Stairway to Heaven was one of the most iconic hits of its time and is still played and loved by people all over the world. Would you believe there’s a chance that Led Zeppelin ripped it off from another track? Would you be shocked if they had?
According to Mark Andes, a founding member of the band Spirit, the track is just that; a ripoff of his band’s track, Taurus, which was released in 1968, and which Andes claims Led Zeppelin copied for Stairway to Heaven.
Spirit was founded in 1967 by Andes, along with Randy California, Jay Ferguson, Ed Cassidy and John Locke. The band released their first self-titled album in 1968, which featured their Taurus track.
Andes alleges that when Led Zeppelin opened for Spirit in 1968 at a gig, they copied the guitar break and created Stairway to Heaven. “It was such a pretty moment. It would typically come after a big forceful number and always got a good response. [Led Zeppelin] would have seen it in that context,” Andes recalled.
Back in winter 1997, in an edition of Listener Magazine, California spilled the beans, alleging that the break was ripped off from his band.
According to California:
“The guys made millions of bucks on it and never said ‘Thank you,’ never said, ‘Can we pay you some money for it?. It’s kind of a sore point with me. Maybe someday their conscience will make them do something about it.”
Later that year, California died, but Andes and the trust representing California teamed up to try and get some recognition for the track. The track has earned in excess of $562 million, and Led Zeppelin will surely increase on that impressive figure in the future.
But is it fair not to give any recognition to Spirit at all? Andes continued: “It is fairly blatant, and note for note. It would be nice if the Led Zeppelin guys gave Randy a little nod. That would be lovely.”
Indeed it would be lovely, but will it ever happen?
For your convenience, we have embedded both tracks for you here so you can decide for yourself if you think Stairway to Heaven is a rip off of Taurus. Let us know your thoughts on the matter in the comments feed below.