Friday, July 11, 2014

The Osmonds/Led Zeppelin Connection

According to Jay Osmond in his memoir Stages (2013), the Osmond family joined Led Zeppelin at a London concert during the height of Osmondmania to sing "Stairway to Heaven." Although no footage apparently survives, a promo clip of the Osmonds doing "Hold Her Tight," which is built on an opening riff that demonstrates the brothers' admiration for Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song," does.  (The Osmonds link above will take you there).

The intro similarities of those two songs has me thinking about the surviving band members of Spirit's present attempt to sue Led Zeppelin over the opening chord sequence of "Stairway" (likely inspired by Spirit's "Taurus"). This lawsuit implies that the smallest musical building blocks can't be expanded on and reinterpreted without legal repercussions. Notorious for his borrowing habits, Jimmy Page has had to pay the piper plenty, but he could also spend the rest of his years in court nitpicking over bands who've taken ideas from him if he wanted to.  Wouldn't Zeppelin, for example, have had grounds for suing the Osmonds? Maybe so, but Page was perhaps too conscious of the fact that he'd borrowed the "Immigrant Song" intro's vocal hook from "Bali Ha'i" to bear any ill will.

Led Zeppelin - "Immigrant Song" (Billboard #16, entered 11/21/70). Written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. Produced by Jimmy Page. 45: "Immigrant Song"/"Hey Hey What Can I Do" (Atlantic 1970). LP: Led Zeppelin III (Atlantic 1970).

The Osmonds - "Hold Her Tight" (Billboard #14, entered 7/1/72). Written by Alan Osmond, Merrill Osmond, and Wayne Osmond. Produced by Alan Osmonds and Michael Lloyd. 45: "Hold Her Tight"/"Love Is" (MGM 1972). LP: Crazy Horses (MGM 1972).

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