Could Led Zeppelin Settle Their “Stairway to Heaven” Plagiarism Suit for…HOW MUCH?

My LA correspondent, Pamela Chelin, someone who is ready to cover the “Stairway to Heaven” vs. “Taurus” plagiarism trial, is now wonder if there will be any trial at all after this little bombshell from The Guardian.

Lawyers suing Led Zeppelin over claims that the opening to Stairway to Heaven was stolen, say their client is willing to settle for the sum of US$1.

The band’s lead singer, Robert Plant, and guitarist, Jimmy Page, face a US jury trial over their 1971 classic after Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the late Randy Wolfe, also known as Spirit’s Randy California, alleges Page was inspired to write Stairway to Heaven after hearing Spirit perform Taurus while the bands toured together in 1968 and 1969. Lawyers for Led Zeppelin claim any similarity between the two songs is a result of a common musical structure that has existed for centuries.

A dollar? For a song that has generated over $500 million in royalties since 1971? There must be a catch, right?

Oh, there is.

According to Bloomberg News, the $1 offer would, however, come at a bigger price: Randy California would need a writing credit on the track – not to mention sharing its future profits. “It’s always been about credit where credit is due,” said attorney Francis Alexander Malofiy, representing Michael Skidmore.

Aha. So how much could those future profits be worth? A lot. Tens of millions, maybe, under a specific agreement Zep has with their music publishers.

So what do you do? Take this offer or risk going in front of a jury?




Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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