There will be no new names added to the writing credits of one of the most famous rock songs in history: A Los Angeles jury has found that Led Zeppelin did not plagiarise the opening chords of its defining song, Stairway to Heaven, despite allegations levelled by the psychedelic rock band Spirit.
The jury's verdict ended a high-profile copyright infringement trial that has captivated rock fans, musicians and music writers alike as some of rock 'n' roll's most iconic heroes offered decidedly entertaining testimony.
The lawsuit was brought by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the estate of the late songwriter/guitarist and Spirit founder Randy Wolfe, better known by his stage name Randy California.
Led Zeppelin and Spirit toured together in the late 60s, according to court records, and members of Spirit were convinced that the opening riff from Stairway to Heaven had been lifted from Spirit instrumental song Taurus.
Over the course of the days-long trial, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones and singer Robert Plant all took the witness stand to insist that the ethereal intro to the band's chart-topping 1971 hit was not stolen.
Page and Plant both claimed that they hadn't ever heard Taurus until recently. Page said he first became aware of the song a few years ago, when his son-in-law alerted him to growing internet buzz about the similarity between Taurus and Stairway.
He said he didn't see what the fuss was about: "I was confused by the comparison."
Plant also maintained he had no recollection of hearing the tune before Stairway was written. Although witnesses said they'd spotted Plant at a Spirit show in 1970, Plant noted that he'd been in a serious car crash only hours later and had no memory of the previous evening.
The jury ultimately concluded that the band probably did have access to the tune. But the songs simply weren't similar enough to prove copyrightinfringement, the jury found.
Only minutes before issuing a verdict, members of the jury listened with their eyes closed to audio clips of Taurus and Stairway, journalist Pamela Chelin reported.
After the proceeding, Page and Plant thanked fans for their support.
"We are grateful for the jury's conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favour, putting to rest questions about the origins of Stairway to Heaven and confirming what we have known for 45 years," the rockers said in a prepared statement, according to The Wrap.
Warner Music also applauded the verdict, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "Led Zeppelin is one of the greatest bands in history, and Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are peerless songwriters who created many of rock's most influential and enduring songs."
Francis Malofiy, the attorney representing Wolfe's estate, said he was "sad and disappointed" by the verdict, and suggested the legal fight might not be over.