Led Zeppelin: Guitarist Jimmy Page testifies in Stairway to Heaven copyright trial
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has testified in a copyright infringement trial that he did not recall hearing, until recently, the song containing the musical riff his band is accused of stealing for its 1971 hit Stairway to Heaven.
Page says he owns the album containing Taurus, but has not listened to it
Page says he first heard Taurus only recently, said it was "totally alien" to him
Does not recall opening for Spirit in 1968
The British band is accused of lifting the opening chords for Stairway to Heaven from American band Spirit's 1967 instrumental song Taurus.
Page, 72, took the witness stand on Wednesday local time, on the second day of the trial in federal court in Los Angeles.
The lawsuit has called into question the originality of Led Zeppelin's signature song, which is one of the most widely heard compositions in rock history.
Page said he owned Spirit's self-titled 1968 album that includes Taurus, which contains a descending chromatic four-chord progression that is at the centre of the lawsuit.
But Page said the album was one of over 9,000 vinyl albums and compact discs in his music collection, and that he did not know when it made its way into his library.
"I don't think I have listened to the first album," Page said.
The civil action was brought by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the late Randy Wolfe, Spirit's guitarist and the composer of Taurus. Wolfe drowned in 1997.
Skidmore's complaint seeks to have Wolfe's name added to the writing credits for Stairway to Heaven, and seeks damages in an amount to be proven at trial.
Page testified that he liked Spirit and had heard a few of the band's songs on the radio in the 1960s, but not Taurus.
He also said Led Zeppelin regularly played a riff from Spirit's song Fresh Garbage in its live shows in 1968 as part of a medley for the Led Zeppelin song As Long as I Have You.
But Page said he did not recall opening for Spirit at Led Zeppelin's first US show in Denver in 1968 and had never seen Spirit perform live.
Page said he listened to Taurus for the first time only after he was made aware of comparisons being made on the internet between Stairway to Heaven and Taurus in recent years.
"It was totally alien to me," Page said of Taurus.
Led Zeppelin attorney Peter Anderson said in the trial's opening arguments that the musical riff in dispute was not unique.
Testimony in the case is scheduled to resume on Thursday.