Judges agree to hear Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven court appeal

Led Zeppelin (Image credit: Michael Putland - Getty)

Last year, the US 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals cleared the way for the famous Stairway To Heaven trial to return to court.

Led Zeppelin were originally accused of copying Spirit track Taurus, which was released three years before 1971’s Stairway To Heaven. The case centred on the descending chord sequence at the beginning of the Led Zeppelin song.

At the original 2016 trial, the jury found that Led Zeppelin did not plagiarise Taurus, ruling that it was not “intrinsically similar” to the opening of Stairway To Heaven. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were cleared of the charge of plagiarism.

However, in September 2018, a three-judge panel at the 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals found that the jury at the original trial were improperly instructed on a number of issues, resulting in the possibility of a second trial. 

Lawyers representing Led Zeppelin subsequently lodged an appeal asking for a larger group of judges to rehear the case – and that request has now been granted, with a panel of 11 judges set to sit in San Francisco in September, according to the Associated Press.

The plaintiff in the case is Michael Skidmore, the trustee for the estate of Spirit songwriter Randy Wolfe – better known as Randy California – who died in 1997.

Meanwhile, a new Led Zeppelin documentary is currently in the works and is being directed by Bernard MacMahon. It'll focus on the band's early days through to 1970, when Led Zeppelin II ousted the Beatles’ Abbey Road from the top of the US charts.

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.