US jury clears Led Zeppelin of stealing Stairway To Heaven intro

A jury in Los Angeles clears Led Zeppelin of copying the song, Taurus in its megahit, Stairway to Heaven.
A US jury has cleared Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant (left) and guitarist Jimmy Page of plagiarising the intro of their song Stairway To Heaven, on June 23, 2016.
A US jury has cleared Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant (left) and guitarist Jimmy Page of plagiarising the intro of their song Stairway To Heaven, on June 23, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A US jury found on Thursday (June 23) that British rock group Led Zeppelin did not steal the intro to their signature track Stairway To Heaven from a long-defunct Los Angeles rock band.

The jury in federal court in Los Angeles rejected claims by songwriting duo Robert Plant and Jimmy Page that they had no access to the song Taurus by the 1960s rock band Spirit.

But the panel of four men and four women said there was no proof that the two songs were sufficiently similar for Spirit's copyright to have been breached.

Plant and Page denied plagiarising the melancholic guitar progression of their classic 1971 song from Taurus, an instrumental track from Spirit's debut album, written four years earlier.

Both were present as the verdict was read out, shortly after Judge Gary Klausner had agreed to a request by the jury to hear acoustic guitar renditions of Taurus and Stairway played side-by-side for a final time.

It was the culmination of a seven-day trial in the case brought by Michael Skidmore, the trustee and friend of Spirit guitarist Randy California, who long maintained he deserved credit for Stairway but drowned in 1997 having never taken legal action over the song.