KFIX Rock News: Led Zeppelin Accused Of Stealing Opening To “Stairway To Heaven”

zepinpostLed Zeppelin may soon be facing a legal challenge over a claim that the opening of the band’s signature song, “Stairway to Heaven,” was stolen from a tune by the group Spirit.

Attorney Francis Alexander Malofiy, who represents a songwriting trust for the late Randy California, a guitarist for Spirit, tells Business Week he’s preparing a copyright infringement lawsuit and an injunction to block the upcoming reissue of the album Led Zeppelin IV, which includes a remastered version of “Stairway to Heaven.”

According to the report, California, who was born Randy Wolfe, has claimed for years that the opening for “Stairway to Heaven” is copied from an instrumental track titled “Taurus,” that appeared on Spirit’s 1968 debut album.

The Business Week report notes Led Zeppelin was Spirit’s opening act on December 26, 1968 when the headliner’s set list included “Taurus.”  In 1969, the bands played shows together in Detroit, Atlanta and Seattle.

Randy California died in 1997 at the age of 45.  Malofiy says of the legal challenge, “It’s a long time coming,” adding, “The idea behind this is to make sure that Randy California is given a writing credit on ‘Stairway to Heaven.’”

Mick Skidmore, who manages California’s songwriting trust, tells Business Week the late guitarist never filed a lawsuit because “nobody had any money, and they thought the statute of limitations was done.”

Jimmy Page has long claimed that he wrote “Stairway to Heaven” in Wales in 1970.

A rep for Led Zeppelin’s label issued a statement to Business Week, saying, “Both Led Zeppelin and Warner Music will be offering no comment on this story.”

Over the years, Led Zeppelin has had several legal battles involving a number of its songs, including “Whole Lotta Love,” “Dazed and Confused” and “The Lemon Song.”  All of the copyright infringement claims were settled out of court.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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