Page, Plant Cleared In Stairway Trial

A Los Angeles jury has decided that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant did not steal the riff of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” from contemporary group Spirit.

Photo: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, file
During a press conference ahead of the worldwide theatrical release of “Celebration Day,” in New York.

The estate of deceased Spirit guitarist Randy California claimed that the structure of “Stairway,” written in 1971, was uncannily similar to that of Spirit’s “Taurus,” which was written several years before the hit.

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant issued the following statement: “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.  We appreciate our fans’ support, and look forward to putting this legal matter behind us.”

The trial kicked off June 14, when prosecution lawyer Francis Malofiy said the essence of the trial boiled down to “Give credit where credit is due.”

Former Spirit member Mark Andes testified not only were the riffs almost identical, but his group played “Taurus” in 1968 when Spirit opened a show for Zep. He also said the bands had hung out together in 1970.

Page said he did have Spirit’s work in his record collection of over 10,000 albums and CDs, but only heard “Taurus” several years ago, when his son said people on the internet were accusing him of plagiarism.

Plant told the courtroom that he recalled writing the song vividly, but did not remember spending time with Spirit, and that the whole period of his life was hazy.

Page did admit to using the riff from Spirit’s “Fresh Garbage” in Led Zeppelin’s “As Long as I Have You” jam, which it used to play often. “Fresh Garbage” was on the same self-titled debut album as “Taurus,” but Page said he hadn’t played the record and had heard “Fresh Garbage” on the radio.

Zeppelin recycled other artists’ material in its early years as a band, and has settled a number of other lawsuits on the matter.

Musical experts who were not involved in the trial  said that Spirit was far from the first to use the descending chromatic chord sequence in A minor, on which both riffs are based.