Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Stairway to Heaven v. Taurus Lawsuit Has Gone to the Jury

A lawsuit in Los Angeles alleging that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant plagiarized part of Stairway to Heaven from the Spirit song Taurus (I know, never heard of them either), has finished and a decision now rests with the jury.

The lawsuit claims Page took the opening four bars of Stairway from a similar sequence in Taurus, written by late Sprit Guitarist Randy California (nee Wolfe). The suit saw all three surviving members of Led Zeppelin taking the stand.

During testimony Jimmy Page claimed to have never heard Taurus, John Paul Jones claims never to have heard Spirit, and Robert Plant laughingly stated he had no recollection of Spirit or "mostly anybody I've ever hung out with." As well, early recordings from Headley Grange in 1971 featuring Page playing the parts of Stairway to the rest of the band, plus an early run through with incomplete lyrics were played in the courtroom.

While the opening sequence of Stairway does bear similarity to Taurus, it is not the same melody or chords, merely the descending bass line over Am chord, a sequence that appears often in musical history, dating back to the 16th century. Such 20th century standards as My Funny Valentine and Chim Chim Cher-ee use the same sequence. I have more thought and see audio examples on Episode 118 of The Ramble on Radio Podcast.

Reporter Pamela Chenin has been doing a phenomenal job of covering the trial via twitter.

The Jury is expected to have a verdict tomorrow, although they could in theory take much longer. Follow Pamela Chenin or Ramble on Radio on twitter for the verdict as it happens.

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