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article imageJury rules Led Zeppelin did not steal riff for Stairway to Heaven

By Marcus Hondro     Jun 24, 2016 in Music
After deliberating into a second day a jury in Los Angeles has ruled that Led Zeppelin did not steal a riff to help write their rock classic 'Stairway to Heaven.' The trial featured testimony — often humorous — from Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.
Led Zeppelin lawsuit
The suit was brought against the legendary British rock band by the trustee of the estate of the late guitarist Randy California, born Randy Craig Wolfe, who played guitar for decades in a band called Spirit, formed in 1967.
In 1968 a song written by California called 'Taurus' was released by his band, three years before Led Zeppelin released 'Stairway to Heaven,' written by Page and Plant. The lawsuit claimed the opening riff in each of the two songs is so similar as not to be a coincidence. The defendants said the riff is a common one that has had wide usage in music.
Spirit and Led Zeppelin had toured together — Zep's first tour in North America was to appear at festivals that Spirit also played at — and the lawsuit alleged that Page, now 72, and Plant, 67, had direct contact with California and Spirit.
At trial, Plant elicited a round of laughter when he told the court he couldn't remember most of the people he'd spent time with over the years.
The plaintiff argued that Page and Plant heard "Taurus" and, along with experts, at trial they claimed the two lifted part of the opening riff, and chord progression, from California's short and somewhat obscure instrumental piece.
Page, Plant release statement
According to the plaintiff, Page and Plant had selective memories under questioning but the defense said it was absurd the suit was brought so long after events took place. They said if a suit was to be brought it should have occurred 40 years ago when California was alive (he drowned in 1997 at the age of 45 while saving his son's life) and memories were fresher.
Lawyers for the defense also noted the progression of the riff in question is a common one used in dozens of songs in the history of music.
The two said they wrote their iconic rock song in a cottage in Wales and did not have contact with California or Spirit when they appeared on the same bill; bassist and keyboardist John-Paul Jones, the other surviving member of Led Zeppelin, also said there was no contact between the two bands.
Page and Plant released a statement following the decision. "We appreciate our fans' support, and look forward to putting this legal matter behind us," the statement said in part.
More about stairway to heaven, Led Zeppelin, Randy California, jimmy page, robert plant
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