Jury Decides Led Zeppelin Didn’t Steal Stairway To Heaven Riff
Led Zeppelin did not steal the riff that formed the basis for their iconic hit “Stairway to Heaven,” a jury found Thursday, clearing the iconic band of accusations that it stole the opening of one of rock’s most celebrated songs.
The unanimous decision by the panel of eight men and women came after a week-long trial in which Zeppelin’s guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant and bassist John Paul Jones took the stand to rebuff the claim of thievery and tell how the band’s most famous song was created nearly half a century ago.
Page and Plant hugged members of their defense team after the clerk read the verdict from the four-man, four-woman jury.
“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,” they said in a joint statement. “We appreciate our fans’ support, and look forward to putting this legal matter behind us.”
At issue in the case was whether the British band stole the opening passage of “Stairway” from “Taurus,” an instrumental song by singer Randy Wolfe, who wrote and performed with his L.A. rock outfit Spirit which gained some popularity in the late 1960s and 1970s for its novel fusion of rock with jazz and other styles of music. Wolfe died in 1997.
Francis Malofiy, the attorney representing Wolfe’s estate, decried the verdict, saying Page and Plant “won on a technicality.”
“We proved they had access to the music, but the jury never heard the music,” Malofiy insisted to reporters moments after the verdict, referring to the original recording of “Taurus,” which was not played during the trial because it was not protected under federal copyright law at the time. The case, instead, hinged on the “Taurus” sheet music registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.
He said that “It wasn’t a fair fight,” Malofiy said. “Justice wasn’t served.”