July 23, 2024
Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” is one of the most iconic songs in Rock. 

Flush with classic riffs, it was not too surprising a dispute over the origins of a portion of the song would occur – especially since guitarist Jimmy Page had a notorious reputation for lifting riffs from other musicians.

On this day in 2016… A federal court jury in L.A. finds that Led Zeppelin did not steal a riff from guitarist Randy California’s instrumental “Taurus” (the segment in question comes approximately 40-seconds into the song) for “Stairway To Heaven.” Page was accused of copying a passage the Spirit guitarist wrote in ’68.

California (aka Randy Wolfe – pictured), who was in a Jimi Hendrix fronted band prior to joining Spirit stated, “people always ask me why ‘Stairway To Heaven’ sounds exactly like ‘Taurus’ which was released two years earlier.” California added, “they (Led Zeppelin) opened up for us on their first American tour.” According to an attorney for California’s estate that further suggested that Led Zeppelin was likely aware of the song.

Though California died in a drowning accident in ’97, a copyright infringement and injunction lawsuit against the reissue of “Led Zeppelin IV” was initiated in ’14.

Though the matter appeared settled in ’16, there was an effort to vacate the ruling because the judge “gave jurors erroneous information about copyright law.”

However, two years later, the Ninth Circuit ruled against California’s estate and re-instated the ’16 jury verdict. Later that year, the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear the case, leaving the Ninth Circuit’s decision in place and effectively ending the dispute..

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