Warning: Playing “Stairway to Heaven” Is Prohibited

guitar playing warningAs a hobby, I sing and play in Memphis rock cover bands.  At the Young Avenue Deli in the Cooper-Young neighborhood of Memphis, the sound guy has a sign posted warning bands: “$20 Fine for Playing Brown-Eyed Girl or Mustang Sally.”

If you’re a music fan, you might be thinking, “Why? Those are both great songs.”  They definitely are, which is why 90 percent of cover bands play them, which in turn is why sound guys hate them.

We encounter a similar phenomenon with guitar players.  Every guitar player learns or tries to learn certain fundmental songs and riffs, including Stairway to Heaven (first song I ever learned back in college), Smoke On the Water, and Sweet Child O’ Mine.

In response we get this admonishment from a music store that:

ABSOLUTELY, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE AT ALL ARE CUSTOMERS ALLOWED TO PLAY STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN, SWEET CHILD OF MINE OR SMOKE ON THE WATER WHILE TRYING OUT GUITARS.  THANK YOU.

–Thanks to my bandmate Ron Lefkowitz for this one.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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