by Joseph Sarrington Smith
Thanks to the Evening Standard, it has recently been brought to my attention that Led Zeppelin will be facing trial in America over claims that the intro to Stairway To Heaven was copied from Taurus by American rock band Spirit.
There have been several instances over the years where an artist or a band have been taken to court over copyright claims and if you were to start analysing every song you heard in detail, you’d probably find that there are certain chord progressions that have been used by thousands of musicians over many centuries. However, considering how huge Led Zep are, and how iconic that riff has become, I must confess that it is somewhat disappointing that there is now a possibility that it isn’t entirely original.
But the questions is… How do you write a song that sounds unlike anything else?
Well… sometimes you can’t, which is how situations like these arise. It must be daunting for any artist to come up with a great tune whilst being unsure if they’re unintentionally copying someone else. Indeed, when Paul McCartney wrote Yesterday he spent about four weeks playing the tune to friends and family just to make sure it hadn’t been plagiarised.
One final thought… Why has it taken this long for the lawyers to connect the dots? Both songs have been out for nearly fifty years. It’ll be interesting to see the outcome.