Two years ago, members of Spirit, a California psych-rock band from the ’60s and ’70s, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Led Zeppelin, claiming that huge pieces of the Zeppelin classic “Stairway To Heaven” were ripped off from “Taurus,” an instrumental track that appeared on Spirit’s self-titled 1968 debut album. And now Jimmy Page is arguing that Zeppelin wrote the song, though he does admit that he owns a copy of that Spirit album.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Page recently admitted that he discovered a copy of Spirit’s album in his collection, but he also claims that he never heard it before 2014: “I had not previously seen it in my collection and do not know how or when it got there. It may well have been left by a guest. I doubt it was there for long, since I never noticed it before. But, again, I know I did not hear ‘Taurus’ until 2014… I have several thousand albums of many different kinds. They include albums I purchased, albums people gave me and albums that were simply left at my home. Also, like a book collector who never gets around to reading books they collect, I have never listened to many of the albums.”
Page also talked a bit about writing “Stairway To Heaven,” saying that the band created it independently “with the intention to create a long work, with multiple different parts, that would unfold with increasing complexity and speed.” And he says that there are differences between the opening “Stairway” guitar line and the one that runs through “Taurus,” also claiming that plenty of other songs include similar descending guitar lines. Still, it’s going to be hard to argue that “Taurus” doesn’t sound a whole hell of a lot like “Stairway”:
Spirit — represented by bassist Mark Andes and a trust representing late guitarist Randy California — are saying that Zeppelin opened for Spirit on tour early on. Meanwhile, Page’s lawyers are arguing that “Taurus” was a “work for hire” — that, even if Spirit did write the guitar riff, they signed away their rights to the record label that released it. They’re also bringing up a 1991 interview in which Randy California said, “If they wanted to use [‘Taurus’], that’s fine… I’ll let them have the beginning of ‘Taurus’ for their song without a lawsuit.”