U.S. court to decide if ‘Stairway to Heaven’ riff ripped off

If you are of a certain vintage, you probably listened to “Stairway to Heaven” as it burned up the music charts in the early 1970s. Others would have danced to it at their prom while some younger folks still may not be aware of what is arguably Led Zeppelin’s most popular song.

That infamy has unfortunately landed members of Led Zeppelin in a rhythm row today, as a Los Angeles court will try to determine if they ripped off the main guitar riff of the song.

According to the Associated Press, “The band’s guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant are named as defendants in the lawsuit brought by the trustee of guitarist Randy Wolfe — better known by his stage name Randy California — from the band Spirit.”

Both bands performed around the same time but never on the same stage. Still, Wolfe’s lawyer will have a tough time proving Led Zeppelin used his client’s work on one of the most recognizable rock song introductions.

Here are videos of both songs so you can be the judge of who did (or did not) steal the riff.

First up is “Taurus” by Spirit:

And now listen to “Stairway to Heaven”:

Finally, for some perspective, Australian comedy trio The Axis of Awesome demonstrates just how many popular songs sound like each other:


Whatever the outcome of the court case, junior high and high school dances will no doubt continue the awkwardness  of slow dancing to the mesmerizing lyrics of “a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold”.
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