Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page denied stealing the riff from his band’s hit 1971 song “Stairway to Heaven” when he took the stand Wednesday to testify in a copyright infringement case brought by the rock band Spirit.
Wearing a dark gray suit and his white hair up in a ponytail, Page, 72, testified in a Los Angeles courtroom that he had never heard the psychedelic rock band Spirit’s song “Taurus,” before crafting “Stairway” with Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, according to the Associated Press.
The estate of late Spirit guitarist Randy California is suing the influential rock group for copyright infringement, claiming the now-instantly recognizable from “Stairway” sounds similar to a song Spirit released in 1968.
“Something like that would stick in my mind,” Page testified, according to the AP. “It was totally alien to me.”
According to Rolling Stone, Page admitted to being a fan of Spirit in the 1970s, and had purchased both their second and third albums. He also conceded that he owned Spirit’s first self-titled album, on which “Taurus” appears, but could not remember how it came to be part of his roughly 10,000 album collection.
But he said he had never heard about “Stairway”‘s connection to “Taurus” “until something appeared on the Internet — there was a buzz going on in the comparison a few years ago.”
“My son-in-law brought it up; I don’t do the Internet, so he played it for me,” Page testified, according to Rolling Stone. “When I heard the orchestral part at the beginning, I knew I’d never heard it before… When it started, I was confused by the comparison… [I thought], ‘What’s this got to do with ‘Stairway?'”
Spirit band members Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes testified earlier in the day, with Andes recalling that his band played “Taurus” at a 1968 concert in which Led Zeppelin was the opening act. Andes also testified that he had met Led Zeppelin’s frontman at a 1970 concert in Birmingham.
“It was a spontaneous gathering — we wound up in the club’s pub area,” Andes testified of the encounter. “I played snooker with Robert Plant and we were definitely drinking.”
Plant and Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones were also reportedly expected to testify during the copyright infringement trial, although Jones is no longer named as a defendant.
Below, listen to both Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and Spirit’s “Taurus.”
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