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Led Zeppelin to face jury trial over Stairway To Heaven's "substantial" similarity to Spirit's Taurus

(Image credit: Edward Le Poulin/Corbis)

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant will face a jury trial over similarities between Led Zeppelin's 1971 classic Stairway To Heaven and Spirit's Taurus, recorded in 1967.

The trial is due to take place on 10 May, after US district judge Gary Klausner said there was "substantial" similarity between the songs; a jury will now determine whether Page and Plant 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," Klausner wrote.

"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."

The similarities here transcend the core structure

Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the late Spirit guitarist and songwriter Randy Wolfe - AKA Randy California - brought the lawsuit. His lawyer, Francis Malofiy, stated, "This case, from our perspective, has always been about giving credit where credit was due, and now we get to right that wrong."

Led Zeppelin opened for Spirit on the rock legends' first US tour in 1968, and Page has also admitted to possessing a copy of Spirit's first album among his record collection, although he claims he "did not hear Taurus until 2014".

Are the two songs really that similar? And have we all actually been playing Taurus in guitar shops all these years? Listen to them both below.

Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as a decade-and-a-half performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.