June 16, 2016

Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page Denies Stealing Stairway To Heaven Riff - Cleared!


This has been going on for a very long time. One has to wonder why it came to the fore now.

As is often the case the winners will be the lawyers! This is nothing new. It has happened many times in the past.The Beach Boys admitted to ripping off Chuck Berry and that one is very obvious.
Here are some more examples:



Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page testified yesterday that until a few years ago, he’d never heard a song the megastar band is accused of ripping off for the introduction to Stairway to Heaven

Page claimed he did not even know he owned the album by the band Spirit that contained the short instrumental tune Taurus that has a guitar riff similar to the intro of the classic 1971 rock ballad.

“Something like that would stick in my mind,” Page told jurors in his defence during a copyright infringement trial in federal court. “It was totally alien to me.”

A lawyer for the estate of Spirit’s late guitarist, Randy Wolfe, also known as Randy California, contends the famous descending-chord progression that begins Stairway was lifted from the Spirit tune, which was released a few years earlier.

An eight-member jury must decide whether the two sequences are substantially similar.

While musical experts not involved in the case have said the two are similar, they have also said the sequence is common and has appeared in other pieces from decades and even centuries ago.

Perhaps a larger hurdle for the plaintiffs is that the jury must find the recording of Stairway is similar to the sheet music for the song because that’s what is filed with the US Copyright Office.

Videos played in court of other musicians playing from the sheet music differ significantly from the recorded version of Taurus. Page said he had never seen the sheet music and could not compare the two tunes. He was not allowed to comment on whether he found the riff on the Taurus recording similar to Stairway after his lawyer objected to the question.

Page said he learned of the song only when his son-in-law told him comparisons with Stairway were cropping up online. After listening to the two tracks, he said he discovered he had Spirit’s first album, which contained Taurus.

“I don’t know how it got there or anything,” Page said. “I can tell you I’ve never heard this album.”

Page, however, acknowledged that Led Zeppelin used a riff from another song, Fresh Garbage, off Spirit’s debut album in a medley when it first started touring. Page insisted he’d heard it on the radio.

Clad in a dark grey suit, a vest and tie and wearing his white shoulder-length hair in a ponytail, Page acknowledged he liked Spirit and had played the band’s second album, which contained the band’s biggest hit, I Got a Line on You, many times. He said he has found at least five Spirit albums in his collection of some 10,000 records and CDs.

Earlier in the day, former Spirit bassist Mark Andes testified that both songs, played by an acoustic guitarist on a video aired in court, sounded the same.

In his testimony, Andes said Spirit played Taurus in 1968 at a Denver show where Zeppelin made its US debut as the opening act. He said Zeppelin singer Robert Plant drank beer and played snooker with him after a Spirit show in Birmingham, England.

“Yeah, we hung out. We had a blast,” Andes said.

With many thanks to The Australian

Is this where the original opening chord progression came from?

Extremely similar to Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven"; the arpeggio can be heard at 0:32 in this 17th Century Composition titled "Sonata di Chittarra, e Violino, con il suo Basso Continuo" by Giovanni Battista Granata.

Guitar performance by Stephen Stubbs.

It seems the outcome will be determined by a jury.
Let's hope they have some knowledge of music!

From The Australian

Led Zeppelin did not lift a guitar riff used in its signature song Stairway to Heaven from the US group Spirit, a Los Angeles jury has found, saying there were substantial differences between the two.

The jury's decision, reached on Thursday, its second day of deliberations, followed a week-long trial in US District Court in Los Angeles that had called into question the originality of the classic 1971 song of Led Zeppelin, one of the top-selling rock acts of all time.

The jury found that Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page had access to Spirit's 1967 song Taurus but that the riff they were accused of taking was not intrinsically similar to the opening chords of Stairway.

Page and Plant, who attended court since the beginning of the closely watched trial on June 14, showed little reaction immediately after the verdict was announced.

"We are grateful for the jury's conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favour, putting to rest questions about the origins of 'Stairway to Heaven' and confirming what we have known for 45 years," Page and Plant said in a joint statement.

Page, who co-wrote the song with Plant and worked on the guitar riff, testified that he was largely unfamiliar with Taurus but that he did own a copy of defunct band Spirit's self-titled album that contained the song.

Music expert Lawrence Ferrara, testifying on behalf of Led Zeppelin, told jurors that the "descending chromatic minor line progression" in question at the trial was used 300 years ago, as well as in many pop songs since.

Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the estate of the late Spirit guitarist and songwriter Randy Wolfe, had filed the lawsuit in 2014 accusing Led Zeppelin of taking the chord progression from Taurus, an instrumental that in the decades since its release had fallen into obscurity.
Led Zeppelin opened for Spirit on tour in the United States in 1968, the lawsuit stated.

Skidmore's lawyer Francis Malofiy said after the ruling that his side was hamstrung by US District Judge R. Gary Klausner's order preventing jurors from listening to Spririt's recording of Taurus.

Instead, much of the trial centred on the sheet music for the two songs.
"We're taking it one step at a time ... but there's obviously issues that can be appealed," Malofiy said.

Led Zeppelin broke up in 1980.
By Piya Sinha-Roy
Below - Picture credit:Hollywood Reporter


Above: The Beatles' version. Almost unrecognizable!       

From Ultimate Classic Rock:


To the winner go the spoils – or in this case, Led Zeppelin‘s legal expenses. Warner/Chappell Music, the band’s publishing company, is seeking $613,471 to offset attorney fees after claiming victory in a closely watched copyright lawsuit filed over “Stairway to Heaven.”

The estate of the late Randy California argued that Led Zeppelin’s radio favorite borrowed directly from the Spirit song “Taurus,” but a Los Angeles-based jury found unanimously in favor of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. It quickly got worse for the estate’s lawyer, Francis Malofiy.

He was subsequently given a three-month suspension for disregarding “various rules of conduct” in an earlier case involving R&B star Usher. Warner/Chappell is similarly citing “extensive and ongoing litigation misconduct,” according to Courthouse News.

Judge Paul Diamond, discussing the Usher lawsuit, described Malofiy as “sexist,” “abusive” and “flagrantly unprofessional,” saying the attorney had acted “disgracefully.”

Led Zeppelin’s publisher added several other accusations to the list. Among the most explosive: They say Malofiy attempted to convince the Los Angeles jury that Plant had access to “Taurus” by showing them a photo that was “altered to omit two people and create the false impression that Robert Plant was speaking with [ex-Spirit bassist] Mark Andes.”

Malofiy ultimately earned more than 100 sustained objections in Led Zeppelin’s six-day trial, along with multiple admonishments from judge R. Gary Klausner. In addition to a suspension from practicing law, Malofiy was also hit with $28,000 in fines from Diamond. He appealed, but the suspension was upheld by an appellate panel.



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