Lost Treasures: Spirit – “Taurus”

Our Lost Treasure this week is an LP track recorded in 1967 on Ode Records by L.A. band Spirit.  The group is best known for their hits “Uncle Jack” & “I Got A Line on You”. This lovely, gentle instrumental was written by leader & guitarist Randy California (now deceased).  “Taurus”  will be instantly recognizable by Led Zeppelin fans as the arpeggio at the start of “Stairway To Heaven”, & is still the ongoing subject of a lawsuit infringement against Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.  Spirit formed in 1966 & recorded this song for their debut album, released in 1968.  “Taurus” was released three years earlier than Led Zeppelin’s epic song that has endured as one of that group’s best over the decades since.  Randy California died in 1997, but that didn’t prevent Spirit bassist Mark Andes & California’s family from launching a copyright infringement lawsuit against Page.  In April 2016 a judge declared there were enough similarities between the songs that the suit should go to trial.  The decision handed down was that “Stairway To Heaven” did not infringe on “Taurus” but the decision was appealed & the case has been going back & forth in the courts since.  The most recent development occurred in June 2019 when courts decided the decision should be made by a panel of 11 judges who will be allowed to hear both recordings.  Previously, a 3-judge panel was only allowed to judge the similarities based on sheet music, not comparative audio of both songs. A final decision on this case has not yet been finalized.  Some legal opinions believe that pre-1978, a number of key elements of classic rock recordings were not protected by copyright, but this interpretation has yet been agreed upon.  Enjoy this lovely song as our weekend begins, and we’ll leave it to Puget Sound Media readers to decide if “Stairway To Heaven” contains a rip-off of this Spirit track.


Author: Mike Cherry

retired broadcaster: on-air, MD, PD, asst PD, Prod Mgr, IT, station technician/engineer, pioneer Internet webcaster, station installation/maintenance; 12 years in commercial radio, 17 years volunteer in campus/community radio in B.C., Alberta & Wash. Amateur radio operator & "DXer" specializing in AM night-time DX, short-wave DX/listening & remote SDR DXing/listening

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