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Stairway to Heaven

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
 Pefa 11 Mar 2020

Come on, Led Zeppelin are in everyone's top 5 bands of all time but the very start of it is so identical that it has to be nicked. See the video in the link in case you don't know the track in question.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jun/23/led-zeppelin-cleared-stairway-to-heaven-lawsuit-spirit

2
 felt 11 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

I love both bands to bits, but I gotta agree with you Pefa, Page claims it's an age-old progression, and so it is, but all one needs is some ears. And LZ were on tour with them just before. And Plant was a big Spirit fan. To his credit, the great Randy never got involved in all this, RIP. Always got time for some of his amazing playing:

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLJ7NKNMsfo&

 Tom V 11 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

It doesn't really matter, any more than The Eagles lifting We Used to Know by Tull to create Hotel California.

Perhaps the laws regarding a chord progression are a bit more vague than those regarding melody (where such a concept exists)

 Pefa 11 Mar 2020
In reply to Tom V:

I think it was very kind and generous of Ian Anderson to let that be considering how much of a blatant rip off Hotel California is. He could just as easily have taken them on and as so many bands since have won his case.

The point I am making is that the intros are identical, so clearly lifted from the other band whom I wasn't aware of until now (thanks for the info Felt) so why did LZ get away with this? Don't get me wrong I am a massive fan as they are legendary as is Stairway to Heaven but this is clearly wrong. 

 Tom V 11 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

There's only one thing for it: go to your local music shop and play the openings to both Stairway and Taurus on a variety of guitars  in an attempt to gauge public feeling on the matter.

 Pefa 11 Mar 2020
In reply to Tom V:

I wish I could play them. 

 Siward 11 Mar 2020
In reply to Tom V:

I remember, even in Birmingham in the early 80s, 'No!' 

 lorentz 11 Mar 2020
In reply to Tom V:

> There's only one thing for it: go to your local music shop and play the openings to both Stairway and Taurus on a variety of guitars  in an attempt to gauge public feeling on the matter.

I've seen the sign in the Wayne's World guitar shop. "No 'Stairway.' Denied!"

 Sean Kelly 11 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

I bought Led Zep 4 the day it was released 1974? I remember discussing the 2nd album in a pub a year or two previously and wondering if they were ever going to get any success. As they say, the rest is history!

 Clarence 11 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

It isn't all that difficult, I play at Complete Rock & Pop Guitar Tutor Book One level and I can manage it on a good day with a following wind. Fortunately I usually get out of playing the difficult bits by dodging thrown shoes, books, stray cats etc.

 Pero 11 Mar 2020
 Pefa 11 Mar 2020
In reply to Pero:

Exactly!

Nicked, the intros are practically identical. 

How did they win that case?

Because the song is a classic perhaps, still it is wrong they should have lost. 

In reply to Tom V:

I'd heard of the Zeppelin/Spirit controversy years ago but despite having several Jethro Tull albums I wasn't aware of the Hotel California connection which is extremely striking. The other one I'd heard of was Child In Time by Deep Purple and Bombay Calling by Its a Beautiful day. 

I'm not sure if any of these things is theft more than homage or unconscious influence: I'm sure someone once said that all subsequent western music can be found in Bach's preludes and fugues. Its not hard to see why Stairway to Heaven or Hotel California represents a juicy target for litigants though.

Edit : I had the wrong band for Bombay Calling

Post edited at 23:41
 Pero 12 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

I admit I'm not very musical, but they don't sound identical to me. Similar, but not the same. One point of the analysis, I thought, is that you can find previous chord progressions similar to Spirit all the way back to Bach.

Another reason the case may have been lost is that the prosecution claimed that LZ were session musicians who played other people's music. They may have won a case for an intro, and limited compensation, but they went for the whole song. 

Even to my unmusical ear that's stretching a point.

Post edited at 08:53
 aln 12 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> Come on, Led Zeppelin are in everyone's top 5 bands of all time

No they aren't. 

4
 Liamhutch89 12 Mar 2020

The entire concept of musical ownership is fundamentally flawed and plagiarism should never be a valid accusation.

If you are passionate enough to want to dislike this post then I think you will find the following video interesting which explains my view - this video documents a musician and coder who has written, recorded and published 'every' melody using computation to show that ownership of a particular combination of notes is a farce when they all already exist mathematically:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfXn_ecH5Rw&

 Pefa 12 Mar 2020
In reply to Pero:

Other than the intro I don't think the other band Spirit have any case for saying both songs are similar so are you sure they were including the full song riff and not just the very start? 

 Pero 12 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

You can read about the case for yourself.  The prosecution was quoted as saying that LZ were a "cover band".

If you make that your case, then you up the ante in terms of what you have to prove.

 Pefa 12 Mar 2020
In reply to Pero:

That sounds a little like lawyers building a case by showing some previous with respect to Plant's use of obviously plagiarised lyrics from I can't remember who exactly but a certain old American blues artist, possibly Howlin Wolf on some early LZ albums.

So not without truth with respect to a few tracks but obviously grossly exaggerated and an insult to one of the most creative, innovative and legendary bands of all time.

But getting back to the point. The intros are practically identical. 

 Pero 12 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

Also, it would be different if Spirit had challenged LZ at the time.  But, if a lawyer buys the rights to a song 40 years later with the sole purpose of bringing a lawsuit, then I'm not sure that's what the courts are there for.

PS for the sake of accuracy, it looks more like the lawyer persuaded the estate to bring the case.  

Post edited at 11:16
 Pefa 12 Mar 2020
In reply to Liamhutch89:

> The entire concept of musical ownership is fundamentally flawed and plagiarism should never be a valid accusation.

> If you are passionate enough to want to dislike this post then I think you will find the following video interesting which explains my view - this video documents a musician and coder who has written, recorded and published 'every' melody using computation to show that ownership of a particular combination of notes is a farce when they all already exist mathematically:

I agree with the overall message of no ownership 100% but surely it's all a bit late for that considering precedents have already been established over many years in law?

Oh and imho most of that link was mildly annoying as it seemed to take the soul out of music and make it into a mathematical formula.

I mean for God sake call me old fashioned but just write a song/music and sing/play it!

Ps. Having never written or created any music or songs in my life I can't talk though. 

Post edited at 11:01
 Pefa 12 Mar 2020
In reply to Pero:

Excuse my ignorance of the case but was it not a member of Spirit that took LZ to court over this? 

 Pero 12 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

As I understand it, Taurus was written by Randy Wolfe, who died in 1997. The case was brought by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for his estate.

Post edited at 11:05
 Liamhutch89 12 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> I agree with the overall message of no ownership 100% but surely it's all a bit late for that considering precedents have already been established over many years in law?

> Oh and imho most of that link was mildly annoying as it seemed to take the soul out of music and make it into a mathematical formula.

> I mean for God sake call me old fashioned but just write a song/music and sing/play it!

> Ps. Having never written or created any music or songs in my life I can't talk though. 

Perhaps it wasn't presented so well, but the message I got from it was overwhelmingly positive as it makes a mockery of lawsuits, royalties and corporate greed in music, instead establishing an idea that music can be shared, passed down, copied and enjoyed by all as it was in generations before music was recorded and became big business.

Having written hundreds of songs myself, the best ones always come so easily, intuitively and complete that it seems they already existed in the ether and I was merely receiving it! Many other musicians also talk about this phenomenon. The mathematics kind of proves this!

 Tom V 12 Mar 2020
In reply to Liamhutch89:

Very interesting link, also supports the notion I mentioned earlier that claiming copyright over a chord progression is not as clear cut as for a sequence of single notes or melody

Post edited at 11:50
 aln 12 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

Do things like this not happen all the time? I often hear songs which are very similar to other songs. EG. Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" [1980] to me sounds like Warren Zevon's "Midnight at the Switching Yard" [1978]. I don't particularly like Queen but I would doubt if they copied W.Z. In fact, they probably had never heard "Midnight....."

"House of the Rising Sun" has an interesting story. Known to have been sung by miners in USA as early as 1905. First recorded in early 1930s as "Rising Sun Blues." Dylan included it in his first album in 1961. Dave Van Ronk claimed that Dylan copied his arrangement of the song. When the Animals recorded it in 1964 Alan Price took the credit for writing / arranging it. He also collected all of the royalties. Eric Burden has never forgiven him.

 malk 12 Mar 2020
In reply to felt:

> all one needs is some ears.

judge to jury: "don't even listen to it"

if paul weller can get away with his ripoff of taxman and this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfSejDf7lPQ& then anything goes..

 Iamgregp 13 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

Whilst the chord progressions of both tunes are very close for the first 3 chords there’s so much more that’s unique to each song that you can’t really call stairway a nick.  
 

In any case if this were to be proven, then whole lotta love would have to be credited to Willie Dixon (you need love) which then could probably be traced back to something by Elmore James or Robert Johnson! 

There's dozens of other super close examples too...

Each generation of Blues based rock has always borrowed heavily from their predecessors, it’s just the way it’s done.

Still happens today... Though they’re not a blues band dont get me started on oasis and their T-Rex and Slade nicks!

 Blue Straggler 13 Mar 2020
In reply to Iamgregp:

That big popular tune “This is Me”

from the musical film “The Greatest Showman” sounds remarkably like “The Mother We Share” by Chvrches

Interestingly (or not) I noticed on Sunday that the guitar sound on Nadine Shah’s “Fool” is very very very very similar to Electrelane’s “Five” (written and recorded many years earlier) but its pretty much a single-chord riff and I guess an attack rhythm and same effects pedals don’t hold much weight in court! 

 Pefa 13 Mar 2020
In reply to aln:

Didn't Killing Joke try and take Nirvana to court over that one? I had never heard The Damned song before which means they could have taken Killing Joke to court. 

>> Come on, Led Zeppelin are in everyone's top 5 bands of all time

> No they aren't. 

If not them then who? 

And don't say yes. 🙂

Post edited at 15:13
 Pefa 13 Mar 2020
In reply to Iamgregp:

> In any case if this were to be proven, then whole lotta love would have to be credited to Willie Dixon (you need love) which then could probably be traced back to something by Elmore James or Robert Johnson! 

Having never heard of that I looked it up to find it is remarkably similar in lyrics to Whole Lotta Love.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pM8_HuQ0b34&

However. People do get taken to court for this stuff all the time and lose so why didn't LZ as the intro is practically identical. 

In reply to Tom V:

> ...claiming copyright over a chord progression is not as clear cut as for a sequence of single notes or melody

Personally I think the estate of Sergei Rachmaninoff should sue the Beastie Boys into the ground for ripping off the main theme of the Prelude in C# minor to create "Intergalactic".

 felt 13 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

They should gone the "Jimmy Page, inspired by Jake Holmes" route, imo.

 Tom V 13 Mar 2020
In reply to planetmarshall:

After they've finished with Eric Carmen for the Adagio from Piano Concerto No 2 "All By Myself"

 Iamgregp 13 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

It’s just an accepted thing that’s happened for ever in blues based rock. Going way back the the roots of the sound guitar players would “borrow” licks and riffs of each other. Later when blues rock came along they carried on doing it. But suddenly there’s lots of money involved so along come the lawyers. 

Like I say there’s dozens of examples, but this is on of my favourites.

deep purple - black night

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuAKMlfxX7I&

Ricky Nelson - summertime 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtsMj0JD8N8&

They've never tried to hide it, they took that riff completely from here, added a little turnaround and hey presto, a huge hit.

I’d imagine Nelson never sued as it’s a pretty standard walking bass line riff, versions of which probably been doing the rounds since Robert Johnson!

 aln 13 Mar 2020
In reply to Pefa:

> Didn't Killing Joke try and take Nirvana to court over that one? 

I've never heard that. It seems unlikely given that Killing Joke were contemporary with the Damned and quite blatantly ripped off the Damned song which came 1st. I think Nirvana also acknowledged their debt to The Damned for the riff and the Damned boys didn't really care. Indeed the last time I saw them live in Glasgow in 2016 Captain Sensible had a laugh about it.


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