Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin have had a lawsuit brought against due to similarities between the opening chords for 1971 song Stairway To Heaven and a composition called Taurus released four years prior by a band called Spirit.
The lawsuit was brought by Michael Skidmore who is a trustee for the late Randy Wolfe – Spirit’s guitarist and the man who composed Taurus. Skidmore alleges that Page was inspired by Wolfe’s track when the bands toured together in 1968 and 1969 – and that Wolfe never got the credit he deserved for the Zeppelin hit.
US district judge Gary Klausner agreed that the songs were similar enough that a jury should decide whether Plant and Page are liable for alleged copyright infringement, although he dismissed claims against Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and Warner Music.
He did suggest that a jury could potentially find substantial similarities between the tracks. “While it is true that a descending chromatic four-chord progression is a common convention that abounds in the music industry, the similarities here transcend this core structure,” Klausner said.
Plant and Page have responded, saying that Wolfe was a songwriter-for-hire with no claim to copyright, and that the two chord progressions were so clichéd that they did not deserve copyright protection.
Wolfe is alleged by Skidmore to have complained about the similarities between the songs in an interview a short time before his drowning in 1997.
A trial has been scheduled for May the 10th.
Watch: Stairway To Heaven Vs Taurus Guitar Examination