A Berg Above The Rest

yet another jewish controlled media outlet

Monday, April 24, 2006

The guy who built the "Stairway To Heaven" would be a Jew, wouldn't he?

Most of you probably aren't familiar with Spirit, an experimental psyche-rock band whose biggest successes are relegated to the late '60s and '70s, decades when most of you probably weren't even born. On the other hand, you're likely far-more familiar with Led Zeppelin and their controversial ( play it backwards some time to find out why ) stoner classic "Stairway To Heaven." What you surely aren't aware of though is the wide-spread belief that Spirit guitarist Randy California ( born Randy Craig Wolfe; he was re-named "California" by his former bandmate Jimi Hendrix during his stint in Jimi's "Jimmy James & the Blue Flames" ) is the true author of the haunting guitar intro heard on "Stairway To Heaven," not Zep' guitarist Jimmy Page.

It should be noted that Led Zeppelin opened for Spirit during the supporting tour for their 1968 LP 'The Family That Plays Together' ( so named because guitarist California and drummer Ed Cassidy were step-son and step-father ) and were known to cover the Spirit tune "Fresh Garbage" in concert. Jimmy Page has also stated that he began using the Theremin after seeing California use a model that he had mounted to his guitar. Despite this obvious connection, and although the chord progressions on "Stairway" are nearly identical to those of the California-penned Spirit instrumental "Taurus" ( from their self-titled debut album ) no aknowledgement of inspirition has ever been forthcoming from anyone in the Zeppelin camp crediting California or his band.

Anyway, this story, as fascinating as it may be, wouldn't be getting retold here at A Berg Above if it didn't have some bearing on Jews in popular-culture. And of course, it does. Ya see, Randy California ( who unfortunately passed away in 1997 while rescuing his son from a riptide near their home in Molokai, Hawaii ) was a Jew ( I mean just look at that magnificent beard ). And like all other good Jewish boys he's got a Jewish mother. And you can bet your ass that his mother, Bernice Pearl ( who admits that "Stairway To Heaven" is, in her estimation, "the greatest rock and roll makeout song ever" ), is not too psyched about her son ( who was only 16 years old when he wrote "Taurus" ) never even getting a "thank you" for inspiring the mega-hit.

In an interview with Jewsrock.org she says:

"After `Stairway to Heaven' came out, Randy knew they took what he had written -- everybody talked about that," says Pearl. "But when people would ask Randy about it, he used to always say, 'Let it go.' There should have been at least one telephone call from Led Zeppelin, some sort of `Thank you.' Something. But it never came."

Which isn't exactly surprising, as rock musicians have historically been far-more tight-lipped about their own "sampling" than modern hip-hop artists have. And in a genre like rock, where issues of race, inspirations and the origins of the music have always been a bone of contention I could see how something like this would only add fuel to an already tediously burning fire. I mean, Led Zeppelin's appropriation of the black man's Blues to create their heavy rock sound is pretty self-evident, but who would have every thought they were appropriating from us Hebrews too?

Though California rarely dwelled on his Jewishness ( his mother says he briefly attended Hebrew school but that "Randy was interested in all cultures," and "just happens to have a Jewish mother and father" ) he dedicated at least one song, the plainly titled "Jewish" from the 'The Family That Plays Together' album, to his Hebraic heritage. The song opens with almost nyabinghi-like drumming and a Hebrew ( I've seen some articles say it's Yiddish, but that sounds Hebrew to me jack ) vocal from gentile Spirit vocalist Jay Ferguson, giving it an air akin to that of an ethnic folk song or a religious hymnal. But then the cowbell starts and the song totally changes into a jazzy hippie-rock jam with bubbling Rhodes, delicate guitars, an airy bass groove, sizzling hi-hats and a soaring lead guitar solo before going back to the tribal vibe of the intro. What's really funny though is how similar the escalating guitar notes that end the tune are to the horn riff on experimental folky Donovan's jazzed-out "Get Thy Bearings" from his 'Hurdy Gurdy Man' LP, which was released at almost exactly the same time as Spirit's 'The Family That Plays Together.'

Maybe rock music just all sounds the same?

Regardless, I've provided an MP3, ripped from my own crackly original vinyl pressing of Spirit's 'The Family That Plays Together,' for your downloading and listening pleasure.

Spirit "Jewish"

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