Sideshow: Stairway to litigation

Members of Led Zeppelin, 1970 (from left) John Bonham, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page, with Sandy Denny.
Members of Led Zeppelin, 1970 (from left) John Bonham, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page, with Sandy Denny. (AP)
Posted: May 22, 2014

Stairway to litigation

Talk about a delayed reaction!

A copyright-infringement lawsuit has been filed 42 years after the fact alleging that the intro to one of rock-and-roll's most famous songs, Led Zeppelin's 1971 monster hit "Stairway to Heaven," was ripped off from a 1967 instrumental track titled "Taurus," by the California band Spirit.

Both songs have a similar guitar lead-in. Spirit's version got them a tiny cult following. Led Zep's has made them millions.

Philadelphia attorney Francis Alexander Malofiy filed suit on behalf of the late Spirit guitarist Randy California's estate. It contends that Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and their Led Zep cohorts heard Spirit's tune when the two bands shared a few gigs in the early 1970s.

"The idea behind this is to make sure that Randy California is given a writing credit on 'Stairway to Heaven,' " Malofiy tells Bloomberg Businessweek. "It's been a long time coming."

There's also a bit of money involved: Conde Nast Portfolio magazine in '08 estimated the song had earned more than $562 mil.

Fans for years have pointed out the similarity between the two songs, California told Listener magazine shortly before his death in '97. "I'd say it was a rip-off," he said. "And the guys made millions of bucks on it and never said thank you."

Malofiy's filing comes at an opportune time: Led Zep is expected to bag a whole lot of fresh money this summer when it releases new versions of its albums.

Malofiy, a graduate of Temple Law School, was unavailable for further comment. Led Zep reps had yet to comment.

Johnny Weir violent?

There's trouble again in local hero-skater Johnny Weir's marriage to Victor Voronov less than two weeks after they reconciled. Voronov on Tuesday told Inside Edition that Weir violently attacked him Saturday night.

"All of the attacks came from his fingernails," Voronov said. "He has long fingernails. Big fingernails."

No comment from Weir, though it appears he has deleted the tweet that first announced he and his hub were back together.

No Paul for Japan

Paul McCartney on Tuesday announced he's canceling his entire Japan tour. Seems the 71-year-old musician is still not feeling well after he was felled last week by a virus.


tirdad@phillynews.com

215-854-2736

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