A US jury has found that English rock band Led Zeppelin didn’t copy the opening chords of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ from the Spirit song ‘Taurus’.
The case, which was brought about on behalf of Spirit’s late guitarist Randy Wolfe, stated that the famous opening riff of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was taken from the song ‘Taurus’, however the US jury found that ‘Taurus’ “was not intrinsically similar” to Zeppelin’s chord progression used in ‘Stairway’.
Zeppelin’s defense lawyers put forward the argument that the chord progression used in ‘Stairway’ is an extremely common progression, and has been for more than 300 years. The prosecution counter-argued that the band had been familiar with Spirit, with both bands playing on the same bill at a gig in Birmingham in 1970, with ‘Stairway’ being released the year after.
Even though Spirit’s bassist Mark Andes testified that he had met lead vocalist Robert Plant at the show, Plant stated he had no memory of that night. Plant stated further that the lack of memory may have partly been caused by a car accident he was involved in after the show along with his wife, both suffering head injuries.
Plant also reiterated how the song came to fruition, adding to the assertions from guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones that the song was created at the country estate of Headley Grange, not the Welsh cottage Bron-Yr-Aur.
Although the jury did not agree with the defense that Plant and Page were not familiar with ‘Taurus’ and Spirit, as they stated that they had “access” to it, they still came to the conclusion that the band did not plagiarize ‘Taurus’.
Spirit will now be expected to take on the legal costs of the trial. Listen to ‘Stairway to Heaven’ below.