Jimmy Page likens Stairway to Mary Poppins song

2016-06-17 22:00

Los Angeles - Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page on Thursday denied claims that he plagiarised Stairway to Heaven, insisting the iconic anthem sounds more like a Mary Poppins song than the track he is accused of copying.

The 72-year-old guitarist and band mate Robert Plant, 67, are being tried at a civil court in Los Angeles over accusations they poached the rock epic's opening bars from Taurus, by long-defunct rock band Spirit.

Page, who wore a black suit and his white hair in a ponytail, said his chord progression probably had more in common with Chim Chim Cher-ee from the 1964 film musical Mary Poppins than anything else.

He told the eight-member jury that Stairway and the Disney number shared the same descending musical pattern, adding that the "chord sequence has been around forever."

LA band Spirit, who enjoyed a niche following but never attained the superstardom of Zeppelin, have long claimed the melancholic guitar that opens Stairway was taken from the riff that builds after the first 45 seconds of Taurus.

Guitarist Randy Wolfe - who went by the nickname Randy California - never took legal action and drowned in Hawaii in 1997, but a lawsuit was filed by his trustee and friend Michael Skidmore.

Zeppelin argue that the opening of Stairway - a descending sequence mostly in A-minor - has been used in music for centuries and that the lawsuit ignores the rest of the song.

But expert witness Kevin Hanson said the opening chords of Taurus and the picked arpeggio intro to Stairway are a departure from the norm because the sequence resolves in the same unexpected way in both cases.

"The rhythm is slightly different," the musician said, but added that the first five chords of both tunes were exactly the same.

"To my ear they sound like one piece of music," he said.

Read more on:    led zeppelin  |  jimmy page  |  lawsuits  |  music

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