A Los Angeles jury found Thursday that Led Zeppelin did not plagiarize the opening riff to their iconic “Stairway To Heaven” from Spirit’s “Taurus,” which was written and recorded in 1967.
Guitarist Jimmy Page, 72, and singer Robert Plant, 67, emerged victorious at the end of a six-day trial brought on behalf of Spirit's late guitarist, Randy Wolfe, popularly known as Randy California. Wolfe’s estate sued for recognition and a share of the proceeds on the grounds the 1971 rock anthem ripped off a passage from the instrumental “Taurus,” which was on Spirit's 1968 debut album.
The estate’s attorney, Francis Malofiy, reportedly said that he was sad and disappointed by the jury’s decision. “The reality is that we proved access, but they could never hear what they had access to,” he said. “It’s bizarre.”
“This case is about one thing, one six-letter word — credit,” Malofiy told the jury during the trial and likened the case to a David-Goliath type battle.
During the trial, reports said that Led Zeppelin’s lawyers argued that the chord progression in question had been in use for more than 300 years. The prosecution said the English rock band became familiar with Spirit's song when the two bands played on the same bill in Plant's hometown in 1970.
Spirit's bassist Mark Andes said he met Plant at the show and even played snooker with him later. Plant denied any memory of that night saying it would be hard to remember a one-off meeting from 40 years ago, BBC reported. He partially attributed his memory loss to a bad car crash on his way home when he and his wife suffered head injuries in the accident. The windshield of his Jaguar was left “buried” in his face, he told the court.
Led Zeppelin’s attorney Peter Anderson told the Guardian that the case was an attempt “to take an iconic song ... and [say] it’s got a new parent.”