Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Targeted for Plagiarism (plus more)


Lawyers representing the group Spirit claim song’s intro resembles their 1968 track “Taurus”

As Led Zeppelin promote the extravagant reissues of their first three albums for an early June release, a lawyer representing deceased Spirit guitarist Randy California is claiming the hard-rock legends stole the intro for their 1971 single “Stairway to Heaven” from Spirit’s 1968 song “Taurus.” Attorney Francis Alexander Molofiy wants to prevent the release of the Led Zeppelin IV reissue when the time comes, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. “The idea behind this is to make sure that Randy California is given a writing credit on ‘Stairway to Heaven,'” Malofiy said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Led Zeppelin and Spirit, who had a hit with “I Got a Line on You,” played four gigs together in 1968 and 1969 (shows at which Businessweek claims Spirit played “Taurus”). Led Zeppelin also reportedly played a medley of songs that included Spirit’s “Fresh-Garbage” – a song that appeared on the same LP side as “Taurus” – on their first U.S. tour.

In an interview with Listener magazine published the year of his death, California said he felt “Stairway to Heaven” was a “rip-off.” “The guys made millions of bucks on it and never said ‘Thank you,’ never said, ‘Can we pay you some money for it?'” he said. “It’s kind of a sore point with me. Maybe someday their conscience will make them do something about it.”

Spirit and California’s family have waited until now to challenge the song’s authorship because they did not have the means to pay attorneys. At the end of California’s life, he would play sitar at an Indian restaurant in exchange for food.

A rep for Led Zeppelin declined to comment for Businessweek’s story, but Page discussed the band’s history with crediting songwriters after the fact in a recent interview with The New York Times. When asked why the group waited to credit Willie Dixon for bits of lyrics and melody that made their way into “Whole Lotta Love,” he acknowledged, “Within the lyrics of it, there’s [Dixons’s] “You Need Love,” and there are similarities within the lyrics. Now I’m not pointing a finger at anybody, but I’m just saying that’s what happened, and Willie Dixon got credit. Fair enough.”

Reissues of Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin III are due in stores on June 3rd. Each is available in a deluxe edition that contains a full disc of never-before-released studio takes and live tracks.

By Kory Grow | Rolling Stone


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TEHRAN, Iran — An Internet video of six young Iranian men and women dancing to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” has led to their arrests, showing how far Tehran will go to halt what it deems to be decadent Western behavior — despite the views of its moderate president.

Criticism outside Iran was predictably swift Wednesday, with calls for freedom for the jailed youths zipping around social media. Williams tweeted: “It’s beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness.”

Pharrell Williams tweeted: It’s beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness http://nyti.ms/1mUvh37

A tweet posted Wednesday evening on President Hassan Rouhani’s account seemed to address the controversy, even if it stopped short of mentioning the video or the arrests directly.

“#Happiness is our people’s right,” it said. “We shouldn’t be too hard on behaviors caused by joy.”

The widely followed account appears to reflect Rouhani’s positions. Iranian media in the past quoted Rouhani as saying the account is authentic. At the same time, a senior Rouhani adviser said last year that the president had such an account only during the presidential campaign and that Rouhani’s views are represented by his official website.

Other social media posts suggested at least some of the dancers had already been released, although there was no independent confirmation from authorities.

The case was another reminder of the tensions that exist at the highest levels of Iranian power, with hard-liners determined to maintain the status quo while moderates try to push through change — be it improved relations with the West or a loosening of morality clampdowns at home.

Hard-liners are increasingly challenging Rouhani as the country negotiates a nuclear deal with world powers. The president campaigned for greater cultural and social freedoms in his bid to succeeded Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last year.

As recently as Saturday, he articulated a moderate stance about the Internet, which remains tightly regulated by Iranian authorities.

Sites such as YouTube and Facebook are blocked by censors, though many young and Web-savvy Iranians use proxy servers or other workarounds to bypass the controls.

“We should see the cyberworld as an opportunity,” said Rouhani, according to the official IRNA news agency. “Why are we so shaky? Why don’t we trust our youth?”

Hard-liners accuse Rouhani of failing to stop the spread of what they deem “decadent” Western culture in Iran. Last week, hard-liners marched over women not wearing hijabs and dressing provocatively.

While Rouhani pursues a policy of social and cultural openness, hard-liners say the government should be tough to those who challenge interpretations of Islamic norms. They accuse Rouhani of showing leniency and too much tolerance toward those who question Islamic sanctities or women who are not sufficiently veiled.

The dancing Iranians would seem right at home in the West — or indeed in the music video that accompanies Williams’ song. Fans have posted similar videos from around the world, showing people dancing down streets and smiling in choreographed crowds.

But in Iran, some see the trend as promoting the spread of Western culture, as laws in the Islamic Republic ban women from dancing in public or appearing outside without covering her hair with the hijab. The government also bans some websites.

The video that got them in trouble shows hip twentysomethings hamming it up for the camera in sunglasses and silly clothes on Tehran rooftops and alleyways. One of the bearded men goofily dips his female dancing partner.

None of the three women in the video wears a hijab.

The video was posted online several weeks ago. It includes the participants’ first names in a credit roll with outtakes. They describe themselves as Williams fans, adding: “‘Happy’ was an excuse to be happy. We enjoyed every second of making it.”

Tehran Police Chief Hossein Sajedinia confirmed the arrests on state TV late Tuesday in a report that blurred images from the video and then showed the six with their backs turned toward the camera.

“They were identified and arrested within six hours,” Sajedinia said.

In the TV broadcast, those arrested said they had been deceived and that the video was not meant to be posted on the Internet.

“They had told us that this video won’t be released anywhere and that it was for our own joy,” one of the women said.

Another detainee said: “They invited us to appear on the video to practice acting.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if the six faced criminal or civil charges, or if they had lawyers.

On the broadcast, Sajedinia warned Iranian young people that police will confront those who challenge Islamic and social norms.

“The youth should try not to be deceived by these people under pretexts such as acting or singing,” he said.

The last time there was a crackdown on music was on Dec. 2, 2013, when Iran’s Morality Police temporarily arrested popular rapper Amir Tataloo, whose songs authorities deem inappropriate. He was released two days later.

Associated Press | Article contains the subject video


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Young Iranians Arrested for Being Too ‘Happy in Tehran’
By Robert Mackey

Just days after Iran’s president denounced Internet censorship as “cowardly,” six young Iranians were arrested and forced to repent on state television Tuesday for the grievous offense of proclaiming themselves to be “Happy in Tehran,” in a homemade music video they posted on YouTube last month.

By uploading their video, recorded on an iPhone and promoted on Facebook and Instagram, the group was taking part in a global online phenomenon, which has resulted, so far, in hundreds of cover versions of the Pharrell Williams song “Happy” recorded in more than 140 countries.

“Happy in Tehran” was viewed more than 165,000 times on YouTube before it attracted the attention of the police and was made private.

In a speech over the weekend, President Hassan Rouhani argued that Iran should embrace the Internet rather than view it as a threat, Reuters reported. His remarks were also summarized on a Twitter account updated by his aides.

“We must recognize our citizens’ right to connect to the World Wide Web,” the president said, according the official IRNA news agency. “Why are we so shaky? Why have we cowered in a corner, grabbing onto a shield and a wooden sword, lest we take a bullet in this culture war?” he asked.

“Even if there is an onslaught, which there is,” he added, “the way to face it is via modern means, not passive and cowardly methods.”

The arrest of the young dancers, and their televised public humiliation, angered Iranians at home and abroad, and seemed to support President Rouhani’s case that such crackdowns served only to make the Islamic Republic of Iran look weak in the culture war being waged online.

Golnaz Esfandiari tweeted: #Iran a country where being “happy” is a crime.


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VISTA, Calif. (AP) — The lead singer of the band As I Lay Dying has been sentenced to six years in prison for plotting to kill his wife.

U-T San Diego (http://bit.ly/1nYl59s ) reports 33-year-old Timothy Lambesis was sentenced Friday in San Diego County. He had pleaded guilty to soliciting murder.

Authorities say Lambesis hired an undercover sheriff’s detective to kill Meggan Lambesis last year. The singer said she had restricted his visits with their children after a separation, and he also was angry that his wife would get a large share of his income in a divorce settlement.

His attorney said Lambesis acted out of character and the behavior was sparked by steroid use.

As I Lay Dying was formed in San Diego in 2000. The metal band was nominated for a Grammy in 2008.


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Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley has gone public with his life and death battle with alcoholism in a new blog post titled, “Rock Bottom.”

The 34-year-old revealed that he’s been “very sick in the hospital for a month” from all the “hard boozing” he’s been doing over the years, which “finally caught up with [him].” Whibley wrote that he was “drinking hard” every day, until one night he was sitting at home, just pouring himself another drink, when he suddenly “didn’t feel so good.” The rocker collapsed, lying unconscious on the ground. His fiancee drove him to the hospital where he was admitted to the intensive care unit.

The Canadian musician wrote that after being completely sedated for a week, doctors told him his liver and kidneys had “collapsed on [him],” which, “needless to say scared [him] straight.”

“I finally realized that I can’t drink anymore,” Whibley wrote on his blog on May 16. “If I have one drink the doc’s (sic) say I will die. I’m not preaching or anything, but just drink responsibly. I didn’t, and look where that got me.”

Meanwhile, Whibley’s ex-wife, Avril Lavigne, who he was married to from 2006 to 2010, tweeted in support of her ex, writing, “Spoke to @Sum41 Deryck today. I am so proud of him. He is family to me and always will be. #StayStrongDeryck.”

Whibley also posted several photos from his time in the hospital as part of his warning to others to drink responsibly.


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This Wednesday, Caleb Johnson made American Idol history, becoming the first true hard-rocker to win the show. Fellow rock ‘n’ roll showboaters Constantine Maroulis, Adam Lambert, and James Durbin may have come close in their respective seasons, but it was Caleb, who covered artists like Rush and Whitesnake in Season 13, who rocked all the way to the winner’s circle.

Caleb had an ideal Idol story arc. Like last year’s winner, Candice Glover, he had to try out for the show three times to get this far: He first auditioned in Season 10, when he made it to Hollywood Week and even performed in the group round with the above-mentioned James Durbin. He gave it another go in Season 11, but was cut in the Vegas top 40 round after messing up his lyrics.

But this year, Caleb didn’t mess up. His was arguably the most consistent entertainer of Season 13, and he never once landed in the bottom two or three. And his performances of Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused,” the Black Crowes’ “Sting Me,” Whitesnake’s “Still of the Night,” and Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” were some of the most phenomenal of the entire season.

However, Caleb’s Season 13 run was not without its problems. He caught flak when the called his Twitter followers the “R-word” in a controversial interview, although he later apologized. He emerged from that scandal relatively unscathed, but then in the top three week, he struggled to perform with bronchitis and a vocal cord hemorrhage, delivering his only imperfect vocals of the season. But he survived that setback as well.

On Wednesday’s big finale, shortly before his win, Caleb fantastically performed with KISS (who’d previously dueted with Adam Lambert on Season 8’s finale), actually completely upstaging Paul Stanley. Other duet highlights included Jena rocking with Paramore amid a sea of neon balloons; a glasses- and braces-free Malaya Watson totally coming out of her cocoon to sing “All of Me” alongside John Legend’s piano; Alex Preston crooning with his idol, Jason Mraz; Jennifer Nettles and Jessica Meuse doing Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” while Season 10’s Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams rocked out in the audience; and Season 11 champ Phillip Phillips completely schooling Sam Woolf on “Raging Fire.”

But the most entertaining duet of all? Ryan Seacrest warbling “Right Here Waiting” with surprise guest Richard Marx. Yes, that happened.

Caleb will soon join his top 12 castmates on this summer’s Idols Live tour. And then, it will be time for him to release his own album. Will he be able to replicate the success of recent winners Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips (or all-time greats Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood) — or will he stall on the charts like last year’s sadly under-promoted Candice Glover, who didn’t even perform on this year’s finale?

Well, that will be interesting. Caleb’s throwback classic-rock sound obviously appeals to Idol’s graying voter base, but it isn’t exactly in line with what’s on the radio right now. Judge Harry Connick, Jr., even once had the audacity to suggest that Caleb would, or should, release a covers album after the show, as opposed to a collection of actually relevant originals (Caleb balked at that idea).

However, Caleb’s performances of Kings of Leon and Rival Sons songs this season indicated that he can apply his retro style to modern rock, and his coronation song, “As Long As You Love Me” (penned by Justin Hawkins of the Darkness, and once almost recorded by Kelly Clarkson), certainly is catchy. And it definitely rocks.

Caleb just might be what American Idol needs to keep the franchise (and rock ‘n’ roll) alive, so watch this space.

By Lyndsey Parker | Reality Rocks


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This Tuesday, Josh Kaufman made history on The Voice, becoming the first stolen contestant to win the show. Josh had started the season on Team Adam, but was poached by Usher in the second round of battles. And soon after that, the hypercompetitive Adam Levine rued the day he let Josh go.

Josh’s victory this week — the first win for Usher, whose contestant Michelle Chamuel came close in Season 4 — officially shattered the shared five-season winning streak by original coaches Adam Levine (who triumphed in Seasons 1 and 5) and Blake Shelton (Seasons 2 through 4). This time, Team Blake’s Jake Worthington came in second, while Team Adam’s Christina Grimmie placed a surprising third (but was promised a record deal with Adam Levine’s label anyway).

Josh had a perfect made-for-TV story arc. He was the kind of sleeper contestant no one really saw coming, but under Usher’s guidance, he transformed from underdog to frontrunner with his phenomenal, iTunes-charting performances of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me,” Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” and especially John Legend’s “All of Me.”

But Josh’s journey from obscurity to singing-show victory actually began years ago: The 38-year-old blue-eyed soul crooner and father of three once unsuccessfully auditioned for The X Factor Season 1, and in 1993, when he was just 16, he survived two rounds on Star Search before eventually getting eliminated.

This was an especially impressive come-from-behind win. Due to a controversial iTunes glitch that made Josh’s “Set Fire to the Rain” almost impossible to find, producers decided not to count any of the downloads during this week’s post-show, 14-hour voting window — and base the verdict only on other voting methods (phone, text, online). This might have seemed unfair to some (to Christina, whose “Can’t Help Falling in Love” charted at No. 4, or perhaps especially to Jake, who’d landed two songs in the iTunes top 10 this week). But it was absolutely the right decision to ensure that the reputation of Josh as the rightful champ, and of the entire Voice franchise, would not be tainted. Host Carson Daly assured viewers that this decision didn’t affect the outcome in any way.

However, the fact that Josh still charted at No. 20 with “Set Fire” this week, despite the glitch, and that he still won after this setback, speaks volumes about both his fanbase and his talent.

Other highlights of Tuesday’s show included Christina Grimmie dueting with Ed Sheeran; contestants Delvin Choice, Jake Barker, Morgan Wallen, Patrick Thomson, and Stevie Jo forming a Voice soul supergroup for Hall & Oates’s “She’s Gone”; a Robin Thicke/Josh Kaufman duet of “Get Her Back” in which Josh was such the star player, Paula Patton might give him a call instead; and a confetti-strewn Coldplay performance of “A Sky Full of Stars.”

Josh will soon join castmates Christina and Jake, Season 1’s Dia Frampton, Season 5’s top three finalists, and fan-selected fellow Season 6 contestants Jake Barker and Kristen Merlin on this summer’s Voice Live tour. And then, it will be time for him to record his own album.

Will Josh continue to dominate the iTunes charts when he releases his own music? Most past Voice stars have had trouble establishing themselves in the pop market, but with his amazing voice (and fanbase), Josh has a real shot, so watch this space. And see you on the tour!

By Lyndsey Parker | Reality Rocks


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. . . Colorado’s own The Fray, One Republic, and Big Head Todd & The Monsters! It’s so much fun to see them on billboards (The Fray and Big Head Todd) around town, and on big awards shows like the Billboard Awards and the finals of The Voice (One Republic). That means there ARE very talented musicians in Colorado and that if you work hard enough and stick to it you could join them!

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Despite all the talk that TV singing competitions like American Idol and The Voice are on the decline, and despite the fact the ABC didn’t do so well with its attempt to infiltrate the genre with 2012’s Duets, the network will give it another go next month with the new series Rising Star.

Given its just-announced all-star cast, this show might actually have a shot.

The show’s judges — or “experts,” as ABC calls them — will be country star Brad Paisley, rapper Ludacris, and, most interestingly, Kesha (aka the artist formerly known as Ke$ha). Hosting will be lovable crooner Josh Groban, one of the funniest stars on Twitter, whose oddball sense of humor will hopefully translate to the small screen.

Kesha has already gone the reality route via her surprisingly watchable MTV docu-series My Crazy Beautiful Life, but has been off the radar lately while focusing on her recovery from a much-publicized eating disorder. She’s likable, bright, and a little bit zany, and she has undeniable musical cred (aside from her own recording career, she’s co-penned songs for Britney Spears, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, and others). So this could be a welcome return to the spotlight for her.

Paisley once lampooned American Idol in his “Celebrity” music video (see below), which cast William Shatner as a Simon Cowell-style judge. But a couple years ago, he was reportedly in the running to be an Idol judge himself, before fellow country star Keith Urban landed the job. At first, Paisley might not seem like the most obvious casting choice for this sort of gig, but he could be the perfect foil for the wilder Kesha and Luda, and he could bring in a diehard country audience (i.e., people who still buy records). Plus, Paisley knows his stuff: In his pre-fame days, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in music business studies from Belmont University and interned at ASCAP and Atlantic Records.

As for Ludacris, he should be a natural on television. He already has a lengthy acting résumé, and he’s set to host the Billboard Music Awards this Sunday, where the Rising Star cast will make their first official joint appearance.

Is America ready to give another singing competition a chance? We’ll soon find out when Rising Star premieres June 22, but this one really might be worthy of pre-setting the DVR now.

By Lyndsey Parker | Reality Rocks


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