A jury in California decided today that the opening acoustic riff to Led Zeppelin’s iconic “Stairway to Heaven” is indeed original. The estate of the late Randy Wolfe, a member of the band Spirit, sued Led Zeppelin members Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, claiming they stole the riff from Spirit’s song, “Taurus.” The riff in question is a very short descending cord progression that has been used in music for hundreds of years.
Lawyers for the Wolfe estate claimed the members of Led Zeppelin and Taurus knew each other and were familiar with each other’s work, although both Page and Plant failed to remember that. Both rockers took the stand in what turned out to be a very humorous few days in court last week.
At one point, Francis Malofiy, lawyer for the Wolfe estate, asked Page, “You had a gift, you played the guitar,” to which Page simply responded, “Well, yeah.” The courtroom erupted in laughter, as it did several times throughout the proceedings. Page even brought a guitar into the courtroom, although he never played it.
Thankfully, for Led Zeppelin, the jury decided that there was no credence to the Wolfe estate’s claims. Indeed, it seems to me that some family members wanted a piece of the enormous pot of gold that is “Stairway to Heaven.” Nice try.
In case you are interested in hearing “Taurus,” which happens to be a remarkably short instrumental song: