Like the song says, the piper is calling Led Zeppelin to join him — in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. There, they must once again defend their classic song “Stairway to Heaven” in a long-running case alleging they infringed on the Spirit song “Taurus” to create its iconic sound.
The similarities between Zeppelin’s song and “Taurus”, composed by the late Randy Wolfe (aka Randy California) in the late ’60s, have been a decades-long source of debate among classic rock fans. It’s also the source of a lawsuit from Wolfe trustee Michael Skidmore, who alleges that Zepp cribbed from Spirit’s sound for “Stairway”. Zepp won the case in June 2016, after the jury heard testimony from Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, as well as a bandmember from Spirit and other expert witnesses, about the alleged similarities between the tracks.
(Read: Dissected: Led Zeppelin)
However, per The Hollywood Reporter, that victory turned out to be short-lived, as today’s opinion on the trial from a panel of appellate justices indicates that the jury was not given sufficient instruction on originality and unprotectable music elements. During the original trial, the jury was not allowed to listen to “Taurus”, as the song was copyrighted prior to the federal law covering the use of sound recordings. As a result, the case must now go back to trial.
If Spirit ends up winning this case, they might have all the gold they need to buy their own stairway to heaven.
Are the two tracks similar? Listen for yourself – here’s “Stairway to Heaven”:
And here’s Spirit’s “Taurus”:
Ooh, it makes me wonder.