropriated the iconic opening arpeggio from a song called Taurus, by a much more obscure band called Spirit.
According to the lawsuit, Taurus was released in 1968. Towards the end of that same year, Led Zeppelin was just starting to make a name for itself. They played with Spirit in their first U.S. concert in Denver, Colorado, although it’s not clear whether Spirit played Taurus that night. Either way, Stairway to Heaven was released three years later and Randy Wolfe’s name was nowhere to be found in the credits.
Wolfe, who went by the stage name Randy California, was a guitarist and the writer of Taurus. He died in 1997, but before his death, he had said in interviews that he felt cheated because he had never been given credit for Led Zeppelin’s famous song. When Wolfe died, his song rights went into a trust that is currently overseen Mick Skidmore, a former fellow music writer.
Skidmore agreed with the claim that Wolfe should have been given credit for Stairway to Heaven, and a cut of the massive royalties to go along with it, but he felt the case was hopeless. He was discouraged from going up against Led Zeppelin, which has acquired a massive fortune, and continues to do so through royalties for their songs. Skidmore said he just doesn’t have the resources to take them on in court. Continue reading ›