Led Zeppelin's epic "Stairway to Heaven" has long been considered one of the greatest rock songs of all time, in fact placing at No. 31 on Rolling Stone's "Top 500 Songs of All Time" list. But now the band is being sued by a member of another group who says the song's famous opening guitar riff was stolen.
Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin's lead guitarist and singer respectively, were scheduled to appear in a Los Angeles federal courtroom Tuesday. According to US News & World Report, "Page and Plant are named as defendants in the lawsuit brought by the trustee of late guitarist Randy Wolfe from the band Spirit. Attorneys for the trustee say...'Stairway to Heaven' copies music from the Spirit song 'Taurus,' which Wolfe wrote in either 1966 or 1967."
Led Zeppelin has no plans to cede credit to Wolfe for their legendary ballad, actively seeking to disprove these claims as the case heads before a jury. According to Fox News, "Led Zeppelin's attorneys argued that both 'Stairway to Heaven' and 'Taurus' use notes and combinations that have been circulating in music for centuries."
Wolfe's family and trustee would be in line to receive a hefty sum if the jury rules in their favor. The Fox News report says that "Stairway to Heaven" "has generated hundreds of millions over the years."
Copyright lawsuits have become quite common recently in the music industry. Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams lost millions after being charged with copying Marvin Gaye on their 2013 hit "Blurred Lines," while teen hearthrob Ed Sheeran is being sued for mimicking music penned by songwriters Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard.
Regardless of motive, both parties face a lengthy legal climb over the coming weeks to determine the true origins of "Stairway to Heaven," but it remains undetermined how this will impact the song's overall legacy.
Check out audio of both "Stairway to Heaven" and "Taurus" below, and decide for yourself if Led Zeppelin stole from the latter: