Is it Led Zeppelin or Spirit?

By Dylan Yep, Braulio Amado, Vernon Silver, and Aaron Rutkoff
May 15, 2014

Stairway to Heaven’s stature—financially, culturally, and musically—is towering. Led Zeppelin’s legendary hit has earned more than a half-billion dollars and propelled the 1971 album on which it appears to more sales in the U.S. than any save Michael Jackson’s Thriller and a greatest hits collection from the Eagles. For generations it has been the 8-minute soundtrack of adolescent romance, and the introductory finger-picked notes have launched a million guitar lessons.

But what if those opening notes weren’t written by Jimmy Page? What if the foundation of Zeppelin’s immortality was lifted from another song—a short instrumental titled Taurus—recorded by a forgotten California band? That’s the contention behind a possible lawsuit on behalf of members of Spirit, which seeks a writing credit on Stairway for the band’s late guitarist.

Play this musical game to see if you can differentiate the famous opening of Stairway from part of the obscure song that might have inspired it. Then read Vernon Silver’s full story on the disputed origins of rock’s great anthem.

Easy, Medium, or Hard
Rock on!

Find the four measures from Stairway to Heaven and assemble them in order below. The other four measures come from Spirit’s Taurus. Double-click each bar to hear the piper lead us to reason. Everything still turns to gold when each measure is in the correct spot.

Find the four measures from Led Zeppelin’s song and assemble them in order below. Double-click on each bar—if you listen very hard, the tune will come to you at last. No hints from the answer field.

To be a rock and not to roll. This time there is no music to help and no hints from the answer field, guitar hero. Find the four measures from Stairway to Heaven by reading the notes and assemble them in order below.