Court case argues that former tourmate should be given a writing credit on the song
Led Zeppelin will face a jury trial to determine whether they plagiarised the opening of their 1971 classic track ‘Stairway To Heaven’.
The case was originally brought against the band by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the late Randy California (real name Randy Wolfe), who played guitar in Spirit. Skidmore argues that Wolfe should be given a writing credit on the track ‘Stairway To Heaven’ as it resembles his band’s 1968 song ‘Taurus’. The two bands toured together in 1968 and 1969.
In a decision made in Los Angeles on Friday (April 8), as reported by Reuters, US district judge Gary Klausner said that the two tracks were “substantially” similar enough to warrant a trial. The jury will determine whether Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page are liable for copyright infringement.
“While it is true that a descending chromatic four-chord progression is a common convention that abounds in the music industry, the similarities here transcend this core structure,” the judge ruled. “What remains is a subjective assessment of the ‘concept and feel’ of two works … a task no more suitable for a judge than for a jury.”
In their defence, the defendants claim that the song’s “chord progressions were so clichéd that they did not deserve copyright protection”, according to the reports.
The trial is scheduled for May 10.
Jimmy Page previously labelled claims that Led Zeppelin plagiarised the song as “ridiculous”.