The verdict is in. Led Zeppelin did not steal music that led to the writing of perhaps the band’s most iconic track “Stairway to Heaven.” A jury came to their decision yesterday (Thursday June 23rd), and cleared the the band of the accusation that it stole the opening riff of one of rock’s most celebrated songs from a band called Spirit.
The decision was unanimous and came came after a week-long trial that saw the band’s guitar player, Jimmy Page, and singer, Robert Plant , taking the stand.
The clerk of the court read the verdict from the four-man, four-woman jury, and upon hearing the news, Page and Plant hugged members of their defense team.
In a joint statement they said: “We are grateful for the jury’s conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favor, putting to rest questions about the origins of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and confirming what we have known for 45 years. We appreciate our fans’ support, and look forward to putting this legal matter behind us.”
The case went to court to identify whether Zeppelin had stolen the opening passage of “Stairway” from another song called “Taurus,” an instrumental song written by singer Randy Wolfe, who had written and performed the track with his band Spirit.
Following the verdict, Francis Malofiy, the attorney representing Wolfe’s estate, said, Page and Plant “won on a technicality.”
For Zeppelin, there were millions of dollars in royalty payments at stake. Had the verdict gone the other way, the estate of Wolfe would have received a third of the songwriting credit for “Stairway.”
Before making their decision, the jury returned to the courtroom and asked U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner to play the recordings of both songs played on an acoustic guitar again. They were played twice, and the jury returned to deliberations.
Only 15 minutes later, the court was called to reconvene, when the jurors announced they had reached a verdict.
Michael Skidmore, a trustee of Wolfe’s estate said of the verdict: “Money speaks louder than common sense.”
Whilst, Helene Freeman, one of the leaders of the Led Zeppelin defense team, said:“We were confident that if people listened to the music, they would find it was original.”