Led Zeppelin did not steal a riff from an obscure 1960s instrumental for the introduction of its classic rock anthem “Stairway to Heaven,” a federal jury decided on Thursday, legally settling a debate that has divided music fans for decades.
But before reaching a verdict that could have may well re-written the history of rock, they only wanted to hear stripped-down passages of the two songs in question.
Within 15 minutes of seeing video clips of an acoustic guitarist playing the opening to Stairway to Heaven and a similar passage from Taurus, written by the late Randy Wolfe, the Los Angeles federal jurors handed Led Zeppelin a major legal victory.
Jimmy Page, 72, and singer Robert Plant, 67, both wearing suits and with their long hair pulled back in ponytails, hugged their lawyers. They said in a statement that they were grateful for “putting to rest questions about the origins of Stairway to Heaven and confirming what we have known for 45 years.”
Earlier, the trust of the late Randy Craig Wolfe claimed that Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page lifted a passage that Wolfe, better known as Randy California, wrote for Taurus, a short work he recorded with his band Spirit in 1968.