“Taurus” by Spirit
“Taurus” is a psychedelic/progressive rock instrumental. It was released by Epic Records on 22 January 1968 as part of the album Spirit by the American rock band of the same name.
There are a number of different histories behind Randy California’s decision to name this song “Taurus”. One is that he did so in honor of a couple of his Spirit bandmates, who were born under that astrological sign. The other is that it is actually a shoutout to his wife, who was also a Taurus.
“Taurus” was produced by the Grammy Award winning record producer, Lou Adler.
“Taurus” becomes famous several decades after release
The song really achieved fame some half-a-century later when it was involved in a lawsuit due to apparently obvious similarities with Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” (1971), one of the most-renowned rock songs in the genre’s history. The estate of the sole writer of “Taurus”, Randy California (who died in 1997), is sued Led Zeppelin for proper acknowledgement.
Led Zeppelin had actually won the case when it was originally held in 2016. However, Michael Skidmore (the trustee of California’s estate), who sued them on California’s behalf, won an appeal to take the case back to court in 2019.
Does “Stairway to Heaven” really sound like “Taurus”?
To be honest, we think the two songs have certain portions that sound pretty similar. The beginning (from the 45th second) of “Taurus” sounds very similar to certain portions (especially the iconic beginning) of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”.
The truth of the matter is that Led Zeppelin were familiar with “Taurus” prior to recording “Stairway to Heaven”. And why do we say this? Simply because they actually toured with Spirit in the latter years of the 1960s, with Spirit having performed the song several times during these concerts.
In all, many Led Zeppelin fans have said there is indeed some similarities between the two songs. However, they don’t believe that similarities are strong enough to involve a legal case. They believe Led Zeppelin might have been inspired by “Taurus” but certainly didn’t copy it.
What do you think? Are you in agreement?
We think the similarities between both songs cannot be denied. But the million dollar question here is: Did Led Zeppelin really intentionally copy “Taurus”?
You can listen to “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin to make your own judgement: