Led Zeppelin Loses Bid to Dodge Trial over ‘Stairway to Heaven’
The song’s not quite the same, but the opening of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is close enough to an obscure 1960s album track to warrant a trial that might rewrite the history of rock ’n’roll over a song-writing credit.
Led Zeppelin founders Jimmy Page, 72, and Robert Plant, 67, are expected to recount the origins of the song more than 40 years ago at a trial scheduled to start May 10 in Los Angeles. Lawyers for t he t wo ro ckers have asked the judge to exclude evidence of the “adverse effects of drinking or drug use in the 1960s or later” as a factor in their allegedly f lawed recollection of whether they were familiar with a song they are accused of copying. US district judge R Gary Klausner ruled on Friday t h at a j u r y must d e c i d e whether the British rockers ripped off the opening licks of ‘Taurus’, which was recorded by a band named Spirit that in 1969 played concerts with Zeppelin. Although there was no evidence of “striking similarity,” the judge said, there was enough evidence offered for a jury to weigh whether there was “substantial similarity.” The lawsuit was brought in 2014, 43 years after ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was r ele a s e d, on behalf of the late Randy California, Spirit’s guitarist and the composer of ‘Taurus’.
Singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page