Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page testified in a Los Angeles federal court on Tuesday as part of a copyright infringement lawsuit over the band's 1971 signature song, “Stairway To Heaven.”
At issue is a lawsuit brought by Randy California's (aka Randy Wolfe) estate and members of Spirit by trustee Michael Skidmore over claims that the acoustic introduction to “Stairway” was lifted from their 1968 instrumental, “Taurus.”
MyNewsLA reports Page revealed that although he enjoyed and owned several of Spirit’s later albums, he first knowingly heard the track “Taurus” a few years ago when his son-in-law played it to him as fans buzzed about the two songs online.
“I knew I’d never heard it before,” Page said of Wolfe’s classically inspired guitar instrumental. The concept of comparing the two songs, Page testified, “was just totally alien to me.”
The guitarist confirmed after hearing the songs he later searched for and discovered a copy of Spirit’s debut album in his collection, although he had no recollection of actually listening to it or buying it.
To establish any potential similarity, the plaintiffs are using a video recording of a musicologist-guitarist playing “Taurus” note-for-note from the copyrighted lead sheet. In the 1960s, musical notation was deposited with the Library of Congress to establish copyright — not recordings.
The jury will have to decide whether there are any substantial similarities between the “Taurus” deposit copy — or sheet music — and the first two and a half minutes of the copyrighted recording of “Stairway.”
As for plaintiff’s attorney Francis Malofiy’s allegations that Page heard Wolfe perform “Taurus” during the handful of dates Led Zeppelin shared with Spirit in 1968 and 1969, Page said he could not recall ever having seen a Spirit performance or having met any of its members backstage.
Page is expected to return to the stand on Thursday.
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