Legendary guitarist Jeff Beck says that he paid close attention to the federal copyright infringement lawsuit claiming the opening to LED ZEPPELIN's 1971 classic "Stairway To Heaven" was a rip-off of the 1968 instrumental song "Taurus".
"I had to smirk because I knew that Jimmy and Robert [Plant] would come out on top," Beck — a longtime friend and music mate of Jimmy Page — tells Billboard.com. "Apparently you can't copyright a chord sequence. It has to have a lyric or some kind of a meaningful melody to be copyrighted. And it is a chord sequence which has been used loads of times, but not in such an iconic way. It clearly is the same chord sequence [as SPIRIT's 'Taurus'], but then we're all guilty of stealing a chord sequence and sticking some words on top of it. So I think it's a bit of bravado to try to bring it to court, but Jimmy came out ahead. So, lucky old Jim!"
A Los Angeles jury deliberated for about five hours before deciding unanimously in favor of LED ZEPPELIN.
The verdict in the LED ZEPPELIN case came down within 15 minutes of the jury's request to re-listen to both "Taurus" and "Stairway To Heaven". They wanted to hear a section of each song twice, alternating from one to the other. They decided that what they heard wasn't substantially similar enough to call it copyright infringement.
"Stairway To Heaven" is said to be one of the most covered rock songs and its worth is estimated to be more than $560 million.