Ozzy Osbourne cannot believe that Led Zeppelin had to defend themselves in court last month, when a man representing the group Spirit alleged they’d ripped off that band’s instrumental “Taurus” to write “Stairway to Heaven.”
“It’s fucking crazy, actually,” the Black Sabbath singer tells Rolling Stone as part of an interview that will publish in full in the future. “That should have never gone to court. I heard the original thing, and there’s just a slight similarity. It’s like saying any fucking song with that kind of a guitar on it is a rip-off. It’s not fair. There’s only so many fucking notes on a guitar, and it wasn’t that much like ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ I’m amazed it lasted so fucking long, you know?”
After a weeklong trial, the jury ultimately sided with Led Zeppelin in the case, which dated back to a 2014 filing. The Black Sabbath singer can’t believe it lasted as long as it did. “I’ve met John Bonham; I’ve met all of them,” he says. “That group is fucking phenomenal. What do they need a fucking songwriter for? Why would they rip anybody off? It’s just a waste of fucking time. I’m really surprised it went to court. It’s fucking crazy.
“They don’t deserve it,” he continues. “It’s like, do you honestly think they’ll sit there and go, ‘Oh, we’ll steal this and change it a bit like this so it sells.’ Fuck. Give me a break. The song that was played was kind of a bit similar but it was only the chord sequence.”
Osbourne, a native of Birmingham, England, knew Led Zeppelin’s members casually before they were famous, as some of them lived there in the late Sixties. “We were friendly with John Bonham and Robert Plant,” he says. “Robert’s a great singer. He’s one of the greats. He was very influential on a lot of singers in his day. I haven’t seen Robert for a long time. I hope he’s all right.”
Even after both bands made it onto the charts, they continued to hang out, with Bonham occasionally asking to sit in on Bill Ward’s drums early on. Classic Rock reports that in 1975, Led Zeppelin joined Sabbath in the studio during their Sabotage sessions for a jam on Sabbath’s “Supernaut.”
When Rolling Stone asks Osbourne about the jam, he says he can still picture it. “Jimmy Page wasn’t there, but John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and John Bonham were there,” he says. “And we just had a jam. It was all right. It was just a jam.”
It was just all right? “I just jammed out, you know?” Osbourne says. “I can’t think back on it now, like, ‘Whoa, we just jammed with Zeppelin.’ It’s just what we did. We were all stoned anyway.”
Black Sabbath recently wrapped up a European leg of their farewell tour, The End. They will return to North America next month, beginning with a gig in Long Island, New York and running through the fall when they will headline Ozzfest Meets Knotfest and perform a final U.S. gig in Texas in November. The group will play its last-ever show in February in Birmingham, England.
Meanwhile, Ozzy is co-starring in a new series for the History Channel with his son, Ozzy and Jack’s World Detour, where the two travel the globe and learn about places such as Cuba, the Grand Canyon, the Alamo and Stonehenge. The show premieres July 27th.
Led Zeppelin won a lawsuit that alleged that they had plagiarized the music to “Stairway to Heaven.” Watch here.