By Robyn Collins
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page testified in court on Wednesday (June 15) that he did not steal the opening riff for his band’s classic hit “Stairway To Heaven” from Spirit. On the stand, Page claimed he hadn’t heard Spirit’s song “Taurus” until a few years ago. “Something like that would stick in my mind. It was totally alien to me,” he said.
The lawsuit, filed by the estate of late Spirit guitarist Randy California, claims that Led Zeppelin copied the opening of Spirit’s 1968 track for the beginning of the 1971 hit “Stairway to Heaven.” The estate filed the suit in 2014 over alleged similarities between the two songs and is seeking royalties from the track. The trial began June 14 in Los Angeles.
Page did acknowledge that he owned three Spirit albums and that Led Zeppelin used a riff from another Spirit track in a medley played during their first tour in Scandinavia.
Former Spirit member Mark Andes also testified on Wednesday, claiming the riffs from both songs are the same. Andes said Spirit played “Taurus” during a show in Denver in 1968 at which Zeppelin were the opening act. He also said that he “hung out” and “had a blast” with Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant after a Spirit show in Birmingham in 1970.
Robert Plant and bassist John Paul Jones are expected to testify later in the trial, although Jones is not a defendant in the case.