The Murky Origins of "Stairway to Heaven"
A few days ago, I was listening to Spirit's self-titled debut album (1968), and I was shocked when the fourth song on the album, "Taurus," came on. About a minute or so in, a haunting guitar line emerges out of the ephereal opening: the guitar line of "Stairway to Heaven"! Since Spirit came out a good couple of years before IV, I fumbled around for the liner notes to the Spirit album, and found that Randy California, their guitarist, wrote that people ask him all the time why "Stairway to Heaven" uses the exact same guitar line as "Taurus," and California responds, without any trace of bitterness at all, that Led Zeppelin's first American tour was as the opening act for Spirit, and they often played Spirit songs as part of their set. Neither California nor I would consider it a "rip-off," but instead one of the most blatant liftings of another song by a band known for its reworkings of older songs. In that context it doesn't surprise me, but what does surprise me is that I had never heard of the "Taurus" connection before. Has anybody else heard about this? Anyone know the song "Taurus"? If you haven't, download it from itunes and let me know what you think.