Led Zeppelin won their case defending that they wrote ‘Stairway to Heaven’ without being influenced by the similar intro in Spirit’s ‘Taurus’. Taurus was written in 1968, while Stairway to Heaven was written 2 years later in 1970, and the opening riffs do have similarities. Notably, Taurus used more low notes throughout their riffs, while Stairway to Heaven emphasized higher notes creating their truly iconic intro in one of the most classic songs ever.
Jimmy Page and Robert Plant testified in a week long trial. Michael Skidmore, the trustee of deceased Spirit songwriter Randy Wolfe’s estate also testified. Other Spirit band members, musicologists, other witnesses and experts also testified. Plant and Page denied hearing Taurus prior to writing Stairway to Heaven, despite performing with Spirit decades earlier. Page claims to have written “Stairway” in 1970 in a remote cottage in Wales called Bron-Yr-Aur by fireside. Within a day, the jury sided with Led Zeppelin claiming the two songs had no extrinsic similarities.
Honestly… it does sound eerily similar, despite having different notes in emphatic positions throughout the riff, making what it is. Artists throughout history have always been influenced by other songs and artists, using parts of riffs but making them their own. If Zeppelin lost in this case, over one of the most iconic songs in the history of music, that would have set a ridiculous president. Out of the millions of songs created, how many variations of each and every riff, or lyric can artists make. At SOME POINT, a couple songs throughout history will have similarities if you look hard enough. With these two songs coming within a couple years of each other, and Led Zeppelin touring with Spirit years earlier, they must have heard the riff prior to writing the classic Stairway to Heaven. But… to say they wrote the new riffs, and song off of that exact song… is a stretch. I’m extremely impartial as most Led Zeppelin fans are, but I think they’re in the right here. Let us know what you think below.
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