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Jury retires in Led Zeppelin Stairway To Heaven riff case

Published 22/06/2016

John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin
John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin

A jury has retired to consider its verdict in the trial of Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and Robert Plant over claims they copied the opening guitar riff in Stairway To Heaven.

The veteran rock stars have appeared at a federal court in Los Angeles accused of "lifting" the introduction to the 1971 song from an instrumental track called Taurus by the American band Spirit.

A lawsuit has been filed by Michael Skidmore, the trustee of Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe - known as Randy California - who drowned in 1997 having never taken legal action over the song.

In his closing speech, Mr Skidmore's lawyer Francis Malofiy said Led Zeppelin had tried to rewrite the history of Stairway To Heaven during the week-long trial.

"This case has always been about credit," he said.

"We are asking for a third credit. It doesn't displace Mr Plant. It doesn't displace Mr Page.

"Stairway To Heaven's introduction was lifted from a piece called Taurus."

Mr Malofiy said Page told the court he had not watched Spirit live, but this contradicted previous interviews he had given, including a 1970 article in NME in which he said he "enjoyed seeing them".

"If you can't believe what someone is saying about one issue, you can't believe what they are saying about any issue," he said.

"In this case there has been a changing of the facts - a complete rewrite of the history of how the song was written."

In his closing speech, Led Zeppelin's lawyer Peter Anderson said the similarly between Taurus and Stairway to Heaven was a "descending chromatic chord progression" that has been used by musicians for hundreds of years and features in Michelle by the Beatles.

"Randy Wolfe is not entitled to work be didn't do," Mr Anderson said.

"It is like saying this child has a different parent."

Judge Gary Klausner told the jury of four men and four women that they must reach a unanimous verdict.

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From Belfast Telegraph