Wednesday 21 March 2018

Led Zeppelin stars in court for 'Stairway' plagiarism case

Robert Plant (left) and Jimmy Page
Robert Plant (left) and Jimmy Page

David Mercer

Members of Led Zeppelin have appeared in court to face claims that they copied the famous opening guitar riff on the band's iconic song 'Stairway to Heaven'.

Singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page attended the hearing in Los Angeles after being accused of 'lifting' the introduction of their classic 1971 hit from a track by the psychedelic US rock band Spirit.

A lawsuit has been filed by Michael Skidmore, the trustee of Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe, who drowned in 1997, having never taken legal action over the song.

The copyright-infringement trial is taking place before a jury at the US District Court, where Plant, Page and their bandmate John Paul Jones are expected to give evidence.

Mr Skidmore's lawyer, Francis Malofiy, told the hearing: "'Stairway To Heaven' is one of the most iconic rock songs.

"Led Zeppelin is one of the most iconic rock bands of all time. Our issue is where they picked up this piece of music."

Wolfe wrote an instrumental track called 'Taurus' for the "love of his life" in the late 1960s, the court heard.

But the musical composition "fell into the hands of Jimmy Page", who used it for the introduction to 'Stairway To Heaven', Mr Malofiy said.

Both pieces of music were played to the jury.

Mr Malofiy said that Led Zeppelin appreciated Spirit "on an intimate level" and were the opening act for Spirit when the British band made their US debut in December 1968.

Led Zeppelin's lawyer, Peter Anderson, said: "Forty-five years ago, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant wrote some of the greatest songs in rock 'n' roll history. 'Stairway To Heaven' was written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and them alone. Period. History cannot be rewritten."

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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