Wednesday 7 December 2016

Led Zeppelin cleared of stealing intro to iconic song 'Stairway to Heaven'

Tim Walker in Los Angeles

Published 24/06/2016 | 02:30

The three surviving members of Led Zeppelin, from left, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. Photo: Ian West/PA
The three surviving members of Led Zeppelin, from left, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. Photo: Ian West/PA

Led Zeppelin did not steal the opening bars of their best-known song, "Stairway to Heaven", from a lesser-known band of the era, a jury has found.

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Guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant were accused of lifting the intro to their 1971 song from the instrumental track 'Taurus', which was released by the band Spirit three years earlier.

The suit was filed by Michael Skidmore, a British-born former rock journalist, who oversees the trust that manages royalties for Spirit's late guitarist Randy Wolfe. The plaintiff's lawyer, Francis Malifoy, argued that Page pilfered Wolfe's riff from 'Taurus' after the two bands shared a bill in the late 1960s. Page told a Los Angeles court that he had only heard 'Taurus' for the first time a couple of years ago, after his son-in-law had alerted him to online speculation about the similarities between the two songs. "I don't do the internet, so he played it for me," Page said last week, adding: "I was confused by the comparison."

The jury heard from members of Led Zeppelin and Spirit, as well as musicologists and music finance experts, in a case that could have cost Page and Plant a substantial chunk of the millions of dollars the song is purported to have earned in recent profits - not to mention a songwriting credit for Wolfe on Led Zeppelin's most celebrated track.

After less than a day of deliberation, the jury found that, while Page may have heard 'Taurus' before writing 'Stairway to Heaven', the two songs were not "substantially similar" in their fundamental elements.

Irish Independent

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