The guitar riff Led Zeppelin used in the 1971 classic “Stairway to Heaven” differed substantially from one the English band was accused of stealing from the U.S. group Spirit, a jury found on Thursday in a copyright infringement trial in Los Angeles.
The decision was a victory for Led Zeppelin, one of the top selling rock acts of all time, after an week-long trial in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles that had called into question the originality of their signature song.
The jury, in their second day of deliberations, found Led Zeppelin’s singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page had access to Spirit’s 1967 song “Taurus” but that the riff they were accused of taking was not intrinsically similar to the opening chords of “Stairway.”
Page and Plant, who attended court since the beginning of the closely watched trial on June 14, showed little reaction immediately after the verdict was announced.
“We are grateful for the jury’s conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favor, putting to rest questions about the origins of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and confirming what we have known for 45 years,” Page and Plant said in a joint statement.
The lawsuit accusing Led Zeppelin of taking a descending chord progression in “Stairway” from the instrumental “Taurus” was brought in 2014 by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the estate of the late Spirit guitarist and songwriter Randy Wolfe.
Guitarist Jimmy Page, who co-wrote the song with Plant and worked on the guitar riff, testified that he was largely unfamiliar with “Taurus,” but that he did own a copy of the band’s self-titled album that contained the song.—Reuters