By Robyn Collins
Led Zeppelin has been accused of copying a guitar riff from Spirit’s “Taurus” for their mega-hit Stairway to Heaven”.
Attorney Francis Malofiy, Trustee for late Spirit songwriter Randy Wolfe, played a video of a man with an acoustic guitar. An unnamed expert plays the beginning of “Stairway to Heaven” then the bass line of “Taurus,” followed by both videos synched, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Led Zeppelin’s attorney Peter Anderson objected to the submission of the video, claiming it wasn’t included in the joint list of exhibits submitted prior to trial.
U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner said if the video really wasn’t in the joint exhibit list, its use would be “grounds for a mistrial.”
After opening statements, the songwriter’s sister Janet Wolfe and Spirit band member Jay Ferguson took the stand. Their testimonies focused on Wolfe’s status as a “prodigy” and when Led Zeppelin and Spirit performed on the same bill. They were presumably attempting to show Page had access to Wolfe’s song to hear it and later copy it.
Neither witness could definitively say if “Taurus” was performed during the events or if Led Zeppelin band members saw the performance.
Anderson made the point out that because this case is playing out decades after any alleged infringement, many witnesses have died and documents have been lost.
“Forty-five years ago, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant wrote some of the greatest songs in rock and roll history … half a century later, they’re being sued for it,” Anderson said, adding that there is still enough evidence “to show that history cannot be rewritten.”
Skidmore, Page and Plant are scheduled to testify, along with Led Zeppelin member John Paul Jones, Spirit bassist Mark Andes and music producer Lou Adler.