Led Zeppelin Faces Lawsuit
In light of recent promotions for re-issues of the first three Led Zeppelin albums, a lawyer representing a deceased guitarist known as Randy California has made it known that his mission is to prevent any re-issue of Zeppelin’s fourth album, containing one of the most iconic rock n roll tracks of all time, Stairway to Heaven.
According to a recent article written by Kory Grow on Rolling Stone’s site, attorney Francis Alexander Molofiy claims that Led Zeppelin stole his client’s copyrighted material and made millions from Stairway to Heaven without so much as a writing credit for Randy California. (Interesting note: the guitarist’s real last name was Wolfe, and his moniker was created by Jimi Hendrix.) The evidence presented is the instrumental track titled Taurus released in the late ’60s by a California-based band known as Spirit.
Take a listen…
It’s actually quite an enjoyable instrumental tune. The part in question is obvious, and as much as I love Led Zeppelin, I would say that the evidence is pretty compelling in the late guitarist’s favor. Another point of interest, this isn’t the first time the British rock gods have faced these kinds of claims and conceded to similar demands.
Check out this graphic from an interesting in-depth article by Vernon Silver published on BusinessWeek.com that describes the history of four other Zeppelin hits that resulted in other artists coming forward to claim right.
It will be interesting to see how this story plays out from here. Unfortunately, the late guitarist never got to see his day in court. In 1997, Randy California drowned in Hawaii while rescuing his young son from a rip current, but he did share his thoughts on the subject in an interview years ago.
In California’s words, “I’d say it was a ripoff…and 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.”
What are your thoughts on the matter?
Do you think this claim is valid or that Led Zeppelin should retain full rights to the song?
Post your comments below!