Home Entertainment Allegations of Plagiarism Prove No “Heaven” For Led Zeppelin

Allegations of Plagiarism Prove No “Heaven” For Led Zeppelin

by Caitlin George

The Stairway to Heaven might prove a gentler obstacle to climb than the lawsuit pending against 1970s rockers Led Zeppelin. Earlier this year, the family of Randy California, late guitarist of the band Spirit, as well as the rest of his band members have banded together to sue the famous act on grounds of plagiarism.

‘Stairway to Heaven’ Plagiarized?

According to the plaintiffs, Led Zeppelin’s big 1971 hit “Stairway to Heaven” rips off of one of Spirit’s songs, an instrumental piece called “Taurus,” and that the rip-off occurred back when the now-famous band was opening for the now-obscure band during a tour that they went on together way back in 1969. According to Spirit bassist Mark Andes, the band wrote “Taurus” in 1968 and played it as part of their regular set list during this tour. As perhaps an attempt to show Spirit’s influence on Led Zeppelin, the former has also stated that during the 1969 tour, the latter covered one of their songs and began using props and effects that they saw the former use.

In response, Led Zeppelin motioned to have the lawsuit dismissed on the grounds that the it is based in Pennsylvania and therefore lacks the jurisdiction.

“The individual defendants are British citizens residing in England, own no property in Pennsylvania, and have no contacts with Pennsylvania, let alone ties sufficient to render them essentially at home here,” said the band’s attorneys.

Ultimately, the judge who heard the case dismissed the motion, siding with the plaintiffs’ counsels’ reasoning that international distribution of the song makes the case tryable anywhere where plagiarism is a punishable crime.

But the drama doesn’t stop there. Recently, it came to light that Spirit’s attorney, Francis Malofiy, might be disbarred in Pennsylvania. The reason behind this possible disbarring? Malofiy’s flare for the dramatics and unprofessional conduct during one court session. Oddly enough, this particular session also involved a case of alleged plagiarism against a famous musician—this time, Usher Raymond. It is reported that Malofiy’s hostile treatment of the defendant and his attorneys earned him a reprimand from the judge and that he yelled “You can’t handle the truth” (a quote from the film A Few Good Men, which also revolves around a lawsuit) at one point. He was also ordered to pay $25,000 in damages to a defendant in a different case as he obtained an affidavit used in the case via shady means. The complaint that Malofiy submitted for his current client features headers typed in fonts inspired by those that have appeared on Led Zeppelin album art.

“I’ve known [Malofiy] a long time,” said one of his fellow attorneys in his defense. “He’s a very impressive young attorney, and he’s certainly dedicated to his clients. Yes, he’s got some rough edges here and there, but the legal profession could use a few more eccentrics.”

Concerning his clients’ position, Malofiy has said, “”What happened to Randy California and Spirit is wrong. Led Zeppelin needs to do the right thing and give credit where credit is due. Randy California deserves writing credit for ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and to take his place as an author of Rock’s greatest song.”

At the end of his life, California was so strapped for cash that he took up playing sitar in a local Indian restaurant in exchange for food. Since the song’s release, “Stairway to Heaven” has raked in millions of dollars for Led Zeppelin.

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