Led Zep's Stairway to Heaven chord sequence now NOT stolen, US court rules

Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin in their not inconsiderable pomp (Image credit: George De Sota / Getty)

One of the music industry's longest running legal battles, claiming that Stairway to Heaven was in part the result of plagiarism, has taken another U-turn as a US court yesterday overturned an earlier decision - in which a US court had overturned an earlier decision.

This time, it's defendants Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Robert Plant who are celebrating, as the plagiarism claim, brought on behalf of US band Spirit, was dismissed - again.

A San Fransisco panel of 11 judges affirmed the 2016 judgement that found no proof that signature Led Zep epic Stairway to Heaven breached the copyright of Taurus, performed by Spirit, and written by Randy Wolfe. This 2016 judgment had been itself overturned in 2018, on largely technical grounds.

Spirit performed with Led Zeppelin after Taurus was written, and it was claimed that the band had lifted a chord sequence after hearing the song live.

Testifying in 2016 Page said he first heard the song many years later, when online comparison videos began to surface.  

"I knew I had never heard that before," he said. "Something like that would stick in my mind. It was totally alien to me."

"When it started, I was confused by the comparison… [I thought], 'What's this got to do with Stairway?'"

Will Groves

I'm lucky enough to be MusicRadar's Editor-in-chief while being, by some considerable distance, the least proficient musician on the editorial team. An undeniably ropey but occasionally enthusiastic drummer, I've worked on the world's greatest music making website in one capacity or another since its launch in 2007. I hope you enjoy the site - we do.