Led Zeppelin can finally put speculation to bed over the origin of their generational hit, ”Stairway to Heaven.” The United States Supreme court declined to hear a copyright infringement case claiming band member Jimmy Page and Robert Plant plagiarized the song’s iconic intro from the 1968 track “Taurus” by the group Spirit.
The case originated in 2014 when journalist Michael Skidmore sued the music writing duo on behalf of Randy Wolfe, the late frontman for the band Spirit. Court documents say the famous instrumental chorus in “Stairway to Heaven’s” intro is almost identical to the 1968 track “Taurus.”
Wolfe’s litigious crusade was last heard, and upheld by a jury, in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals back in March. They found Zeppelin did not infringe on “Taurus.” Legal proceedings involving the case were also hear in 2016 and 2018.
Musicians across the country watched these proceedings carefully. “Stairway to Heaven” was viewed as a potential case study in how copyright cases would be tried in the future. A plaintiff can prove copyright infringement only if the alleged infringer had access to the plaintiff’s work, and the two works are “substantially similar.”
Legal proceedings haven’t stopped artist, famous and novice, from performing the classic hit. Most recently U2’s Bono and The Edge did their rendition while under lockdown with their 'Songs from an Empty Room' video series on social media.
"We said we’d never play this… This one's for the crew," the band captioned the video.