In court, Led Zeppelin’s Page denies stealing ‘Stairway’ riff

| Jun 17, 2016 | Copyright Law

About a month ago, we discussed the copyright infringement lawsuit against Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of legendary rock band Led Zeppelin. In an update, the trial is now underway, with Page, Led Zeppelin’s lead guitarist until the band broke up in 1981, testifying that he was unaware of the song from which he is accused of stealing the opening riff of “Stairway to Heaven” when he and Plant wrote their song.

To briefly remind our readers, the estate of a member of rock band Spirit is suing Page and Plant, claiming that the beginning of mega-hit “Stairway to Heaven” is a copy of “Taurus,” a song the late guitarist wrote in 1968. Led Zeppelin released “Stairway” in 1971. The estate is seeking monetary damages.

Testifying in a California courtroom on June 15, Page denied copying from “Taurus.” He said he did not hear the song until a few years ago, and that when he did hear it, he did not recognize it. “It was totally alien to me,” Page said, according to NME.

However, Page acknowledged that he was acquainted with Spirit, owing a few of their albums, and that he played a riff from another Spirit song during a medley that Led Zeppelin performed during one of its tours.

The bands had significant contacts in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, as a former Spirit member testified. He said that Spirit opened for Led Zeppelin on at least one occasion, and that the band played “Taurus” at that concert. The ex-Spirit musician also recalled that Plant visited the band after a show in 1970.

Trial is ongoing, with Plant and ex-Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, who is not a defendant, both expected to testify.