Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page claims that he “never heard” the Spirit song “Taurus,” which he’s been accused of lifting for his band’s trademark 1971 hit “Stairway to Heaven,” until a couple of years ago.
In a declaration relating to the lawsuit filed against him and his Zeppelin bandmates, Page states, “Prior to hearing a recording of ‘Taurus’ in 2014 in connection with this matter, I have never heard ‘Taurus’ or even heard of it. I am very good at remembering music and am absolutely certain that I never heard ‘Taurus’ until 2014.”
Page goes on to admit that Zeppelin played a number of shows with Spirit. However, in the declaration, the guitarist claims, “I do not recall ever seeing Spirit perform live. Again, though, I am absolutely certain I never heard them, or anyone else, perform ‘Taurus.’”
Led Zeppelin is being sued by Michael Skidmore, trustee of the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust, who claims that “Stairway” infringes on the earlier song. (Randy Craig Wolfe was the birth name of Spirit frontman and “Taurus” author Randy California, who died in 1997.)
In his declaration, Page claims that certain elements of his own song employ “basic skills leaned by any student of the guitar,” which he became aware of well before the 1968 publication of “Taurus.”
“I consider descending chromatic lines and arpeggiated chords basic skills learned by any student of the guitar. Certainly, as a guitarist, I was aware of descending chromatic lines and arpeggios long before 1968.”
Page also states that he composed the music for “Stairway” with “the intention to create a long work, with multiple different parts, that would unfold with increasing complexity and speed culminating in a guitar solo that was preceded by a distinct fanfare, followed by the last verse concluding a climax to the song.”
The guitarist stated that he did discover a copy of the first Spirit album — which contains “Taurus” — in his record collection, but claims he does “not know how or when it got there,” and suggests it “may well have been left by a guest. … But, again, I know I did not hear ‘Taurus’ until 2014.”
On Thursday, the group also filed a motion for summary judgment on the case.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.