Los Angeles (AP) – A trial is needed to determine if Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” copies its opening notes from a song performed by the rock band Spirit, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S District Judge R. Gary Klausner ruled last week that lawyers for the trustee of late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe had shown enough evidence to support a case that “Stairway to Heaven” copies music from the Spirit song “Taurus.”
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page (left) and singer Robert Plant are shown in this Oct. 9, 2012 file photo. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
“Taurus” was written by Wolfe in either 1966 or 1967, years before Led Zeppelin released “Stairway to Heaven” in 1971. Klausner wrote that while the songs have some differences, lawyers for Wolfe’s trustee may be able to prove they are substantially similar.
Led Zeppelin and Spirit performed at some concerts and festivals around the same time, but not on the same stage. Klausner wrote that the evidence presented so far represented a circumstantial case that Led Zeppelin may have heard “Taurus” performed before “Stairway to Heaven” was created.
Experts hired by Led Zeppelin contend both “Stairway to Heaven” and “Taurus” use notes that have been used in music for centuries.
Francis Alexander Malofiy, attorney for Wolfe’s trustee Michael Skidmore, said they were able to overcome statute-of-limitations hurdles to sue over “Stairway to Heaven” because the song was remastered and re-released in 2014.
A jury trial is scheduled for May 10 in Los Angeles.