Jury says Led Zeppelin did not rip off “Stairway to Heaven”

June 23, 2016Article
ARS Technica

A federal jury in Los Angeles on Thursday cleared Led Zeppelin of allegations that the band infringed the opening of the classic rock song "Stairway to Heaven."

The jury deliberated for less than a day after a trial that began June 14. The trial was based on claims that the famous intro to the 1971 song infringed the 1968 instrumental song "Taurus" from the band Spirit.

The case, in which tens of millions of dollars were at stake, was brought by the trust of Randy Wolfe, aka Randy California. The suit claimed Zep's opening to "Stairway to Heaven"—an acoustic guitar arpeggiating chords in a descending pattern—was a complete ripoff of California's "Taurus," which he wrote for the band Spirit. Zeppelin toured with Spirit in 1968, and California's complaint alleges that Zep guitarist/songwriter Jimmy Page had heard "Taurus" before the debut of "Stairway to Heaven," which appeared on Led Zeppelin IVin 1971.

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