Almost two years after the issue first surfaced in legal circles, a judge is allowing a plagiarism suit regarding the intro of Led Zeppelin’s legendary “Stairway to Heaven” to proceed to a jury trial.
The suit, filed by the estate of deceased Spirit guitarist Randy California, alleges that Jimmy Page ripped off the Spirit song “Taurus,” which he would have heard when the two bands played shows together in the late 1960s. The songs share a similar descending chord progression played on acoustic guitar and, to boot, they’re in the same key. California first complained about “Stairway” in an interview shortly before his 1997 death.
“While it is true that a descending chromatic four-chord progression is a common convention that abounds in the music industry, the similarities here transcend this core structure,” wrote U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner in his ruling. “What remains is a subjective assessment of the ‘concept and feel’ of two works … a task no more suitable for a judge than for a jury.”
The trial is set to begin on May 10. Below, check out a comparison between “Stairway to Heaven” and “Taurus” and see if you think the plagiarism complaint is valid.