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Published: Wednesday, 5/21/2014 - Updated: 1 year ago


Led Zeppelin accused of lifting iconic ‘Stairway to Heaven’ riff

The surviving members of Led Zeppelin are, from left, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page. The surviving members of Led Zeppelin are, from left, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page.

There’s a lady that’s sure all that glitters is gold — and a lawyer that’s sure Led Zepplin ripped off a classic riff from their client.

That’s the belated allegation put forth from representatives of the estate of Randy California, the guitarist for the proto-classic-rock band Spirit. A forthcoming copyright infringement lawsuit claims that Spirit’s old show-mates Led Zeppelin stole much of the classic intro riff to Stairway to Heaven from Spirit’s 1968 track Taurus.

The suit aims to stop the re-release of Zeppelin albums containing the song, and to give California (who died in 1997) a co-writing credit on the tune.

Obviously, the suit won’t do much to dislodge the song from the Zeppelin canon and the bedrooms of teenage guitarists around the world. California never publicly complained about the alleged swipe for most of his life, and Zeppelin’s blues-rock tradition has a long history of elaborating and riffing on other melodies and song ideas.

But according to Bloomberg Businessweek, in 1997 California told Listener magazine that “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.”

A representative for Warner Music told the magazine that the label would not comment on the suit.

Macklemore apologizes for offensive costume

Rapper Macklemore posted an apology on his website late Monday, saying he didn’t mean to mock Jewish people by wearing a costume that some say was anti-Semitic during a performance in Seattle last week.

Macklemore wrote that he randomly chose the pieces of the costume he wore at Friday’s performance so that he could disguise himself and move freely around during the secret show. He said it wasn’t meant to be a caricature of a Jewish man.

“I respect all cultures and all people,” he wrote. “I would never intentionally put down anybody for the fabric that makes them who they are. I love human beings, love originality, and ... happen to love a weird outfit from time to time.”

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