After somehow losing a challenge to jurisdiction in Pennsylvania, of all places, the members of Led Zeppelin have now filed an answer to the complaint alleging that they stole the intro to “Stairway to Heaven.” Most of the pleading is as dull as answers normally are, but part of it is amusing.
The complaint was filed last year by a trust representing the heirs of Randy California, a.k.a. Randy Craig Wolfe, who was the leader of a band called Spirit for which Led Zeppelin opened in 1968. The trust claims Zeppelin stole the iconic opening passage of “Stairway” from Spirit’s song “Taurus.” The passage of five or six descending notes starting at about the 1:37 mark of “Taurus” is kind of similar to the bass part (not the iconic opening notes denied in “Wayne’s World,”) but hardly enough to justify an infringement claim, it seems to me.
The lawyers who wrote the complaint (via Hollywood Reporter) should get some credit for how it was drafted, though, because at least the format isn’t boring:
You know, that looks an awful lot like the font from Houses of the Holy—
—but maybe they got permission first.
Anyway, paragraph 11 of the complaint alleges this:
11. Led Zeppelin is undeniably one of the greatest bands in history, and their musical talent is boundless. However, 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.
The answer responds this way:
Answering paragraph 11 of the First Amended Complaint …, Defendants admit that Led Zeppelin has been called one of the greatest bands in history and its members were and are exceptionally talented, but otherwise deny each and every allegation contained in paragraph 11 of the First Amended Complaint.
See also “Man Changes Name to ‘Led Zeppelin II” (Sept. 20, 2011) (“Since I became Led Zeppelin [II], my life has improved a thousand-fold.”); “Man Detained as Terrorism Suspect After Singing to Cab Driver” (Apr. 5, 2006) (“He didn’t like Led Zeppelin or the Clash, but I don’t think there was any need to tell the police.”)