Band 'grateful' to jury

Led Zeppelin cleared of stealing Stairway riff

The song appeared on Led Zeppelin's unnamed fourth album
The song appeared on Led Zeppelin’s unnamed fourth album

After five hours of deliberations a Los Angeles jury decided Led Zeppelin did not steal one of its most famous guitar riffs from another band.

The jury said a song by the band Spirit “was not intrinsically similar” to the opening sequence to Led Zeppelin’s 1971 song Stairway to Heaven.

Tonight the the British rock band said they were “grateful” to the jury for ruling in their favour.

US band Spirit claimed Led Zeppelin copied the opening bars to an instrumental song called Taurus which had been released four years earlier.

Spirit band members sued for song writing credit and compensation on behalf of  the late musician, Randy Craig Wolfe.

However, the plaintiff failed to show that Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant, now 67, and guitarist Jimmy Page, 72, were familiar with Taurus and that the works were substantially similar.

While claims were made that the pair had seen Spirit in concert and owned a recording of Taurus, Page and Plant disputed their familiarity with the song.

They further claimed that the section of the song being challenged was a common descending chord sequence.

It was claimed Plant and Page would have heard Taurus when the two bands shared the same bill at a club in Birmingham in 1970.

Giving evidence to the court on Tuesday, Plant explained how he and Page wrote the song at a countryside retreat in Hampshire in 1971. It was included on the band’s unnamed fourth album.

When cross-examined, Plant conceded that Led Zeppelin played a medley that included a different Spirit song, but said he could not recall seeing Spirit perform, or ever meeting the group.

Page said he first heard Taurus on the internet two years ago, even though it was included on an album that he owned.

“Something like that would stick in my mind. It was totally alien to me,” Page told the court.

It has been estimated that Stairway to Heaven has earned more than $562 million in royalties and record sales.

The statement issued by the band said: “We are grateful for the jury’s conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favour, putting to rest questions about the origins of Stairway to Heaven and confirming what we have known for 45 years.

“We appreciate our fans’ support and look forward to putting this legal matter behind us.”

Wolfe drowned in 1997 while rescuing his son from a rip current in Hawaii.

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